She-dog on She-cat Crime


Two things on my mind today:  pet wars and naked logos.

The not-so-new addition (even the picture above is over a month old), a Husky pup, who, at 4 3/4 months weighs about 35 pounds of massive paws and thick, stocky chest and haunches, loves to “play” with our penultimate addition, a mostly white Japanese bobtail stray, smallish for a full grown cat typical of the breed. 

The latter is wily and clever, eccentrically faithful to her chosen human, my daughter. She abides people amicably. The former is a doofus, aggro, boundary-testing youngster, whose only purpose in life is to play, eat, shit and destroy. She’s pretty, stunning ice-blue eyes with a thick, grey and tan wolf coat, and sweet. She’s also unrelenting.

Willow the cat is curious and heat seeking. She’s also playful. She often comes looking for Goose. She quietly stalks the puppy, who, upon spying her, full-speed gallops in a furious rush. She sniffs (tries to), bites and captures the cat with crushing will and heft. Frustrated by the rebuff–getting her nose clawed–she whimpers, turns her body around, and boom-lowers her massive girth to snuff out the feline, a horrifying domination, as if the small cat 1/8th the other’s size will be bone-crushed smothered in furry cement.

But despite the cat’s frantic struggle on her back, paws and claws air-poised to strategically strike vulnerable nose and eyes (everywhere else is futile with that thick, cushioned hide), her deep, low growl in constant grinding gear, she seems to know what she’s doing. Because despite clearly taking a beating from massive paws and jaw with beastly big teeth, she knows that at some critical pause, some crack in the feeble-minded puppy’s concentration, she can scuttle up a bar stool or leap up a high armoir to safety, wide-eyed glaring down at the dopey, tongue-flapping brute. 

I confess that I watch in both amusement and terror, anxious and hopeful for the underdog kitty’s safety.  I’m unwilling to intercede on her behalf, though, resolved that she asks for it.

The other image teasing me this morning is the picture on my website–a sort of branding logo–for onenakedpoet.com. The picture reveals a naked woman’s back, hands clasped behind her, one arm bent over her shoulder stretched down her back to link the other reaching from below to center of her back. The yoga pose twists rotocuff and bicep, which casts in relief dorsal and bicep muscles and sinew. Her ass is partially exposed, just the twinges of crack and buttocks. 

The photo is also slightly blurred, out of focus. The back is mine. A few years ago, a photographer shot my unclothed yoga practice. I used the picture on a whim to name my author’s website–one naked poet. I deemed crafty the double sense of revealing heart and skin, a doubly exposed confessional poetry. 

Clever as it may have seemed at the time, I now wince at that photo, which collapses the private and public in a way that could be perceived as both celebratory–an aging body contributed to the ongoing conversation of body “beauty” conceptions–and discomfiting. 

Not discomfiting as to nudity or aging. No, the ruffle arises over the hidden face and naked back. The unwitting exposure is the attempt–all writers, all women–to confess, reveal and expose a mind’s “truth” without holding back, but being unable to do so. 

A hidden face is in all writing: the persona or mask. 

Because you can spew words all over a mile long blog about love, ownership, family life, daily doings, heart break, possession, politics, hygiene and belief, everything that makes up a breathing machine called human, one particular human, and never show your face. You can write obscure, viny verses that suggest, tease and seduce but ultimately obfuscate and confound, leaving a reader clearing the rainforest, skin-misted without absorption, without sensing the screeching, raucous hues and pitches of a mad-scramble, raging artist’s pallet. That’s the writer’s plight.

So much color, so little connection. Blank screen. 

But this is also the plight of many. The same kind of angst in complicitly witnessing interspecies battles, I experience eyeing that branding: nakedly hiding a truth–about women, fear, prejudice, the lengths we the civilized go to oppress the marginalized, the subterfuge victims cultivate to survive, configured bodies continuously on public display–utterly exposed without identity, without face. Hiding in plain site always is her lurking predator–in dark alleys of the city and congress.

Women’s problems are just women’s, some believe. I could turn around, show my wrinkled face, my sagging breasts, my pregnancy-ravaged poof belly and crepey legs, a less “attractive” view, but in whose eyes? 

I am concerned about my or anyone’s acceptance or even tolerance for violent, insidious misogyny. I agonize over finding voice. In gendered inherited words, striving to write real from inside a body, I worry that we’re all cowards, immobile before the fray.

Nonowrimo: Day 2


(Image: Penguin Books)

Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique in 1963, three years after I was born. The Second Wave of Feminism she helped launch was already under way as my mind was also beginning to take shape. Without a word of hers ingested, I ate her intent, had it coursing through my veins like red blood cells. It produced the iron with which I withstood the world of feminine assault and violent backlash.
 
Women weren’t violent, but the disgust, outrage and horror of becoming aware what men thought of us, the powerlessness to become, to be seen and to be in-possessed razored some hearts, did violence to their peace and potential.

