I’m breaking out in whiteheads, which makes me madder than a feminist with chlamydia.
I’m meeting this fanzine girl who emailed me that she’ll do anything, because I love the way you talk about body fluids. Is that a dream or what? It might as well be. I’m in whitehead hell. You know, those pimples—you can feel ‘em coming for days. Then they break the surface. Red pus-filled lumps. Suddenly I’m attacked…one on my shoulder…one on my ass…one on the side of my nose…now one on my upper palate. Right where she’s gonna run her tongue the first night of our tryst. Yeah, she likes body fluids, but does pus count? I doubt it.
I dunno, the lights are low in that club. Maybe I can get away with it. I’ll feel a little guilty lapping those lower labia. Might get my palatine pus in her sensitive spot. Ah, who cares? I’ll never see her again. I just hope that she won’t want to meet me tomorrow and hang out in SoHo or something. Ugh! Can you imagine spending the day with a gender whose hobby is SHOPPING?
Suddenly a stench fills my apartment. It surrounds me like a blanket—a suffocating blanket. It’s the smell of a mouse caught weeks ago and left in the trap to rot…times ten…an overpowering stench of death.
Ok Mykel, I think we’ve finally had enough. You are so full of shit your eyes are brown. What do you think it’s like hanging out with a gender whose idea of a good time is football and cars? You think that’s sexy? We’d rather shop for clothes…though in our current condition, it’s hard to find something that’ll fit.
I turn and see a whole bunch of people. I guess they are people. They’re not looking too healthy, although it’s hard to focus on any one of them. Most are missing body parts. Many are scarred around the face and between the legs. Broken bones poke through at odd places.
“Who are you?” I ask. “And what the fuck are you doing in my apartment?”
We’re the ghosts of every woman raped…dismembered bodies thrown in garbage bags. We’re the ghosts of every woman burned alive on her husband’s funeral pyre. We’re the ghosts of every woman killed because she wanted to attend school or drive a car or vote. We’re the ghosts of every woman sacrificed to a male god. Of every woman who died in childbirth because she was forced to have a child she didn’t want. We’re the ghosts of every woman murdered to save the honor of some male shmuck. We’re the ghosts…
“There certainly are a lot of you,” I say, speaking to the limbless-torso-with-a-head who’s talking to me.
“There are millions of us,” she answers.
“How did you all fit into my tiny apartment?” I ask.
“We’re dead, Mykel,” she says. “We don’t take up much space…And what’s that ugly thing on the side of your nose?”
“You should talk,” I say, “you’re dripping blood all over my floor.”
“You’re right,” she says. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get personal.”
“OK,” I tell her. “Next question: What the fuck are you doing in my column? Who gave you permission…”
The limbless one laughs. It’s a deep throaty laugh that sounds like it comes from the depths of hell. Maybe it does.
“That’s pretty funny,” she says, “coming from Mr. Free Speech Absolute. We need permission to speak???? That’s rich!”
She laughs again. The teeming mass echoes around her. It’s like standing in front of a jet engine. Oh boy, the neighbors are going to complain.
“But you’re dead!” I object.
“So dead people have no rights?” she answers. “It’s a slippery slope, and you know it. First you deny rights to dead people. Then you deny them to black people.”
“OK,” I say, “you’re right. I buttered my free-speech bed, now I have to sleep in it. So WHY are you here?”
“We’re here to do what your editors SHOULD have done. We’re not here to block you. We’re here to ANSWER you.”
“Why didn’t you do this LAST issue?” I ask. “That’s the one after the one they didn’t print.”
“Publishing schedules,” she says. “We didn’t have time to organize before the deadline. How long do you think it takes to get millions of dead women together? It’s a big job.”
“Like meeting some after work,” I say. “Girls…always takes them a long time to do anything.”
“Sure Mykel,” she answers, “pick a cliche and jump on it. How creative of you. I think this whole ghost thing is a ripoff of George Tabb anyway.”
“Hey,” I say, “don’t get testy. Is it time of the month or something?”
