Songs for the Struggling Artist


I Am a Dragon Now. The Fear of Men Is My Food.

I am nice. I am so nice. My whole life I have been told I am nice. When I received criticism, it was that I was too nice. And not just once either. Over and over and over again. “You’re too nice!” they’d say.

But that’s over. It’s over. I am a dragon now. Tell me I’m too nice again.

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It didn’t have to be this way. The arc of the universe could have bent toward justice a little sooner and I would have remained as I was. I could have stayed that person who wrote sweet plays that mostly worked out in the end – you know the kind, the ones where smart women hook up with slightly dorky temporarily clueless men and everyone’s happy. You could have had more of those plays. You could have had love songs and dream novels and light sparkling in the trees. I would have happily smiled my way through the rest of my life. I would have looked past a lot of bad behavior to have a seat at the table. But you didn’t give me a seat at the table so I brought a folding chair, as the great Shirley Chisholm advised. But now I am a dragon and every chair and the table will be burnt to the ground.

Yesterday a man sat at my table when there was plenty of other space at the café. He could not tell I was a dragon. He chewed his ice loudly and ostentatiously, oblivious of the fire and fury so close to him. He was not afraid. I was hungry. So I ate him.

Going up the subway stairs, I was behind a man. I was in his blind spot. He did not see me. But he could feel my wrath. He was afraid. I ate his fear and it nourished me so I let him live so he could feed me again.

Across the internet, men are terrified. If white men endowed with every privilege can be accused of sexual assault, then who’s to say you are not next? “Who is safe anymore?” they say. Who is safe? Not you. I want you afraid. All those years of fearing violence, particularly sexual violence, have given me a hunter’s instinct. I can spot a predator from very far away and I am coming for your fear.

Yes, you’re right. Being accused of sexual assault is, of course, just as bad as experiencing it. Worse, even! Yes. Be afraid. You are not safe. Not from me, certainly. I ate an ice chewer whole. What do you think I’ll do to you? I don’t care. I’m a dragon now. The thousands of years of women’s fear of men are stoking my craving for destruction, for the terror on the other foot.

I am all rage. All fire. All destruction. It did not have to be thus. But this week of patriarchal entitlement paroxysms and the reenactment of the trauma of innumerable women has made me a dragon. Now might be a good time to finally enact some of that gun legislation you’ve been so loathe to get going on – because my dragon self is keen on getting her hands on the tools of war, on the tools of men’s rage. If you do not fear me yet – perhaps you will fear your own death machines. The dragon will lap up the flop sweat and your terror.

But #NotAllMen, right? Wrong.

Yes. Yes. ALL MEN. Is that what you’re afraid of? That we mean all men when we talk about these things? That I mean all men now? Is that your big fear? Then, yes. ALL MEN. All of them. Especially if you are asking this dumb ass question. Then yes. I mean you. I am coming for you. Your fear of “all men” is especially tasty. Yes. ALL MEN, then.

Do you want to be saved from my path of destruction through ALL MEN? Do you want to be an exception? Try smiling more.

I will be inclined to exempt those that love me and be merciful to those that please me. Try laughing at my jokes. All of them. I am hilarious. I am a genius. Don’t you think so? Oh, women aren’t funny? That’s funny. And now you’re my lunch.

I will pardon those who understand. Try listening. Those who have heard me – even before I was a dragon will escape my wrath. They will be treasured in my castle along with the rest of my dragon horde.

My fury has become indiscriminate but I can be placated. I can be soothed. But I cannot be reasoned with. Explaining why I should not turn you to dust will not save you.

If you need some survival tools for adapting to a world full of indiscriminate rage, ask your grandmother. Or any woman who has soothed angry men around her all her life. I think those same tricks might work on me. Maybe. That doesn’t mean you should not be afraid. My fire is sudden. It is fierce. And I do not look like a dragon. I look like a nice friendly lady who won’t cause any trouble.

But I will. Oh, I will. You should be afraid of every single one of us now. We are coming for you. And your fear is delicious.

If you’d like to read my follow up to this post, you can just click through to: I Am Also Part Witch

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And as this post travels around the world, I am delighted to report that I have heard of the changing of many a social media profile pic to dragons. If you feel so inclined, please share your dragon developments and inspirations with me!

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About a year after I wrote this piece, a world of women becoming dragons, inspired by this one, came into my imagination. I made a podcast of it and you can now listen to The Dragoning wherever you get your podcasts.

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Songs for the Struggling Artist is also a podcast. You can find it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

If you’d like to listen to me read this on Anchor, click here.

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Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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Even dragons need support.

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

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Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist



This Post Is One Big Trigger Warning

If you’re a woman, you’re probably totally triggered right now and I hope you’re taking care of yourself and not actually reading anything on the internet. Including this.
TW: All of it.

Anyway – here we go.
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I thought I was younger. But when I looked up the dates of Anita Hill’s tribulations in the Senate, I discovered I was not the young teen I thought I’d been – but 18 and in college. I thought I was younger because of how much those hearings impacted me. I thought I was only just learning about the bizarre sexual politics of the adult world – but I guess I’d already gotten an inkling.

I’m thinking a lot about my teen self and how she experienced Anita Hill’s experience for reasons that are probably obvious, given what’s going on in the Senate now. Those who are teens now are much savvier than we were and are already full participants in the digital world. Emma Thatcher’s tweet is incredibly self aware.

While the content is different, this response reminds me of my experience of the Hill Hearings. In that case, the picture the hearings painted of the working world ahead of me did not make me relish the prospect of growing up into it.

