I was invited to a Sunday potluck by a Memphis feminist group. I was excited, and though, oftentimes, prone to social anxiety, I decided to give it that shot in the dark. I conjured images of meeting new people—possible female friends and forming a gang of bad-ass females who might, possibly fight crime in the wee hours of the night.
But, when Sunday night rolled around, I was tired, and the electric blanket warm. My cat lay perched, like a donut on my chest, purring the pains of his old age away. But the image of a purple cape waving behind me as I fought the good fight—against the patriarchy, alongside new female friends was etched into my psyche. I had to go. And with that, I slide from satisfaction of warmth.
I put my hand on the window of my bedroom. It was colder than I thought. I piled on layers, added the scarf and hat, and hopped in my car. I stopped at Kroger along the way for chips and bean dip. After all, it was a potluck. I needed to bring something.
I arrived. It was a small house in the Getwell area. Not the safest part of town, but quaint with a history that shiny new houses sitting on trim lawns just can’t forge. Inside I was presented with a large spread of well- prepared dishes covering the kitchen stove, counters, and a large table in the dining room. I immediately felt sick–and hungry at the same time. Everyone had brought a hefty meal, and here I was holding a wimpy bag of Frito’s. I fringed a smile, and attempted conversation, trying to appear well adjusted and confident, though neither was true. I was petrified, not knowing a soul there. I felt like an ostrich on a beach of pelicans.
In the living room, people sat on the floor gathered around, the center of conversation being a very cute baby, and an older, female bulldog. I understood the baby-thing (this was truly a cute baby) but not the dog. After it farted in my face, I was done with the hippie circle (And I’m a self-described hippie) and moved to sit at one of the chairs centered around a large glass coffee table, and that’s when the patriarchy pimp slapped me.
It slapped me twice, with a stack of Playboys, ones dispersed across the table.
“Got any Playgirl?” I asked, with a laugh as I flipped through the stack. A younger woman, mid-20’s smirked.
I looked up to a three-tier shelf where a large portrait of Linda Lovelace sat, an obvious snapshot from her infamous film, with her mouth wide open, in a fictitious moan. She was faking an orgasm.
I listened to the voices around me, and all their mutterings about race relations, immigration, Trump, and climate change and I begin to feel dizzy as their words ran together, and around me. All important things to discuss. Worthy discussions.
I then heard something about a protest the group was organizing in response to a racist policy at a local mall, and another thing about passing out sandwiches for immigrant families—all good things. Honorable, beautiful things.
“So, what’s this group do exactly—for women, specifically for women, I mean?”
“What do you mean?” A girl with a cute blonde bob answered with a question.
I didn’t answer. I stared at Linda Lovelace, and imagined the sound of her faking an orgasm, one meant to please some man behind a camera, some man banking on her boobs to make a profit. I got lost in that wide-open mouth. I feel into that space.
Should I have spoken up? Should I have requested the image of Mrs. Linda, a snapshot of her assault (as she stated) be respectfully removed? Should I have pushed for my copy of Playgirl? Maybe. But I didn’t. Should I have kept asking what the feminist group did, specifically so, for girls and women? Maybe. But I didn’t.
I stayed silent as women have been taught to do, all the while I felt a familiar heartbreak; Disappointment breaks. In the midst of a feminist get-together the patriarchy sneered at me, hissing quietly, taunting as it does.
“Everyone that watches “Deep Throat” is watching me being raped. ”- Linda Lovelace
“I don’t get jealous of other girls, because I was… raised in a cloning lab to be the perfect woman for Hugh M. Hefner, so, other than the fact that my I.Q.’s probably a little higher than he would like, I have nothing to worry about.”- Holly Madison
“The notion that Playboy turns women into sex objects is ridiculous. Women are sex objects. If women weren’t sex objects, there wouldn’t be another generation. It’s the attraction between the sexes that makes the world go ’round. That’s why women wear lipstick and short skirts.”- H. Hefner
The Story Behind Linda Lovelace and her Epic Film, “Deep Throat.”
What is Behind those Playboy Mansion Walls?