Story Line

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It’s the same old story told and re-told,

Thin smoke, a fire sparks newspapers sold;

“We’re up in flames; this place is doomed.

Who will scrape our souls from the ruins?”

 

Truth be souled, we scale our weakened edges,

Lurching through time, jumping off its ledges

In silken ticks, slick with moist memory mold

Like a baby’s crown bridging gaps grown whole.

 

Since the plates never cement, never solidify 

Merely surrender the quest just to realize

How little matters matter in the big scheme:

Unceasing cessation’s sensation’s our dream.

 

So forget about alarm bells and anxiety spells,

Smoke, pills, drink and dare-to-extreme thrills

To awaken sensate waves alligated to a vision 

When real proof appeared at the first incision.

 

At the flash, burn and expulsion, too hot to stay

A core so full of inevitable dispersion to always.

That’s life, I’m told, living between fire and ice   

My story and yours, again, and rolling the dice.

 

Chaos, our freedom, this overlaid order a fraud,

Some call it nature, some karma and others God.

I call it “whatever” or “ok”, often I call it a day,

To rein and saddle numbered hours’ silly anyway.

 

The ending never arrives, the plot never unfolds,

That’s the same old story told, retold and untold

Since the steadfast mute, reveal no master divine

Across the divide no dying secret passing the line.

 
Image: http://www.designedforlearning.co.uk

Women Masturbating: “Cat on Cat Crime”

 

The Huffington Post featured four women confessing masturbation misshaps in delightfully amusing stories of cringing embarassment, shock and humiliation. The real treat, however, lies in the frank delivery of the details by these clearly bold, tickled yet slightly discomposed young women relating early masturbation experiences. A study in rich human expression, the video reveals not just fodder for the prurient interests of some ill-intent viewers nor merely a sensationalism meant to draw readership, but a display of complex emotion evoked by the age old pastime–storytelling.

To boot, this video joins the growing dissemination of women’s sexuality imagery in the media, a necessary deployment in the continuing project of feminism’s de-sculpting (a chip at a time) the sedimented profile of and attitudes toward women in American society–all the while Huffpost gets points for edginess and the interviewees for bravery. It’s a win-win for all (except for those cynical ones who chalk it all up to exhibitionist tendencies of a selfie population and the marketing ploy of a savvy for-profit journalistic enterprise).

The Naked Truth: Women’s Bodies

  

credit: http://www.newstimes.co.uk/

You get what you ask for sometimes (though be careful of what you ask for; you may get it), like answers to unsettling questions or promptings for stalled action, for instance. If you stew long enough and put the fretting out there, wherever there is–occasionally you get what you seek despite your ignorance of the search. For the last two days, I inadvertently found my comfort and resolve in random readings around the net, specifically in elephantjournal.com and theguardian.com, two favorites.


The circle of my recent dilemma was typical for my pattern. A few months ago, I leapt into a project to challenge my fears, something I do occasionally for self-induced growth, only thinking about the consequences afterwards. Time draws the demons to me in hindsight: anxieties fill my head with body-shrinking scenarios, like outsiders’ criticism and mis-construction, and kill the fun I set upon in these let’s-jump-and-see-what-happens adventures when they arise. Often I deal with the discomfort and eventual exasperation of over-thinking, over-worrying by lurching from overly cautious to free-fall diving back to head-in-hands, anguished ruminating over decisions big and small.

In the morning’s perusal of the spiritual injection reflections–journals I frequent such as elephant journal–this passage drew me in with its seductive title:  A Man Can Change a Woman’s Body Image for the Better:

We all want to be seen exactly as we are. Fully exposed, naked—physically, emotionally, energetically and everything in between. And in that place of exposure, to be met with pure approval, gentleness and love can move mountains of shame, fear and insecurity. It’s an act of love.

While the title induced a frown of raised feminist hackles, the simple statement bleeds truth, though cliché–we all want to be accepted. But before we can be accepted, we have to be seen. And to be seen, we have to encounter people who are open, interested, observant and insightful. We can only be seen by those willing to look at who’s there. The rest just want to make something of us that aids them in some fashion–stroke their egos or deny we exist at all in their willed blindness of safe, unencumbered worlds.

That basic truth about acceptance, coupled with yesterday’s McCartney project write-up, began the synthesis. Britain’s Jamie McCartney, artist, created a huge plaster mural of 400 vulvas of various ages, sizes and shapes, inspired to backlash the labiaplasty trend, according to the Guardian’s Mary Katherine Tramontana. McCartney’s response to the trend: “Don’t change your parts, change your partner.” He considers industry practices that pressure women through perpetually idealized imagery of their bodies, as a form of “fascism” that operates by “making women feel shit about themselves,” according to Tramontana. She further states that the “Great Wall of Vagina” (the title of the mural) acts “as catharsis or empowerment for the women who helped create it” by exposing and exploding the belief that there is a singular ideal image of anatomy.

Finally, the big to-do (or little to-do depending on your interest in Rupi Kaur, Tumblr or Instagram) surrounding Instagram’s censorship of menstrual blood, and other avoided male-catered-to cringes, reported in the Guardian rounds out the list of happenstance reading that helped me resolve my doubts about going forward with my project, one that ironically places me in the double bind: putting my own image out in a public space–exposed and untouched–risks wresting from me the very control over my image I seek in publicizing photographs of my body in the first place. 

After this last reading, the story of Rupi Kaur’s censored selfie showing leaked menstrual blood in Is Social Media Protecting Men from Periods, Breast Milk and Body Hair?, I was convicted.  In it, Jessica Valenti surmises that social media reinforces misogyny, shunning women’s normal, functioning bodies while concurrently promoting “sexualized images of female bodies” for men: “thin, hairless and ready for sex.” This imagery, she concludes, must change and women can make that happen.

The upside, of course, is that the very nature of social media has made it easier for women to present a more diverse set of images on what the female form can look like and mean. Selfies, for example – thought by some to be the epitome of frivolity and self-conceit – are now being touted by feminist academics and artists as a way for women to “seize the gaze” and offer a new sense of control to women as subjects rather than objects.

The message appeared aimed at me.

When we have the power to create our own images en masse, we have the power to create a new narrative – one that flies in the face of what the mainstream would like us to look and act like.


That was my intent in agreeing to be photographed and interviewed for a female body consciousness-raising website: to disseminate imagery that does not conform to advertisers’ aka men’s ideals of women’s bodies but defies that coded model. I wanted to put myself out on the internet–in all that I am, unfiltered–to help disrupt that narrative sold to men and women alike, that their bodies should be anything other than what they are, worthy, accepted and loved. 

My body represents 54 years on earth and the genetic combinatory potential of random chromosomal breakage and interchange of two specific individuals as well as the exchanges in a line of people that led to them. The story in its unfolding is all there in every line, mark, tone and texture of my skin and its outgrowths: evidence of a living being, one specimen of billions, all different from me.

My dilemma only grew from preconceived labels and anticipated perceptions that I recognized as the “voices” of others eager to judge, criticize and injure. Even though I recognized those anticipated opinions for what they were, fabricated, inherited and illusory, I still felt the fear of judgment, drowning out my own desires to be the message unfazed about the interpretation in order to “seize the gaze,” be the subject and not the object. The act is for itself–and for my daughters to one day consider their mother’s statement: your body is your own and it is acceptable, even beautiful if you adjust your eyes to the light–just as it is.