Arn't I A Woman?



Jan 2, 2018

Mariah Carey: Not the Hero We Deserve, But the Hero We Need

I think we can all agree that there was something unusually nefarious in the air all throughout 2017. At this point, Taylor Swift is the only one who had a halfway decent year; and with a subpar pop album at that! (white privilege in pop music? Nahhh.) The ushering in of the Trump era seemed to really unearth a cacophony of social turmoil buried deep within our collective psyches. Even the cosmos reflected the chaos that we felt here on Earth: there were meteor showers, supermoons, and even a TOTAL FUCKING SOLAR ECLIPSE.! Here in Georgia a huge snowstorm left a chunk of the state sans power and heat for days. I even saw a double rainbow! Cosmically eerie.

You can hand select your own examples from the Chex mix of shitty experiences that was 2017; the outcome is still the same. A shitty year. There's a place for these years in our lives, but they still hurt to experience. 

So, I’m kind of left wondering- since I'm not Taylor Swift- how does one reconcile suffering through a year of explosively depressing events with the need to usher in a new year that can be a much more healing and dignified experience? 
We look to examples of people that have shown great resilience this year. And who better to use as a case study than the elusive chanteuse herself; Mirage, Mimi- the legend, Miss Mariah Carey. Carey has effortlessly exhibited resiliency consistently throughout her career, but especially in 2017-2018. Not sold right of the bat? That's ok. Let's take a look at the facts. 

First, some background: Mariah has a long history of being doubted or criticized somewhat unfairly, as well as being held to insane, unreachable standards. This is really just a reflection of her talent, work ethic, and genius- but for better or worse it has shaped a comeback narrative surrounding her personal and professional highs and lows. Most Mariah fans and pop music critics would point to the obvious example of Glitter: after the movie and soundtrack failed to be Mariah’s Purple Rain, she was essentially publicly shunned while the media painted her as a crazy lunatic for her supposed erratic behavior. She became the butt of the joke with the public abandoning their support and love for the once adored diva.

And then 4 years later Carey released "We Belong Together." The song became an instant classic; it is one of the longest running #1 singles of all time, Song of the Decade, and generally considered one of Carey's greatest records. It was the comeback story everyone loved and Mariah was once again at the top. 

12 years later, a similar story is sparked during Carey's 2017 NYE performance in which a technical malfunction caused her earpiece to go out and her (in my mind, hilarious) reaction to just not sing and prance around stage smiling, totally being a good sport, was demonized.

Here are just a few of some internet comments from Reddit I read that morning: "RIP Mariah Carey's career. It got murdered on NYE live." "Anyone else just watch Mariah Carey completely bomb her nye performance?" "Mariah Carey totally bombed NYE. Anyone else see the atrocity?" "Mariah Carey butchers 2017 NYE performance" etc etc. Check out the weirdly violent language: murdered/ bombed/ butchers/ atrocity??? Yikes. Sounds like reddit went to the school of hyperbole. Now, if you want to read about what ACTUALLY happened, there are plenty of people who have explained that in full herehere, and here

But usually it's easier to kick people when they're down, especially when you are behind a computer screen. 

Most importantly, though, how did Mariah respond to the debacle? 


And make headlines she did. Here are just some of the accomplishments Carey notably achieved in 2017: 

But most importantly, this happened: 


Spoiler alert, she killed it. 

From Twitter user Tropic518

During this year's performance, Carey realized she had no hot tea she was expecting, and cheekily remarked in the mic: "They told me there would be tea. Oh, it's a disaster. Okay, well, we'll just have to rough it. I'm going to be like everybody else, with no hot tea." 

She killed it before even performing though, because the simple fact that Mariah refuses to let anyone dictate her life married with her ability to not take life so seriously and focus on play even within her work is an empowering example. Play is so important to our psychological well-being yet is so elusive to so many in modern societyDid 2017 even have any play? I think it was straight up volcanoes and disaster all the way through. (Besides the birth of my daughter...if you're someday reading this Violet mommy does NOT think of you as a disaster, or a volcano.)

To navigate your way between extremes in such a short period of time certainly supports Carey's comeback narrative. Hell, even Glitter has come full circle and now has a cult following. It is true that Mariah encompasses the strength to take what some might consider tragedies and turn them into a platform for greatness. But Mariah has had too many "flops" and successes for these to be considered comebacks- she is a living legend, and her legacy will never die. There is clearly something else, a character trait that Mariah has mastered to help her wade through misfortune and find her proverbial rainbow: resilience. 

So what is resilience, exactly? I like this architectural definition: “Resilience is a design objective for buildings and infrastructure. It is the ability to absorb or avoid damage without suffering complete failure.” Again and again Carey has refused to let other people dictate her self-worth, and confidently demands respect. This scares people, especially considering the intersection of her race, age, and gender within the pop culture community. 

So what can we learn from Carey, exactly? I've extracted an amended list of consistent traits Carey displays that indicate resilience. I don't know if I can follow them, but I can definitely extract them! 

1) Laugh at yourself and embrace life's absurdity. 
2) Other people's opinions of you are not gospel.  
3) Expect an inconvenience fee when you and your Australian billionaire fiancĂ© break up, because your time is way too valuable to be wasted ladies! 
4) You can embarrass yourself without it destroying you. 
5) Bet on yourself, always.

So what did Mariah's twitter look like this year after slaying the whole world and basically guaranteeing us a shiny bright new year? 


Cup of tea for 2018? I’ll settle for a cup of kindness, myself. 


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Sojourner Truth

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.

Sojourner Truth

Delivered 1851 at the Women's Convention

Akron, Ohio