“How many times have people used a pen or paintbrush because they couldn’t pull the trigger?”—Virginia Woolf, from Selected Essays
The Female Body, Margaret Atwood
I agree, it’s a hot topic. But only one? Look around, there’s a wide range. Take my own, for instance.
I get up in the morning. My topic feels like hell. I sprinkle it with water, brush parts of it, rub it with towels, powder it, add lubricant. I dump in the fuel and away goes my topic, my topical topic, nearsighted topic, my topic with back problems, my badly-behaved topic, my vulgar topic, my outrageous topic, my aging topic, my topic that is out of the question and anyway still can’t spell, in its oversized coat and worn winter boots, scuttling along the sidewalk as if it were flesh and blood, hunting for what’s out there, an avocado, an alderman, an adjective, hungry as ever.
The basic Female Body comes with the following accessories: garter belt, panti-girdle, crinoline, camisole, bustle, brassiere, stomacher, chemise, virgin zone, spike heels, nose ring, veil, kid gloves, fish-net stockings, fichu, bandeau, Merry Widow, weepers, chokers, barrettes, bangles, beads, lorgnettes, feather boa, basic black, compact, Lycra stretch one-piece with modesty panel, designer peignoir, flannel nightie, lace teddy, bed, head.
The Female Body is made of transparent plastic and lights up when you plug it in. You press a button to illuminate the different systems. The Circulatory System is red, for the heart and arteries, purple for the veins; the Respiratory System is blue; the Lymphatic System is yellow ;the Digestive System is green, with liver and kidneys in aqua. The nerves are done in orange and the brain is pink. The skeleton, as you might expect, is white.
He said, I won’t have one of those things in the house. It gives a young girl a false notion of beauty, not to mention anatomy. If a real woman was built like that she’d fall on her face.
She said, If we don’t let her have one like all the other girls she’ll feel singled out. It’ll become an issue. She’ll long for one and she’ll long to turn into one. Repression breeds sublimation. You know that.
He said, It’s not just the pointy plastic tits, it’s the wardrobe. The wardrobes and the stupid male doll, what’s his name, the one with the underwear glued on.
She said, Better to get it over with when she’s young. He said, All right but don’t let me see it.
She came whizzing down the stairs, thrown like a dart. She was stark naked. Her hair had been chopped off, her head was turned back to front, she was missing some toes and she’d been tattooed all over her body with purple ink, in a scrollwork design. She hit a potted azalea, trembled there for a moment like a botched angel, and fell.
He said, I guess we’re safe.
The Female Body has many uses. It’s been used as a door-knocker, a bottle-opener, as a clock with a ticking belly, as something to hold up lampshades, as a nutcracker, just squeeze the brass legs together and out comes your nut. It bears torches, lifts victorious wreaths, grows copper wings and raises aloft a ring of neon stars; whole buildings rest on its marble heads.
It sells cars, beer, shaving lotion, cigarettes, hard liquor; it sells diet plans and diamonds, and desire in tiny crystal bottles. Is this the face that launched a thousand products? You bet it is, but don’t get any funny big ideas, honey, that smile is a dime a dozen.
It does not merely sell, it is sold. Money flows into this country or that country, files in, practically crawls in, suitful after suitful, lured by all those hairless pre-teen legs. Listen, you want to reduce the national debt, don’t you? Aren’t you patriotic? That’s the spirit. That’s my girl.
She’s a natural resource, a renewable one luckily, because those things wear out so quickly. They don’t make ‘em like they used to. Shoddy goods.
One and one equals another one. Pleasure in the female is not a requirement. Pair-bonding is stronger in geese. We’re not talking about love, we’re talking about biology. That’s how we all got here, daughter.
Snails do it differently. They’re hermaphrodites, and work in threes.
Each female body contains a female brain. Handy. Makes things work. Stick pins in it and you get amazing results. Old popular songs. Short circuits. Bad dreams.
Anyway: each of these brains has two halves. They’re joined together by a thick cord; neural pathways flow from one to the other, sparkles of electric information watching to and fro. Like light on waves. Like a conversation. How does a woman know? She listens. She listens in.
The male brain, now, that’s a different matter. Only a thin connection. Space over here, time over there, music and arithmetic in their own sealed compartments. The right brain doesn’t know what the left brain is doing. Good for aiming, though, for hitting the target when you pull the trigger. What’s the target? Who’s the target? Who cares? What matters is hitting it. That’s the male brain for you. Objective.
This is why men are so sad, why they feel so cut off, why they think of themselves as orphans cast adrift, footloose and stringless in the deep void. What void? she asks. What are you talking about? The void of the Univers,e he says, and she says Oh and looks out the window and tries to get a handle on it, but it’s no use, there’s too much going on, too many rustlings in the leaves, too many voices, so she says, Would you like a cheese sandwich, a piece of cake, a cup of tea? And he grinds his teeth because she doesn’t understand, and wanders off, not just alone but Alone, lot in the dark, lost in the skull, searching for the other half, the twin who could complete him.
Then it comes to him: he’s lost the Female Body! Look, it shines in the gloom, far ahead, a vision of wholeness, of ripeness, like a giant melon, like an apple, like a metaphor for breast in a bad sex novel; it shines like a balloon, like a foggy noon, a watery moon, shimmering in its egg of light.
Catch it. Put it in a pumpkin, in a high tower, in a compound, in a chamber, in a house, in a room. Quick, stick a leash on it, a lock, a chain, some pain, settle it down, so it can never get away from you again.
Advice for Essays.
