Tag Archives: feminism

Regular Poem: Blessings, Curses

1 Mar

part 1: blessings

if i go down for arson
ha
ha ha
i laugh so i don’t
cry

if i go down for arson
no
rewind–
start closer to the beginning
(there is no beginning
only in medias res
[present perfect progressive
{have been feeling nuts to the max}]
only now now now
[simple present
{am tapped out}]–

if i’m suspected of arson
(you can imagine the details of the arson on your own time)

she told me to ditch my car
get a wig
go on the lam
contact her with my new address
when i’m settled into my new identity
–she hopes
somewhere warm and pretty–

and she’s the best person i know

if i go down for arson

they promised
they’d set me up with money for the commissary
so i wouldn’t have to live
without lipstick

xxx

i broke our coffee pot
i was half turned
talking laughing
and it slipped to the floor
and i thought for a moment
it might bounce
bounce right back up to the counter
and the instant it shattered
they were
googling a new one

twenty minutes later
we had a brand new coffee maker

i’m the only one
who even drinks coffee

part 2: curses

i love everything

i’ve never met
a vegetable
that wasn’t edible
on some level

and i’m known for that

i’m the girl
who loves
peppers and beets and just any
fresh thing

what’d you have for lunch
someone asks as i’m flossing my teeth afterward
steak and tomatoes
trout and turnips

yes a thousand times yes

but really it’s chicken and sugar snap peas and it was delicious
but the sentiment is the same

what’d you do last night
no one even asks
anymore
they know i’ll tell unprompted
british lady detective show online shopping
bible study heavy bag workout
hammock nap research about serial killers
elaborate fantasy involving my tuxedo review of an audiobook

xxx

i hate everything

i take a lap
do ten push ups

but they’re just as ignorant
and i’m just as
nuts to the max

i have
all the energy
and
no energy

i can
[feminist rant]
but i can’t
anything else

part 3: a blessing and a curse

to be
the person who loves everything
is to be
the person who hates everything

uuuuuuuuugggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh

it’s even stupid to me

and yet here we are
googling where
to send flowers
to the unfashionable psychiatrist
i’m ridiculously
smitten with

and everyone knows

and there it is

everyone knows parts of it
and no one knows all of it

just how much i love everything
and
just how much i hate everything

they’ve got
their own open secrets

and i’ve already paid for the flowers

Regular Poem: Gory Details of My Most Recent Illness

15 Apr

descriptions fit for gothic horror
all familial curses
obsolete medical terminology
symbols motifs haunting images
flowery prose
depicting both the physical symptoms
and the ensuing madness
winding metaphors
and then curt blunt
grotesquerie
a winding path of feeling and supposition
facts and fantasy
and fever nightmares
phantasmagoric in toto

all of it delivered via text message
with pics so you know it’s real

i wonder if all spinsters
go through the same stages
until they’re all
the same woman
who says condescending things to you
over a coors light at a garage party

like did she go through the
oversharing graphic descriptions of all three bouts of strep throat to anyone who would listen
phase
early in her spinsterhood

will i be the same kind of weird
she is when i’m
fifty five and have had the same
haircut for thirty years

does it even matter
will i even care
about how weird i am
by then

do i even care now
how weird i am

am i being
judgemental
misogynistic
ageist
amatonormative

really i’m just wondering
and just trying
to get rid of this strep

Regular Poem: Guys and …?

6 Apr

she says
we don’t call grown men
boys
so we shouldn’t call
grown women
girls
and her argument is sound
and my feminist hackles
are rising with hers
growing in the same field
fertilized by the same
patriarchy
but before i can elizabeth cady stanton
myself into a frenzy
i realize

i do call grown men boys
but more often
dudes
or most often
guys

because man is too weighty for many
dudes
i encounter

i try then to think of analogous terms
for females
and they’re mostly
ladies
to me
but sometimes
women
or
girls
hardly ever chicks
once in a while
gals

“this girl i know”
might be someone my age or younger
“this gal i know”
indeterminate, but sticks in the back of my mouth, i probably owe her money
“this lady i know”
someone awesome: probably
outspoken with a thousand brooches and can pull off gauchos or
a homicide lieutenant or
plays piano like a dream
“this woman i know”
that’s so clinical
dripping with disdain