As Katie Anthony said in her blog post This Is What Triggered Looks Like – I’m also triggered. I have been trying not to be – trying to pretend that none of this has anything to do with me. But in fact, I am triggered, triggered, fucking triggered by all the rape apologists coming out of the woodwork.

The subtext of much of what I hear coming out of the GOP defenders amounts to, “Who among us hasn’t raped someone? Or at least tried? Who among us hasn’t covered the mouth of someone to stifle their screams?” There are GOP women saying this sort of thing is completely normal and happens all the time and there’s nothing to see here.

Someone call some more hearings, I think we have a whole lot of cold rape cases to prosecute.

But why am I triggered? No one ever did anything so horrible to me as what happened to Dr. Ford. I am lucky. I am so lucky.

And I suppose that’s what’s triggering me. I have some intense survivor’s guilt.
I was always a hair’s breadth away from such an event.

There’s been a lot of talk of “This was the 80s. It was different back then.” And sure, I suppose it was. And realizing retroactively how many rapes I dodged is part of what’s freaking me out about all this. It’s also making me furious.

I mean – I’m finally getting some perspective on the teen sexuality of the 80s and early 90s and have realized that it was a goddamn war zone. Rape and sexual assault bullets were just whizzing past me and I just happened to have never caught more than a light grazing. Meanwhile, so many of my peers ended up with bullets lodged deep and scars that will never heal.

I mean, sure, I knew at the time, that boys were encouraged to try push past girls’ boundaries and it was up to girls to figure out how to avoid getting raped. But I think we all recognize how Dr. Ford’s experience goes the extra awful mile. At least all the women do. Yes. If you were a girl who wanted to make out with boys in the 80s, you probably got really good at moving hands away from places you didn’t want them, at pushing boys away, at saying “stop,” at saying “No.”

All the rapes I missed so narrowly are coming forward in the current climate. What’s cycling through my brain and body are all the times I had to raise my voice, push harder, shout, get out of the car, call a taxi or walk swiftly away.

If only one of those boys had turned up the music or covered my mouth or decided he enjoyed a fight, I’d have not been so lucky. It would have only taken one.

What I find myself turning over is how I experienced sexuality entirely on the defensive as a young women. Every time I went on a date, I was fully prepared to defend myself against rape and I fully expected to have to. Every time.

Where was the joy in sexual intimacy? I had no idea such a thing was even possible then. There was no opportunity for pleasurable exploration. There was no hope for shared experience in that paradigm. Boys tried to get some and it was up to girls to stop it. That’s just boys will be boys stuff.

Like most of the women I know, these proceedings of the last week or so, have made me furious in ways I thought I’d figured out how to manage these last couple of years. I was mad about Kavanagh’s nomination before this parade of rape apologists began. Now I have become a mass of stones just ready to smash anything before me. I am stone piled on stone and I want to smash things to dust.

After discussing my rage with my therapist, I told her she’d done a public service by seeing me as I was now a lot less likely to murder random men on the street for no reason at all. Before I got some mental health care, I was ready to go full Dietland on any unknown man I saw, extra points for total destruction if he was in a fancy suit.

Luckily, I did get some mental health care (and I am, in reality, not interested in violence) but not every one is so lucky and I’m going to guess that a lot of women have recently developed murderous impulses that they never imagined before.

The rage is real. It is powerful. It reaches backward and forward in time.

I am furious for the current moment and for what happened to Dr. Ford and all the other victims in the past and what’s happening to them now.

I’m furious about the rape culture of the past that is so much worse than I realized. I’m someone who knew the stats that 1 in 3 women would be raped in her lifetime even back in the 80s but somehow didn’t put it together until I saw Adrienne Truscott’s amazing show that that ALSO meant 1 in 3 men were probably rapists. (#NotAllMen – just 33% of them.)

I’m furious about that for the past and for the present moment.

I’m furious about the teenagers getting these messages now and furious about the messages I got when I was a teenager.

I’m furious about the cupcakes that Kavanagh’s wife handed out to the press.

I’m furious that #WhyIDidntReport is necessary and furious that so many women feel like they have to disclose some of the most painful moments of their lives in order to save the country.

I’m furious that I can’t really bear to read the writing of some of my favorite women writers right now because we are all furious at once and I have to regulate how much rage I can be exposed to each day so as not to accidentally self-immolate.

I’m furious that I am here writing about sexual assault again even though I don’t want to write about sexual assault but I have to because I will be furious either way and it’s better to get this out of me than allow it to fester.

I’m furious about what the future will hold if this doesn’t change now. I’m just fucking furious and furious that I have to be furious some more. I do not know when this fury will end. And that makes me furious.

Me at the National Walk Out #BelieveSurvivors

This blog is also a podcast. You can find it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. I’m working on Dionne Ferris’ “Don’t Ever Touch Me Again” for this episode.

If you’d like to listen to me read a previous blog on Anchor, click here.

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-1-33-28-am

Every podcast features a song at the end. Some of those songs are now an album of Resistance Songs, an album of Love Songs, an album of Gen X Songs and More. You can find them on Spotify, my websiteReverbNation, Deezer and iTunes

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Want to help me own my own expertise?

Become my patron on Patreon.

Click HERE to Check out my Patreon Page

*

Writing on the internet is a little bit like busking on the street. This is the part where I pass the hat. If you liked the blog (but aren’t into the commitment of Patreon) and would like to give a dollar (or more!) put it in the PayPal digital hat. https://www.paypal.me/strugglingartist

 




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