Inhabiting the Feminine: the male fantasies of literature
I love how you imagine my phenomenological experience. But it is hilariously revealing of your perception of womanhood (in more than a figurative sense).
I’ll be your Pygmalion Princess. I’ll be whoever you want me to be: vulnerable, virginal, innocent, riddled with metaphors for my unattainability. Or vulgar, sordidly honest, dressed in uncomfortable lyrca and uttering uncomfortable things. Lie me down on your pages, baby, and make me your fantasy.
Because here, between cover and binding, my lips are sealed and my thoughts and wants are written by you. I won’t be able to call your character a vacuous prick, or tell you I want a pizza at 3am. I won’t ever wear my ugly jumpers, but instead, slick negligees that exist for your arousal. You can make me your perfect little fool, your Daisy Buchanan trophy, whatever falsehood you carve from a to z. You can violently dissect my humanity and make me an automaton.
I’ll be pristine, all Lolita hairlessness and immaculate lipstick. I’ll never be a woman, but your sprawling fictitious goddess, embroidered into your work like some unpleasant headmistress reminding us girls how we should be.
You will inhabit my body as you imagine it, saccharine sweet with nothing but my clothes and your sexuality to pull the strings and make me dance through your work. Do you really think I feel my body when I’m dressing, author? I don’t. I find your eroticism voyeuristic. Objectifying. You imagine me naked, fresh from a shower, thinking of you as I press my hands to my breasts. I don’t. I’m thinking about that lecture, that magazine I read at the dentists, what socks should cost at H&M. You do not intrude into my sexual vulnerability, dear fantasist. Nor do I dress slowly, pulling up my stockings with painted nails and turning to marvel at the slimness of my waist. I actually trip over the cat and swear when I rip my tights. I am a woman, not your creation. Your muse is tainted with reality. Even our sex, where you imagine yourself as some gilgameshian warrior who fulfills my waking moments, you create my sexuality as you wish it would be.
I will tell you my innermost, if you ever asked beyond your ego. I watch the ceiling and consider how old the plasterwork is, or whether I want coffee. I observe the rise of your shoulders and remember forced press ups from long ago. There is no explosive all consuming glory at your sexual prowess. No poetic fulfillment of my existence from your physicality. I inhabit my body as you do, rarely realizing it is there. But to you, somehow, I am my body, through the sin of my femininity.
Eve never did get her dress on for you, did she? She’s the body, Adam’s the human. Ultimately for you I am virgin, mother, whore. Sometimes all three if you need your ironing doing. I exist through my breasts, my lust for you, your want for me. Your quest for me. I’ll fall from grace by my attempt at being human- sex with someone I enjoy, a career, a future, ambition. For many male authors, a woman’s downfall always comes from ambition or want outside the man who has entitled himself to her.
I laugh at you, as a muse and a reader. What great love and connections you miss through your assessment of my gender! What great stories you could tell if you dared to write about women, not goddesses.