Tag Archives: feminism

Hating Sansa Stark (and Not for Her Femininity)

Sansa Stark fan art by EnjoyTheBlood with the overlaid text "In the [stet] real life, the monsters win"
Sansa Stark by EnjoyTheBlood
SPOILERS WARNING: This post assumes you’ve seen the first season of Game of Thrones or read the first book in A Song of Ice and Fire. There are spoilers for the latest episode, S05E03, “High Sparrow” but they are clearly marked in the post.

I Can Be a Feminist…and Still Dislike Sansa Stark

My beloved Bitch magazine is the latest in a series of articles claiming that the widespread dislike of Game of Thrones’ Sansa Stark is due to misogyny. The argument goes like this:

 Make no mistake, Sansa Stark is one tough cookie. Sansa isn’t, however, a typical “strong female character” like her sister Arya. Her strength and power lie in her mind and in her ability to assess, adapt to, and manipulate situations by means other than brute force—something that’s rare on Game of Thrones. In show’s assortment of extremely powerful women, Sansa may fade to the background. But that’s actually part of her goal as a character, because she thrives by sticking to the shadows rather than attracting attention to herself.

The actress playing Stark claims Stark has figured out how to “weaponize femininity, how to turn what looks to casual viewers like a disadvantage into an asset.” Another article asserts:

It annoys me that people only like the feminine characters when they act like male characters. And they always go on about feminism. Like, you’re rooting for the people who look like boys, who act like boys, who fight like boys. Root for the girls who wear dresses and are intellectually very strong.

I too want traditionally feminine characters who manipulate their situation without brute force. But the problem is that Sansa Stark is not meant to be a powerful, feminine woman. She is written to be weak. On purpose. She is forthright when she should be withholding, emotional when she should be strategic. Always reacting rather than planning, always the victim, being batted from one danger to the next.

Sansa Stark by Sari Sariola
Sansa Stark by Sari Sariola

In fact, the entire clusterfuck of terrible events that happens in season one could all have been prevented if Sansa Stark hadn’t been so foolish to trust the queen mother with things she shouldn’t have said (I’m being vague here for the sake of spoilers). This intel gives the queen the chance to betray Sansa’s father, an event which sets in motion all the terrible things that befall Sansa and her family. Moreover, it’s not as though Sansa took a calculated risk that went awry. She naively thought the queen was her friend. Naivety, not inner strength, seems to be her primary character trait.

I feel like these feminists want to believe that George R.R. Martin has set Stark up as a “strong woman of intelligence” because they want to give him the benefit of the doubt, that he intended to have such a character. They want to believe that Martin means well. But they aren’t giving him enough credit. If Martin wanted to write a character who is “quietly wearing pretty dresses and pushing teacakes around on her plate as she maintains a façade, refusing to break character and betray herself” (as the Bitch article so nicely puts it) he would, and there would be no bickering about who she is and what she stands for. It would be clear. I know that, because he already wrote a character to fill that role, and it isn’t Sansa Stark.

(And no, it isn’t the mother of dragons either, though I think one could make a convincing argument that Daenerys Targaryen’s strength comes not from her army but from her strategy.)

The Strong, Clever, Feminine Heroine of Game of Thrones

Margaery and Sansa by MiliaTimmain
Margaery and Sansa by MiliaTimmain

If you want proof, then you need look no further than Margaery Tyrell. Margaery is easily a foil for Sansa, in that both of them have been engaged to the king, and both are living in the same lion’s den. But they handle this situation very differently.

Let’s compare. Sansa Stark had a schoolgirl crush on on the prince, Margaery recognized right away that he was a dangerous psychopath. Sansa Stark’s reaction to figuring this out was to plot her escape (an act that she was too timid to plan herself) while Margaery played on the prince’s sadism to get closer to his shiny, coveted crown. Sansa wants to be a Disney princess; she thinks nothing of politics beyond her own survival. Margaery went out among the people and heard their grievances, and was so bold as to challenge the queen about representing their interests. Sansa fails to recognize her natural ally in the imp, and is way too trusting of Little Finger. If their roles were reversed, there is little doubt that Margaery would have found countless way to exploit a marriage to Tyrion Lannister.

