When I was fifteen, I got tickets to see a fresh-faced band named Panic! at the Disco out by the seacoast with my then-best friend. To prepare, I looked into the opening acts: The Hush Sound and this weird as hell band The Dresden Dolls. It was a time before anything and everything you could ever want to investigate was on YouTube, so my Google searches had to be a little more thought out, taking time and clicking just the right links. Most likely, I found them both on MySpace with their songs available for streaming, though I can’t be sure after all these years. I investigated, and The Hush Sound were great–a little funky, ethereal at times, yet sweet in their sound of pianos, guitars, and vocals far beyond my range. They were catchy.
But the Dresden Dolls would not leave my brain. Their toy sounds and intoxicating, rough vocals kept repeating in my head and, after buying their first album, my Discman. There was a discordance to their sound that I could connect with, as if something inside of their music was, to my surprise, inside of me too.
These days I don’t listen quite as much as I did then, even though I’m often telling myself I should, but Amanda Palmer’s strength both as a performer and as a person strikes me as inspirational. She’s often on my mind, especially with my recent dive into Patreon.
As with probably every woman I end up writing about as an inspiration, Amanda has not been exempt from controversy, from claims that she wasn’t paying her band to the suggestion that her Patreon funds shouldn’t go towards her child. She is bold and outspoken, an ardent feminist who is open to criticism and acknowledges it. Just a few weeks ago she shared on Facebook a post from her Patreon group page that raised the idea that her fan space is predominately white, and instead of an argument, cordial (for the most part) discussion arose.
She also doesn’t shy away from her emotions, and she especially doesn’t take any shit from anyone. So often women are told to be quiet, not to talk about what upsets them or how they’re feeling, or else they’re “crazy feminsts” or “overemotional” or whatever other ridiculousness people want to use to shut us up. Amanda, however, is a force to reckoned with–and respected if not admired. She doesn’t let fear and judgement stop her from putting herself out there for her art and her passions, even if she still grapples with those things like the rest of us mortals.
If you’ve read her book or watched her TED Talk, you’ll have heard of The Bride, Amanda’s eight-foot-tall street performer persona in which she covered herself in white stage makeup, donned a long, vintage white bridal gown, and stood on a crate on the sidewalk. Through jeers of “Get a job!” and objects thrown at her–mixed among the quiet observers and people stopping to drop money into her can–she literally put herself on display, making herself vulnerable but pushing through because it was her job.
It’s also no wonder why she has a loyal, supportive following. She keeps engaged with them and lets them know how much she appreciates their love. She’s been a huge advocate of Twitter for years, using it as one of her main ways to connect with her fans. That kind of commitment to the people who support her is something not often seen among famous people, but she makes it a part of her day to let us know what she’s thinking, to respond to our comments, and to share bits from around the internet that she thinks we would enjoy or should know. Recently, I’ve tried to make this a part of my own routine, and while I don’t always have the same amount of time to allot to this, I have felt a marked improvement in my internet use by engaging rather than only observing.
Whereas other women role models make me feel amused or happy by their inspiring actions, Amanda Palmer makes me feel strong, capable. She makes me feel like maybe I can do anything, too, or at least that it’s worth trying.