I never read Friedan, not at 12 or 15 or any age. While absorbing home life and culture, I hid. I read. I went away to more frightening places, like Mordor, the harrowing innards of Siddhartha, and the outer limits of my own consciousness. I recreated on a daily diet of pot with occasional leaps into the color zones inside acid, speed and barbiturates. Occasionally. I feared losing my grip more than craved the outer limits of sanity. 

Cultural Creation: Misogyny in the House (Ten for Today)


August 5, 2016
Anxiety plucked at my sleep last night, spun me round inside my blanket, eventually tossed off like that rest awarded the dead after a life lived well. The mind wheel turned over the many ways I should be more direct, genuine and truthful in asking, no demanding what I want and need–never an easy thing for someone who feels undeserving most days. And I don’t know why I should feel that way.
 
It may have to do with this: a girl grows up in a loving household with loving parents who have told her the stories of her past and of her family’s past. She is told that she is the only child who was planned. Her parents were trying for a boy after two girls. But she turned out to be a girl. So, despite her wish for no more than three children, her mother is persuaded to try once more for that boy for her husband. The fourth was the charm. And then there was the major accident 7 years after him, another girl.
 
The girl is loved and encouraged to succeed from a mother who had her own ambitions but stayed home to raise children. Eventually this mother got her GED, a driver’s license, a job, an AA in secretarial science, a BA in English Literature and a Masters Degree in English Literature all in a matter of 20 years beginning from the time the girl was 15.
 
She saw her mother cook, clean and care for her household, children and husband who worked too many hours to be more than a shadow in the house. He slept days and worked nights. The girl saw this mother wait hand and foot on the man who had a strange kind of love of insults and denigration. He called it love, and she called it something the girl would understand when she grew up.
 
Last night’s anxious rumination stems from this story. Rehearsing dialogues, letters and monologues aimed at asking for what I want–without guilt and remorse–takes all night. The conditioning that created the condition–disbelief in deserving–takes a lifetime.

Courage

  
Oxford English Online Dictionary defines courage as follows:

noun

The ability to do something that frightens one, or Strength in the face of pain or grief.

Some people in social media today are bitching about the public’s lauding Caitlyn Jenner (when they are not commenting on her age or her dress or her makeup) for her “bravery.” 

Even people I have deemed intelligent and sensitive have posted Facebook critiques with photos of their candidates for the definition of bravery such as this:

  
Classic.

And yet another post-er believes this is more befitting of the adjective:

  

Both social media post-ers are men, one conservative and one progressive, one older (mid-fifties) and one younger (mid-thirties).  See a trend here?

To be brave, one must risk life and limb or recover from loss of life (the one before loss of limbs) and limb(s). And be men. 

Now, admittedly, I have seen no female contributors to the courage definition, none with a picture to share, but if there were any, I would imagine it would be of cancer survivors or mothers crossing minefields to save their babies. 

But the first reason for Caitlyn’s doubtful courage is her womanhood. The second reason is her health. It is apparently not bravery to kill off her fortunate birthright–the white male privilege–to become a woman whose worth is measured by her appearance and her ability to graciously absorb the arrows of disdain and second class citizenry based on frippery and gossip, like the target she has now become. And for what? It’s not like she needed the money or the publicity like her former step family.

What’s so brave about that? I agree. She must be a masochist to become a woman in this society–to be treated like meat. 

But Jon Stewart in his latest The Daily Show always says it best:

  

As a woman, Jenner can now look forward to her physical appearance, not her talents or mind, being the object of daily scrutiny. Should she ever need to work, she can look forward to earning roughly 77% of what a man makes. Should she ever face physical or sexual violence, she, not her attacker, will be treated with suspicion. As a woman, Jenner will also have to get used to hearing not just new pronouns but other fun words like “shrill,” “nagging,” “bossy” and “emotional.” And then, of course, there’s the catcalling, which a “beautiful” woman like Jenner can now expect daily. 

A person transitioning to live as her true self is a wonderful thing and America has come a long way toward accepting transgender people. As Stewart so aptly pointed out, though, the real struggle now is to bring up the lives of all women. On that front, there are still miles to go.

Perhaps the clichés we are fed about hero imagery and the hardship stories that go viral to tug at our heart strings in quiet, reverential sentimentality get in the way of our seeing the bravery of transformation, being faithful to the universal need to be our authentic selves even in the face of total annihilation through either vilification or idolotry. 

Caitlyn Jenner may be just a woman now, but her twice-baked celebrity-dom has transformed her into a paper doll image, something to wag about as a projection of an idea, sans flesh and blood, no matter how much skin gets bared where.

And I am not disputing the other photos depict bravery, though they are subject to the same fate as Caitlyn–the loss of humanity to an idea of something like heroism or bravery or Facebook likes.

The take home idea: Why would anyone want to be a woman in a misogynist society?