Reading some practical applications to the Bechdel Test at girlsreadcomics, it occurred to me there is a powerful, transformative scene when you have two bad girls together.  This is where using exercises to recognize patterns is useful.  But there’s another technique—meditations and visualizations which coax out feelings of immersion through mirrored identification.  You gotta have two bad girls.

I’m thinking of that scene from The Fisher King, where Anne and Lydia have a conversation about identity.  The two women share a few drinks together while Anne does Lydia’s nails.  The conversation culminates in this exchange:

Anne: You’re not so invisible. You want a personality? Try this on for size: you can be a real bitch sometimes.
Lydia: (cracks a smile and laughs a little) Really…?
Anne: (smiles) Yeah!
Lydia: (laughs) Wow!
Anne: I know, I know – it feels great!

It’s a moment of eureka for Lydia.  That’s the crux of it—finding the clue which opens up possibilities one is unaccustomed to expressing in one’s self.  Other people can hold up mirrors to us and share ideas we might not be able to obtain ourselves.  Two women sitting together sharing a pastime is a form of legitimate meditation.  It releases the mind so that you can enter a free-flowing state—out of which insights can spark and hopefully start a fire of inspiration burning.

I’m also thinking of the character of Storm from The Uncanny X-Men comic book.  There was a long storyline where she underwent an identity crisis and her powers started to slip from control.  She had been the gentle, life-giving weather goddess for a long time.  Her childhood roots as a thief on the streets of Cairo had become blocked off emotionally and left largely to stagnation.

This personal repression made sense because it was during these early years she developed her claustrophobia after being buried alive under rubble.  She survived by temporarily repressing a trauma.  But now it was coming back and she was getting wilder.  Her powers were truly like a storm untamed.

At one point, in order to save the X-Men she had to challenge the leader of their current foes to a knife-fight for dominance.  The panel where she stares hard, challenging the Morlock leader Callisto to a death-duel, despite suffering from exhaustion due to a super-power induced plague, still burns in my mind.  She returns to her roots, plays dirty, and kills the leader to the shocked looks of her team members.

Later, she runs into a woman mercenary named Yukio during an adventure in Japan (a friend of her teammate Wolverine).  Wild and untamed, Yukio regularly risks her life on unscheduled adventures for the thrill of being alive.  She invites Storm to come along for a night on the town.

For several days they push the envelope of physical danger.  Living only in the moment, delighting in physical prowess (and allowing her powers to roam free of having to “control” them for the team), Storm rediscovers joy.  She laughs out loud as she breaks through her wise, patient “nice girl” personality and finds she enjoys the taste of it.

Storm completes her transformation by openly embracing her bad side and changing her costume from an ultra-feminine, revealing outfit with a cape to a butch, punk-rock leather outfit complete with mohawk.  Stunning.  Her friend Kitty breaks down in tears and runs away, an image of Storm as “nice girl” shattered forever.  But as Storm says herself, “This is who I am.  I won’t hide it any longer.”  She would become the undisputed leader of the X-Men shortly afterward.

(Incidentally, Kitty would embrace her bad girl eventually as well, but that would be later.  Coincidentally, in Japan as well with Yukio making another appearance.)

The bad girl lives inside you gals right this moment, or maybe more properly she exists whether or not you recognize her life in you.  She isn’t going to be satisfied with being relegated to backstage; she’s going to pee in your soup as it passes from the kitchen to your refined restaurant table if you don’t watch out.

The question isn’t “Are you a bad girl?”  The question is “How are you a bad girl?”  She lives.

The next question is, “How are you honoring her?”  She has a right to be felt in your personal life and your work.

By asking these questions and answering them, you are granting her the right to existence.  You draw up a place where the two of you can meet each other halfway.

Because when two bad girls get together, stuff gets done.