Last Sunday, the following three things happened to me:
- 1:35 am – I led an unplanned rebellion of women into a men’s urinal.
- 10 am – 7:30 pm – I binge-watched “Wild, Wild, Country.”
- 9 pm – I watched Stormy Daniels describe spanking the President on TV.
Halfway through the Daniels interview, I realized it was Palm Sunday. Now, my main relationship to Christianity is studying the Historical Jesus at University. The main thing I remember about that class, however, is that Palm Sunday was a satire. In ancient 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 a donkey (read: ass) through a crowd of poor people, it was a direct mockery of the state. 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. Without realizing it, I think I celebrate Palm Sunday in a totally WWJD way- not with a new Easter bonnet or by going to church, but by steeping myself in the power dynamics of our current day.
1) Palm Sunday begans with a non-violent demonstration that exposed the power dynamics of the Roman Empire. 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 voice that said “Is this seriously the line?!” to 30+ women waiting to pee compared to a no-line-men’s-line, 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.
2) Palm Sunday ifundamentally challenged the cultural norms of the Roman Empire and highlighted the injustice it was built upon. Which brings me to Wild, Wild, Country…
It’s true that I didn’t realize it was 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 a power-struggle 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, and laid bare the tenacity of his power. Cue Stormy Daniels (literally) talking about our modern day Emperor wearing no clothes…
Listening to Story Daniels describe spanking the President with a magazine in his own image is probably as close as my 21st century self is going to come to Jesus riding an ass through a crowd of poor people in direct mockery of a gold-clothed emperor.
Sure, it was uncouth.
Sure, it was vulgar.
To me, however, Stormy Daniels is hero riding an ass. 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.
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.