1) What physical spaces do you feel safe or unsafe in? Emotional spaces? How does this relate to your race, age, sexual orientation, background, class, etc?
#1) and a little #3): I feel unsafe walking to my car after work, walking from my car to my house, walking at night…I suppose its because I live in G-town and Im white, while most of my neighbors are black, and Im usually dressed up in a skirt that feels beautiful when I look in the mirror, but suddenly feels like bad idea when I step outside. I usually regret my clothing choice when Im walking to my front door at 3am. I wish there was a softer way to close my car door. I wish I wasnt so aware of my fear because it Im afraid its palpable. I sometimes think my over-awareness and fear wakes thieves up at night….its blood in the water. Bad men sense it and know how to find me…sniff me out.
My uncle says to walk with confidence…walk like I have power. So I do that now.
I must appear wealthy walking out of my great big mansion with my multiple coats and scarves dressed to the nines.
I want to yell: “NO! am very poor! these clothes were purchased by my parents! and not even they can really afford them! they should be saving for retirement, but I think they still feel guilty about divorcing so I get a lot of gifts! These headphones were an impulse buy! Im sorry! Please dont break into my home! I collect vintage things! its all I have, my things!
2) How do you perceive your own physical appearance and those of other women? How do you think others perceive you physically? What elements contribute to these perceptions?
#2) I am a pretty girl. My family tells me. My friends tell me. Strangers tell me. Men who have no business talking to a young girl, tell me. Married men wink at me while their wives backs are turned. My boss likes my shirts and tells me so, more often than he should. Old men tell dirty jokes after I help them to their cab. Police men roll down their windows and ask if I need a ride (cue wink and hat tip) Old boyfriends want “one more night” before they commit to meaningful relationships.
After 3rd and forth dates I am pushed up against closed storefronts on Passyunk and kissed violently. My breasts are ravaged and sore for days. My hair is pulled on dark porches. I am ran-sacked. I let it happen because im sexy. I provide an outlet for the beast in men. I am fantasy and kink and things you do while you’re young…before the mortgage payments come….before you wed that woman that will solider through your marriage and always take the kids to school. I am a last stop on the way to regualr sex, 9-5 jobs, or a mid-life break from all that.
Men don’t want to marry me, they want to fuck me in soccer nets on the fields of their high schools in the middle of the night because they never made the team.
Men want me to give them blow jobs in their new cars because it’s the first thing they’ve ever really owned.
Men want to take me to Japanese fan exhibits and take me back to their apartments and dress me like a geisha and spank me.
Men want me to keep my glasses on, take my bra off, leave my high heels on, turn around, apologize, say thank you, slap them, keep quiet for three months and do it all over again.
I am a mirage.
I am thirst-quenching.
I am brief.
I am physically attractive which registers as a meal to men. Sometimes I think Im expected to know how to be on top during sex, give great head and talk dirty. S actually said to me, “I thought you would have loved being on top” …. What the fuck does that mean? what about me registers as loving being on top?! I hate it, actually. WHich turned him off. I KNOW it turned him off because when I decided to suck it up and try being on top, he lost his erection. I climbed down like I had lost…utter defeat. “no no its me…i had too much to drink” he says…..not an acceptable excuse. I know it was me. He was expecting some crazy red-head to rock his world and I failed. Humiliating.
It will all end when my looks fade.
Other girls are jealous because their boyfriends think about me naked. They want to have three-somes and tuck me in on the couch after giving me too much wine. They want to give me the spare room and they peek through the crack in the door while im undressing.
Some women are pretty and travel in attractive circles and dress well and never pay tabs and dont know their boyfriends over-tipped me because they paid me for my beauty (as Ani says)
I have been those other women, and sometimes, for a night, they become me, but we are not alike.
Some women will have backyards.
Some women will never have dates to weddings.
*I think this answers #3….or its a ramble…I AM longwinded, after-all.
