Cunt.

Most days, my morning starts with coffee.

Other days, it begins with finding myself being equated to a Nazi mass-murderer by some random online stranger, who happens to disagree with me about the need and function of public protest in any functioning democracy.

So, yeah. That.

I wondered, as I stared at my computer screen this morning: why am I the one in this exchange feeling trapped and tongue-tied? Why this stab of pain at witnessing the shameful barbarism of another human’s ill-informed—and ill-intended—imagination?

I have been trying to write about shame for days, y’see. The way it clots the throat. The way it steals intent and stillbirths action.

When functioning properly, shame polices the edges of propriety. It’s the tool our social herds use to cull those whose behavior transgresses the untransgressable. But often when we speak of it this way directly—“Have you no shame?”—we are merely evoking the presence of its absence, trying to summon the effects of a boundary on someone who has long since abandoned our thought-to-be-agreed-upon rules.

Shame is a double-edged knife, sharpened even through its hilt. It cuts in unpredictable directions, as often burying itself in the flesh of the sinned-against as in that of the sinner. More often, perhaps.

Still unsure what I’m getting at? Ask any rape survivor.

Ask if they felt shame.

sheela-na-gig_kilpeck_church_sequence

Continue reading “Cunt.”

White Woman, Interrupted

 

womens-march-poster
[Poster by Hayley Gilmore.]
7 days.

It’s barely been 7 full days.

Some say the world was made in 7 days.

The new US president—aided, abetted, and manipulated by the unholy choir of white supremacists and power-drunk opportunists that surrounds him—seems bent on tying, if not beating, that world-creating record as he sets about the process of destroying it.

Holy crap. I mean…

HOLY CRAP.

How to even begin to resist?

With the Word, I ‘spose. If I’m sticking with tradition, I begin with the word. And in this situation, that word is me. My resistance must begin with me.

* * *

Let me be clear: I want to save myself.

First, last, every day in between. Myself.

So do you. It’s human nature; it’s survival instinct; it’s why we don’t yet breed in cannisters but cling to the fleshy stickiness of bodies and lusts, new life emerging blood-covered and squalling.

I want to save myself most, and so do you.

Now. If I misunderstand this basic fact, I can’t serve justice. It is my own judgment that I confront in the mirror at the end of each day, after all.

Continue reading “White Woman, Interrupted”

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”

“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”

“The judge said WHAT?!”

[CN: sexual assault, rape culture, victim-blaming]


lighthouse_full

If you are on social media at all, then you are likely to have run across this story in the last few days: how Brock Allen Turner, former Stanford student and competitive swimmer (now three-time convicted felon), was just awarded a slap-on-the-wrist sentence of six months in county jail, followed by probation, for the sexual assault and assault-with-intent-to-rape of an incapacitated 23yo woman, as she lay comatose on the ground behind a dumpster.

You may be wondering: why so light a sentence, given Turner’s three convictions that carried a cumulative potential for up to 14 years in prison? Especially considering the eyewitness testimony of two bicyclists, who spotted Turner thrusting on top of the motionless and mostly-naked woman and chased him off her; the victim’s blood-alcohol level of three times the legal limit (i.e., she would have barely been able to walk, let alone consent); and physical evidence that included dirt and grit in her vagina, resulting from Turner shoving his grubby, unwashed hands straight from the ground to inside her.

Well…let’s hear what the ruling judge, Aaron Persky, offered as explanation:

“A prison sentence would have a severe impact on him … I think he will not be a danger to others.”

Oh holy hells. Where to even begin. Continue reading ““The judge said WHAT?!””

Mother’s Day Rage Ballad; or, An Incomplete List of My Very Loud No’s

Wanna know my biggest secret?

I am the Incredible Hulk.

always angry

More precisely, I am like the Hulk. I too have a never-ending stream of anger, not far below my surface, that I can tap into at any time.

I didn’t used to know that I had any anger at all. Society exerts pressure at every level to deny women access to their own “unwomanly” rage, to shame them for feeling it, and to gaslight them as crazy, shrill, and irrational if they ever show it.

Dunno about you? but it all really pisses me off.

hear me roar

Add to that my upbringing in a family where only one person was allowed to be angry — explosively, frighteningly so — while the rest of us tiptoed around trying not to provoke him. By our late teens, my brother and I had each decided that we would “never be angry” as adults, attempting instead to banish that most basic feeling from our emotional lexicons. Nothing good ever comes from anger, we reasoned, only hurt to the people closest to you.

Also, to borrow my mother’s words from a few years ago when I mentioned being angry about a medical misdiagnosis (and, more importantly, at the blowhole who misdiagnosed me): “If you’re going to get over feeling angry at some point, better you should just put the anger down right away and not bother.”

Only now, in my mid-40s, have I started to bother. Started to be bothered.

And unapologetically so.

It feels a bit like a perimenopausal hot flash, except the heat doesn’t subside. And I haven’t yet contemplated crawling into the refrigerator to escape it.

hades is fine

For this Mother’s Day, then — in honor of the complicated layers of anger I feel with my mother, at my mother, and on behalf of my mother — allow me to present:

Alice Says NO to Things That Make Me Angry, As Illustrated by .GIFs

Continue reading “Mother’s Day Rage Ballad; or, An Incomplete List of My Very Loud No’s”