Years ago, during my angry period (circa 8BR, Before Responsibility), I worked on a project with two other women and a group of men. I used to call us the “female wallpaper” to my two colleagues and they would get uncomfortable and look the other way.
We were marginalised and trivialised, and endured regular sexual intimidation enforced by threats, both covert and overt. What I didn’t see at the time was that I had a choice. It might have looked like I didn’t – “oh, if I complain or resist, I’ll be let go” – but it wasn’t actually the case. I could have left at any time and gotten another job. The truth, which, in my angry righteousness, was obscured from me, was that I preferred the harassment to the inconvenience and cost of having to get another job.
Earlier this year, I met one of the women from the project for the first time in many years. I think I was a disappointment to her. “What happened to you?” she said. “You used to be the gutsiest woman I’d ever met”. I told her “What you call gutsy I call rage”. “Oh sure, you’re not angry anymore”. She remained unconvinced, however, about the merits of this, and I let her be with her opinion. Like the lines from Holderlin’s poem I posted a few days ago, not everyone is pleased when one discovers responsibility:
Why did you like me more
when I was prouder and wilder, more full
of words, yet emptier?
The following short film called Il Corpe delle donne (Women’s bodies) by Italian filmmaker, Lorella Zanardo, has been watched in horror by millions of women around the world. I just learnt of it today. If you are a woman and haven’t yet seen it, watch it and weep. Then take hold of your life with both hands and don’t let go.
Warning: The film is confronting and disturbing. It is also not for men. It is neither for men, nor about men. It is about women and the radical disavowal of responsibility, the profound unwillingness to be at the source of our lives.