so i've been thinking for a while about a thing that happened some time ago:
i was out, in public, and person was snarky, in earshot to their friends, about what i was wearing.
this was a surreal moment because "hey, we're not in middle school, and so wtf" but also because my instant default in those moments of attack is to fight or flight. it brings back moments of being assaulted in some ways, as a verbal assault that is related to the body or sexuality is so closely related in my mind to a physical experience, but because it's not that, another part of me wants to not "cause a scene" and so freezes momentarily.
but what's the other option? to cause a scene?
it's a strange place to be. as in, when someone is snarky about another person's body or sexuality, which is what that moment was, it's complicated. because i believe that those types of responses come from an internalized patriarchal understanding of sexuality and sexual identity that seems to indicate that a way to gain power, as a woman, is to attempt to cut another woman down. as an action, it's not great thinking and it's certainly unkind, but my default response is to both be sympathetic to the perpetrator as well as want to set them on fire. and by set them on fire i mean also to set fire to the system that has caused them to align themselves with the emotional and literal equivalent of dudes in cars who shout things like "fuck her, i did" as they drive by in cars, anonymous.
and yet i think a lot of people, a lot of women, who experience this might experience in the same way that i do--in a way that feels like a violation of the body. that feels not unlike that first moment of being locked in a room against your will. or of how you acted against yourself in moments that followed until you could forgive yourself and anyone/everyone involved/peripheral. it's effective for that second because of how sort of unthinking it is.
and yet forgiveness in these contexts is more about moving on and moving past, not about reconciling yourself with anything. and i'm not lindy west nor am i jessica valenti because those are two women who are infinitely better than i at articulating what it means to be in a body and have it under attack, who can better articulate what it means to actively resist the ways those attacks seek to suppress us, the ways that this is culturally dictated, etc.
but it's important to be in your body. it's important to understand that "your very flesh shall be a great poem" and, that, maybe until you've read whitman (among other things) and internalized what it means that we can't get out of this loop, not completely, but that sometimes our very existence is an act of resistance, and that, i suppose, we can't live in anger.
and the snarky part of me is willing to be momentarily sympathetic toward people who won't read whitman. or o'hara. or marquéz. or nabokov. or get about the cherry trees and neruda.
all y'all m.f.ers need reading. ;) xoxo-