Caitlyn, waxing, MRSA, and me

Body Wax
Body Wax

Jon Stewart’s by now famous show segment on “being a woman in America” had me thinking about being a woman in America — and, in particular, about being a sometimes denuded one.

After watching his clip regarding Caitlyn Jenner’s 22-page Vanity Fair spread, I began reflecting on the barbaric act of waxing one’s pubic hair and found myself typing “waxing why?” into the Google search bar.

Not surprisingly, the first nine results returned to me included links to 1) skin care centers that would happily wax my parts for up to $80 a pop; 2) an article about “what guys really think of a woman with a Brazilian wax” (hint: “When I’m going down there, I don’t want no hair,” says one); and 3) a piece on whether waxing is better than shaving. (“With the hair removal market estimated to [have been] worth $2.1 billion in the US in 2011,” guess which way the author of the latter was leaning?)

I was happy to see, though, that the tenth search result contained a link to an article in which Dr. Emily Gibson, family physician and head of a UK student health center, calls “for an end to the ‘war on pubic hair'” and claims “it is increasing the risk of infection and of sexually transmitted diseases amongst young people.”

We have been cowed by an Internet porn industry “[that] gave a generation of men a lot of exposure to ladies who are completely bare down there,” and women have ignored their own health in the dim hope their husbands, partners, and one-night stands would wish to ravish them upon seeing their baby-like bare belows.

I, for one, have put myself at great risk the times I have had a Brazilian wax — coming away each time with increasingly alarming infections. The last time I did it I went for a “Hollywood wax” and several days later was diagnosed with MRSA, a bacterial infection that is resistant to commonly used antibiotics and that can be fatal if left untreated or if unsuccessfully treated.

Although one could die from a MRSA infection, and although it took several courses of antibiotic to rid myself of what was a very frightening infection, I cannot say with certainty that I will never again wax that fragile region. So strong, it seems, is the magnetic pull of conformity—especially where sex and loneliness are involved — that I could once more find myself powerless in the face of it.

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llamas gemelas

carta-tarot-lovers

love is a lunatic aunt

come down from the Bronx to

rant about her maybe baby

and prophesy calamity

she’ll say

he some dark eyed

dreamer Diego

and need him

chubby chicas

on the side

with they aye papi way

she’ll say

he gonna kill me

dead that one

and snuff these holy flame

gonna do miss mujerzuela

so as give him nena pain

she’ll say

lo siento sobrina but

you don’t got no chance

I just thrown the lovers’ tarot

and seen trouble with romance

first I pull the tower then

the devil after that so I think

you better go mami

before you too much fat

* llamas gemelas = “twin flames”

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Jocelyn

joss stoneI’m a big fan of Joss Stone, the 27-year-old English singer/songwriter whose music more than tips a hat to the likes of Aretha, Dusty, and Janis but whose bluesy soulfulness is uniquely her own. I’m mesmerized by her sound, which recalls the music of my childhood, and by the barefooted, flower-in-the-hair performances that take me back to my hippie youth, such as it was.

For a while, though, I didn’t even know Joss Stone was a singer because I first saw her in Showtime’s The Tudors, where, during seasons three and four, she was cast as Anne of Cleaves, the fourth wife of King Henry VIII — who cruelly contrived to get rid of her because he found her unattractive. (“I like her not!” bellows actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers’s King Henry to anyone who will listen.) Hers was such a poignant, understated performance that I couldn’t have even imagined such a sexy singer would be hiding beneath the dull, thick costumes.

Sexy, indeed! … “but not slutty,” as one man pointed out in a comment he posted on YouTube — a comment that has me thinking about what it means for a woman to be just enough sexy. It’s that Virgin Mary/Mary Magdalene thing, the angel/whore split that dogs our collective unconscious and confuses even the best of men.

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“Real love is no easy path.”

Jeff Brown_9-20-14

Something I read today on Facebook from Jeff Brown:

“Sometimes people walk away from love because it is so beautiful that it terrifies them. Sometimes they leave because the connection shines a bright light on their dark places and they are not ready to work them through. Sometimes they run away because they are not developmentally prepared to merge with another — they have more individuation work to do first. Sometimes they take off because love is not a priority in their lives — they have another path and purpose to walk first. Sometimes they end it because they prefer a relationship that is more practical than conscious, one that does not threaten the ways that they organize reality. Because so many of us carry shame, we have a tendency to personalize love’s leavings, triggered by the rejection and feelings of abandonment. But this is not always true. Sometimes it has nothing to do with us. Sometimes the one who leaves is just not ready to hold it safe. Sometimes they know something we don’t — they know their limits at that moment in time. Real love is no easy path — readiness is everything. May we grieve loss without personalizing it. May we learn to love ourselves in the absence of the lover.”

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Passion, oh

the-sea-dragon

 Like that old photograph I found

at the bottom of her sea-green lunch pail,

where his tanned arm, white shirt sleeve rolled to

just below the elbow,

rests on the dark steering wheel of their old Impala,

with her leaning in,

left knee on the passenger seat.

 …

Or like that old movie I saw,

where the mermaid bride longs for her sailor lover,

he in his blue and white striped t-shirt, both sleeves rolled to the shoulders,

and resting one hand at the small of her slender back.

Bésame,” she begs.

 …

Or like that old TV show I watched,

where barefoot and only half smiling

he walks slowly to the water’s edge, wet trousers rolled to the shins,

and says to a woman we can’t quite see,

“¡Ven aquí!

And she almost does,

                                                                                                               oh

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“Hideously beautiful”

Scarlett Johansson Under the Skin

Jonathan Glazer’s sci-fi horror film Under the Skin is not for everyone, but, once seen, it seeps and settles.

The film stars Scarlett Johansson as the alien femme fatale who is somehow birthed onto the west coast of Scotland for the apparent sole purpose of hunting down lonely men in her white Ford Transit and luring them back to her dark, oozy flat. What she does with them once there we cannot know for sure, but evisceration seems to be a part of it.

Yet trying to understand its precise meaning is a fool’s errand because the power of the movie is in the evocative: in the dark, rainy streetscapes; in the dialogue that sounds sieved through gauze; in the menacing soundtrack that is like “a locust plague of dry tremolos, the strings pressing down until the sound has reached a roar.”

Or in a startling erection, a hand pierced by a rose thorn, a vacant stare above blood-red lips, a rapist gone silent and scared.

What is most potent about Under the Skin, though, is its insistence on showing us at every turn the terrible and terrifying power of sex — a power we little understand, and one that awakens in us that which is at once alien and deeply human.

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