“Might like you better/if we slept together.”
-- Amanda Blank
“Madame Bovary, c’est moi!”
-- Gustave Flaubert
Two feminists and a misogynist walk into a bar
and begin pounding beer as though it were
a common denominator. Peaches on the radio –
maybe a local college station – so every third word is pussy.
The feminists talk about the social construction of gender;
about reappropriating the word bitch;
about squashing shame with Betty Friedan’s ass;
about rape fantasies prominently featuring
one’s family members; about Freudian breast shapes;
and the misogynist is me.
A feminist considers plastic surgery.
A feminist wears lingerie.
A feminist, body dysmorphic, assimilatable, low-souled.
Not that sassy. Believable.
I have been that type of feminist,
frothing at the mouth over you, flipping through Cosmo
at the dentist’s office, begging for porcelain veneers,
so that you’ll gag that pretty, heteronormative mouth of mine
and do unspeakable things to my body. A feminist like me
is and isn’t sexually liberated, feels waves of shame
like voluntary, erotic electrocution. A feminist is called a bitch for a reason;
a feminist has a drawer full of sparkly things.
A feminist can be so dumb and stuff, just give her a chance.
For a while I thought, “Can I write a poem about honor killings?”
And: “How about genital mutilation?”
At times I would complain about traffic. More than anything,
I hated a woman in a mini-van. All that she represents: finiteness.
I live in a world where nothing matters, so I have to pretend.
A woman with a name more ethnic than mine is beheaded
for having her rapist’s baby out of wedlock. Shame on me,
and my silvery enameled nails; my whole hands.
Shame, shame on you.
In California the trees are burning like a woman’s face,
and this is just a poem.