This freshman in my Feminist Theory class asked me to explain to her how the girl from Duke who was “outed” as a porn star can say that’s empowering. I didn’t really understand why she was asking me when there was a classroom full of equally capable (and much more patient) feminists between us but I gave her my personal answer and then at the end of it I said “I think what’s most important is to respect her and her choices and not impose our assumptions onto her with regards to what we may think about her or her chosen profession” and this girl responded, in earnest, saying “I’m trying really hard not to but I don’t understand how someone who does that can say she’s empowering herself.” Thanks for not listening to a single thing I just said sweetheart.
This girl has said something in every single class meeting that has rubbed me the wrong way and I think a lot of it has to do with her naivete and ignorance. I don’t want to dissuade her from pursuing WGS and identifying herself as a feminist because there is room for a lot of voices in the same conversation but at the same time I just want to shake her. I’ve never spoken to her on the topic directly, but I suspect she identifies as a “feminist but.”
This problem spread throughout the rest of the class as the conversation shifted to trans issues. I greatly admire and respect Janet Mock and had the pleasure of hearing her speak at Rutgers about a year ago. I know that when I was first learning about LGBTQIA and feminist issues in a comprehensive, non-mainstream fashion a lot of what was being told to me went way over my head and I am sure I said some naive and ignorant bullshit that I would be ashamed to hear come out of my mouth today, however I was immensely annoyed that so much of the conversation around Janet Mock (Piers Morgan’s pathetic attempts at interviewing her) seemed so fixated on how attractive she was as a woman, and how you would “never know” she was trans, which of course subtly reinforces the idea that she is somehow less of a woman, or less genuine as a woman. You wouldn’t be able to tell she really was born a boy (which goes completely against Janet Mock’s biggest gripe about the Morgan interview! She was born a baby and assigned “boy” at birth but Morgan identified her as being born a boy, despite her attempts to correct him.)
I realize as a cis woman I am coming from a particular position of privilege in this conversation so for the most part I sit on my hands and am very careful about participating in these conversations. I did speak up at my discomfort with the way the conversation was going, but it didn’t seem to matter in the end because as soon as the clip of the interview ended, all the (mostly women) in the room could talk about were her boobs and her teeth, which I doubt was what Mock wanted the audience to take away from the interview.
Today was just generally problematic.
I want someone to kiss me like they’ve been holding it in for much too long.
I resolve to write everyday. Not necessarily here, and absolutely not completing something everyday, but just get in the habit of writing everyday.
All the writers tell me I should do this. Maybe I should listen to them. I don’t want to look back a year from now and be in the same spot creatively as I am today.
To say the house was quiet would be an understatement. The floorboards seemed to be holding their collective breath, begging to creak but too afraid to do so. Andi began to hear the blood rushing in her ears and tried to quiet the shallow breaths she allowed herself to take. Part of her wishes she could blend into the house, be part of the woodwork and let her consciousness imbue itself into the walls. She wanted to know more but didn’t want to move one more step.
What keeps us going when we know we should turn back? Curiosity is too simple a concept to describe the pull Andi felt to climb the stairs and explore further; her body went on autopilot and all doubt evaporated through her fingertips as she took that first step through the foyer. She was not calm, nor was she confident, but she was determined and that was enough.
Andi climbed the stairs, the rubber of her shoes absorbing each step, trying not to disturb the quiet. As her eyes adjusted to the darkness around her Andi took in the walls that were begging for faded photographs, anything to feel purposeful. She could not shake the feeling that this building was lonely. Every light fixture, banister, floorboard, seemed to have an air of looking away in shame from the harsh light of her flashlight.
If this were a movie there’d be a knock at my door and you’d be there, out of breath, even though you drove here.
"Sorry I haven’t been answering your texts," you would say through shallow breaths, "I’ve been driving."
I would have that doofy half smile, half confused look at my face, trying to take it all in, sing song-ey up talk, “what are you doing here? Is everything ok.”
"I hope so."
"What the fuck are you talking about?"And then you’d ask me to go for a drive, I’d realize i’m wearing my Christmas socks and no pants and be slightly embarrassed, but my ass is covered and my legs look great, and since this is a movie, and I’m a woman, I shouldn’t be lounging around fully dressed anyway.
I run upstairs, leaving you stranded on my porch. My parents are mostly oblivious although my cats are curious. You hate cats and they’re making you more nervous. Poe would hiss probably.
I’d pull on some jeans but don’t bother with a bra because you’ve seen me like this so many times. I’d call down, “how cold is it out there?” Even though I would have just been standing in front of the open door, but I’d need to make conversation, and that’s the kind of obvious thing a woman in a movie would ask.
