Saturday, August 6, 2011
The title of this post is from Jean Genet's play The Maids, about The Papin Sisters, Christine and Lea, showed here in Before and After, the French maids who brutally murdered their female employer and her daughter. All the French intellectuals were obsessed with The Papin Sisters - Simone de B and Jean-Paul Sartre looked at the case as one of class warfare, the Surrealists claimed them as the emblem of the female criminal and printed their After photo, them no longer good girls, bonnes, but now wild-eyed in kimonos, on the cover of one of their journals. I write about this in the book, somewhat, one of the theories about The Papin Sisters is that they were on their period and I look at I guess a social fascination with and repulsion for female criminals once the mask falls off, and our eagerness to attribute this to hormones. Hopefully I get into this in a more sophisticated way there. These Befores and Afters: Frances Farmer no longer smooth golden girl of Hollywood, now carried away kicking and screaming. The Medusa striptease of Plath's "Lady Lazarus." One of the central tenets of Heroines is modernism's fascination with and horror of the excessive, the feminine excessive, her body, her emotions, embodied to me by the mad wives, Vivien(ne) Eliot and Zelda Fitzgerald, who were disciplined and policed by both the literary theories their husbands espoused as well as psychiatry (not only how women should behave, but how literature should behave).
The pithy punchline bully of HTML Giant, Jimmy Chen, who I first engaged with when he posted a jerky quippy yet ultimately dumb piece about Zelda, has grafted some sort of chart of Internet personas where he has named me, as well as a handful of others, as excessive "menstrual" bloggers (on the opposite end of the spectrum, the "douches"). I could spend a class hour lecturing a lad like him about the hierarchical and dangerous thinking behind these stereotypical slurs, both which draw from the female body. But I don't think it'd ever get through to him. I think there should be some sort of required summer camp of Radical Feminism and Queer Theory for jackasses, but alas, there is not. I am not going to link to the piece, as I am not going to link to HTML Giant again, if I can help it. That is my small "boycott." I did comment one small comment by telling Jimmy I thought he was a bully, while realizing any comment like that, of hurt or pain, only fuels bullies. I will say that realizing I was publicly being made fun of came at a particularly hilarious or cruel moment yesterday, depending how you look at it, as I have been having serious health problems related to, yes my reproductive and endocrine system, and I have been bleeding so intensely, through the sheets on the hour, that I might have to have a blood transfusion in the next couple of days, and will definitely have exploratory surgery as soon as this damn book is finished, hopefully in the next two weeks. So maybe I am, ultimately, yes, an extremely menstrual blogger. Maybe my style is hormonal (what does this mean? too confessional? moody? emotionally charged? female? irrational?) What can I say. I was bullied a lot when I was growing up, and I think a bully's goal is to discipline, to make someone smaller whose behavior is seen as outsized, as taking up too much space, and all I can do is keep writing and working on what I'm doing, and try not to be humiliated into submission or silence.
(update: Becca Klaver and Jackie Wang on the post).