I was grumpy today, unsatisfied, so E.R. and I walked down Melrose intending to read at a Starbucks or something. Melrose always makes me think of tattoo parlors so I said, “Let’s go get my ear pierced” and we did. I don’t have any tattoos and I don’t even have my ear lobes pierced. I’ve been thinking about getting my cartilage pierced off and on, though not actively. But that’s exactly what I ended up doing today.
It’s great, it really is. It’s my new favorite thing. I’ve only shown it to about three people and all of them have said, “I’m surprised you didn’t have that before. It’s very you.”
After watching and taking notes on John Cleese’s lecture on creativity last night, I completed a poem. It came quickly, through a state of flow. It was due to exactly what Cleese cites — I opened myself up, and I gave myself enough time and space to become open.
The poem is different than anything I’ve ever written. I’m aware I say this after completing most of my poems; they really don’t tend to be consistent. I’m not sure if that’s a fault in the development of my voice or a result of openly allowing form to align with content.
Either way, this poem exists, and I’m happy for that.
So this type of work process is something I need to replicate. It seems to me that I need a starting-point in my openness. Whether this is reading someone else’s poem, watching a lecture like this one, whatever. The majority of my writing has come from thought that arises from other work. I need to begin each creative session with something like this.
The window by my bed looks out into downtown Los Angeles — a straight shot eastward. This morning I gasped myself awake, with the feeling of a flashlight being turned on an inch from my nose.
I was on my stomach, head turned toward the window, and a shard of light had abruptly broken past the skyscrapers. Let’s talk plain. The sun was rising, and the first bits of exposed rays hit me in the damn face.
In a sleepy state, all I can remember thinking was “shoot, that’s pretty.” It seemed to be moving, in flux, more like fire than light. In fact, it looked like someone was melting pink-gold — it pulsed as it accepted the state of liquid.
I smiled myself back to sleep.
For anyone who lives in LA, you should know that the sunrise was gorgeous this morning.
Chelsea Fagan is right, in a way, and I’m glad someone argued this point. Leave it to her to do it. But I really have a few things to add.
First, Fagan trivializes the fear of sexual advance by someone physically intimidating with her long-winded (and more than a tad snarky) intro about “not telling women what to feel.” It was a nice try on the writer’s part, but the tone gave away more than the words did.
When I’m approached by men, sexually, unwarranted, there’s always a bit of terror and disgust inside of me. And this isn’t a “just me” thing. Clearly a good portion of women feel this way. Sexual advance is often violating. I come to this conclusion innately; no one ever told me this is so. I never had a mother tell me, “Men shouldn’t look at you or speak to you like that.” I never had some dopey friend say, “Oh my god, the patriarchy is treating you as a sex object,” or “That comment that man made is a type of assault!” All I know is that I was a thirteen-, fourteen-, fifteen-year-old girl taking a walk in my hometown, and men would yell things out the windows of their cars about my breasts. And as an adult, while walking down a street in Beverly Hills on my lunch break, and being approached by five or six men from point A to point B. I know that the feeling inside of me is and always has been one of violation, fear, and disgust.
Now. Moving on from Fagan’s dismissal to her point. The connection between this young’s boy’s mistrust and the mistrust women often have with strange men is 100 percent evident. It’s an easy analogy. We get it. But there is a fatal flaw, like most analogies that float around the internet.
This boy is assuming incorrectly, and this teacher is sadly not correcting, that “gay” means “sexual predator.” Or that it means a gay man “will-hit-on-everybody.” That type of thinking needs to be corrected, or else it promotes fictitious depictions that will lead, most certainly, to blatant homophobia. Dangerous, dangerous, dangerous not to correct that. Fagan is absolutely right in this point.
That being said. You have to wonder why this type of thinking occurs. Why do individuals (in this case, let’s generalize and say men cite this more often than women) jump straight to the “I don’t want to get hit on” defense we’ve all heard a million times? There’s where I have to diverge from Fagan’s thinking and say it’s because they’re using their own knowledge-base to come to this conclusion. By that I mean that they’re accustomed to a society where it’s acceptable for men to make sexual passes or advances to women that are unwarranted. Why will they be hit on by gay men? Because that’s what men do. (Or, what is acceptable for men to do.)
It’s really, really hard to tear this homophobic response away from the fear of objectification and powerlessness. The thought being powerless is terrifying for anyone, particularly in something as private as sexuality. Men have much less to fear, and much harder to fall off the pyramid of sexual power than women do, and I can’t imagine most men I know (and have dated) having the tables truly turned on them for a day. The fear is the same. It’s objectification, and not being able to exert force if needed… it’s a total lack of power.
This does not make this thinking okay. But to ignore why they’re thinking that way is idiotic. Two things are inexcusable in this story.
A.) Not having the brain to see past the surface analogy and realize that this type of thinking is dangerous. Correct the child, make sure he knows that a gay man isn’t going to be sexually aggressive because he’s gay. Gay does not equal unwarranted sexual advance.
B.) Not realizing that there’s something revealing about sexual power in that argument. And not reflecting on the analogy just because the logic is partially flawed. What’s more, not teaching our young men and women that unwarranted sexual advance, to any sex or gender, is inexcusable… well, not teaching them this is the most inexcusable of all. It’s terrifying that we don’t at this point.
No one should ever walk down the street and feel like an object. No one should ever walk down the street and think it’s okay to make someone feel like a pair of tits and a pussy, a cock and an ass. In addition to dispelling horrible myths about homosexuality to children, this is what we should teach them. To never make anyone feel sexually powerless, smaller, less than they are.