Margaery as a queen playing card
Margaery as a queen playing card
Sansa Stark illustrated as a playing card by Simona Bonafini
credit: Simona Bonafini






Sure, Sansa lies about her allegiance  to stay alive, but this doesn’t make her clever. It’s always tentative and tinged with fear. In contrast, Margaery lies to get what she wants. There are grey areas here: it’s partly due to Sansa’s disclosure that Margaery knew of prince Joffrey’s depravity. But the actions of Margaery show clearly how Sansa is meant to be perceived. Margaery is intended to be the feminine beguiler these other feminists long for while Sansa is intended to be read as weak and naive. Martin demonstrates this not only in their actions, but in the consequences to their actions.

For example, in the latest episode Sansa is again forced to lie **SPOILERS S05E03** when she is offered as a marriage candidate to the psychopaths who brutally murdered her people. Sophie Turner plays this perfectly, showing Sansa’s lies to be believable, while all the time you know she’s doing all she can not to scream bloody murder. Meanwhile, Margaery lies in this episode too. She speaks to the young king about his mother with words of flattery, her intended message buried so far down that when the king questions his mother, he doesn’t even recognize it as her idea. Then when the queen confronts Margaery, her false worship of the queen is laid on so thick the queen is left with no rational way to suggest Margaery may be at fault. Margaery is a gifted deceiver, she does it naturally and well and in the end it gets her what she wants, all the way to the crown. **END SPOILERS**

When Margaery’s ploys succeed, the author is showing us how clever and sly she is. All of her scheming is disguised as someone else’s idea. She plays the innocent, but is constantly advancing her position. She is smart enough to recognize that the queen is her biggest adversary, and daring enough to to look for opportunities to push the queen aside.

In contrast, Sansa Stark is where she is because she has little sense of who she can and should trust. The current scheme she is thrust into was not her idea at all, but Little Finger’s. Imagine if Margaery had the chance Sansa has, SAME SPOILERS AGAIN to regain her castle and avenge her people? I have no doubt not only would she be eager to wed the psychotic Ramsey Bolton but, critically, it would have been her idea. But because this is Sansa, and Ramsey Bolton is just about the worst character in a world of deplorable characters, we get the sense that the Little Bird is again being led into a terrible trap.  END SPOILERS Sansa is still too naive to have schemes of her own.

Hating Sansa Stark, Just Like I’m Supposed To

detailed fan art of Sansa Stark by Bubug
Bubug has more beautiful illustrations of Sansa and the Hound

While  I don’t like Sansa Stark, I’m not with the unsophisticated reader who would have her shunted from the books, dying suddenly so we can get back to the other characters. I don’t see Sansa’s weakness as a failing of the author. Sure, in a world where most of the other characters are marked by their brilliance, honor, or strength, it’s easy to hate Sansa Stark, who is none of these things.

But we must remember that Sansa is barely more than a girl, and a royal at that, who has lived a sheltered life. Martin needs at least one character like that in the series to show us: this is what happens to naive girls (or boys) in a brutal world. If he killed her off, we’d not get to see how the slings and arrows of fate will turn Sansa into more than a survivor, but a leader.

Much of the world of Game of Thrones centers on this process. We watch young Arya turn from a little girl into a trained killer. We watch Daenerys Targaeryan learn to rule nations. These are plots that have developed not over chapters but over thousands of pages.

Those who would argue that Sansa is strong overlook that her weakness is a deliberate decision the author has made to show us that she is not ready to lead. That’s good writing. That’s character development. In the end, she won’t be another Margaery. Margaery has always been conniving. Her family raised her to be shrewd and careful. Every scene shows that is who she is; that is where she comes form. It makes her wicked, but likeable.

But Sansa is a Stark. She was raised to be honorable. Truth and justice were the values of her parents. She was taught that survival means looking out for your people (after all, winter is coming!) and there will be suffering in any case (did you hear about winter?). She was not taught to be shrewd, and this has led to the ample poor decisions that make her unlikeable. The choices she has made to stay alive go against all that the Starks hold dear.  How will she become a worthy daughter to the unimpeachable values of her parents, while navigating a world where such honor will get you killed?

In the game of thrones, “you win or you die” so Sansa must sharpen up, or meet her father’s fate. Watching her story is like watching a pawn advance across a chess board. Martin has written her as a pawn, and rightly so, as her weakness makes the brutality of the knights and queens clashing around her more fearsome to behold. That little pawn keeps moving forward, and it is excruciating to watch unfold. But everyone knows what happens to a pawn that makes it across the board. That is what Sansa’s character is about: not who she is, but the powerful lady Stark she will become.