"Cold" with a half chuckle, "but don’t wear that damn green thing."
I’d come down the stairs in that damn green thing and you’d roll your eyes and laugh; don’t judge me it was the director’s choice, along with the costume designer. It suits my character apparently.
"It’s warm, " I’d say, pulling on my coat. "I’m going out, I’ll be back in a bit." I scream up the stairs, and slam the door shut behind me. Since this is a movie and I’m an adult, my parents wouldn’t question me.
What, no, hug? I’d put my arms out to get you warm, and feel your warmth, and just because it’s what we do, and it gives the audience a chance to see what we’re close, so close, because we hug so long, but we won’t give away the ending yet.
We’d get in the car, you put on something stupid, I’d roll my eyes, you pull out of my driveway.
"So where should we go?" You ask.
"Why are you here?"
"That’s not a place."
"That’s not an answer."
"I don’t know, i was bored, decided to go for a drive."
"And you ended up here?"
"It’s better than Trenton; where should we go?"
"Where do you want to go?"
"I don’t know, this is your town."
"Take a left up here."
You’d follow my directions to my favorite place in town; it’s my favorite because it’s actually two towns over. Your seat warmers would turn on, surprising me like always, and I make the same joke, as always. And you change the video on youtube, as always, and I’ll play with your hair, as always.
We’d get to the reservation, but it’s too cloudy for a good view. We’d sit in the car in silence. Only ever so often you’d let out a sigh as you curled in a ball behind the steering wheel. As always.
"Why did you come here? Why today? Why didn’t you tell me."
"I didn’t know I had to until this morning."
"Had to what?"
"I had to see you."
The writers would have spent an agonizing amount of time trying to come up with a less corny and cliched line, but they had to stick with that one.
"Oh did you now?"
"Yeah." and the joking stops, and you’d sit up, and we’d look at each other, as we always do, sitting in your car, in the dark, with the engine off. For too long.
I’d break eye contact and start to scratch my neck, because being this close to you would make me uncomfortable.
You’d look away too, more deliberately, through the windshield.
"Let’s go for a walk," you’d say.
"But it’s freezing!" I’d exclaim.
"I want to move though." So you’d get out and start walking and I’d have to scramble to keep up with you. You’d stop and I’d bump into you, because even in a movie, I’m still clumsy and ridiculous.
"What’s going on." I’d ask. I’d want to go with the flow, but it’d all be too weird.
"So I’ve been thinking and it’s weird and I didn’t want it to happen."
"That does not sound like the beginning of anything good."
"Please don’t say that." He’d say.
"But that’s my line!"
"Do you ever think we belong together?"
My heart would kick into overdrive. I’d deflect.
"Well everyone else seems to think we do, including the internet Mr. 93% Match."
"But do you?"
"I’ve never made it a secret how I feel about you."
"I know, I’m sorry."
"For what?" I’d start to shiver since I left my green thing in the car. You’d put your hands on my arms and rub them up and down.
"For not listening to you." You’d say and we’d kiss and it’d be perfect and warm, even though the rest of me would be cold and you’d pull me into you and kiss me more and in that kiss would be all the kisses that we hadn’t taken that year from all the late night food runs and hours spent together in the car.
And I’d be mad because I didn’t want to be one of those girls who waited around for the guy to notice her. I wasn’t one of those girls and I could be kissing any number of lips, I wouldn’t have realized I still wanted to taste your breath until that moment and the waiting would have almost made it worth it.
And then, because this is a Christmas movie, it’d start to snow. Not enough to be dangerous, but enough to be beautiful.
List as many heroic people as you can in 2 minutes. Heroic can be your mom or Wonder Woman or anyone in between.
List as many tragedies as you can in 2 minutes. These might be the large losses such as the death of a loved one, an abuse you’ve personally suffered, or a group trauma…
Republicans only bother to acknowledge women when they’re reasserting our status as second class citizens. Sure, they occasionally feign outrage over supposed attacks on stay-at-home moms (while nary a word of paid parental leave is spoken) and they trot out their wives to assure us how much their hubby respects women. But we know the truth - that this “respect” is conditional. It’s not based on a belief that women are deserving of human rights, but on a very specific set of rules and roles we are expected to adhere by.
Republicans can spin all they like, but what they don’t understand is that women can recognize dehumanization from a mile away. We live it every day. We know what it is to talk to a person and suddenly realize they believe us stupid because of our gender. We listen while people mansplain topics we’re experts in. We watch media that presents us as little more than masturbation fodder and walk down the street feeling lecherous stares on our back. We know what you mean when you say “legitimate” rape. We know exactly what you’re thinking when you pretend to give a shit.