Dec 13

a couple poems from UnMythed, by Chris Wind

from UnMythed, by Chris Wind

 

Narcissus

 

she unwraps the traditional gifts:
first, the brush-comb-and-mirror set,
pale pink marbling
with gilded edges—
they lie heavy in her hand;
then the jewelry box,
gold and cream
lined with velvet—
it plays “Fascination”

the new thirteen-year-old
hands them back to her mother and says
“Narcissus was a man.”

 

Narcissus was a man who fell in love with his own appearance—he spent all of his time gazing at his reflection in a pool of water.

 

***

 

Clytie

 

I can see you sitting there
looking up to your love
watching his every move
through the sky

like the girl who waited
every day at the corner
so to follow him to school
I knew his timetable
where he sat for lunch
and which afterschools he had practice

gradually your life changes
from human to plant
till you are finally immobilized
by your adulation
and unrequited love

if only you’d known
he wasn’t a god at all
but just some bunch of hot air

 

Clytie was a young woman in love with the Sun god. She would sit outside all day and watch him. Eventually she turned into a sunflower.

~~~

Dec 08

The Waiting-for-the-Elevator Thing

So I’m sure this has happened at least once to every woman.  You’re standing in front of an elevator, waiting for it, and a man comes up and presses the button.

Oh is that what that’s for?  I saw the button, with an upward-pointing arrow, and I understand that elevators go up, but you know, I just never put the two together!!

I was just waiting for it to know that I was standing there.

I thought I might try to push the button, but then I thought, no, I’m just not strong enough.

So I was just standing there.

Or maybe I did push the button (you know, I just don’t know?), but the system doesn’t recognize buttons pushed by people with uteruses.  Which is why you had to push the button.  You’ve got a penis!

So good thing you happened to come by!  I could still be standing there!

 

Dec 04

Imagine that …

…all males had to have their DNA on file with the government.

…all newborns had to have their paternity established by law.

…all males discovered to be fathers had their wages garnished at the source to support the mother of the child for six years (assuming she would be the one to be with the child 24/7 for the first six years and could not therefore obtain employment and therefore financial self-support) and the child for 18 years (half-support from the 7th year).

…and condoms and vasectomies were illegal.

Dec 01

Where are the independent (unattached and not seeking attachment) hetero women?

I have lived a lone life.  For a long time, well into my thirties, I attributed that to my personality — I’m a loner, not a joiner.  I also attributed it to my work life — part-time, relief, occasional, and done-at-home, none of which tend to result in the development of collegial friendships.  And I noticed early on that any female friendships I had quickly dissolved when the other woman got married.  And especially when she had kids.  And friendship with men simply isn’t possible: time after time I tried, but it seems only gay men can accept a woman as a friend; straight men were always after a sexual/romantic relationship.  Or assumed I was.

And all this was okay mostly.  Between the minimum work-for-pay to pay the bills, the household chores typically done by the husband as well as those typically done by the wife (though very little of each, admittedly), the passion I had with being a composer and a writer (first literary, then academic, now comic) and a runner — there was no time for friendships, no time for social activities.  But now, now that finally my obsession with my self is smouldering…

Now I seek kin.  Well, that’s not exactly right.  I’ve always sought kin.  And mostly found them.  Dead.  Chopin, Socrates.  Or unreachable by fame.  Vangelis, MacKinnon.

Now I seek kin who are alive and accessible.  And find none.  I have too little in common with women who have spent the last thirty years married (and, worse, mothering).  And even less in common with the men who have spent the last thirty years married.  Lesbian women?  The few I’ve met, like straight men, seem to be seeking attachment.  And despite my non-attachment to a man and my very feminist views, my hormones are still — whenever they make their presence known — straight.

So where are the unattached straight women?  Am I the only straight woman to have gone through life solo?

 

Nov 11

The Soaps vs. The Game

While both ‘the soaps’ and ‘the game’ have been criticized as poor viewing choices, only the soaps have been dismissed as fluff.  However, a close examination reveals that, in fact, the soaps have more heft than the game.

In both cases, the central theme, and that which drives the action, is winning.  In the soaps, what the players are trying to win is money, power, love, and/or happiness.  These are pretty substantial goals.  In the game, however, the players are trying to win – the game.  Frankly, it verges on circularity (you play the game in order to win the game), which comes close to utter triviality.

