Poison

February 2, 2019

Poison is traditionally, though not always, a female mode of attack. Classical lore features many women accused of poisoning their spouses, lovers, or rivals: Medusa, Hecate, Circe, Medea, and Agrippina the Younger, to name a few. In particular, witches of literature and accused witches of real life are often associated with potions and spells that make use of poisonous plants found around the home and garden: oleander, hemlock, castor beans (ricin), foxglove, various kinds of berries, and nightshades. Men, of course, make use of poison as well, like Shakespeare’s Claudius and Romeo. But the subtle and seductive art of poison is often used as a storytelling device to comment upon the nature, and especially the flaws, of women.

Poison is a deceptive weapon, and stories about it play on fascinations with, and anxieties about, what women are hiding. It also offers a violation of proper female domesticity and the same traits that are supposed to make women good botanists. When a woman uses plants or food as poison to subvert rather than maintain the domestic order, she defies her assigned roles of observer, cataloguer, and nurturer. Depending on one’s perspective, poisoning can be used to warn of or promote a woman’s independence.

Afton Lorraine Woodward
Plants, Domesticity, and the Female Poisoner

Do I exist?

January 5, 2019

I am not sure that I exist, actually. I am all the writers I have read, all the people I have met, all the women I have loved; all the cities I have visited, all my ancestors.

[No estoy seguro de que existo, en realidad yo soy todos los escritores que he leído, todas las personas que he conocido, todas las mujeres que he amado,. Todas las ciudades que tengo visitados, todos mis antepasados.]

Jorge Luis Borges
Interview with JOSÉ LUIS A. FERMOSEL for El Pais 26th September 1981

narcissism

December 30, 2018

Women speaking of mirrors and prettiness make it all too clear that even for pretty women, mirrors are the foci of anxious, not gratified, narcissism. The woman who knows beyond a doubt that she is beautiful exists aplenty in male novelists’ imaginations; I have yet to find her in women’s books or women’s memoirs or in life. Women spend a lot of time looking in mirrors, but the “compulsion to visualize the self” is a phrase Moers uses of women in her chapter on Gothic freaks and horrors; the compulsion is a constant check on one’s (possible) beauty, not an enjoyment of it.

Joanna Russ
Aesthetics, How to Suppress Women’s Writing

multitasking

December 7, 2018

It was that female art of multitasking, he would conclude, that witchy capacity that girls possessed, that allowed them to retain dual and triple threads of attention at once. Girls could distinguish constantly and consciously between themselves and the performance of themselves, between the form and the substance. This double-handed knack, this perpetual duality, meant that any one girl was both an advertisement and a product at any one time. Girls were always acting. Girls would reinvent themselves, he later thought, with a sour twist to his mouth and his free hand flattening the hair on his crown, and boys could not.

Eleanor Catton
The Rehearsal

all those poems about women, written by men: it seemed to be a given that men wrote poems and women…inhabited them. These women were almost always beautiful, but threatened with the loss of beauty, the loss of youth…Or they were beautiful and died young, like Lucy and Lenore. Or…cruel…and the poem reproached her because she had refused to become a luxury for the poet…the girl or woman who tries to write… is peculiarly susceptible to language. She goes to poetry or fiction looking for her way of being in the world…she is looking eagerly for guides, maps, possibilities; and over and over…she comes up against something that negates everything she is about… She finds a terror and a dream…a Belle Dame Sans Merci…but precisely what she does not find is that absorbed, drudging, puzzled, sometimes inspiring creature, herself.

Adrienne Rich
When We Dead Awake: Writing as Re-vision

where feminine energy flows

November 4, 2018

It’s such an injustice that women have been made to fear the night. Women have such a strong connection to the moon and the night is a time where feminine energy flows and the goddess is in the air. The night belongs to women and being out in the moonlight is good for the woman’s soul. It’s a crime that men have tried to take that away from us.