“this boy i know”
could be anybody, probably cute
“this dude i know”
could be anybody, probably stupid
“this guy i know”
could be anybody, neutral
“this man i know”
sounds dirty to me
like i’m stealing somebody’s husband

now let’s play with modifiers and modes,
connotations and maybe some annotations

“good girl”
she teaches sunday school, bakes
cupcakes for the fire department, does
the Right Thing
any age lawful good
“bad girl”
smokes, drinks, carouses, sasses
red lipstick and stilettos
any age chaotic neutral
“good woman”
a good girl but even more noble
and self-sacrificing
makes your teeth ache and your heart clench
(i know one and i don’t know
whether i want to hug her straight to death
embrace her so tightly and then kill us both with my longsword
tristan and isolde style
or
stare lovingly at her
until she catches me
and then rib her about something
so she knows i’m still me
instead of the drooling sycophant
i become when i think too much
about how wonderful she is)
“bad woman” and “bad lady”
femme fatale, lurking
in black and white tableaus
ready for murder and seduction and fraud
“good gal”
fun to party with, straight shooter
maybe a western sharpshooter in fact

“good boy”
see good girl
“bad boy”
see bad girl
“good man”
probably a dad or a deacon or both
“bad man”
see bad woman
“good guy”
generic male who is generally conscientious,
listens and talks thoughtfully,
tries
“bad guy”
opposite of good guy, also manipulative
maybe sinister
“good dude”
like a good guy but kind of dumb
“bad dude”
like a bad guy but kind of dumb

maybe all
these connotations
are colored by my own
internalized mysogyny
but
i don’t see
on the silver screen of my mind
a girl
as excusively a child
and therefore
devalue the women i call girls
because i myself am a girl
to myself
in a lot of contexts
and sometimes a woman
w
o
m
a
n
sometimes a lady
sometimes a gal
and sometimes a lot of other words
i try not to use
because i don’t philosophically agree
with gendered insults

but i also don’t
see boy
as exclusively a child
and a lot of other people don’t
either

maybe i listen to too much county western music
where everybody’s
the boys around here
and good old boys

far be it from me
to suggest
country western music
is anywhere near as progessive
as this lady thinks everything
ought to be

(“this lady”
someone respectable but to be disagreed with)

and also far be it from me
to suggest
everyone
shares my dialect
and singular sensibilities

and there’s the crux
of the problem

when that guy says girl in reference to a grown woman
he probably means something different
and thinks something different
than that man who says girl in reference to a grown woman
who means something different
than that lady who says girl in reference to a grown woman

so we’re back
to her argument
that we ought not do it
but we’re also back to my argument
of individual responsibility
and we’re back to the perennial argument
about language

and how it evolves
and influences

i’d like to do a study
of the usage of girl
in other languages

but i’m too much of a dude

Regular Poem: Conspiracy

17 Jun

It just kind of
feels like a
conspiracy,
you know?

Like way back
in the BFE of my brain
there’s this
little B&B,
and there’s this
little part of me
that’s the lodger
about to go mad
waiting for the shoe in the
room above her to drop,

and then it will be confirmed
that I am,
in actuality,
an ugly girl–
like that d-bag
in 7th grade
said.

I realized recently
I haven’t been denigrated
for my looks
since then.

I’ve been called a lot of stuff
since then–
true stuff, untrue stuff,
subjective stuff–
expletives and superlatives–
just stuff,
like everybody, I’m sure.

I went through a long
frumpy stage.
I got called ugly only that one time, though.

It–
the whole situation–
the whole ugly situation–
amazes me
for several reasons:

Number one:  I sometimes become
arrested
by people’s looks.  Like
I have a mental grappling hook
I keep handy so I can pull myself out
before society deems me unfit
on account of staring.

I just
like to look
at people and admire freckles and
gaze at bizarre tattoos and
analyze facial hair and
get lost in someone’s teeth.

But I’m not sure
I’ve ever really thought
someone was ugly before
I knew that person’s personality.
It confuses me
when people don’t see people
as people with stories and souls
but as some kind of livestock
either to be given a ribbon or
to be disqualified at the county fair.

Number two: Isn’t beauty subjective
anyway?
Someone thinks Honey Boo Boo’s mom
is gorgeous
probably.
I don’t have a problem looking at her.
She’s just a weird lady to me.
But some people are actually
repulsed
by her.
But she has a boyfriend.
And I’ve read that she’s actually
very kind and compassionate.
I mean,
there are statistics about
facial symmetry
or whatever.
But I just have never been

repulsed
by someone.
There was a guy
who always used to come in to the gym
who had all these burn scars–
like no hair and stuff,
and I wanted to stare
at his veins peaking under the surface of his taut skin
and his shapely muscles
and his interesting head shape,
but I knew it would be rude
because he’d think I was staring
because I was grossed out or something,
but I wasn’t.
I wanted to look at him
because I wanted to look at him–
the same reason I want to look at
the Evil Queen.
I just want to look at her.
Sue me.

Number 3:  You always hear
about people being branded,
typcast in their own lives.
They either internalize
the thing,
or everyone sees them as
the thing,
and they are
the thing
forever.

