Thursday, May 28, 2009

For Alice, Wherever I May Find Her

Perhaps we all have complicated relationships with our bodies; I'd rather not assume anyone else's perspective. Mine has, at times, been so fraught I started exploring it as an academic discipline (body studies and visual culture) to better understand it. I went from fearing I was intersex to becoming "stacked" in a matter of weeks, at around 16 or 17. My family didn't talk about it, though I heard the boys in the locker room had much to say. When no one prepares you or when you don't choose it, it can be difficult to transition from invisibility to what feels like hypervisibility. You start to perform to gain some distance and assert some agency. It felt like the over-read, feminist dork had been usurped by people's ignorant assumptions/fantasies of unchecked libido and excess sexuality. During my undergrad, I wrote about pornography and/as performance art to try to determine if women whose bodies were like mine could ever be agents of their own desires and sexuality. Annie Sprinkle became an idol.

Alice was one of my closest friends as I tried to get my bearings and assert my nerdy self-hood. She makes excellent mixtapes (dancing out angst always helps). My favorite, whose artists/titles are lost to history and many moves, continues to thrill. To say thank you, this shirt:

I wore a similar shirt, with fishnets and miniskirts, when Alice and I were living in Madison. Though I was unaware of its punk origins--it appears a few times in The Filth and the Fury as an accessory to the UK anarcho-punk scene--wearing it emboldened me. I hoped that when people noticed it, saw the pierced nipples under a see-through sweater, it made them aware of the ways, and where, they were looking. I'm not sure that anyone else ever understood, or if they just saw boobs, but I felt that calling attention to the ways they looked would give me more equal footing, as a subject staring back. Alice, dear friend that she is, was there for my (to-date) most awkward phase: mousy bookworm becoming mouthy bookworm. For that, she's getting this iron-on, lime sugar cookies, and my affection.

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