Feminist Bedtime Stories, #1

I.

Hans Christian Anderson got it wrong:
the Little Match Girl did not die
of exposure. No—
she arranged what remained of her inventory
strategic as an arsonist,
wore taps on her shoes to keep time
clackclackclack jigging on cobblestones
whilst around her, flames bright as a party dress,
centre-ville dissolving into hot ash and smoke
as the match girl laughed and thumped
her feet, awkward and resplendent,
and, finally, at the last,
warm.

~ ~ ~

Continue reading “Feminist Bedtime Stories, #1”

Oracle

 

john_collier_-_priestess_of_delphi-2


Oracle

The Pythia, Oracle at Delphi, was (scholars report)
the most powerful woman of the Ancient World,
sought out by royalty and commoner alike to answer their questions
and predict their fates, prognostications she offered them
in dactylic hexameter as elegant and epic as any Homer wrote

though (others footnote) every fortune the Oracle uttered was claimed
to come out as hysterical raving in need of translation by her priestly keepers—
acolytes of Apollo and collectors of the payment each pilgrim brought
in tribute to the God and to his Voice—

the truth lying, as it always does, somewhere between
frenzied gibberish and enigmatic prophecy,
between priestess and priests
between woman and man. Continue reading “Oracle”

#NotOkay

After the Trump video released last Friday, writer Kelly Oxford tweeted about her own experience—at only 12 years old—of having a strange man grab her crotch. While she may not have expected more than a few friends to respond to her invitation to “tweet me you first assaults,” she has now received hundreds of thousands of stories (a million on Saturday night alone), and the tweets are still pouring in, under the hashtag #NotOkay.

I find myself among those unwilling to join this conversation openly. Not because I do not have such memories in my past, but these are encounters that I either have already shared or have reasons to hold private still. So I am thinking instead about the ubiquity of not only sexual violence in girlhood but also the threats of such violence—and how these twin forces shaped the early years of so many women I know, and continue to color our daughters’ experiences today.

With all that in mind (both the said and the unsaid), I decided to revisit and revamp this piece I wrote a few years ago:


parked cars

My Body Is a Car Door

He and I are drinking coffee together, sitting
each in our own maturity and marveling
the kids these days!
when he says:
­    ‏                      ‏ ‎‌‍“I always thought puberty
was so much worse for girls. Breasts, menstruation—
like living inside an alien.
Boys have nothing that compares.”

“Boners,” I retort.

*** Continue reading “#NotOkay”

Brief Political PSA Regarding the Inadequacy of GOP Responses to Most Recent Evidence that their Presidential Candidate Gleefully Engages in Sexual Assault

Quick reminder:

We as a society are no better served by benevolent sexism than by overt misogyny.


[Relevant background, for any who may have missed and wished to view the latest “bombshell” evidence that the Republican candidate for President—a serial adulterer who raped his first wife, stands accused of raping a 13yo girl, and sexually harassed scores of women employees, in addition to those he outright assaulted—is less politician, more rapey, racist, bigoted mass of sexist pond scum. NB: while the video clip released by WaPo does contain “vulgar language,” far more problematic is the sexual violence Tromp (sic) describes and enthuses over.]

***

Yo.

GOP Leadership?

Take note:

I have no more interest in being “championed and revered” by my government than I have in being crotch-grabbed by it. [1]

“Hitting on a married woman” is not on par with sexual assault, not even close—a point easy to miss if your primary concern is with insults to “our wives and daughters” rather than to half the American citizenry. [2]

And when you express your concern as “No woman should ever be described in these terms or talked about in this manner”—then spend the rest of your weekend huddled in presidential debate-prep with the man who so described us—you confirm that window-dressing matters to you more than substance. That you are willing to see me as a p***y to be grabbed, just so long as that p***y-grab is not talked about. [3]

In sum:
Do not revere us.
Do not pretend to own us.
Do not clean up your language in our presence.

Just stop pretending you are not an equal sh!tstain on our polity to your man who would be king.

To borrow the words of Jessica Valenti:

SEE YOU ON NOVEMBER 8th, ASSHOLES.

/PSA


[1] Thanks but no thanks, Paul Ryan.

[2] Swing and a miss there, Mitt Romney.

[3] Awww. The feeling of disdain is mutual, Reince!

Percussion

Interior of a grand piano

Percussion

My marriage was a master class in musical absolutes.
Syllabus: variations on a single theme.

1. Every true composer must first be a pianist.

The piano is a percussive instrument
same as a drum, he told me,

manly as any silverback thumping his chest.

2. Only symphony or opera, only what the plebescite deems “classical”
merits the name of music.

Listen to this pop tune:
(sneering at the repetitive bass thumping of techno or house,
the snare solo interrupting the rock ballad)
Can you imagine any sound more emasculated?

3. Composing is not an art form for pussies.

Not when unzipped and whipped it out
is highest praise for the writing of a concerto.
Or believing your own vision mangled in performance

by flesh-and-blood musicians?
An erection attacked by a thousand paper cuts.

4. I understood:

To make macho sport of penning duets for Cello and Tenor
was a blow struck at childhood bullies

at jocks who called out “fag boy”

at the mother’s drunken boyfriend who’d once pressed his gun
into a small child’s hands—cold steel to toughen up

what hours at a keyboard threatened
to make soft.

5. I understood at last too:

(ordered to my knees, bare backside)
(strop pulled like a whisper from its satin case)

In such man’s logic, any woman’s body could itself become
drum.


 

Alice Writes An Angry Letter

Dear Random Man on the Street Who Kept Talking to Me Until I Finally Looked at Him,

Thanks so much for picking me out of a crowded sidewalk of people to talk to. I was moved, almost really!

I mean, it sounded like you recognized me from somewhere, with all that babbling “hey, how are you, hey sweetheart, how you been doing.” As if you wanted to check in on what’s been up with me since the last time we talked.

Or rather, since the last time you talked to any totally random woman on the street. Because one thing I’m sure we agree on: who I am beyond “woman” doesn’t matter in this interaction.

In case you were wondering: no, I didn’t think you were dangerous (unless it turned out you were). And no, I didn’t you were going to follow me (unless it turned out you did). And no, I didn’t feel sexually objectified by our encounter (unless we’re gonna count the fact that it is men—always and only—who make this kind of you-owe-me-your-attention-cuz-I-called-you-sweetheart move on women. Also always and only).

You say you wanna know how I’m doing?

So glad you asked! Continue reading “Alice Writes An Angry Letter”