Mira Grant is a thoughtful writer. Correction, well-established, respected Seanan McGuire is a thoughtful, caring writer. So thoughtful that she created a pseudonym when she started writing a new book series—because it was drastically different from what she had already written—she didn’t want to alienate her fans, confusing fairy-loving (magical creatures) readers who picked up her gory, bloody, virus-laden zombie books.
T2 Trainspotting, based on the novel of the same name and the sequel, Glue, was released last week. I was so obscenely excited that I started to question why. Have I truly not grown since I saw the first movie? What does this say about me that I’ve become so invested in some characters from my past?
The day after the election, I was inconsolable, like many people. I couldn’t come to terms with what happened. And so I wrote. I wrote something that I didn’t post because it was not who I want to be. Yes, it was how I felt, and who I was at that moment, but it is not who I am. It was a very broken piece, filled with sadness, and not much else. Just mourning.
But now, I want to add my voice to all the others that are protesting the election’s results. And the absolute absurdity of seeing a sexual predator every time someone references the current President of the United States. And that this predator uses hateful rhetoric about basically anyone who is not white. As a woman of mixed race, I wonder what my experience would be in this future America if I looked more like my mother, who is very dark brown. Language is incredibly powerful, words can slowly be integrated into everyday vernacular, slowly chipping away at civil rights. It’s a trickle down process, but it happens. History has proven this time and again.
Because my skin is so light, I don’t feel comfortable speaking as a person of color. What I can speak to is my past, which was a lovely childhood marred by a few occasions of sexual abuse. And how that affected me forever after and how I maneuvered in the world after those moments.
I feel like I’ve been watching my back for years, or to be more accurate, my vagina. Since the age of 3 or 4 (not sure how old I actually was when the abuse began and ended), I’ve suffered the male gaze, endured the comments, and pretended not to notice. I was about 5 when I first saw punk rockers in a McDonalds with my mom. They wore all black, had dyed hair—one red, one green, one blue. One had a mohawk. At least one of them was female, and I remember being scared of them all, and thought, no one will mess with them. But all they did was politely order some food and leave. I was about 12 when I met two goth skaters who were polite and I never saw them again (they were friends of a friend). That was shortly after I had developed breasts and men were checking me out. Around that time, I innocently wore a hand me down short skirt and old dudes leered at me. My mother pointed it out and I was sickened and wanted to cover up immediately.
That’s when I walked down the path to darkness. That’s when I slowly started picking out black clothes from shops. That’s why I bought oversized clothing. That’s why I started listening to dark music by musicians who couldn’t get the girl. I didn’t want to get got. I wanted to live in a world where I was left alone. No one bothered me. No one saw me.
And now I live in a world where I feel more visible than ever before. It goes both ways. I can see the utter ugliness that exists outside my little bubble. Social media has allowed women to share over and over, the abuse they encounter and endured. It allowed me to know that I was not alone.
The day after the election, I was filled with despair. To see a known sexual predator makes me wince and I have to see him every time I go online, see a newspaper, a magazine, the news. It makes me wince with discomfort and anger. But now, I’m filled with anger and hope. I attended a children’s art show entitled “Gurl Please, Gender Bye!” and the art was made by children ages 5–12.** What we have here, what we are experiencing, is truly a time period that will change. With protesting, with authors and journalists, with hope, with children.
Trust me when I say I understand that I live in the Bay Area, and what I experience is not a struggle. Childhood abuse was not good. But just being a weird goth straight-ish chick isn’t what I would describe as unsafe. What is dangerous is happening in other places, to other women, to people of color, to LGBTQ people.
So writers, please continue writing. Don’t be silent. And I apologize if I lean too heavily now because I don’t know what to say. With your strength, my words will come.
This photo was taken the day after the election, after a day of crying. Note: I asked my friend for a masculine version of a feminine cut. It’s growing out quite nicely. I’m looking like like a hung over dude, so there’s that.
* I unintentionally live a life of privilege because I look more like my father than my mother.
** This art show was curated by Ammo Eisu at CASA, with a generous grant by SOMArts Cultural Center
Patti Smith spoke at a church in Berkeley and did an impromptu musical performance. Her self-deprecating humor was exquisitely charming. Her book, M Train, is about nothing. Really, on page one, first paragraph, first sentence, she writes, “It’s not so easy writing about nothing.” (Smith, 1). I devoured M Train. I was on vacation in New Mexico reading it, at my Aunt’s ranch, sitting on the porch, drinking coffee out of my deceased Uncle’s mug. Everything felt so connected, so immediately relevant. And yet, I suspect I would relate to this book and connect everything wherever I was while reading it.
Paul Beatty’s brilliant satire, The Sellout is about a present-day man who accidentally acquires a slave and loves his former town so much that he physically redefines its town lines and reinstitutes segregation. I bought the book because it sounded like a thought-provoking and challenging satire, one of the cover blurbs, called it “Swiftian satire of the highest order.” I assumed I would appreciate the humor and the authorial voice, but detest the protagonist. But Beatty created an incredibly likable character, one that truly means well but can’t help when strange things happen to him (like having a suicidal man he saved pledge his life as a slave to him). He ends up in the Supreme Court as a result of his trying to improve his community. Continue reading