Dr. Harry Brod is on campus this semester, leading us in all things masculinities and gender talk.
He gave a talk last night, which you can find, almost word for word, here: http://www.mediaed.org/transcripts/Asking-For-It-Transcript.pdf
Finding this in duplicate form on the Internet is not appealing to me.
I was disappointed first by the turn-out. In a room built for close to 100-150 people, there were 40, sitting apart and scattered in the auditorium.
Second, I was disappointed by the analogies. I admit I found some use in the right of way metaphor. The idea that another driver has to give you the right of way, but…
Mostly, I was annoyed. Although I respect Dr. Brod and have mostly enjoyed listening to him talk this semester, as a woman-person, I am generally tired of hearing men talk about consent. I am mostly tired of hearing about consent from a dude’s perspective. I am mostly tired of having to live in a world that does not understand or try to articulate the female experience, despite contributing and shaping it.
As a female person, you are told to want and not want. You are told to feel guilty and be proud. You are told you are beautiful but imperfect. You are told to eat and not eat. You are told to try and not try. I can understand why sometimes no means yes and yes means no and yes is silent and no is louder than you intended. I can understand the ambiguity of those moments when your face is inches from another face and you for a second have only existed in this moment and can’t for a second fathom another moment. When you are for a second not just yourself, but every woman. (The personal is political) When you are not just your body, but your future body, your past body, your childrens’ bodies. When you are, for a second, strong and weak and confident and empty and cold and hot and sure and not. I get that.
You can’t know what it’s like unless you have it. Unless you have the trifecta–the uterus and the ovaries and the mammary glands. Unless you have the man looking at you. Unless you have walked down the street and been called out for being a female person. Unless you have stood in the bar and had your ass grabbed by a stranger. Unless you have been looking, standing in your own body and told that despite everything–despite the food you eat and the runs you take and the haircuts you get–it is not your own. Still up for grabs.
Turning the corner, leaving work, driving your car, shopping the grocery–like a toy in the claw machine.
You can’t know it and no analogy will help you to bridge it. No analogy will give you the insight.
I can tell you, the telling gets old.
Sandra Cisneros- “Everything that is most mine belongs to everyone now.”
When you are female person, everyone wants a piece of you. And it is hard sometimes, to determine who is worthy. Who wants. If you even want. It is hard to balance your own with theirs. The giving is tiring, the giving is expected.
It is not just about “yes”; it is about the etymology of the word yes, as every female person has had to think, say, and try it. It is about wanting yes.
Can you own a word as a woman?
Jeanette Winterson – “Who taught you to write in blood on my back? Who taught you to use your hands as branding irons? You have scored your name into my shoulders, referenced me with your mark. The pads of your fingers have become printing blocks, you tap a message on to my skin, tap meaning into my body.”