I was siting in the cafe at the National Art gallery, on a visit with the Turners before January was out, thinking about old feminists. Old women, Catherine Deneuve, Germaine Greer, Margaret Atwood, criticising, ridiculing even, the #MeToo campaign. Snappy accusations tossed about, that the young women were, actually, party to a sexual exchange which was mutually beneficial. Young women were Snowflakes, precious, needing to toughen up. And they, Catherine, Germaine, Margaret, why they would have seen those guys off with a razor sharp quip, with sheer force of character. And without, never that, whinging.
Hmm. Old women will be dead soon enough, and sooner anyway than all the spinning tumbling Snowflakes, still obliged to be out there in the world.
All the hopeful snowflakes wanting...aspiring...to be asked. To consent to any (sexual) mingling of the body or the heart. To consent? And not, as you go about your daily round, toiling in the Work Place, getting there and back on the Luas/bus/train, buying groceries, having a drink, drunk and sober, concealed in coats or lightly clad in your best pretty dress.... not to be troubled by predatory raids, disrespect.....not to be hobbled by blind assaults, rape.
J.M.W Turner (Radical Watercolours)
I was thinking I drowning in there for a while, with the pictures. Drawn into the canvas, helpless at the way things were blurring into other things, towards a hinted at mystery spilling from his painterly precision, immense, overwhelming the small human figures
And now in the cafe queuing for coffee, all the way along the narrow chrome counter, the clatter of crockery bouncing off the walls, the steam hissing from the machines, taking my place at this table, cup cupped. I am thinking, tranced, brooding hard about blurred lines and paintings. Turner's delineations, visions of vastness hiding in plain sight. And all the young women, their ecstatic vigour touching on magic, exposed, always exposed....always vulnerable. Needing boundaries sharp as knives to keep boys at bay, parasites out.
Thelma and Louise (not asking for it)
In the week after Christmas, wallowing in afternoon ennui, filler movies, idleness, the Beautiful Girl and I found Thelma and Louise and we watched it together at my urging
"Yeah, You'll like this. Saw this in the cinema, yeah... we... all of us, went to see this back in the day...in the cinema...we loved it, when first it was out?"
So her channel flicking slowed, she went back and we watched.
'So yeah, it's Brad Pitt? Brad Pitt's hot in it! ...and the women are cool.
And it's .... about rape? Yeah, two rapes. And, but... like Redemption in... Suicide? Isn't that how it ends?
"Um, well..... but, I mean, they refused to be caught, to go back...?"
"to the prison of roles or the, you know, actual prison awaiting, darling girl? They were brave! It was resolved! In um transcendance and glorious um...yeah, I guess, suicide."
"But, anyway dearest, are things different now?"
"Umm yeah? Surely? Better than that anyway?"
"So... is your college having one of those classes on Consent then?"
"Oh no! I mean maybe, not sure. I mean I don't think...we hardly need..."
I remind her then of a recent magazine article we read about a very modern student who could not prevent and felt she could not report a gang rape by boys she was drinking with, boys she knew...
"Yeah, I know. I mean....I know, almost everyone I know, has had, has been...forced? ....to do things. Like assaulted, or didn't know what to...how to stop...it. Or do anything after...complain...?"
We wonder then if those traumatised girls could not stop it, could not report it, because, like poor Thelma, they figure that everyone will always say that... will always say "Yes, but, wasn't she... asking for it? ...asking..."
And the sleepless nights afterwards, trying to figure out what it was, what happened, how it happened, when you're all torn up in your mind, your vagina, is the same still for all of us... our good women friends giving tea, kind words, solace.
and did i, consent, to a kiss yes a kiss to a fumble, a cuddle, yes maybe some groping the sex i said no i said no i said God was i asked though i froze God i froze i was deep under water his hand gripped my neck was a vise till the last one the pause i got over the waterline then and i ran i said no i said no i said no
Oh Catherine, Germaine, Margaret Atwood, we were smashing through purdahs, glass ceilings, confinement, tossing corsets and bras in our outrage but we did not had internet porn?
Nor suffered this wild-west unbound, this free-for-all heaven to predatory males.
Give over the wallowing in ballsinees (yours), giving comfort to oblivious men.
Our girls are in trouble
Get behind them.
Get beside them,
Support the #MeToo.
Storm at the Mouth of the Grand Canal.
And back you go flying up white marble stairs, like an arrow though hushed gallery hallways, to the Turners.
A last glimpse for this year of the best loved, the same one,
you come like a lover at last.
One last tipping over,
the boundaries, the ego quite gone.