A very brief introduction to Luce Irigaray, or, never assume you know everything.
My first foray into what is variously called sexual difference, the thought of sexual difference, or the politics of sexual difference as proposed by Belgian psychoanalyst and feminist theorist Luce Irigaray, was thorny. Armed with what I thought was a solid theoretical base of intersectional feminism, the apparently revolutionary idea that there is a difference in the way men and women present themselves in society, in their language and in the work they produce, seemed laughably obvious.
Late last night a police officer came to file a report after a neighbor sexually harassed my roommate and I. He stands a chance at being charged with disorderly conduct which certainly seems like a slap on the wrist to me but I want to encourage y’all to call the police when you feel violated or threatened. It’s an imperfect system, but it’s something. I’ve been lucky enough to have helpful and understanding officers on my side in these instances but I know that’s not the case for many, many people. Always get the officer’s name and badge number and be sure you get a case number from them as well so you can follow up with the department. And most importantly of all, know that you’re not overreacting. You’re never overreacting when it comes to your safety and well-being. You’re never wrong to want to be treated as a human being and nothing less.
Two years ago I first heard a friend’s abortion story, in May I sat on a couch with my then-boyfriend to talk about our options if the test came back positive, last month I held a friend’s hand while she cried about the stigma she worried she’d face, and yesterday a stranger gifted me a zine detailing her decision to get an abortion. It’s happening all around us, to our friends and our families and our co-workers and our neighbors.
That’s why I fight for Texans, that’s why I fight for Leticia and Wendy, that’s why I fight for providers and funds, that’s why I fight for access, and that’s why I’ll keep fighting tooth and nail for as long as it takes.
Election Day is less than a month away and the fight won’t end there just like the fight didn’t start with HB2, but I hope that you’ll make sure you’re registered to vote by tomorrow and I hope that you’ll get to the polls next month.
Tomorrow morning 27 million Texans scattered across 266,000 square miles will be left with 8 abortion clinics in and around 4 cities. You have 4 days left to register to vote, please let me know if you need any help getting that done. The 5th circuit court of appeals is a federal court but it was our state officials who’ve put the lives of Texans on the line for ultra-conservative, ideological scorecards. Election Day is coming. Fight back, Texas.
I have been known / to listen to a single song / for weeks on end. / Like the fear of forgetting / the last bedroom you had / in your parents house / or burning your tongue / on morning coffee. / The days you take down / two mugs and then remember / he doesn’t come down the stairs / anymore.
It happened on an ordinary day, the kind of day you might find yourself grocery shopping, paying the bills online, or telling yourself you need to go on a diet. There was no catastrophic event, no spiraling descent or tumult into muck and punched up faces against glass. Instead, it came in a series of low, dull, striated waves comparable to the ache of a wisdom tooth erupting over time. A simple bad day. An odd, but understandable bad week. Several nights of insomnia. Several nights of hypersomnia. Then muffling screams in the bathroom below Classics, skin raw and taut, running to the parking lot in the brittle cold of autumn, draping your face into a black scarf. Can I make it to the car? My legs feel like pudding. My chest is below retying my shoelaces.
My father tells me that it is okay to be sad. This is the third time I’ve left work this week.
Lexapro. Prozac. Prozac. Zoloft. Zoloft. Celexa. Vyvanse. St. John’s Wort. Vitamin D. Chocolate. Hot baths. 50-minute therapy sessions. Red wine. More red wine. So much red wine that my lips feel like they’ve been stung by a bee. A massage with a masseuse named Heather. Nana’s Ella Fitzgerald record drowning out my sobs in a dark room. Yoga. Hikes through Cameron. A hug from my father. A kiss from my mother.
The holidays are here. There we are sitting around the tiny dining table in my apartment. The heater warms the room. Crackers sits beneath our feet, still clean from a bath. We are drinking hibiscus tea out of mason jars. There’s tomato soup from the carton. It’s too sweet and not so enjoyable. There’s a kale mess I’ve whipped up. Ground turkey, squash, sriracha, I can’t remember the rest. A fried egg sits on top.
I’m so thrilled to be tabling at Zine Fest Houston this year! Even better news — I’ll be a featured panelist for a discussion about independent magazines. See y’all there? Free admissions on Saturday, Oct. 4 at The Printing Museum
I used to call you Sir. When you asked me why, I told you, it was a sign of respect, a form of polite affection. I hope the absence of this title scalds your tongue, that you are branded with the acid in my stomach.
I ask you
If it was good. did my joints crack , did I dig my fingernails into your spine,
Was it missionary?
Did you fold the paper of my skin, did you turn me into a crane, did I crane my neck, and did you crane yours,
Was it slow? Somehow, I doubt it.
I ask you this because you ripped this memory out of my skull with two fingers, a cryptic act of I cannot remember.
Was I your target practice, did you reach your goal, how far did you need to stretch.
You said I convulse. I could have told you that. You did not need to prove me anxious. You slipped inside with dog-chewed fingers and I convinced myself I was rewriting this story.
You gnawed through your own expiration in rug-burned nerve endings. I tell you, that is a feeling. Do you know how to let emotion sink below your surface? When I thumbtacked rapist on the tail end of your resume, did you bleed? I find linear scabs on my arms and dental impressions in my neck. Does the thickness in your marrow make you weighted? You should have waited. Were you not taught to hold hand written invitations? Did you hold me? Was I capable of holding you back?
