Once Upon A Time

fairy-hand

SELF-PORTRAIT IN POTENTIA


After the death of memoir, I will write fairy tales.

I desire a purity of language outside the stink of events and memories. Stories I cannot be accused of having invented because of course I have invented them.

Neither full fiction, nor freighted fact.

I would show other bones behind my telling.

*

Fable gifts us fanciful creatures, fanciful bodies, fanciful selves. In the tales, I shall become winged, ogrish, bulky as a mountain, a face all crooked nose and sharpened teeth—by turns witch, killer, a dragon in shadows. I rend flesh. I eat princesses whole. I am wolf and hunter both, my head too full to contain in just one mind, in just one set of teeth.

I am Little Red Riding Hood’s lover.

I pull my feet off the ground and still know where I am standing.

*

I grew up in a gingerbread house, led by a gingerbread man, all of us happy and perfect and filled with gumdrops to our eyelids until at last we bled gumdrops out our mouths, and still we filled with them. I was a princess who gave away her voice for love, who danced in magical shoes until her feet were stumps and slept atop 85 feathered mattresses yet still could find no rest.

All the while being told (small child in a small child’s nightgown) that monsters were never real. The very monsters I could see, could smell.

Monsters whose fur caught on railings, leaving behind tufts that I collected each morning in a pillowcase.

One grows weary of not knowing when to believe the words pouring off one’s own tongue. Over time, one starts to prick one’s finger on every spinning wheel spindle out of spite and desperation.
Continue reading “Once Upon A Time”

the (un)funny feminist crashes an OB/GYN convention: Vaginal Imperialism

[EDITOR NOTE: It has been brought to this unfunny feminist’s attention that during an earlier attempt at sharing this story, the Interwebs themselves were so entertained that they completely snarfled the post. Our apologies for the technical snafu, and we now return you to your regularly scheduled blog entertainment!]


I laugh because I love.
Finally answering the question: “Can a man ever really be funny?”

I realize it’s been quite awhile since my last (un)funny feminist post. But ever since I first watched Matthew Broussard’s recent stand-up performance on Conan I’ve been feeling terribly, terribly sad at the thought of anyone being deprived of this pleasure.

And so, without further ado:

Heeeeere’s Matthew!

[Please join me for a party in the comment section after viewing. Attendees are invited to share your favorite lines and/or your best digital representation of laughter! Adult beverages to be provided at no extra charge.]

Continue reading “the (un)funny feminist crashes an OB/GYN convention: Vaginal Imperialism”

Quiet please. The vulvas are talking.

I spent my afternoon, as one is wont to do, getting interviewed on my thoughts regarding vaginas and vulvas. (As one is wont to do, WHEN ONE IS ME, I should perhaps have specified.) I’ll share that piece with y’all when it’s published—but in the meantime, an observation: ain’t it wonderful how brains are pliable, and how writing plies them?

See, I wrote this post last fall about our cultural reluctance—and my own personal resistance—to using the word “vulva.” Today, what I found? Personal resistance gone! Another plank of internalized misogyny fallen! Appears I am now fully aboard the vulva-train.

And so I invite you to join me in raising a glass to the liberation of sexual bodies and sexual vocabulary alike, and to tell me about a time you wrote yourself into a different way of thinking.

Just please refrain from using the word “moist” in your comment.

*shudder*

“Moist” is never gonna happen.

coffee and a blank page

Tacos


In a revelation that will shock exactly zero readers of this blog, I must confess that I’ve always been obsessive about using words correctly. About knowing both literal and connotative meanings. About finding le mot juste for every occasion.

Add gender into the lexical mix? At that point, “obsessive” becomes, well…

Lemme put it to you this way. I still feel pissy about the idiotic joke made by some fellow Unitarians when I was 11 and the UUA was revising the official church hymnal to remove gender-exclusive language: “Maybe we should just call this new HYM-nal an IT-nal, since you hate men so much.”

[Picture here a tween-sized Alice, hands on her hips, fuming at her male peers. . . and more than a few grownass male grownups.^]

In those days, if I heard you call someone a “girl” who was clearly a grownass female grownup? Them were fightin’ words, far as I was concerned.

