Anna Mae Bullock was a country girl who escaped her quiet life for the big bad city in her teens and fell headlong in love with Ike Turner, a tall talented black musician with an eye for the girls—as well as an eye for pure talent. He heard Anna Mae sing and knew she was 24-carat gold. Dumping his current woman, he seduced the wide-eyed and laughing teenager, got her pregnant, gave her a new name, married her and made her a star. He also beat the hell out of her and abused her violently, for he’d started doing hard drugs and his rages were demonic and way out of control.
I watched Tina’s autobiographical movie with friends who came over to visit after my painful almost-broken toe accident. I can’t watch movies alone, so once or twice a year, I will get together with a friend/s and zone out before the screen. The first movie we watched depressed us all—a hard and gritty London-based crime movie that was violent beyond belief and ended horribly. And so, after everyone else had left, I coaxed my friend to watch the Tina movie.
Tina’s tumultuous tale brought up a lot of buried stuff within me, for things are not so different anywhere in the world. As long as ego rules, there will be hate and jealousy and violence. And if a man thinks he owns a woman, just because he gives her his name, some money or possessions, a child and a career, then there is no end to the pain and the trouble he can inflict on an innocent victim who often has nowhere else to turn.
What disturbs me is that this ugly cavalier attitude towards women is not confined to the poor and the illiterate. In fact, gender violence has little to do with money or education, although those who are in the public eye use different insidious methods to put their women down. I have seen poor (economically) men treat their wives like gold and rich men treat their spouses like offal, or even like redundant and replaceable pieces of furniture. Go figure.
What is the answer to this age-old problem? For me, it lies in the great truths of Eastern philosophy, and particularly in the wisdom that claims that what unites us into one vast and mysterious being is the common substratum of our nature (pure awareness, existence and bliss). To the one who realizes this, all relative appearances dissolve and one no longer views the world in terms of gender, status or anything else. Advaita is Not Two, and this is a mystical fact.
Back to Tina. What a hero! I said, after the movie ended (we used the forward button to move through the grisly bits when he almost kills her). Finally she left him, allowed him to keep all the money they had earned together, but fought to keep her professional name. And then she went on to become a solo star who the world loves even more today. Yes, what a hero, my friend echoed.
So many women weakly bow their heads and surrender to the bullies who make their lives hell. Even in corporate Manhattan, every now and again I would see a high-earning woman with bruises on her body and shame and pain in her eyes. Even worse, to me, is the man who hurts his wife or girlfriend in ways that are not visible: Lying, cheating, deceiving, passive-aggression, etc. All these leave deep scars on the emotional body and it is the rare woman who recognizes she is being used as a punching bag by someone with terribly low-esteem (who else would attack and harass a woman in his care but a man with no real self-respect or ethics?) and dumps him before he can crush her completely.
Many enjoy delving into the highest teachings of the East but don’t realize that, minus an ethical foundation and a transparent relative life, they cannot progress even an inch. The first thing we must do if we are genuine seekers is to truly learn to honor, love and respect our own selves; when this awesome work is done, or being done, we will automatically treat everyone else in the same holy and beautiful way. As Ramana said, at some point in our ascension to pure spirit, we will realize that there are no others.
Greetings from Arunachala, Shiva in the form of a hill of fire and light, who helps us destroy our darkness so that we can enjoy the infinite bliss of our true nature!
NOTE: I wrote this post ages ago: Shiva’s Spectacular Gender Divide – Part 1/6 (Jul 20, 2013)
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Interesting. I have never thought of her as a heroine – but then I only knew some of the treatment she received. I’m not actually a fan of hers but I am interested in the way men and women treat each other. I’ve had women behave with me in very disturbing fashions…but now am lucky to have been married for 25 years. I have my ‘soul mate’. Cheers.
No matter her flaws, I see her as a heroine because she fought for her rights. Glad you have found your soulmate! Love!
Tina wasn’t some innocent wide-eyed teen as depicted in the movie. She already had a baby at 18 before Ike. The movie is only loosely based on Tina’s book. When Tina joined Ike’s band she began dating Raymond Hill a musician in Ike’s band. Ike and Tina were just friends at that point. Tina and Raymond even lived with Ike and his wife Lorraine Taylor. Raymond hit Tina when she was pregnant and when the band found out they jumped him and broke his leg. He abandoned Tina before their son Craig was born. Ike took Tina in when she had nowhere to go. She later became pregnant with Ike’s baby at the same time as his wife. Tina was a Nursing Aide before she joined Ike’s band. He was already an established musician before he met her. They both benefited from each other to get out of St Louis. He needed a dynamic singer and he provided guidance and financial security for Tina. Ike can’t take credit for Tina’s natural talent but for all his faults he gave her a platform to shine. Ike should have appreciated her and treated her better but it was his loss. Tina survived and thrived. At the end of the Tina has said she forgives Ike and they created a musical legacy together which is why they’re inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame together as a duo.
How could she be an innocent? Who really is? I applaud her simply for fighting for her rights and winning.
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From Mira Prabhu