Why Reclaim the Word “Queer”?

As a woman, the word “gay” does not describe me. I’m told gay is meant to be all-encompassing but if that were so, why do we say “gays and lesbians”? Wouldn’t that be redundant? It is similar to how women are told the word “man” is meant to apply to all of *mankind, yet I still get surprised looks when I walk into the men’s room.

The next solution offered for describing queers is “LGBT.” First, let’s admit that “LGBT” is hella awkward. It’s hardly the catchy marketing hook you’d expect from a people known for being fashion-forward. More importantly the acronym LGBT goes to the heart of why there is a need for “queer.” We need a word that summarizes all the gender and sexuality misfits and tacking together a long string of letters is hardly the best way to do this. “Queer” does not state someone’s sexual preference or gender identity. It doesn’t say which letter they are to be categorized under. It merely asserts that one doesn’t fit into the norm.

I will staunchly defend whatever sexual identity an individual claims—who am I to say I know their loins better than they do? You know that limp-wristed straight guy who carries a man-purse and keeps his eyebrows meticulously groomed? In LGBT circles there’s an ongoing debate about when this fellow will accept who he is and come out. This is a shame because the whole point of this movement is to give people the freedom to be whatever they want to between the sheets. Not that I want to encourage closet cases, but pressuring people is not going to make them more comfortable coming out. The word “queer” gets around all that. I can say, “Sweetie, you may not be gay, but you are definitely a little queer,” where queer means what it has always meant—divergent from the norm. If he takes offense, then we can have a conversation about why it’s OK to be different—fun!

Perhaps what I love most about the Pride movement is that it teaches Johnny Hetero and Susie Vanilla that there’s more than one way to be sexual, and that that’s ok. When Johnny accepts that some boys like boys he can admit his own hetero fantasy of being dominated.  Recognizing the validity of queer desire can help Susie come to terms with the fact that she can only get excited when she’s being secretly watched. Thus even Mr. Hetero and Ms. Vanilla can see the personal value in the Pride movement. While ninety percent of folks are straight, there are very few people who harbor not a single kink in their desires. Deep down, we are all queers.

Reclaiming “queer” is more than a political statement, it can be tremendously helpful to the outliers. This includes not only the perpetually undecided adolescents but also the middle-aged bisexual woman who’s been married into a straight relationship for twenty years. “Queer” still describes the gay male who suddenly finds she is “straight” when she comes out as trans. “Queer” describes the intersexed and the hetero cross-dressers and the whole genderfuck lot. Adding more letters to LGBT is not the solution, because that way of thinking continues the idea that we know all the ways to be an outsider. It puts the emphasis on classifying when the truth is that so many of us came together because we are tired of being classified. In the past there has been in-fighting about whether these people are gay enough, whether they counted. I bet there wasn’t a single person at the Stonewall riot who would have turned away someone sincerely asking to join the fight and gain acceptance under the queer umbrella.

I say “queer” because I don’t want to get hung up on which box to tick. I say “queer” because it is more inclusive and in a game of Us Versus Them, we are stronger when Us is bigger, more diverse. I say “queer” because of all the beautiful people I have known who are not quite straight and not quite gay, but certainly part of this movement. I say “queer” because it reminds people that sexuality is as complicated and personal as the individuals it describes. I say “queer” because there are as many ways to diverge from the norm as their are colors in the rainbow.
Queer Little Ponies pic thanks to Zak Hubbard.

*For example, does Oscar here describe all people, or only men? “What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” –Oscar Wilde

A Feminist Click Moment

Or: How Feminism and A Love of Drink

Saved Me From the Perils of the Devil

I was a teenage satanist. Under the tutelage of Anton LeVay's The Satanic Witch, I didn't think women needed equal rights. Women were already the most powerful creatures in the world because they could get whatever they wanted through the subtle, irresistible guile of a woman's sexuality. You could not convince me that men got all the jobs and the money because Satanism had taught me that for one sniff of a woman's musk a man would change his mind about foreign policy and hand over the keys to his Porsche. We didn't need to be in charge, at least not officially. Of course by this view, the men immune to the stuff between a woman's legs, gay men, should've been at the pinnacle of the power pyramid. Nor did this view take into consideration how complicated sexuality and attraction are, nor numerous other aspects of inequality like vaginal mutilation, domestic abuse, etc. Satanism didn't address the subtle messages that young girls receive telling them they are princesses in need of rescue. Doubtless the message that all I needed to succeed was a cunning mind and a short skirt was ripe fodder for a cherry bomb raised on fairy tales. If Marilyn Monroe didn't need feminism why would I?

