During a recent artist talk, Andrea Fraser introduced a well-timed, and tearful, exploration of shame -- an emotion she associates with her complicated (and infamous) video performance piece, "Untitled." These tears triggered an overwhelming sense of déjà vu as I realized that whitewomencrying is an undeniable trope of my lived experience. I've seen whitewomencrying in films, traveling on various modes of public transportation, the workplace, in the line at the MoMA, the DMV, the bank... And, while this consistent exposure has apparently dulled me to its effects, I am convinced that the power of whitewomantears is magical. Akin to eye-of-newt and other alchemic substances, it acts as a hypnotizing agent, bewitching the common Muggle to protective service and a general disregard of social protocols.
Needless to say, this is a very powerful tool.
Even if a teary incantation only achieves, say, 75% effectiveness, manipulation disguised as pure emotion certainly has its privileges. I've seen it used as a cover, enabling the user an escape from an uncomfortable/inappropriate statement, with the added benefit of confusing the victim into submission. Oftentimes the target is left wondering what they did to illicit such a tremendous response, having no idea that the crying is a largely performative act. It is a remedy for foot-in-mouth-syndrome, a smokescreen for strategic maneuvers, and serves as an adept expression of privilege, since most of us never question the underlying motive of the boo-hooey (at least not directly). And although I've never been privy to this particular benefit, I've heard a sprinkle can transform a "speeding ticket" into a "warning"; a miraculous feat since my personal experience indicates that a broken taillight could land you handcuffed in the back of a squad car (true story).
Now, you may wonder about blackwomencrying or latinawomancrying or even asianwomencrying -- but this is a different enchantment altogether. Unlike whitewomencrying, this tearful doesn't belong to any single individual. It's an expression of collective identity. Words like 'suffering', 'movement' and 'conflict' abound in this context. And the imagery? It's usually owned and distributed by the Associated Press or stock photo sites. But as a black female artist, I'm working on a formula to synthesize this power for my own ends. The initial stage involves consultation with a scientific glassblowing laboratory and the purchase of a label-making machine. I'm thinking that a travel size atomizer would be an ideal stocking stuffer or the perfect favor for a bachelorette party. These miraculous whitewaterworks could snag you a husband that finds your blubberation so endearing that he creates a branded website in your honor. But that's much farther down the line. First, I've got to establish a material acquisition technique that will maintain the obliviousness necessary to achieve the desired effect. Pop-up collection centers at convenient locations such as Talbots, Whole Foods and J.Crew will open March 1st with more to follow. Postal submissions are also accepted: The Crying Game c/o The Huffington Post.
My most recent discovery? When left to dry, whitewomentears smell like Elizabeth Taylor's White Diamonds perfume.