the f bombs
After reading “who needs dick who has bic” at my junior year poetry reading 2nd block, i was considered by peers (and anybody who cared to show up at the reading, which was around 100 people) to be A FEMINIST POET. BUT the self proclaimed powervadge feminists present at the poetry reading hated me and hated the poem. A funny reaction… the consequences of which I had to deal with for the rest of college.
at the time, i claimed my offense stemmed not from the shame of being a considered a feminist poet, but from being pigeon holed as a feminist poet instead of as feminist and poet, and poet and feminist, and alot of other things in between…
which is true…it was infuriating to be pigeon holed. it was INFURIATING to recognize the tone of dismissal whenever this subject came up. furthermore, i was ashamed of myself for being ashamed of my pigeon hole.
so fuck it.
i am what i am.
I will always put the full force of whatever talent or influence I have behind defending women, or anyone who has been bullied into relinquishing their individual power and individual voice.
WHen I think about establishing a reputation and a writing career (which, recently, I do all day, everyday,) inevitably I have to think about where I fit in with the international and national writing communities and how readers might initially perceive my writing. I never consciously intended to be A FEMINIST POET, but I did consciously intend to be BRAVE AND AMBITIOUS AND UNAPOLOGETICALLY GIRLY. maybe its 21st century feminism and maybe it isn’t. It would be easier for me if I actually knew.
When I was younger, it never occurred to me to be emotionally effected by misogyny even though I grew up in Asia and Central America. surrounded by heavy, undisguised misogyny. Whenever something obviously misogynistic was brought to my attention, it effected me to the same degree a poorly written bureaucratic government sign might. annoying, juvenile, stupid, totally ignorable. certainly not worth paying attention to.
If anything, I am a misogynist. I belong to a matriarchal family. Both immediate and extended, and on both sides of my family. A family completely dominated by strong and terrifying women.
I knew what Buddha was before I knew what God was, but before I knew what either of those things were, I knew women were better than men. Thank my grandmothers and their mothers and maybe even their mothers mothers. All the women in my family could kick your ass. physically and mentally.
Anyway, I’ve thought about this quite frequently for the past 2 years, but today it was sparked by an article written in response to some shit that went down at the VMAS. Excerpt posted below:
This is what I think: our country cannot be truly open and progressive as long as we celebrate people who contribute to the disenfranchising of our marginalized groups. When we praise someone for a work well done, we also give them power and influence. And through support, we give them money.
Chris Brown gets to live a lush awesome lifestyle (yes, I’m jealous) because people continue to support him. MTV continues to play his music and invite him on their shows, radios still play his songs, and people still request them. So in America, you can be violent and misogynstic and still successful. What message does that send about how we feel about abused women?
Tyler the Creator uses homophobic language and talks about raping women. No, he hasn’t raped a woman, but he passes on the language which people then learn and accept to be OK. I can’t believe 12 year olds listen to his music. I worry that they absorb more than they understand and somewhere in their head are being taught that raping women is an acceptable thing to joke about. And if one thinks it is acceptable to joke about rape, do they really understand what rape is? If it is acceptable to joke about rape and misunderstand rape, when does it become certainlyunacceptable to rape? If it is acceptable to use hate language in music (“fa**ot,” “gay,” etc.), why wouldn’t any young person assume it is also acceptable to use that language in life?
I think that Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara really said it better than I ever could in her blog post:
When will misogynistic and homophobic ranting and raving result in meaningful repercussions in the entertainment industry? When will they be treated with the same seriousness as racist and anti-Semitic offenses? While an artist who can barely get a sentence fragment out without using homophobic slurs is celebrated on the cover of every magazine, blog and newspaper, I’m disheartened that any self-respecting human being could stand in support with a message so vile.
Through this experience I have discovered it is NOT COOL to be a feminist. But I have also gotten to have some really great conversations. My younger sister came to me and asked me if I was a feminist and I said yes and asked if she was. She said she had never thought of it before so I got to talk to her and ask her questions about her opinions and thoughts and get to know her a bit better.
Well… I guess I should keep talking about it then. Maybe someday it will dawn on me where the fuck I belong in this debate. Until then….who needs dick who has bic. and blogging. maybe thats my stance.
The fact remains, I can’t ignore it anymore. I’ve suffered too much. and I can’t even sit next to a strange man in the airport or the library without feeling scared, hostile and sick to my stomach, overcome by the desire to either scream, or stab said invader of my personal space with a blunt pencil. Beat the shit out of him.
If I was a man, I’d be dangerous.
This is what goes through my mind. and I want it to stop. and I want to help other women who also feel this way.
This is not how I was born. This is not how I was 6 years ago. This feeling/instinct was nurtured by the world we live in.
I hate walking down the street without my sunglasses on. I hate passing men in the streets and having to choose between looking down, looking up, looking to the side or glossing my eyes over and looking straight through.
I hate men and I hate myself.
Im being honest because thats the only way to strike.
“I was deeply concerned about the feelings of being ugly”
|This Was Once a Love Poem|
|by Jane Hirshfield|
This was once a love poem, before its haunches thickened, its breath grew short, before it found itself sitting, perplexed and a little embarrassed, on the fender of a parked car, while many people passed by without turning their heads. It remembers itself dressing as if for a great engagement. It remembers choosing these shoes, this scarf or tie. Once, it drank beer for breakfast, drifted its feet in a river side by side with the feet of another. Once it pretended shyness, then grew truly shy, dropping its head so the hair would fall forward, so the eyes would not be seen. IT spoke with passion of history, of art. It was lovely then, this poem. Under its chin, no fold of skin softened. Behind the knees, no pad of yellow fat. What it knew in the morning it still believed at nightfall. An unconjured confidence lifted its eyebrows, its cheeks. The longing has not diminished. Still it understands. It is time to consider a cat, the cultivation of African violets or flowering cactus. Yes, it decides: Many miniature cacti, in blue and red painted pots. When it finds itself disquieted by the pure and unfamiliar silence of its new life, it will touch them—one, then another— with a single finger outstretched like a tiny flame.