Going to Women's Center meetings in college didn't shake the feminism into me. On the contrary, the women present were all extremist stereotypes and I relished disagreeing with them. They told me women were silenced but so far no one had managed to shut me up. They spoke of empowerment but I didn't need to be reminded that women could be capable and strong because my mother told me I was these things and I was still only a girl.

No, the feminist seed was watered by copious alcohol. Specifically the game Asshole. If you haven't played it, a key aspect is that the winner of the previous game could tell anyone else to drink whenever they wanted to for the entire next round. As a Freshman at one of the leading party schools, I'd become an adept and frequent President, dishing out sips to jolly drunks. Many men who could game amiably threw temper tantrums when I came to the President position. It had happened enough times to become predictable, til it got to the point that I avoided playing the game with any man I was dating.

Back in class we were studying the feminist implications of M. Butterfly and Ibsen's A Doll's House. My feminist “click” moment came during one of those discussions where it was theorized that abusers were actually, deep-down-inside, insecure. I was rolling my eyes because that particular reversal of thinking has always struck me as a stinking cliché. It was right up there with “bullies are just scared” and “he pulls your hair because he likes you.” As if cruelty were perpetuated by helpless cute puppies. Such claims were brought with no evidence save wishful thinking. Yet where was I left but without any lunch money and an aching scalp? I'd seen domestic abuse up close and if those guys were insecure, they weren't any more so than plenty of other guys that don't beat the shit out of people.

We read an essay on the topic. It was either by Judith Butler or it began with a quote by Judith Butler (I regret that my googling was not able to come up with the essay or quote). It surmised that the insecure abuser has been taught that he is inherently superior to all women. What does a man do in this position when a woman bests him? How does it make him feel? It wouldn't be the same as being bested by a man. If you believed that women were inferior to all men then to be outwitted by a woman was in essence to be put not only beneath her but beneath all men. Either she was not truly a woman (or she couldn't have surpassed you) or he was not truly a man—and cognitive dissonance would lead most men to the former conclusion.

This rang true for me. It explained why otherwise ordinary men couldn't handle losing at Asshole. They were acting out the same seething rage the essay described. It wasn't merely that they didn't like being told what to do by a woman, it was that the orders were coming about because they had lost to one. I actually played with one guy who, gaining the presidency in a later round, insisted I shotgun an entire beer for every penalty sip. Of course I'm not suggesting this gent was a wife-beater, but his anger was real, tangible. He wanted to punish me for winning.

Why was this the “click” moment for me? Why did this essay linger with me and transform me into the totally bad-ass feminist writing here before you today? I think mainly, it felt fair in a way none of the Women's Center rhetoric had. Most of the feminist arguments I had previously heard made men out to be villains. It was easier for me to believe that women were secret satanic goddesses than to believe that half the population consisted of dickheads going out of their way to fuck over the other half. Besides, I'd met some dudes in my two decades and they weren't terribly menacing. Compared to my own foreboding demeanor, most of them were downright pansies.

But it was the quote that stuck in my brain. Again, regrettably I cannot reproduce it, but the gist of it was this: simply because men are the enforcers of oppression doesn't mean they aren't subject to its rules. Maybe men didn't want to be better than women. Just because they were born into the role didn't mean they had any desire to perpetuate it. Superiority is a lot of work, especially when it is a lie. And there were so many incompetent men out there! How exhausting must it be to be forced to interact with woman after superior woman? Here we satanic sex goddesses come along, minding our own business but being awesome all the same, and this guy has to feel like dirt just because it is so painfully obvious that he's our intellectual inferior. Surely it wasn't too unreasonable to think some of these guys would get angry at some of these women eventually. It was all very sad for all parties and the only cure I could see was for the men to somehow learn that it was OK for a woman to be better than a man. I had to recognize that as an inherently feminist position.

