This is the most controversial post I have ever written in ten years of blogging. I wrote it because I was very angry at a specific incident. Not meant as a criticism of feminism, so much as of a certain way of operationalizing feminism. A few days ago, in response to a discussion of sexual harassment at MIT, Aaronson reluctantly opened up about his experience as a young man:
All of these words apply but none of them really convey what I mean. I read a blog post over the weekend that reminded me about the idea of a continuum that connects all the different writing that I like.
Maybe a name exists in literary theory but outside academia there is not a mainstream accepted satisfying name for this tradition. But there are exemplars of it and I want to force the world to read their books, so I have to figure out what this tradition encompasses and what to call it.
It was green spray paint, and I remember thinking that almost any other color would have been more appropriate, more violent and emphatic. Like everything else about the gesture, it needs a lot of context to make any sense.
I had taken the paint from the Art Barn where I was failing a sculpture class that semester.
It seems ridiculous that I was failing sculpture but I was. I came to class and did the assignments but the professor, an Ohioan famous for his large cheery site-specific installations in Columbus office park atria, just really hated my work. My work was pretty bad. In Nerds essay previous art class I had mostly gotten around the limitations imposed by my lack of technical skill by working with appropriation, pastiche and performance, ie I had put on a bikini and smeared myself all over with lipstick for the midterm and built a giant fake wedding cake topped with doll heads and surrounded by bowls of Karo syrup fake blood for the final.
But in this class we had to carve and weld, and I lacked both the patience and the innate knack that you need in order to be good with tools. I made two Easter Islandy heads out of wood and metal which were intended to be realistic but came out more impressionistic.
This was my masterpiece and I think it also got a D, or maybe a C. The professor circled my work like Tim Gunn and pointed out its flaws with one outstretched finger. I guess I was still at the stage of life when I thought I could potentially be good at anything I liked doing.
I only knew that I loved to get onstage and cry or scream or tremulously declare myself, to generally chew the scenery. Part of it was just the pleasure of being allowed to say the lines. The class had a greatest-hits type curriculum so I had little bits of Shakespeare and Chekhov to memorize for it all the time.
I thought I was the best actress in this class for sure.
The best actor in the class was Dave and we had a lot of scenes together, I began to look forward to our scenes, we sometimes had to meet outside of class to rehearse. I want to also step back from making fun of myself a little bit here and acknowledge that what was happening to me and around me at time was often terrible.
Many things were happening, some were great, others were terrible.
I also met Val and she became my roommate. Basically things were looking up, with a few exceptions. This was my first experience with this relationship dynamic so I guess I can be forgiven for not recognizing it for what it was and shutting it down immediately. Until the body was found, months after her disappearance, everyone thought she had committed suicide.
Maybe the administration suppressed attempts to discuss what had happened or memorialize the murdered girl. I was going to school in the middle of nowhere and it was now clear that a girl could die there and no one would really care.
I had conflicted feelings. Part of me wanted to stay. But another part, a self-preserving part, or at something that functioned as a self-preserving part in this context, set about making it impossible for me to stay.
Maybe I indulged myself with the thought I was protecting other women with a warning this is a common form of self-indulgence. The act of spray-painting the word slut was less important than its consequences. One of them was that Dave got really angry at me, which was exhilarating.
I wonder how much of my diary he read, also whether in another context a reader of that diary would have concluded that I seemed depressed. Another detail of this incident that seems, in retrospect, like a seed that later germinated into some variety of showy, smelly flower is that the girl Dave moved on to was the first person to ever write a mean anonymous comment on any of my blogs.
She wrote it on my now-defunct first blog, The Universal Review. This was the blog where Bennett and I wrote reviews and assigned letter grades to various institutions, substances and experiences, and on my review of Kenyon College I gave it a C this girl wrote that no one at Kenyon had liked me, et cetera.
Of course, it could also have been lots of other people.
They fuck in various ways and have conversations about Spinoza, Gramsci, waves of feminism and ways men and women are socialized, Marxism, and porn.
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