I was invited to a Sunday feminist potluck by the Memphis Feminist Collective by email. 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 badass females who fight crime in the wee hours of the night. By the time that Sunday night rolled around, I was tired though and contemplated just staying home under my electric blanket, my cat curled on my chest, purring his pains of old age away. Then the image of a purple cape waved in my mind. I had to go. I had to put myself out there and met other feminist. I put my hand on the window of my bedroom. It was cold. I piled on the layers, and hopped in my car, stopping at Kroger along the way for chips and bean dip. After all, it was a potluck. I needed to bring something.
“If your feminism is giving him a hard-on, it’s not feminism.”
I arrived. It was a small house in the Getwell area. Not the safest part of town. But quaint, and with history. Inside I was presented with a large spread of food covering the kitchen stove, counters, and a large table in the dining room. I immediately felt sick. Everyone had brought a warm dish, and here I was holding a back of Frito’s chips. I fringed a smile, and made conversation, trying to appear well adjusted and confident, neither being true. I was petrified. I didn’t know a soul there and felt like an ostrich on a beach of pelicans. I wasn’t the best conversationalist either. Anxiety has a way of making your fear of looking stupid come true.
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 moved to sit at one of the chairs centered around a large glass coffee table, and that’s when the patriarchy pimp slapped me. Let’s back up. The house was owned by a woman in her mid- 20’s, a heterosexual (I assume based on the boyfriend) female sporting a very attractive man at her side. He was gorgeous. And painfully sweet.
Now, back to the present. There I was, recovering from the stings of misogyny on my cheeks. Yes, it slapped me twice. A stack of Playboys sat, dispersed across the table. And on a small white plated shelf sat a large portrait of Linda Lovelace, an obvious snapshot from the film with her mouth wide open, in a fictitious moan.
I listened to the voices around me, and all their mutterings about race, and immigration, and Trump, and climate change and I begin to feel dizzy as those words escalated together, and around me. I heard something about a protest against racism at a local mall, and another thing about passing out sandwiches for immigrant families—all good things, “YES, wonderful things but….so, what’s this group do exactly—for women, I mean?” A young girl next to me, bright, with short blonde hair, answered, “I don’t really. We don’t meet much.” And it was on that note, I drove home, my stomach fat with a vegan Thanksgiving (the owner of the house was vegan), dejected.
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 asked for my copy of Playgirl? Maybe, I should have. But I didn’t. I stayed silent as women have been taught to do, all the whist my heart was breaking. Even in the midst of “feminist,” the patriarchy sneered at me, hissing quietly, taunting as it does, reminding me of it’s power–power enough to hijack feminism, converting it to another movement for men. Just more of the same ole’ male gaze.
“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?