“The s/m concept of “vanilla” sex is sex devoid of passion. They are saying that there can be no passion without unequal power. That feels very sad and lonely to me, and destructive. The linkage of passion to dominance/subordination is the prototype of the heterosexual image of male-female relationships, one which justifies pornography. Women are supposed to love being brutalized. This is also the prototypical justification of all relationships of oppression—that the subordinate one who is “different” enjoys the inferior position.”—Audre Lorde, A Burst of Light: Essays
I “began” writting my dissertation last week, and only’ve managed to write and rewrite the first page. Honestly I don’t understand. I’ve written long ass essays on the political changes in Indonesia in a week, without no prior knowledge on the subject, and succeeded. This is a subject that I know, I’ve read about it, I care and I’ve thought about it, then why is it so damn hard to actually write this damn thing, it’s not even that much, I have to have around 15 pages for next week, that’s doable, but I’m not able to open a book and fucking quote it, or write something that’s somehow intelligible.
This is what happened last year, I refuse to go through that again.
I am secretly a “45”-year old white woman who wears off-white cashmere with relationship troubles and a six-figure salary. My life is narrated by R&B hits from the 70s and a sultry male voice to highlight the folly of my failed romantic endeavors.
Choice songs: “Best of My Love” by The Emotions and “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross, with the occasional flair of Stevie Wonder
The Spice Girls are the biggest, brashest girlie group ever to have hit the British mainstream. Kathy Acker is an avant-garde American writer and academic. They met up in New York to swap notes - on boys, girls, politics. And what they really, really want.
Fifty-second street. West Side, New York City. Hell’s Kitchen - one of those areas into which no one would once have walked unless loaded. Guns or drugs or both. But now it has been gentrified: the beautiful people have won. A man in middle-aged-rocker uniform, tight black jeans and nondescript T-shirt, lets Nigel, the photographer, and me through the studio doorway; then a chipmunk-sort-of-guy in shorts, with a Buddha tattooed on one of his arms, greets us warmly. This is Muff, the band’s publicity officer. We’re about to meet the Girls …
They are here to rehearse for an appearance on Saturday Night Live. Not only is this their first live TV performance, it’s also the first time they’ll be playing with what Mel C calls a ‘real band’. If the Girls are to have any longevity in the music industry, they will have to break into the American market; and for this they will need the American media. Both the Girls and their record company believe that their appearance here tonight might do the trick. There is a refusal among America’s music critics to take the Spice Girls seriously. The Rolling Stone review of Spice, their first album, refers to them as ‘attractive young things … brought together by a manager with a marketing concept’. The main complaint, or explanation for disregard, is that they are a ‘manufactured band’. What can this mean in a society of McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and En Vogue? However, an e-mail from a Spice fan mentions that, even though he loves the girls, he detects a ‘couple of stereotypes surrounding women in the band’s general image. The brunette is the woman every man wants to date. Perfect for an adventure on a midnight train, or to hire as your mistress-secretary. The blonde is the woman you take home to mother, whereas the redhead is the wild woman, the woman-with-lots-of -evil-powers.’ So who are these Girls? And how political is their notorious ‘Girl Power’?
for the past few weeks, i’ve been forcing myself to get out of my house - my room especially - and do something alone. i needed to pick myself up from my awful year-end. in my opinion, it’s something i feel like everyone should do - spending whole days alone that is - in order to recover from any traumatic falling out of any kind. to continue on with your daily life, getting to know yourself again, and to be able to reflect on the past and realize that you were someone who couldn’t fathom living without this person, and now being someone who can truly move on is one of the most empowering revelations one can experience. to some, attempting to achieve that goal may seem a bit daunting, and understandably so, but to me, it’s nothing new.
for a long time, i’ve been going out by myself, whether i wanted to or not. i lived in san francisco with a close friend 3 years ago, dropping my socially-anxious self in a major city with very few social connections. besides school, i didn’t have any obligations. i tried to get a job, but due to an unimpressive resume and a densely competitive field of peers, i had very little luck. i barely made any friends, let alone talked to anyone. i ended up having a lot of free time. i couldn’t drive back then, but i didn’t need to with an elaborate public transportation system at my disposal, so i hopped on buses. i rode on streetcars and subway trains back and forth. i walked up and down the streets and the hills of the whole city. i would do this until my knees began to buckle and my legs started to collapse, and then i returned home. a tourist in my own town, i exhausted myself by wandering out in the world when i became exhausted with hibernating at home. it became a vicious cycle that lasted all 9 months i lived there until i finally moved back to my hometown. thankfully, my circumstances have greatly improved since then. i live away from home in a beautiful house with my closest friends, i have a car for wherever i need to go whenever i want, and i have a good job and an actual social life. i guess you could say i’m pretty lucky.
even though i was usually alone, i was always occupied. i never left the house without my ipod, cementing my earbuds into my canals before i even walked out the door. like for most people when out in public, they were my black sunglasses, my impenetrable armor, and my companion on all of my adventures. i don’t use my earbuds now as much as i used to simply because my lifestyle doesn’t necessarily require them, but i’ll always hold them in the highest regard.
unsurprisingly, the only times i use them now are when i’m out and about walking the streets of santa cruz. and of course, it goes without saying that old habits die hard.
one night, i decided to check out this bar’s queer night by myself. the plan was to do some ~dancing on my own~ and maybe meet new people and perhaps even talk to a guy. i accidentally got there a little bit early, so i got a drink at the bar and watched the beginning of barbarella on the TV. shortly after, the night got started and the DJ played remixes of current top-40 pop. everyone began to migrate to the empty dancefloor, and instead of sticking with my plan, i decided to retreat to the corner, sitting hunched over with legs crossed on an ottoman as i jammed to the music by myself while constantly refreshing my tumblr dash. i left early to meet friends at another bar and didn’t talk to anyone while i was there.
on another late night, i went to the arcade with my music and earbuds in tow. besides myself and the employees, there were only a few teenage couples there. i put on jessy lanza’s pull my hair back, and it fit the vibe just right, her brand of after-hours dance music soundtracking the almost vacant atmosphere of the colorfully-lit hall. i slowly sauntered around, played my favorite fighting games for about an hour, and left right as closing time was announced.
i’ve also been listening to music in my car at a louder volume than i ever have before. where the default level used to be at 9 has now been reset to 12. overall, every song i’ve listened to has sounded so much more satisfying, but at a certain cost. the bass distorts even more than it used to (especially when listening to music with heavy electronic beats) and the treble can feel overwhelming and invasive when you’re not particularly present in the moment. when you are present, though, none of that matters because it all feels so good.
i’ve been thinking a lot about how my behavior in all of these past events affect those who surround me. i’ve always let music - the overly romanticized common strain across humanity meant to unite us all together - act as a barrier between myself and others. i’ve been traversing across santa cruz like this lately: eyes transfixed on what’s straight ahead and speakers on full blast. i feel more comfortable presenting myself this way to the world, as a nomadic entity of contained sound closing myself off from society even as i try to participate in it. that’s the thing: despite acting like i’m invisible, i do want to be noticed. obviously, this contradicts itself, yet both feelings coexist. perhaps it’s because i do truly believe in my own worth, because i do believe i have a lot to offer, because i want to share the best version of myself with others and i feel like i deserve recognition for that. but in your daily life, when you do finally feel like you’re imposing your presence on the rest of society, is that really what is happening? are you standing out as an unstoppable force others should take notice of? or are you reduced to a mere shadow, contributing to the mass and the noise filling up the space in your environment like everyone else? reality keeps telling me it’s the latter. i’m trying to believe in the former.