And while both sets of players use strategy, often involving manipulation, the strategy of the soaps is considerably more complicated than ‘Go left, fake, then go right.’  In fact, I would venture to say that the soaps is to the game what chess is to checkers.

With regard to setting, the soaps have a bit of an edge: while a well-furnished room is the norm, at least the set does change.  (One has the well-furnished office, the well-furnished den, the well-furnished living room…)

With respect to dialogue, again the soaps have the edge: there is some.  (Actually, I expect the game players speak to each other too, but for some reason we never get to hear their dialogue; instead, we are privy only to a voice-over commentary, explaining the action, rather like a Greek chorus – as patronizing now as it no doubt was then.)

While the characters of the soaps are more gender-inclusive, the characters of the game are more race-inclusive.  (And in both cases, they’re rich.)  I’d call it a tie here.

As for plot, again I’d call it a tie: in both cases, the events are terribly predictable.  I’d venture to say one is hard put to distinguish one game from another or one soap from another – only the characters give it away.

In the cinematography category, the game is superior for its long shots, but the soaps are superior for their close-ups.  Again, a tie.  However, in the soundtrack category, the soaps walk away with the prize.

As for sex and violence, I’m afraid the soaps lead the game on both counts.  There is simply no sex in the game – unless you count the occasional ass-pat (but that is so very elementary, it hardly even counts as foreplay).  And while there is a lot more physical contact in the game, of a violent-seeming nature, and while injury must therefore be frequent, it is seldom permanent; in the soaps, however, people get hurt all the time, in rather long-lasting ways.  Death is even rarer in the game; not so in the soaps.

One might point out that the game is real, whereas the soaps are not, and on that basis alone claim victory for the game.  Unfortunately this very ‘advantage’ backfires: given the level of injury and death in the soaps, it’s to its credit that it’s not for real; in the game, however, real people get hurt.

Tally up the points and I rest my case: the soaps are pretty substantial stuff compared to the schoolyard play of the game.

 

Nov 08

Kids Behind the Wheel

The other day, I was walking on the gravel/dirt road I live on.  It’s a back road that might see a dozen cars in a day.  As one such car passed us, I noticed that a kid was at the wheel in dad’s lap.  Proud dad, happy kid.

What is it with that?  Why, of all the adult things, do parents push their kids into that one?  Mis-asked the question.  It’s not the parents, it’s the dads.  And usually, it’s their sons, not their daughters.

Given that men are worse drivers than women (ask the insurance companies – why do you think young males pay such a high premium?), perhaps it makes sense: boys need all the practice they can get.  But surely it would be better to take them to a go-cart track.

Proud dad, happy kid.  I get the impression it’s not practice.  Is it a rite of passage to manhood?  But women can, do, and should drive as well.  There’s nothing gender-specific about driving a car.  So why would it be a rite of passage to manhood?

Maybe it’s the vroom vroom that confuses men.  It’s a surrogate roar.  They think they’re intimidating when they make a lot of noise.  (Actually they’re just annoying.  As hell.)  And they want to be intimidating because – ?

Or, also, attendant with a roar, maybe their primitive brain triggers the production of adrenaline, and the adrenaline makes them feel good.  Perhaps that explains the appeal of the Indy.  And the adolescent males who take the mufflers off their trail bikes.

Or maybe it’s the speed that confuses them, makes them feel like they’re chasing prey (or fleeing predators) and again, their primitive brain produces feel-good adrenaline.

So why doesn’t their modern brain recognize this and veto the primitive response?  Noise and speed matter little to homo sapiens living in the 21st century.

Proud dad.  Happy kid.  Oh aren’t you the grown-up.  No, you’re not.  You shouldn’t be behind the wheel until you’re sixteen and then you should approach the task with fear and trembling.  Driving is not fun.  A car is not a toy.  One wrong move and you could kill someone.

 

Oct 25

The “M” word on Prime Time TV!!!! (Misogyny; Scandal)

I’m delightfully surprised by the current season of Scandal.  I had trouble getting into the show, and actually, I’m surprised I’m still with it; catching a glimpse of a political debate between two women and  Melly’s bid for the presidency kept me involved, even though I don’t really like her, or Olivia …

And this season, Olivia’s arrogance is really off-putting, but my god, her monument or asterisk speech to Melly  – she actually used the word ‘misogyny’.  The word!  Spoken by a character on prime time tv!!  Been waiting for that for almost fifty years.

And then in a subsequent episode, Marcus takes Fitz to task for his white privilege.

And  for turning Olivia into a ‘black ho’?  Bring it on.