Some days I want to hide. I blame it on my profession which is kinda like a prostitute. The sexier I am, the more likely you will buy alcohol and get drunk and tip me money. I feel good on Mondays….I meet my friend for coffee in the morning at a local cafe and we have gorgeous conversaton with gorgeous women who offer insight from their classes up the road. I feel filled with ideas and confidence. I am excited and relaxed and feel like a million bucks. I call it my girl factory. I need it, because every week, something or something(s) happen where I want to crawl into a sleeping bag while at work and change my clothes and put a patch over my eye. Its a feeling that gives me the start of an anxiety attack. I feel trapped. I feel powerless. Maybe I overhear my boss talking about a co-workers breasts to a bunch of regulars, maybe Im at a table, and this jerk with a sick southern drawl tells me he’ll only tip me if I can name the republican members of congress. “Dont know that one? I’ll give ya an easier one” he smirks….his dumpy wife looks uncomfortable….I imagine very little pleasure in their sexual life…I am unable to answer his questions about politics. I provide some sass, and a smile and clear the table to find a “conservative tip” and all of a sudden I am trapped again. cant go to my girl factory, cant catch a break, cant name the rebuplicann members of congress…fuck fuck fuck. I feel a gender gap widening. “we’ll have two pale ales sweetheart, and make it quick cause my friend here is thirsy” “before you say anything, we want napkins because your table is dirty” They dont speak this way to male servers….i know it for a fact. Im out of responses that wont get me fired. Frankly, im out of energy. I cant WAAIT for girl factory on Monday….I may go Thursday too…just to get a boost.
4) Age plays a crucial role for women and how they define themselves in society. I do feel pressure to procreate and marry. No direct pressure, but there is a lingering feeling of a race to win, a rush of sorts to complete this selfish goal of taking more space, breeding and ruining the planet. The other day I overheard two young Indian girls talking about their friend who had gone astray. This woman had married a non-hindu man and was living in sin somewhere in Philadelphia so her parents cut her off. Instead of sympathy, the two girls criticized their friend for choosing love over financial stability, suggesting that she would have been much happier marrying a hindu man and staying in her parents good graces. I was appaled. Not only because they were drinking white zinfandel which is the lowest of the low on my wine scale, but because I was raised with the go-ahead to fuck, marry, elope, and procreate with whomever I chose. When I brought K home to meet my mother she didnt say “get that philandering Jew out of my house”, she bought him a sweater for Christmas and told me to have sex somewhere else besides my bedroom because we were waking her up. If I brought home a woman to meet my mother, she might have a fit, but she’d soften when we had children. My woman-ness mirrors what my mother and grandmother taught me, and some things Ive learned on my own from books and movies. I wanted to be Gigi the outspoken french girl, Nancy Drew the daring sleuth, and my grandmother all rolled into one. I still do.
I still feel my intelligence is sub-par. That in order to be taken seriously, I have to be smarter or I will be that wise-ass WAITRESS forever. I feel stronger for having slept with women….like we exchanged some feminine power that refueled me. I feel marginalized without a degree, however. Maybe that’s on my end…in my own head. What do you say when you introduce yourself though? My name is B. I am working, I live here, I read these books, I listen to this music, I went to school briefly here, maybe I give my age, my relationship status…..It’s strange. Withiin minutes Ive been compartmentalized to a group “no degree” “single” “almost 30” gulp gulp gulp.
When people compliment me on carrying multiple plates I want to slap them. “I can do so much more”! I register this overreaction as insecurity, but I never get the chance to describe myself with the details that make me an individual. Its seems unfair.
On the upside, I am a white girl from the suburbs. No one in my family has ever been incarcerated or killed. I have pride in that. We managed to keep it fairly scandel-less throughout my familys history save for some substance abuse and mental illness. I don’t feel alone, is what im trying to say. Even when Bipolar hits, and I want to end my life, there is a part of me that has stability within my family. In the end it makes me feel like I have something to offer. My family provides a sense of security that in essence helps me become a woman with values and love. They provide confidence and care above all. Perhaps thats why I would be unable to live far away from them. Perhaps Ive been nurtured too much and have lost some independence.
Essentially I am a caregiver. I am a direct product of the love I was given. I cherish history and continuity and tradition. I am my mother, but with fresh ideas. I am my grandmother, but stronger.