Lesbianwicce

wicked witch

November 3, 2018

Once upon a time there was a wicked witch and her name was
Lilith
Eve
Hagar
Jezebel
Delilah
Pandora
Jahi
Tamar
and there was a wicked witch and she was also called goddess and her name was
Kali
Fatima
Artemis
Hera
Isis
Mary
Ishtar
and there was a wicked witch and she was also called queen and her name was
Bathsheba
Vashti
Cleopatra
Helen
Salome
Elizabeth
Clytemnestra
Medea
and there was a wicked witch and she was also called witch and her name was
Joan
Circe
Morgan le Fay
Tiamat
Maria Leonza
Medusa
and they had this in common: that they were feared, hated, desired, and worshiped.

Andrea Dworkin
Woman Hating

Witch in red

October 20, 2018

Ticket guy on the train asks if I’m on my period when I
don’t say thank you after he punches my ticket. Voice like
just a joke. Like god, you women take everything so damn
seriously. Hey, ticket guy? For the record, I’m not on my
period. For the record, you being an asshole does not
require the cooperation of my hormones. Ticket guy on
the train says period like curse word. Says it like spit out
of mouth aftertaste, like unconditioning, like won’t
mention this when his wife asks him how work was
today. Says period like something I should be ashamed
of. Like I need an excuse for the woman brimming up
inside of me. The way it smells fear, rears in search of
blood. Hey, ticket guy? For the record, I’m not on my
period, but fuck you anyway. Hey, ticket guy? For the
record, people like you think strength means holding
on, but I’ll let you in on a secret that every woman
already knows: the real strength is in letting go. Period,
like my uterus which is so fearless in turning itself inside
out. In bleeding heartache out of my body. Period, like
that is not something to be ashamed of. Period, like
battle scar. Like the sentence is only over when I say
it’s over. Period, like god, you women take everything
so damn seriously. Like we women sharing tampons.
Like we women in the shower & blood down the drain.
Like we women & all of the ways we bleed for each
other, of each other, in time with each other. Hey, ticket
guy, you want to know why you’ve never seen a woman
faint at blood except for in the movies? Then watch me
grow a new skin every month. Watch hunger leak from
my vagina. Watch me become a new human with every
drop that spills out of me. Hey, ticket guy, you want to
know why we complain about PMS? Last week my
friend texted me hey, my cramps are really bad, don’t
think I can make it to the party, & the next morning I
called her & found out her appendix had ruptured.
You want to look me in the eye & tell me how we take
everything so damn seriously? Hey, ticket guy? Watch
us bleed. Our bodies are reincarnations of Eve. Our
blood is the song of wild things. Hey, ticket guy? You
can shut the fuck up, thanks very much. Hey, ticket
guy? Ask any woman & she’ll tell you why Eve bit
into that apple. Why she chose the universe instead
of you. So hey, ticket guy? Watch my uterus rewrite
its own story. Hey, ticket guy? I refuse to apologise
for the way my body is an act of creation. For how
my blood eats you bare. For how I flourish in red.
For all of the ways I bleed myself into infinity.

Topaz Winters

expect her to rustle

September 22, 2018

Some people are magic, and others are just the illusion of it

There are plenty of legends about women turning into trees but are there any about trees turning into women? Is it odd to say that your lover reminds you of a tree? Well she does, it’s the way her hair fills with wind and sweeps out around her head. Very often I expect her to rustle. She doesn’t rustle but her flesh has the moonlit shade of a silver birch. Would I had a hedge of such saplings naked and unadorned.

Jeanette Winterson
Written on the Body

Girls are better

August 26, 2018

This is why girls are so much more employable than young men in all the shitty, less-than-subsistence-level service jobs they’re trying to cram young people into across Europe and America. Girls are better at pleasing other people and plastering on the pretty grin even when we’re screaming inside. That’s what being a girl is.

Girls are better at this sort of labour, often called ‘emotional labour’, not because there’s anything in the meat and matter of our living cells that makes us naturally better but because we’re trained to it from birth. Trained to make other people feel good. Trained to serve the coffee, fill in the forms, organise the parties and wipe the table afterwards. Trained to be feisty, if we must, but not strong. To be bubbly, not funny. You must at no stage appear to have a body that functions in a normal human way, that pisses and shits and sweats and farts and falters. Decorate the prison of your body. Make yourself useful. Shut up and smile.

Laurie Penny
Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution