We have a natural tendency to assume that a remarkable chemistry between two souls is confirmation that they are meant to be together. In the heat of profound feelings, it seems counter-intuitive to imagine ourselves separate from our beloved. But chemistry and longevity are not natural bedfellows. Just because we feel earth-shatteringly alive with someone doesn’t mean they are supposed to be our …life partner. They may have come for a very different reason - to awaken us, to expand us, to shatter us so wide open that we can never close again. Perhaps they were sent from afar to polish the rough diamond of your soul before vanishing into eternity. Perhaps they just came to give you new eyes. Better we surrender our expectations when the beloved comes. (S)he may just be dropping in for a visit.
A boy sprawled next to me on the bus, elbows out, knee pointing sharp into my thigh.
He frowned at me when I uncrossed my legs, unfolded my hands
and splayed out like boys are taught to: all big, loose limbs.
I made sure to jab him in the side with my pretty little sharp purse.
At first he opened his mouth like I expected him to, but instead of speaking up he sat there, quiet, and took it for the whole bus ride.
Like a girl.
Once, a boy said my anger was cute, and he laughed,
and I remember thinking that I should sit there and take it,
because it isn’t ladylike to cause a scene and girls aren’t supposed to raise their voices.
But then he laughed again and all I saw
was my pretty little sharp nails digging into his cheek
before drawing back and making a horribly unladylike fist.
(my teacher informed me later that there is no ladylike way of making a fist.)
When we were both in the principal’s office twenty minutes later
him with a bloody mouth and cheek, me with skinned knuckles,
I tried to explain in words that I didn’t have yet
that I was tired of having my emotions not taken seriously
just because I’m a girl.
Girls are taught: be small, so boys can be big.
Don’t take up any more space than absolutely necessary.
Be small and smooth with soft edges
and hold in the howling when they touch you and it hurts:
the sandpaper scrape of their body hair that we would be shamed for having,
the greedy hands that press too hard and too often take without asking permission.
Girls are taught: be quiet and unimposing and oh so small
when they heckle you with their big voices from the window of a car,
because it’s rude to scream curse words back at them, and they’d just laugh anyway.
We’re taught to pin on smiles for the boys who jeer at us on the street
who see us as convenient bodies instead of people.
Girls are taught: hush, be hairless and small and soft,
so we sit there and take it and hold in the howling,
pretend to be obedient lapdogs instead of the wolves we are.
We pin pretty little sharp smiles on our faces instead of opening our mouths,
because if we do we get accused of silly women emotions
blowing everything out of proportion with our PMS, we get
condescending pet names and not-so-discreet eyerolls.
Once, I got told I punched like a girl.
I told him, Good. I hope my pretty little sharp rings leave scars.
Malcolm Venville. The Women of Casa X.
The British photographer Malcolm Venville has made a searing photographic record of a deranged reality. Complementing Venville’s photographs is a series of astonishingly candid interviews with the women of Casa X by the well-known Mexican writer Amanda de la Rosa. These are the portraits and testimonies of thirty-five survivors of the monster of the City, with much to say about life in a slum in Latin America: about the Mexico that horrifies, about sex, poverty, love, and the darkest side of human nature.
One night in Mexico City, Carmen Muñoz, sex worker, was roaming the streets looking for customers. Unexpectedly, she found two colleagues, both over sixty years old, sleeping on the street, covered by newspapers. After almost forty years of giving service to butchers, porters, refuse collectors and criminals, they were now long forgotten by their families and society. Carmen was confronted with what would be her own fate, like most women of her profession. Striving for dignity for all of them, she organised her colleagues and led a group that resolved to find a home where they could spend their last days in safety and warmth.
In 2006, after twelve years of work, and with the support of Mexican intellectuals and artists, the government gave them a seventeenth-century mansion, where Carmen founded Casa Xochiquetzal - Casa X. Around sixty women, all over fifty years old, receive shelter, food, and medical and psychological care. This is not just a retirement home - most of the women who live there still walk the streets. But Casa X is the only refuge for prostitutes in Latin America.
Casa X is located in the heart of the notorious district of Tepito. Although only eight blocks from the historic centre of Mexico City, Tepito is a micro-universe, where life is lived in a unique fashion. For nearly 500 years it has been a place of impunity, crime, smuggling, violence and prostitution. The neighbourhood did not submit to the Aztec Empire, or to the Spanish conquistadors, or to the current authorities. Tepito has an identity that goes beyond its boundaries. It has its own social organisation, myths, heroes, slang, and even its own local deity, La Santa Muerte (Holy Death). The women of Casa X are stuck at the bottom of the ladder of this world, and keeping the memories of it in their bodies.
“At the moment, I’m homeless.”
“I thought you were waiting for someone.”
“I’m just trying to pass the time. I live in a shelter.”
"How did you become homeless?”
“I had a place, but I smoke, and I wasn’t supposed to.”
“What’s your typical day like?”
“I wake up because the lights come on in the shelter. You’ve got an hour to wash your body and do everything, and you have to do it on a schedule. Then, if you’re hungry … well, you don’t really want to eat the food there. It sucks. Anyway, you eat. They offer you oatmeal or eggs or cream of wheat.”
“When do you have to be out?”
“In the shelter I am, you have to be out of the building by 9 o’clock. Then you have to be in before 6 o’clock. You can go back during the day. But it makes me feel so, so unmanly because I have to answer to someone all the time. Sometimes I stay in the shelter in the daytime. I have a couple of my art pieces there. I hang out there half the day. Then I go to the library and read. Time passes quickly.”
“Can you afford to buy your own food?”
“Yes. I have money to eat elsewhere. And I choose not to eat at the shelter because I don’t want to take the food from a homeless person who needs it more.”
“Do you have friends or family?“
"I have two children.”
“Do you see them?”
“Not too often. I love them. They love me. I’m divorced.”
“You said you had some art pieces.”
“I’m an artist. I paint. I studied art history.”
“What do you paint?”
“Mostly portraits. I like people’s eyes.”
“Have you exhibited somewhere?”
“I used to exhibit on Newbury Street and elsewhere.”
“When was that?”
“About 20 years ago.”
“And then what happened?”
“Well, I also drink. I spent a lot of money on going out and partying.”
“Do you hope to get back into the art world?”
“That’s my dream. You know, you made my day. Why did you pick me? I feel so proud. I will always remember this date. I’m a homeless, highly educated black man who drinks. I’m homeless because I smoke. I never hurt anyone, never stole, never lied, never cheated. I’m so happy you talked to me. It awoke in me an aspect of humanity I had long forgotten. I feel so honored. Why me?”
Thanksgiving is coming!
Wait, hold on, wasn’t this originally the comic about people stealing art and claiming it as their own.
Did you just copy someone’s artwork and claim it as your own to complain about theft.
Did you just do that.
The level of metafuckery right here is incredible
If women are raised being told by parents, teachers, media, peers, and all surrounding social strata that:
it is not okay to set solid and distinct boundaries and reinforce them immediately and dramatically when crossed (“mean bitch”)
it is not okay to appear distraught or emotional (“crazy bitch”)
it is not okay to make personal decisions that the adults or other peers in your life do not agree with, and it is not okay to refuse to explain those decisions to others (“stuck-up bitch”)
it is not okay to refuse to agree with somebody, over and over and over again (“angry bitch”)
it is not okay to have (or express) conflicted, fluid, or experimental feelings about yourself, your body, your sexuality, your desires, and your needs (“bitch got daddy issues”)
it is not okay to use your physical strength (if you have it) to set physical boundaries (“dyke bitch”)
it is not okay to raise your voice (“shrill bitch”)
it is not okay to completely and utterly shut down somebody who obviously likes you (“mean dyke/frigid bitch”)
If we teach women that there are only certain ways they may acceptably behave, we should not be surprised when they behave in those ways.
And we should not be surprised when they behave these ways during attempted or completed rapes.
Women who are taught not to speak up too loudly or too forcefully or too adamantly or too demandingly are not going to shout “NO” at the top of their goddamn lungs just because some guy is getting uncomfortably close.
Women who are taught not to keep arguing are not going to keep saying “NO.”
Women who are taught that their needs and desires are not to be trusted, are fickle and wrong and are not to be interpreted by the woman herself, are not going to know how to argue with “but you liked kissing, I just thought…”
Women who are taught that physical confrontations make them look crazy will not start hitting, kicking, and screaming until it’s too late, if they do at all.
Women who are taught that a display of their emotional state will have them labeled hysterical and crazy (which is how their perception of events will be discounted) will not be willing to run from a room disheveled and screaming and crying.
Women who are taught that certain established boundaries are frowned upon as too rigid and unnecessary are going to find themselves in situations that move further faster before they realize that their first impression was right, and they are in a dangerous room with a dangerous person.
Women who are taught that refusing to flirt back results in an immediately hostile environment will continue to unwillingly and unhappily flirt with somebody who is invading their space and giving them creep alerts.
People wonder why women don’t “fight back,” but they don’t wonder about it when women back down in arguments, are interrupted, purposefully lower and modulate their voices to express less emotion, make obvious signals that they are uninterested in conversation or being in closer physical proximity and are ignored. They don’t wonder about all those daily social interactions in which women are quieter, ignored, or invisible, because those social interactions seem normal. They seem normal to women, and they seem normal to men, because we were all raised in the same cultural pond, drinking the same Kool-Aid.
And then, all of a sudden, when women are raped, all these natural and invisible social interactions become evidence that the woman wasn’t truly raped. Because she didn’t fight back, or yell loudly, or run, or kick, or punch. She let him into her room when it was obvious what he wanted. She flirted with him, she kissed him. She stopped saying no, after a while.
These rules for social interactions that women are taught to obey are more than grease for the patriarchy wheel. Women are taught both that these rules will protect them, and that disobeying these rules results in punishment.
I’ll be posting more portions from this piece; the entire thing was something I read early on in my feminist awakening that made a whole bunch of concepts come crashing into place for me.
Consider how textbooks treat Native religions as a unitary whole. The American Way describes Native American religion in these words: “These Native Americans [in the Southeast] believed that nature was filled with spirits. Each form of life, such as plants and animals, had a spirit. Earth and air held spirits too. People were never alone. They shared their lives with the spirits of nature.” Way is trying to show respect for Native American religion, but it doesn’t work. Stated flatly like this, the beliefs seem like make-believe, not the sophisticated theology of a higher civilization. Let us try a similarly succinct summary of the beliefs of many Christians today: “These Americans believed that one great male god ruled the world. Sometimes they divided him into three parts, which they called father, son, and holy ghost. They ate crackers and wine or grape juice, believing that they were eating the son’s body and drinking his blood. If they believed strongly enough, they would live on forever after they died.” Textbooks never describe Christianity this way. It’s offensive. Believers would immediately argue that such a depiction fails to convey the symbolic meaning or the spiritual satisfaction of communion.
“This is an alternate universe where Bruce Wayne died instead of his parents. Causing His father Thomas Wayne to become Batman and his mother Martha to go insane and become the Joker. “
WAIT WHAT GO BACK WHAT YES
Where can I read this
I need this comic!
What Lot’s Wife Would Have Said (If She Wasn’t A Pillar of Salt) / Karen Finneyfrock
Do you remember when we met
in Gomorrah? When you were still beardless,
and I would oil my hair in the lamp light before seeing
you, when we were young, and blushed with youth
like bruised fruit. Did we care then
what our neighbors did
in the dark?
When our first daughter was born
on the River Jordan, when our second
cracked her pink head from my body
like a promise, did we worry
what our friends might be
doing with their tongues?
What new crevices they found
to lick love into or strange flesh
to push pleasure from, when we
called them Sodomites then,
all we meant by it
When the angels told us to run
from the city, I went with you,
but even the angels knew
that women always look back.
Let me describe for you, Lot,
what your city looked like burning
since you never turned around to see it.
Sulfur ran its sticky fingers over the skin
of our countrymen. It smelled like burning hair
and rancid eggs. I watched as our friends pulled
chunks of brimstone from their faces. Is any form
of loving this indecent?
Cover your eyes tight,
husband, until you see stars, convince
yourself you are looking at Heaven.
Because any man weak enough to hide his eyes while his neighbors
are punished for the way they love deserves a vengeful god.
I would say these things to you now, Lot,
but an ocean has dried itself on my tongue.
So instead I will stand here, while my body blows itself
grain by grain back over the Land of Canaan.
I will stand here
and I will watch you
Anna’s poetry Thursdays are perfection.
this will forever be one of my favorites.