You tell me that I enjoyed it. That I wrapped my legs around you, an invitation. I do not remember how it happened. I do not remember you. I remember being outside.
I remember three weeks of not yet. I remember wanting the only rhythm in my body to be of heartbeat, to be of shadow. Now I walk through this life half-ingested. I wonder if I made a sound, I don’t know if I fucking made a sound. I am here in the aftermath, the bloodshed. You thought I would leave a bigger stain.
You are a tear-jerking distraction, my ribs are laced hollow. I cannot catch my breath. I can still smell your meat, the scent washes against my frontal lobe in liquid flame. I will not digest the spoonful of fear you fed me, there is no room for resentment in my body. There is no room for you.
My love of house music often feels like a line in the sand between me and my fellow feminists. A line which is drawn along lines of class and racial and sexual identity. How can I, they ask me, love a genre of music that is notorious for being a “boys club” and for perpetuating narrow standards of beauty? Because when I’m down with Riot Grrrl and Ani DiFranco and punk rock (to use some over-worn stereotypes of “feminist” music), my feminist bona fides are not questioned, but mention a love of house music and I get either blank stares or suspicious side-eyes.
House is a brand of music that has been called, variously and non-pejoratively, (at times) “club music,” “dance music,” ”electronic music,” or “electronic dance music” or “EDM.” Before it was co-opted by the current wave of dubstep-centric, corporate overloads like LiveNation and Goldenvoice, “EDM” was sometimes used in the 90s to distinguish house, trance, techno, etc. from other “electronic music” that could be described as more experimental and less melodic (and therefore certainly less danceable), like “noise music” or “future music” (which have roots that stretch back to the 19th Century). Any true house music fan will tell you, though, EDM in general has been much-perverted (and not in a good way) into a soulless corporate money-making machine, with Las Vegas and “superstar DJs” at the center of its cold, dead heart.
We sat in the garden after he showed me the motorcycle he recently bought. He told me that he rode his motorcycle during the summer months but now it was autumn. He said the word “autumn” like it was a problem or a reason to stop doing things. I guess the rain makes it more difficult to ride but then I wondered if he was just more of a seasonal rider. Maybe it was like how I stopped drawing after I graduated from art school but every other weekend or so I take out my supplies and try to make something that looks really good. The people at school had a word for that: “Sunday-painters”. It meant that you treated art like a hobby rather than a way of life.
I wish art felt the same way as it did when I was a little kid. When I would try to draw perfect green trees with my stubby, dirty, little crayons and the leaves ended up with streaks of orangey-red and brown in it. I used to try and scratch out the wrong colors with my fingernails. The picture would be smudged and ruined as far as I was concerned. My mom would see my drawings and say, “Oh, look its fall-time!” as if all my mistakes made everything so much better.
His leather jacket squeaks when he moves, even just to brush some hair out of his eyes. I wonder how he gets around the city if he’s not riding his motorcycle anymore.
“Do you wear your motorcycle jacket on the bus?” I ask, because I wonder if that deteriorates your street-cred. He doesn’t answer me so I ask him if he’s a “Sunday-rider”. He looks irritated as he finally reveals: “When I get enough money together for some winter tires, I’ll keep on riding”.
We sit quietly for a moment. Everything in the garden looks soggy and rotten; it reminds me that I should clean out the vegetable crisper in my fridge. I know that deep down there are a lot of squash and root vegetables growing healthily beneath the ground, but you wouldn’t know it by just looking at it. Then I notice that he has begun talking again. He is telling me a story from the I-need-to-find-myself trip to Europe he took several years ago. He begins the story with a shrug but I can’t help but remember that was the first time we broke up.
your sadness is palpable, it’s heavy and tired and i can feel it as you shuffle around the house, searching for a job in a field you didn’t choose but that your husband deems good enough while he drinks bottles of scotch and complains that your daughter is settling for jobs that aren’t good enough and would you stop putting so much damn salt on the fish and fuck it i’ll just eat more bread this dinner isn’t good enough, a phrase you’ve now internalized.
mother, your sadness is aromatic, and i wish it wasn’t because it smells like blood and i make excuses to go into your bathroom to brush my teeth so i can search for red stains on your bath towels and find you crying in bed like that time i rushed into your room cause clay was waiting outside to take me to a movie and aren’t 15-yr-old girls supposed to be the ones sobbing in their bed, dragging razors to their forearms, watching red stains grow on thin white sheets because no one will listen to them and
mother, your sadness is infuriating, blaming your husband for not letting you invest in dreams you have of owning a farm and selling those strange worms that you whisper to while they digest my apple peels, blaming the government for the lack of jobs and how they outsourced a job you hated anyways, blaming everyone else because you’re too scared of change to live your dreams and you’re too scared of failure to take a change and you’re too scared of everything and
mother, i finally get you out of the house and we get coffee and i try to tell you about things i’m excited about and maybe 24 will be my best year yet and i’m starting a magazine and don’t tell dad he would just deem it not good enough but your eyes kind of stare off into a steam rising from the parking lot because thank God texas is finally getting some rain and you ask me if I know what tiny houses are, because dad made you throw away the strange worms and no one else will listen and yes
mother, buying some land and living in a tiny house with your worms does sound like a dream.