And that was after he lands that “Welcome to the plight of almost every successful woman in the history of mankind” remark.

 Who are these writers?  And why weren’t they on the show since the beginning?  (If I’m reading the IMDB site correctly, the writer has always been Shonda Rhimes.  Hm.)  (Perhaps no surprise.  If she’d said the ‘m’ word in the first episode, perhaps she wouldn’t’ve gotten any further.)

(Though I have to say…I worry that Olivia will set feminism back fifty years if she continues with, well, murder and blackmail.  People will say shit like ‘see what happens when we let women in power?’ conveniently forgetting every man in power that has done the same…)

Oct 19

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – Traister’s All the Single Ladies

Just at chapter 3, but I can highly recommend Rebecca Traister’s All the Single Ladies.

A few bits…

“…as the legal scholar Rachel Moran argues, while the feminist movement of the 1970s was in part a ‘direct response to these conditions of early and pervasive marriage,’ the ironic side effect was that single women had almost no place in the underpinnings of the movement” (20).  Yes!

“Le Bon conceded that ‘Without a doubt there exist some distinguished women, very superior to the average man, but they are as exceptional as the birth of any monstrosity, as, for example, of a gorilla with two heads; consequently, we may neglect them entirely'” (53).  Had not heard that one.

Oh, and this lovely tidbit: “Chambers-Schiller reports that in the medical establishment, ‘a painful  menopause was the presumed consequence of reproductive organs that were not regularly bathe din male semen'” (54).

 

Sep 25

A Postscript to Why Feminist Manuscripts Don’t Get Published

So here’s a query letter my friend Chris Wind sent to a publisher recently:

Editor, [XYZ Publishers]:

Feminist theorist Dale Spender wrote, in Women of Ideas and What Men Have Done to Them, “We need to know how patriarchy works.  We need to know how women disappear….”   Indeed we do.  Where are all the straight-A girls from high school?  Why, how, have they ‘disappeared’?  Marriage and kids is an inadequate answer because married-with-kids straight-A boys are visible.  Everywhere.  Even the straight-B boys are out there.

September (fiction; 114,698w) responds to Spender’s urgent comment with a microscopic examination of the life of a single woman that is, I fear, all too typical, answering the question ‘What happened?’

Although there have been many non-fiction books since Spender that have exposed the sexism in our culture …  fiction seems not to have kept pace, seems not to be informed by the insights of those authors.  September thus helps fill an important gap (especially for those who don’t read non-fiction) …

There are three voices juxtaposed throughout the novel: the fresh, impassioned protagonist speaking in the present through her journal entries from the age of fifteen to fifty; the wise, and fighting-off-bitter, now-fifty protagonist commenting about the events of her life, talking to her younger self; and the dispassionate narrator.  Insights are underscored by alternate realities, extended ‘should’ve happeneds’ and ‘could’ve happeneds’…

And so September is part fiction, part memoir; part personal essay, part critical essay; part psychology, part philosophy, part sociology.  It is a maze of analysis in which, despite the appearance of rambling randomness, one thing leads inexorably to another.

I append below a bio, synopsis, and sample; I am submitting this query to a few other publishers.

Thank you for your consideration, and I do hope to hear you’d like to read more!

Bio:  Chris Wind (M.A., Philosophy; B.A., Literature) has published four collections of poetry (Paintings and Sculptures, UnMythed, Soliloquies: the lady doth indeed protest and dreaming of kaleidoscopes).  Her prose and poetry has appeared in several journals and magazines (including Prism International, Ariel, Bogg, Canadian Woman Studies, The University of Toronto Review, Hysteria, The Wascana Review, The Antigonish Review, event, The New Quarterly, The Humanist, f.(L)ip, Waves, grain, Canadian Author & Bookman, cv2, Atlantis, and Herizons) as well as anthologies (including Contemporary Monologues for Young Women).  Several of her short theatrical works have been performed, and her stories have been read on CBC Radio (the Canadian equivalent to the BBC).  She has been awarded sixteen Ontario (Canada) Arts Council grants.

And this is the rejection letter she received:

Thank you for submitting your fiction proposal to [XYZ Publishers].

Unfortunately, we don’t think Women of Ideas and What Men Have Done to Them is a good fit for our list at this time. …

Sincerely,

Gregg [Somebody, XYZ Publishers]

I don’t know what’s worse, that he didn’t read the letter (or even the first line) very carefully (let alone, one has to assume, the enclosed sample) or that he didn’t recognize Spender’s work.

 

 

Aug 15

Why Feminist Manuscripts Aren’t Getting Published Today – McSweeney’s List

https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/why-feminist-manuscripts-arent-getting-published-today

 

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