On Palm Sunday, Stormy Daniels, and our Wild, Wild Country

Last Sunday, the following three things happened to me:

  1. 1:35 am –  I led an unplanned rebellion of women into a men’s urinal.
  2. 10 am – 7:30 pm – I binge-watched “Wild, Wild, Country” to cure my hang-over.
  3. 9 pm – I watched Stormy Daniels describe spanking the President on TV.

Halfway through the Daniels interview, I realized it was Palm Sunday.

On the surface, Palm Sunday is about a parade where Jesus rides a donkey through a crowd. But in those times, when the Roman Emperor visited a town, he announced his presence by parading through a crowd of citizens on a white horse.  So when a gender-neutral-brown-skinned Jesus decided to ride an ass through a crowd of poor people, it was a big deal. It was a big deal because it targeted the Emperor and exposed the power dynamics and hypocrisy of the State, and they killed him for it.

It’s true that everything that happened to me on this particular Palm Sunday are only really related in that they happened to me on Sunday. And that everything I know about Palm Sunday comes from a great class I took in college. But from 1:35 am onwards, my Sunday did involve an interesting foray into power dynamics in America, and when taken together, I can’t help but think they were just as good as sitting through a sermon. So here’s my contribution to the honoring the importance of Palm Sunday – a day in the life of Amanda, in lieu of waving a palm frond or buying a new Easter bonnet.

1) Palm Sunday begins with a non-violent demonstration. It’s not the action that matters, it’s what that action calls into attention.

Cue me, standing in the men’s room of the Brooklyn Bowl at 1:35 AM, a cadre of three women strangers behind me. I did not plan this. Yes, it was my slightly-drunk-white-girl- voice that said “Is this seriously the line” to 20+ women waiting to pee, and yes, I did continue with “I’m going in,” which was followed by a chorus of “me too’s!”

Inside, the urinal is suddenly a stage and we are the players. Male after male is sailing through that no line door and stopping short, mid-stride. They are making huge arcs around us, not meeting our eyes, scurrying.

“Welcome to the 21st century, bitches!!!” Girl #2 yells out to the guys. We all laugh.

I am struck by the fact that I have just taken direct action to pee. I’ve never actually done this before. I think about suffragettes (actually), and prohibitionsists that blocked men from bardoors with Bibles. Those were some badass women. ‘Cause this is kind of uncomfortable. I am subtly aware that there could be violence as a result of us here. A drunk guy could menacingly tell us to get out – or worse, whip it out saying something like “You’re here cause you want it, right?”

And then I think: That is super messed up. No, seriously. Why should I expect to be derided or assaulted because I enter a “man’s” world? Is the definition of a “man’s world” one where all rules of human decency are suspended? I am here because I need to pee, and there’s no good reason why I should have to wait longer than a man to do it.

Our tiny demonstration may not have changed anything. But it did bring into stark relief the power dynamics at the core of the gender debate. It wasn’t uncomfortable because guys didn’t know how to pee in front of us. It was uncomfortable because there are invisible lines between men and women in our society and we pointed that out by getting in the short line.

2) Palm Sunday is important because it fundamentally challenged the cultural norms of the Roman Empire and highlighted the injustice it was built upon.

I wasn’t thinking about Palm Sunday when I sat down to watch Wild, Wild, Country in the morning. But. Oh. My goodness. People. Watch. Wild. Wild. Country. It is a microcosm of the power-struggle at the heart of the Palm Sunday story. It is about a rogue spiritual leader, his unruly following, and the challenge they pose to the State. It is the specific story of a group of people who follow a cult leader and move to a small Oregonian town. But that story is just an entree into a deep and riveting exploration of power dynamics in modern-day America.  Wild, Wild Country is about freedom, religion, democracy, and most importantly, what happens to an Empire when its status-quo is challenged.

The most compelling part of “Wild, Wild Country” is the questions it raises. To what degree are we different or the same? What’s more important – tradition or change? How much dissent can the State allow?

3) Palm Sunday directly challenged the credibility of Roman Emperor.

Watching Stormy Daniels talk about spanking the President with a magazine in his own image is as close my 21st century self is going to get to watching Jesus riding an ass through a crowd of poor people.

Sure, it was uncouth.

Sure, it was vulgar.

Palm Sunday parade was likely considered uncouth in its day as well. The power behind, it, however, was that it used the very structure of the Emperor’s parade to lay bare the truth of his corruption. If a World Wrestling Federation slum lord real estate tycoon who loves mainstream TV is our Emperor, then porn star Stormy Daniels is the ONLY person with the power expose his corruption. And expose him she did.

It may not seem like a big deal. People say that Americans already knew he was a womanizer; they say the administration is so corrupt and no matter how many times it’s been said they just continue.

To me, however, Stormy Daniels is fucking hero.  In her own words, she’s not a feminist, and she’s not a victim. Yes, I cheered – now the people who dismiss the feminists and the victims will hear her. Stormy Daniels is a sex worker from Mississippi who shops at WalMart. Yes, I cheered – she’s a “real” Americans and it’s the “real” Americans who need to listen to her. Stormy doesn’t care about election scandals, or Russian intervention – she cares about being called a liar. Yes, I cheered – this woman is it! This is about honor.

We all know the Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes. But Stormy Daniels is the only person who can tell us what he looks like without his clothes. And she did. There is a sad simplicity to the truth she lays bare. Donald Trump is a liar, and a womanizer, and a bad fuck. I can’t help but think the Historical Jesus – or at least Mary Magdalene – would approve of the disrobing.

I’m not sure that my non-Christian Palm Sunday was a fitting observance of the Holy Day. But I did participate in a seemingly small demonstration that questioned cultural norms, listened to (er- binge-watched) a sermon that exposed and critiqued the power dynamics of our modern State, and watched a deplorable challenge our modern day Emperor by wielding the truth. All in all, it was a good day.

 

 

 

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