What is striking to me about the epiphany that led to me to entering the fight for women's rights was an interest in what is best for men. Perhaps the truth in the argument appealed to my sense of integrity (e.g. it was not about my self interest as a woman gaining something for women). The basic idea that men may not relish their role could be applied to many circumstances besides the domestic abuser. What of men who wanted to stay home with the kids? What of men who wanted to knit and sew? What of men who wanted to be pursued, protected, nurtured? Which is not to say that they had it worse than women—anyone could plainly see they got the sweet end of the candied apple. And if the system wasn't even in the best interest of men, who was it working for? The musky supermodels, turning themselves inside out to fit a generic high-impact sexuality? Hardly. When the final piece clicked into place, I could see that the whole framework of gender rules was at best unnecessary. Ah-ha and then some: feminism will liberate everybody.

Posted via email from Subversive Soapbox

Voting With My Vagina?

When I lived in Atlanta, I was sitting at the bus stop when I got into a conversation with a man who stands on the side of the road holding a sign for a living. Things quickly turned to who we would and wouldn’t support in the coming election. I wish I could remember his exact words but, just as the bus was arriving, he said something along the lines of: “Even if she is a woman, I would vote for Hillary.” No, I think it was even worse, he said something like, “Hillary’s the only woman I would vote for.” And he said it like it was a compliment, a concession of goodwill! As if being a woman were some kind of handicap that he couldn’t support except in the most spectacular and generous cases. I had half a mind not to get on the bus but instead to pick a friendly argument with this man, to waste half an hour of my day standing around on the road while he was getting paid minimum wage to prop up a sign that reads “CELL PHONES.” Sense got the better of me, but it was this man who sealed my decision of who I was going to vote for in the upcoming primary two years before people where even whispering the name Obama.

The very idea that there are still people out there who think that women are inherently unfit to command is a shock and an outrage. Putting this up to the obvious litmus test of black-white race relations, (as contentious as race is in this country it is always the easiest marker) there is no doubt he would be deeply offended if I responded that the only black person I would vote for is Oprah. Perhaps this outrage goes without saying. Yet the fact that people still think this way emphasizes how much we deeply need a woman president. We need to erase all doubt that this is a woman’s job as much as a man’s.

Most people I have spoken with are disgusted with the idea that I might vote for Hillary because she is a woman, as if they were voting strictly on issues. But they’re not. These people are hard-core lefties and if they really voted on the issues they would be backing Kucinich or Richardson. And, yes, I would love for Obama to win the race and become the first black president.  But I am still bitter that African-Americans got the vote more than fifty years before women. This is not to say that black folks didn’t face terrible oppression an addition to voter discrimination (I have no wish to play Opression Olympics). It is only to say that it is time for a woman president. While it is a shame that a minority group that makes up 13.4% of the population has never been represented in our nation’s highest office it is absurd that a group which makes up more than half the U.S. population has not held the title.

As a little girl, I never thought that I could be president one day. I could dream of being a senator or a governor but president was simply not an option. *Clinton articulated this argument brilliantly October 22 during an appearance in front of the Washington State Democrats at Benaroya Hall. “There are two groups that inspire me to keep going,”Clinton said. “One is women in their 90s who come to my events… They all say something like, ‘I’m 95 years old. I was born before women could vote in this country and I’m going to live long enough to see a woman in the White House.’ The other group is the children who come… I see a parent lean over to a daughter and say, ‘See, honey? In this country you can be anything you want to be.'”

Hillary Clinton is an exceptional woman, not only because she has political savvy and the skills to lead the free world but because she looked at what Bill did on a day-to-day basis and thought Heck, I could do that. And a nation full of people are looking at Hillary, sign-holders and execs alike, and they aren’t seeing the ultimate glass ceiling. They see her standing on the other side of it and they are ready to hand her the vote. Maybe it won’t shatter the glass ceiling but it will certainly make a mighty splinter. Additionally, women candidates usually sprinkle their staff with more women which means more women in leadership positions all the way down to the campaign volunteers.

If liberals can admit that not having had a woman president is in fact an impediment to having a woman president, perhaps they can see where this will benefit all democrats. A woman president means more women will see politics as their arena and enter the playing field, which will disproportionally fall to the party that supports women’s rights, childcare, the impoverished, gun control, and a sensible foreign policy. Because let’s face it, most women are not Ann Coulter. This is true for other “minority groups” but women are not in the minority. If the democratic party can bring more women to politics then they are fleshing out not a quarter or a third but fifty percent of their ranks.