As far as I recall, it was
just that one incident.
I think that’s why it stuck with me.
So are there
secretly hoards of folks
waiting to drop that other shoe
only they haven’t because of
politeness
or more likely
other things I’ve been called
have deterred them–
things that are much truer
(because as I’ve discussed,
I don’t actually think ugly exists–
not in the terms people use it usually,
anyway)?
Am I actually supposed to be
living the life of an “ugly girl”?
And what does that life look like?
I know only what I watch in movies,
so I guess
it means I’ll be alone
eating pizza and reading?
Ye gads!

I’ve been doing that all along!
But people keep
telling me I’m
pretty, and
even if they didn’t,
I like doing that,
and I 100 percent would not stop
just so some dreamboat could tell me
to take off my glasses
and fluff my hair
so he could take me to prom to
win a bet
or whatever.

Number 4: What’s even the point
of calling someone ugly?
Like, calling someone fat, I guess
you could expect the person to diet
or something?  I mean, if
you’re a body-policing asshole, I guess.
That’s about 75 percent as ludicrous
as calling someone ugly
(but 100 percent as mean).
Because what’s a person supposed to do
about being ugly, exactly?
Just put on some make up or something?
Get plastic surgery?
What’s a person supposed to do
about being fat?
It’s like when your boss
tells you you’re bad at your job,
but then doesn’t tell you any way to be
better
at your job,
and you just have to
stand there and take it
because the explanation of
why
you’re bad at your job
doesn’t make any sense.
But at least
it’s your boss’s job
to critique your job.
But why is it any of your
d-bag business whether a person is
ugly or fat?
Surely it’s
not offending you to just
see
a person
who doesn’t look how you want
that person to look?

Sure, I’ve insulted people
to feel better about myself.
I’ll try anything
once.
But it made me feel worse.
I’d sooner try pot again,
and if you know anything about me,
you know I hate cottonmouth and paranoia–
but not as much as I hate
guilt and shame and dishonor.

Regular Poem: Spinster vs. Bachelor

11 Apr

Sometimes
I identify myself
as a spinster
when I’m in a
mood
or more usually
when I want to be especially
spiteful and
obtuse.

It’s really not all that
accurate.

I’m not
moneyed and prudish, an heiress
with a broken heart and a broken engagement
a dusty Ivy League degree
and several cats
living in a dilapidated family manse
lamenting what might have been.

I guess
I could be the
white trash
version of same, if we’re
looking at a checklist
or a dichotomous key.
I certainly
have analogous features.

But I’m really
more of a bachelor.
How many classical spinsters
sing love songs to their hammocks?
daydream about El Caminos?
own convertibles and Glocks?
have pizza and beer with their work buddies on Thursday nights?

But on the other hand,
how many spinsters do we know?
Really know?
Beyond their fabled and occasionally grotesque
appearances in literature?

Maybe a spinster is just
an old-timey bachelor.
A pre-feminism woman
oppressed by language
into relinquishing her
perceived agency
in a patriarchal bargain
for her independence and
a chance to live
blessedly alone.

So maybe
I’m a spinster,
or maybe
I’m a bachelor,
or maybe
I’m not into labels
and just want to be left
in my hammock
with a glass of wine.

And That’s Why Career Girls Shouldn’t Get Married

22 Sep

Posted as part of the Breaking News:  Journalism in Classic Film Blogathon, hosted by Comet Over Hollywood.

As everyone knows, career women (especially in classic films) are a rare breed of diseased characters who need to be cured through domestication.  Once married to a good man, a (former) career woman presumably lives a normal life, inoculated against her unnatural occupational fixations with the wholesome combination of kids and dogs and bacon and eggs and draperies.

However, not many films explore how this domestication might actually play out.  Crime of Passion (1957) starring Barbara Stanwyck, Sterling Hayden, and Perry Mason (Raymond Burr, that is) takes the career woman character to her logical–and tragic–end.

First a Synopsis

Our story begins with a newspaper truck barreling through San Francisco.  On the side we see this advertisement.

Read Kathy Ferguson

So we see this picture of our protagonist, Kathy Ferguson, and we see she’s one of those “Dear Abby” type columnists, and we’re probably supposed to think she’s all soft and feminine and sympathetic and all that.

And then we cut to the newsroom, where Barbara Stanwyck is Barbara Stanwyck-ing around, wearing practical clothes, trading wry witticisms with coworkers, and generally showing she’s not as prissy as we might imagine a ladies’ columnist to be.

Her editor sends her out to get a scoop on “the Dana woman”–a woman accused of killing her husband in Los Angeles and holing up someplace in San Francisco–and write a piece from some lady angle.  She at first does not want to go because she’s got other stuff to do, but he says they can just run some of her trash from last month and nobody will notice.  She reluctantly goes to the pressroom at the police station or wherever, and everybody’s on a personhunt for “the Dana woman,” including two detectives from Los Angeles–Captian Alidos and Lieutenant Doyle (Sterling Hayden).  Alidos tells her point blank, “Your job should be raising a family and having dinner ready for your husband.”  This is her response:

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Monday Night Special #4: Delving in with Diagrams (to Somebody Told Me)

10 Sep

It’s not confidential:  Tonight’s the night I’ve got potential to bore you clean to death with my diagramming and analysis of a pop song from 2004.

Arbitrarily Picked Work of Fiction:

“Somebody Told Me” by The Killers

Quick Synopsis:

Up for debate, I suppose.  A dude’s in a club, chatting up a girl–“breakin’ my back just to know your name” suggests he does not have a previous attachment to her, and the dance beat suggests a club situation–and he realizes he’s heard a rumor about her previous romantic partner, who had been a gentleman who looked like a lady the original dude had previously dated.  This dude wants to take the girl home with him–“Ready? Let’s roll onto something new / Takin’ its toll, and I’m leavin’ without you” expresses his desire to move past the “seventeen tracks” played so far at the club as well as his regret that he’ll probably go home alone.

The rumor has effectively “ruin[ed] my moonlight,” and he knows that “heaven ain’t close in a place like this.”  Thus, his romantic goals for the night have been thwarted.

Important Quotation:

Somebody told me
You had a boyfriend
Who looked like a girlfriend
That I had in February of last year.

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Monday Night Special #3: Delving in with Diagrams (to Pride and Prejudice)

3 Sep

Dearest Reader,

I forthwith submit for your kindly eyes–I hope, at least, they will look kindly upon this most base preoccupation of mine–the following application of certain processes to which I am sure you have become quite accustomed.  Indeed, our standing agreement to meet at this time each seven-day may be satisfied only in such a manner.

Arbitrarily Picked Work of Fiction:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen via 1995 BBC miniseries, which I watched with a middle-aged church lady friend from 9am-2pm on a Tuesday because neither of us work.  The perks of having middle-aged lady friends and being unemployed:  As Twitter would say, the limit does not exist.

I must admit this was my first foray into Austen’s cinematic world.  I’ve never read the book, either, and in fact the only Austen I’ve ever read is Emma for a clunkily titled college course called something to the effect of Periods of British Literature:  19th Century Women’s British Literature. In a discussion with the professor before the class had started, I revealed to her that I’d never read any Austen, and this exchange happened:

Professor:  So, you’re a Jane Austen virgin?
Me:  I’ve never even gotten to first base with Jane Austen.  Haven’t seen the movies or anything.

Because I am the kind of prude who chooses to only intermittently trade provocative witticisms with my professors, I will not continue with this metaphor, but I will say that I am still not very experienced with Jane Austen, but I am at least familiar enough with her to be very intrigued by the concepts she brings up in her novels although my proclivities run toward the Bronte end of the spectrum–especially Anne, if we’re talking women’s roles in society.

Quick Synopsis:

Elizabeth Bennett, the second of five daughters born to a middle-class Edwardian British family, snarks her way through life and eventually falls in love with Mr. Darcy, whom she had initially believed to be an insufferable bore/cad.  Various and sundry other things happen, including Mr. Darcy being kind of chased by his BFF’s bitchy sister, his BFF falling in love with Elizabeth’s older sister, Elizabeth’s youngest sister kind of being a slut and Mr. Darcy having to force a dude to marry her to save her reputation, a pretentious clergyman cousin (who will inherit the Bennett estate) trying to get all up in Elizabeth’s grill but then marrying one of her friends who is more business-oriented than romance-oriented.

Amid all this, we have plenty of class conflict and ruminations on love, marriage, companionship, respect, appearances, pride, and prejudice.  Duh.

Important Quotation:

They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation, and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life.

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They Let You Dream Just to Watch ‘Em Shatter; Or Why 9 to 5 Is a Terrible Musical

3 Jul

9 to 5 is a great movie.  9 to 5 is a great song.  9 to 5 is an awful musical.

First off, to the musical’s credit, the production I saw wasn’t very good, which disappointed me both because I don’t like watching bad productions and because Music Theatre of Wichita usually turns out great productions with very good choreography, very good performances, very good effects, very good music, etc.

This one, however, was kind of the pits.  The choreography was mediocre and uninspired; the performances were super lame and based too heavily upon the movie, and the singing was actually kind of bad—why was Violet always flat and why was there so much talk-singing?; the effects were lame (because of the screen thing that I will address later); and the music was both unexciting and not very full-sounding.

So all of that awful stuff isn’t the express fault of the musical itself, but let me assure you, the musical itself has its own flaws that suck and were only compounded by the above suckiness.

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