“No, Mykel,” she says in a voice that would indicate hands-on-hips, though this girl has no hands to put anywhere, “we’re dead. We don’t have those times of the month.”
“I forgot,” I say.
“And besides, why is it when a woman gets pissed off it’s always female trouble or that time of the month? When a guy gets pissed off the cause is something else. Something outside his body. How come everything a woman does is blamed on her body?”
“Not everything,” I say. “Besides, girls identify with their bodies. For girls, things exist the way they do BECAUSE they’re girls. In my censored column…”
She cuts me off, “It wasn’t CENSORED, Mykel. The editors chose not to print it. That’s what editors do. You got enough publicity out of it to satisfy even an egomaniac like you. MRR doesn’t print ballet reviews. Is that censorship? Maybe they should print Bill O’Reilly?”
“Let me finish,”I say, “in that column…whatever you call it…I start with a quote from Catherine McKinnon, where she says that all heterosexual sex is rape. That’s BECAUSE women…”
“What the fuck?” the torso asks. “Catherine McKinnon does not speak for me. She’s a relic from the 80s… like you! She doesn’t speak for any of us. She only speaks for guys like you who want to use her as an example of WOMEN. Men love her a hell of a lot more than women do. She’s exactly their image of A FEMINIST. She isn’t and never was. You just like to believe that. Does Bill O’Reilly speak for YOU? Does he speak for MEN?”
“I see you got a bee in your bonnet about Bill O’Reilly,” I tell her.
“We visit him next,” she says. “He lies. You don’t lie.”
“Thank you,” I say.
“You distort,” she says. “Instead of letting the facts pick how you think, you get an opinion first, then find the facts to match. It’s a step up from O’Reilly, but not a big step.”
“Can we get to some specifics?” I ask.
“OK,” she says, “you make light of domestic violence…”
“I do not!” I answer, “I just say that domestic violence is a two-way street. ANY gender can commit it, but only men are guilty until proven innocent.”
“There you go picking and choosing again,” she says. “The (somewhat) more objective NY Times says more women in NYC are killed by their husbands or boyfriends than in robberies, disputes, sexual assaults, drug violence, random attacks, or any other crime where the relationship between the murderer and victim is known. And more: according to the Domestic Violence Resource Centera quarter of all women in the US are assaulted…”
I’m ready for this one. “So you think the answer is to throw the assaulters in jail, where they’ll be assaulted and learn that assaulting is the way of the world?”
“We are together in this,” says the torso-with-a-head, nodding to the millions of others with her, “but we can’t agree on everything. Some of us think that just getting these fuckers off the street is enough. Lock ‘em away. Stop ‘em from hurting others. Frankly, we don’t give a shit what happens when they’re locked up. It’s not like drugs, Mykel. These are not victimless crimes…”
“So,” I say in triumph, “it IS all about revenge.”
“Don’t get testy,” she says.
[OUCH! That hurts!]
She continues, “We don’t ALL agree on that. Some of us think the way to deal with this is to make the assaulters work in a rape crisis center or a shelter…not as a counselor, but as a guard or something. Or send them out with the cops who sweep up after a “crime of passion.” Let ‘em see the broken bodies…the results of their handiwork…US! That’s punishment…and education…”
“Er…” I interject, “that’s exactly what I think.”
“Yeah,” she says, “but it’s not what you write. It’s as if we don’t have a right to our own issues, our own problems. We’re women, but we can’t talk about that. We have to think of equality, unfairness, other people who are getting fucked over– oh yeah, and FREE SPEECH®. But we are WOMEN. We’re close to THIS ISSUE. This is what killed us. Look at this bloody mess, Mykel.”
She makes a sweeping gesture with…with what? I dunno. How do you make a sweeping gesture with no arms or legs?
“This is OUR concern,” she says. “We are NOT survivors. We are dead. Let’s at least applaud the ones who made it.”
And the sound of applause of millions of limbless torsos fills my apartment. The stench of death rises even higher with the sound.
“And oh, yeah,” says the talking limbless-torso, “that whitehead on the side of your nose just popped.”
I reach up and feel the pus oozing onto my finger.