Despite all this, I am the only woman I know (and I know a lot of feminists) who is openly backing Clinton. These are people who have made very convincing arguments in favor of affirmative action (which, contrary to popular opinion, primarily benefits women). But if you are working in an office with ten men on staff and that office has gender parity by-laws then they will consider only qualified women for the job. Well the office of the presidency has had a tired string of 42 men in the position. So the only question I must ask myself is, is Hillary Clinton a qualified candidate for the presidency?

And I think the answer to this is obvious. Though they may not like Guliani, no one is questioning whether the Mayor of New York is qualified, though Clinton held the higher position of New York senator. She is a far more appealing candidate than Kerry ever was and half the country was in line to back him. Let’s get real: a good chunk of the people joking about supporting comedian Stephen Colbert aren’t really joking. The very thing that many lefties don’t like about Clinton, her ability to give the canned, moderate answer to every question, is a sign of her political aptitude. Yes, she talks like a politician, and it’s because she knows how to appeal to both voters and party leaders. She is not the perfect radical candidate but she is an ideal moderate candidate. Americans can imagine her handling delicate diplomatic situations, something that was woefully assumed of lesser men that held the office.

If other voters want to plaster their cars with the latest liberal white guy for president, I respect that. For once, there are many fantastic candidates on the primary ticket and I will support whichever one wins it. I am in the minority in voting with my vagina and that’s okay. But please don’t roll your eyes. If there had never been a male president, you can bet men would be indignantly towing penis placards outside the oval office. “It’s about time!” they would shout; and I’m not too shy to say the same.

Bush’s Supreme Court Picks Pay Off

For the first time since Roe V. Wade, the federal government is upholding a ban on a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. This ruling by the Supreme Court is described as a ban on “Partial-birth abortion” and reproductive freedom advocates point out that the wording of the ban is ambiguous. It can be used to prevent women seeking abortions as early as thirteen weeks into a pregnancy.

Keep in mind that the time-table on pregnancy is deceptive. A woman’s period is hardly like clockwork and many women will not test for pregnancy until after the first or second week. Then it sometimes takes several
weeks for her to come up with the money as abortions aren’t cheap. This is particularly true in the case of teenagers who are afraid to tell their parents that they are having intercourse. Scared teens in denial represent a significant portion of abortions.

The other issue that NARAL and the ACLU seem most upset about is that the stating of the law says nothing about exceptions to protect the health of the mother.

While I think these are both important points, the pro-choicers have already lost this debate by accepting the premise of their opponents.

I have worked in an abortion clinic so I like to think I know a little bit about this subject. If you take only one thing away from this post to pass onto others, let it be this: “partial-birth abortion” is not a real description of a medical procedure but a media strategy of the fundamentalist movement.

The average American has this idea that partial-birth abortion is when a woman goes into labor and then instead of having the baby the doctor kills it. It is logical for people to assume this, what else would such a word describe? And this is exactly what the right wants you to think. But we already have a word for that: infanticide. And no one likes infanticide.

The procedure that is described as partial-birth is when the fetus is pulled through the birth canal. It is in no way part of the process of giving birth nor is it any indication of the amount of time since conception.

Moreover, just to settle this issue, I want to explain exactly how it is determined at which point it is no longer acceptable in this country to terminate a pregnancy. A pregnancy is considered past that point of no return when it can be kept alive outside of the womb with all of the benefits of medical science. If it wouldn’t be possible for us to keep it alive should it come into the world, it is not considered a viable being and may be terminated.

I think this is fair. And clearly infanticide, or what average Joe thinks of “partial-birth abortion,” does not fall into this category.

We are facing world-wide population problems and though Americans don’t reproduce as rapidly as other countries we do consume more. We cannot blithely continue to pretend that humans should be having as many babies as possible, despite what the Bible says.

Otherwise, where does one draw the line? Dear readers, is there a better way to determine that a fetus is a living thing, other than this ridiculous Catholic notion that every sperm is sacred?

The fact of the matter is that abortion isn’t going anywhere. Women have been independent for too long to let other people tell them what they can do with their own bodies. Whether future abortions will be performed in a sixteen-year old’s bathroom with an unbent wire coat hanger is another issue.