I’ve since…

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“20 Minutes of Action”; or, My Life as a Promiscuous Cyborg

[CN: rape, rape culture]


We have been compelled in our bodies and in our minds to correspond, feature by feature, with the idea of nature that has been established for us.
Monique Wittig, “One Is Not Born a Woman”

To be feminized means to be made extremely vulnerable; able to be disassembled, reassembled, exploited…leading an existence that always borders on being obscene, out of place and reducible to sex….
Cyborg imagery can suggest a way out of the maze of dualisms in which we have explained our bodies and our tools to ourselves. This is a dream not of a common language, but of a powerful infidel heteroglossia.

Donna Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto”

That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action…
Dan Turner, letter to the judge requesting leniency in sentencing for his son, convicted Stanford rapist Brock Turner

mud_dolls1

I am still thinking about court statements that came out after the sentencing of Brock Turner, the so-called “Stanford rapist,” at the start of June. “Not a danger,” said the judge. “Not serious harm,” said the legal subtext of his 6-month sentence. “Not a monster,” said his childhood friend. Tell my son “that his life still has meaning,” pleaded his mother. Only “20 minutes of action,” bargained his father.

Nor has the victim’s statement left my mind. Did you know she keeps a drawing of two bicycles taped above her bed? It reminds her of the two passersby on bikes who stopped the assault and gave chase to her assailant when he fled, holding him until police arrived. These bikes are the one detail I remind myself of, the one I have to remind myself of, day after day. I think about the bicycles in an effort to drown out the detail I want to forget and can’t: how the hospital found dirt—and pine needles, and other debris—in her vagina.

Did you notice that detail too?

He filled her with dirt.

My mind won’t put this fact down. Or rather, part of my mind won’t put this fact down.

The part of my mind that can flood with shame just watching a dog squat to piss on the sidewalk, thus announcing its female genitalia; and the part that feels soothed by the impenetrable blankness between a Barbie doll’s legs. The part of my mind that would limit my vocabulary to only the crudest obscenities for sex, and for my own anatomy.

The part that still believes my survivor’s body is forever filled with mud. 
Continue reading ““20 Minutes of Action”; or, My Life as a Promiscuous Cyborg”

Fcuk Pretty

 

Coming out to my 91yo grandmother, that spring I first broke the news to her about dating a woman, did not proceed according to plan.

My mother’s mother took a long moment, squinting at me intently, before she spoke.

FP_madeup-eyes

“So…when are you going to lose the weight?”

I sputtered back incoherently, shifting quickly into defensive mode while still trying to confirm if she had heard and understood what I had said. But once begun, Gram was not to be dissuaded. From critiquing my body, she moved on to my brother’s, and then my brother’s wife. When her litany of complaints reached the circumference of my preschool niece’s thighs, I stood up to leave the room.

“I don’t understand what happened,” my grandmother’s querulous lament followed me. “You used to be so young and thin.

“You used to be pretty.” 

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This is not a story about living in a fat body, though I do and I could tell it. Nothing has felt so loud as flesh pressing out against my clothes, belly spreading across my seated thighs.

This is not a story about living in a thin body, either, though I have and I could tell it. Nothing has felt so fragile as bones emerging from flesh, the butterfly wing of my collarbone arching delicately below my throat.

This is a story about sight.

About the reclamation of seeing.

Continue reading “Fcuk Pretty”

Body Lessons (Genealogy of an Orgasm)

[CN: rape, rape’s aftermath, emotional abuse.]

This piece can now be found at The Manifest-Station.


Origin-of-the-World_modified

 

# # #

Shame thrives in isolation and silence. Thank you for witnessing these stories, and for lessening my burden by doing so. 

I invite all who would like — whether you typically comment on blogs or not — to share in the comments any part of this post that resonated for you, any memories it may have brought up, or any other thoughts you wish to convey. 

❤ alice


“Body Lessons (Genealogy of an Orgasm)” is part of an ongoing memory project. 
The entire series can be found here.

[Image: L’Origine du monde. Painting by Courbet (1866). Discretion by Alice (2016).]