What with the world ending and all, I’m spending a lot of time on Twitter – aka The Resistance, I guess, it will not be televised, it will be sort of retweeted – and as usual I’m also on Instagram a lot. I’m unsurprisingly thus starting to attract my share of “alt” rightwing trolls. I am oddly a little flattered by this because hey it means that I must pose some sort of threat, old fat me, sitting in my blue enclave in my red, red state. And I am a threat too motherfucker, do not doubt that. I might . . . leave a passive aggressive note! Actually I don’t know what I might do. Which is kind of what I want to talk about here.
So, I posted this photo, which I am quite proud of, on Instagram. I took it at the Women’s March on Asheville on January 20 with my 35 year old fully manual East German Praktika 35mm camera fitted with a nice Zeiss 50mm lens and a roll of Ilford 400 speed black and white film. Then I printed it at the Asheville Darkroom (and actually there’s a better print than this one but I’m saving it for a show I think I’m having in May/June at the DeSoto also it’s too big for my scanner) and scanned it and uploaded it and here, free of all digital manipulation, it is. Old school FTW! And the likes on Instagram started rolling in, but then along came a nasty little comment from one “joseph” a young man whose insta feed is closed to the public but whose profile says Make Europe Great Again. He says “LOL Way to win people over. Lewd pictures and violence”. And the other day I got some other, equally stupid, flack I have fortunately forgotten on Twitter.
I have been thinking about the lewd picture thing all day, though. Is it a lewd picture? No. This is what lewd means: crude and offensive in a sexual way. Since this image is most assuredly not sexual, nor intended sexually, than no – not unless you think that all depictions of female genitalia exist only for your sexual arousal. And there, right there, that’s the problem. This assumption erases any perception of women as human beings – it’s Handmaid’s Tale territory. And to hear it voiced about all over the internet by Nazis scares the fuck out of me. That, Nazis, is why we marched. Because these are our bodies and they do not exist to be grabbed, to be groped, to be bartered around like poker chips.
But I thought about it too, because honestly, I am an old prude and the stark depictions of female genitalia in this sign and some other signs shocked me a little at first. Not too much and not for long, but I mean, you just don’t see vulvae everywhere. They are not the ubiquitous cock n’ balls of bathroom graffiti, are they? No, people don’t draw them much. They just aren’t out there in the same way (outside the thoroughly opaque little booklet in the Tampax box that we all pored over in 7th grade) and so this is, in fact, kind of shocking – and kind of liberating, too. I like the idea of reclaiming our anatomy from the male gaze.
As for violence? I’m firmly on the punching Nazis side. Sorry. You gotta take sides and if you will note, this sign says fight BACK. If they start it – and they did, or he did, the trumpacabra, Cheeto Benito, the pussy grabbing monster in the White House – then yes, we will fight right back. And if that means that we go to the streets and we really do fight, then, well, this old fat lady who has never been in an actual physical fight in her life will go to the barricades, terrified, but angry enough to get there. I will fight back.
And I am fighting back in my tiny way with images like these. I’m also calling my senators, although that’s probably pointless here in already fascist North Carolina, but maybe it will do something. We must all do something, now, because it’s too late to sit on the sidelines.