Half-ass Attacked, Generous Queen

It’s not much of a coincidince that I was thinking about the possibility of being attacked because that is something I contemplate every time I am walking alone in the middle of the night. I was talking to my mother on my cell phone and she said that she wanted to keep me on the line, just to be safe. I told her that talking on the phone only makes me look like more of a mark but that I wanted to chat because walking at night is boring. The clunky heels didn’t help either. So yeah, I was considering the idea. But every girl does.

But that’s the end of the evening and (having read Through the Looking Glass like a proper child) stories should start at beginnings.

I was doing promotional work at Charlie Brown’s Cabaret (that’s a drag show, to you out-of-town folks), just handing out free CDs and taking pictures. It was a great show, one of their best that I’ve seen. They had some Kings that go by the name Boys to Men. They had great showmanship but the gender-bending was unconvincing. Genre did a glitter-goth androgynous act that was just my cup of tea. Most of the other queens did the typical shimmy-shake of silicone that brings a cascade of dollar bills. Alexandria, the queen that was helping me promote CDs, did her act on roller skates. Charlie Brown demanded that the two audience members willing to admit they are republicans should give her five dollars gas money to get home.

A friendly gay man struck up a conversation with me. He works for the Village Voice. I asked him how he got that [sweet] gig and he said he went to Harvard and wrote for the Harvard Review. Well then. I’d have better luck hitching a ride with Doctor Who than getting into Harvard. He said the way to get a job is to write every single day. So here I am, writing. Then he asked me about the privacy of the bathrooms which I’m just going to assume is a drug thing and not a weird, fear of peeing thing.

By the time the queen gave out the last of the CDs and I had taken all the pictures I could it was 1:50. Unfortunately, the last train leaves at 1:20. I knew that I could call the boyfriend to pick me up but I remember how mad Liz was last year when I did that to her. Besides, I’ve had to ask my honey for rides so often that he almost expects it. I thought about asking some friends who lived in the area if they would pick me up and I could crash at their place.

I’m torn between not wanting to be dependent upon my friends and thinking that’s what friends are for.

Around this time, Queen Alexandria asks me if I got any good pictures. Yes, I tell her. I’ve been all smiles all night. Why do I look so cross now, she wants to know. When I tell her I missed the last train, she offers me the milk of her own teet! That is, she pulls a ten dollar bill out of her tits so I can call a cab. What a lady!

I hail a cab, which makes me feel like a big-city girl. But I only have eleven dollars so I tell the cabbie to pull over when meter hits nine so I can give him a shitty tip. He says he’d rather me get home safely then worry about a tip but I insist. After all, I’d have to walk twice the distance from the train station.

I was about four blocks from home when I decided to call my mother. There was no one in sight, which is just the way I like it when I’m walking through the city in the middle of the night.

When I get to the block my apartment is on, a guy is walking behind me. No big deal. We’re both crossing the street. He’s walking faster than me. That’s okay, everyone has their own pace. So I change my course a little to put some distance between us. But he’s still getting closer. Now I’m thinking, what’s this about? He looks pretty clean cut, I don’t think he’s crazy/homeless. Anyway, he’s behind me so I don’t think he’s going to ask me for anything. People usually address you before they approach you right? But this guy, he’s touching me, he actually has his hand on my side, where my coat pocket is. So I turn around and say:

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WHY ARE YOU TOUCHING ME? DON’T YOU SEE IT’S THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT; THERE’S NO ONE AROUND ANYWHERE. YOU’RE SCARING ME. GO AWAY.” I was not screaming but projecting firmly and politely. Its insane that I feel the need to be polite to this person that I feel is possibly threatening my life just in case I’m some how mistaken and it is perfectly okay to walk up to a stranger and grab them at three in the morning. The guy is saying something in response but I don’t really hear what it is. So sorry, can’t hear you while you are scaring the piss out of me.

Of course, my mom is freaking out. What does he look like? She wants to know in case she needs to call the police. He has a white, numbered jersey. His face is round. He is short and squat. He’s wearing a black messenger bag, the kind with a cell phone pocket in the front. I am backing away from him. He starts to walk away which is great except that he is walking in the direction of my apartment so I have no choice but to go the other way.

The first car I flag down doesn’t stop. Then a car pulls up to the red light and I ask them for a ride. So I hitch a ride with this guy to go half a block because I’m shaking and too scared to walk to my apartment unescorted. Then when I get in my apartment the bulb is burnt out and my Id says that somehow HE did this and he is there hiding.

I know this is ridiculous but I check under the bed, just to be sure there’s no bogeyman.