Phrase of the Day: “TALENTLESS PENI”


boys only

Final “I” pronounced like the final “I” in syllabi. The plural form of misogynists who perpetuate the cycle of insular privilege that falsely elevates the perception of their work as quality when in reality all they are is an exclusive protective network aimed at overwhelming every space with their sheer numbers as a way of detracting from the useless utterances that continue to seem from their mouths. 

This is the set of words that stuck in my brain yesterday morning, after a reading I attended the night before in  Oakland. The reading was overall enjoyable and there were some talented individuals present. One of the hosts is a favorite literary scene person of mine, a wonderful writer and person. I admire her patience and persistence in a world of white cis-gendered males of a primarily heterosexual orientation. I admire her consistent and meaningful infiltration. I will continue to go to her readings, because they are inspiring. Because this is an example of how one woman is doing it and I support her. I muse that her patience may have something to do with her being from the south, a place where, as another Southern woman writer I knew during grad school put it, “if I like you, I won’t bake you a pie. If I hate you, I will spend all day baking you a delicious pie so you have to think about it the whole time you are eating it.”

The misogenistic peak of the event was when the co-host announced a handful of books he was going to give away for free and in the description of them, told us that we may know the female author Siri Hustvedt because she got Paul Auster to marry her. He could have been funny and said because her first name is the same as the digital woman in your car who, when you ask her where is the nearest place to hide a body, she comes back with: here is a list of the nearest lakes and foundries. BUT NO!!! Instead, he was hateful.

This phrase however, is bigger than last night’s reading. This phrase, for me,  is a way of holding my boiling over upset about the state of things, in the palatable guise of comedy. Somehow we are able to take a sock to the gut when it comes with laughter. The internal buising, though, stays either way.

The idea that during that reading, there were unspoken rules about what is an acceptable amount of exposure and what isn’t, that these rules are pervasive in almost all spaces we populate, is really what makes livid. Were I to say my comment louder, WAY TO BE A WHITE DUDE, I’d be disrespecting the show, the participants, the organizers, the space, I’d be starting a dialogue many would not like to have, didn’t sign up for, would rather ignore is the subtext of what we are sitting in, among and supporting. There is subversion here. There is the host I mentioned earlier, the one who does her thing, has her opinions, has her agendas, and lets the smucks out themselves as they stand there in stark contrast to her poise, confidence and badassery. Yes I admire these things very much. I am simply not that patient. I do not have a put-on-your-happy face. My face expresses what I feel. My mouth often mutters the words that go along. I do not disrespect the show because I do not want to disrespect the space she is making for herself and others. I do not stay silent either, because it feels like holding a secret that makes me an accomplice and enabler, in the ways that I am making space for myself and others.

In this setting, and in many settings, my compliance is implied. Don’t call him out. Don’t call any of them out. Don’t shake the hierarchy. Hold our secrets.

I am loyal as fuck. That is very different than being forced to keep secrets that aren’t mine to keep.

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