In nifty bullet points.
- Start early. Don’t think “Oh I have ages!” You don’t.
- Don’t listen to your favourite music. You’ll end up dancing and singing and not do any work. Soundtracks are best (youtube has full soundtracks for like, every movie).
- Actually listen when people tell you what your essay is on.
- Remember to do your required reading.
- Ban tumblr.
- Do not think “It’s okay, I’ll just shit it out.” It turns out it’s harder than you think.
This has been brought to you by a mildly panicking S with five essays to do.
Remember gang, prioritise.
“There are eight million naked cities in this naked city -- they dispute and disagree. The New York City you live in is not my New York City; how could it be? This place multiplies when you're not looking. We move over here, we move over there. Over a lifetime, that adds up to a lot of neighborhoods, the motley construction material of your jerry-built metropolis. Your favorite newsstands, restaurants, movie theaters, subway stations and barbershops are replaced by your next neighborhood's favorites. It gets to be quite a sum. Before you know it, you have your own personal skyline. Go back to your old haunts in your old neighborhoods and what do you find: they remain and have disappeared. The greasy spoon, the deli, the dry cleaner you scouted out when you first arrived and tried to make those new streets yours: they are gone. But look past the windows of the travel agency that replaced your pizza parlor. Beyond the desks and computers and promo posters for tropical adventures, you can still see Neapolitan slices cooling, the pizza cutter lying next to half a pie, the map of Sicily on the wall. It is all still there, I assure you. The man who just paid for a trip to Jamaica sees none of that, sees his romantic getaway, his family vacation, what this little shop on this little street has granted him. The disappeared pizza parlor is still here because you are here, and when the beauty parlor replaces the travel agency, the gentleman will still have his vacation. And that lady will have her manicure. You swallow hard when you discover that the old coffee shop is now a chain pharmacy, that the place where you first kissed so-and-so is now a discount electronics retailer, that where you bought this very jacket is now rubble behind a blue plywood fence and a future office building. Damage has been done to your city. You say, ''It happened overnight.'' But of course it didn't. Your pizza parlor, his shoeshine stand, her hat store: when they were here, we neglected them. For all you know, the place closed down moments after the last time you walked out the door. (Ten months ago? Six years? Fifteen? You can't remember, can you?) And there have been five stores in that spot before the travel agency. Five different neighborhoods coming and going between then and now, other people's other cities. Or 15, 25, 100 neighborhoods. Thousands of people pass that storefront every day, each one haunting the streets of his or her own New York, not one of them seeing the same thing. We can never make proper goodbyes. It was your last ride in a Checker cab, and you had no warning. It was the last time you were going to have Lake Tung Ting shrimp in that entirely suspect Chinese restaurant, and you had no idea. If you had known, perhaps you would have stepped behind the counter and shaken everyone's hand, pulled out the disposable camera and issued posing instructions. But you had no idea. There are unheralded tipping points, a certain number of times that we will unlock the front door of an apartment. At some point you were closer to the last time than you were to the first time, and you didn't even know it. You didn't know that each time you passed the threshold you were saying goodbye.”—“The Colossus of New York,” Colson Whitehead
I never really doubted SE endgame in the first 2.5 seasons. While I loved, loved, loved Damon and Delena interactions, it seemed to me the writing was pretty much on the wall that no matter what Stefan said or did, Elena was always going to go back to him or take him back. Especially after that stupid murder wall scene. At that point I was completely flummoxed that they would think something like that was romantic or that they would literally have their heroine not see just how wrong all of that was. It was clear to me (and others here) just how toxic and abusive that relationship is/was.
Then there were moments like “I want you to remember what you felt when he was gone” and “It’s right, just not right now” and DE wasn’t just possible anymore, it was endgame. Even after “Maybe that’s the problem”, I still believed — mainly because it was clear to me where they were going after the finale.
This season has just solidified it for me. Especially after Elena had her epiphany episode. She came out of that — having shed all the guilt and fear, doom and gloom, and those pesky suicidal tendencies that had haunted her for so long — a new person. And it was like she could finally see what/who was right in front of her. Like she was truly seeing Damon for the first time. And in seeing him, she simply didn’t want to let him go. Even if that meant losing Stefan. Which was a complete 180 from her ‘bestest decision ever’ only a few short episodes before.
Add to that, the careful and utter deconstruction of Stelena, Stefan’s true colors showing in too many ways and words to count, Stefan’s ability and desire to walk away for good and the fact that — despite the SB and everything else — they’ve been very careful not to destroy Delena (at least to me they haven’t), I can’t see anything else but DE endgame now.
I know some think that they’ve been tainted by the SB and that’s fine if you think that, but I honestly don’t doubt that Elena’s feelings for Damon are real. I think the show has been pretty clear on that point. The only ones that won’t accept it are some of the characters themselves. And I think that if they were going to use the SB to somehow bring Stelena back together, they wouldn’t have destroyed Stelena the way they have. They would have been much more careful to keep hope alive. Instead, they’ve done just the opposite — distracting the characters with the ‘unreality’ of Delena while literally taking Stelena apart brick by brick, scene by scene.
I can’t see Elena going back to him now. Not even if the SB somehow screwed with her emotions, which I don’t believe. He’s been way too shitty to her and she’s seen it this time. Beyond that, she has shown time and time again that she doesn’t want him as anything more than a friend. They’ve given a ton of opportunities for her to show that she misses him or is jealous of him being with someone else and each time, she’s sailed through the scenes without an ounce of emotion that one would expect — both before and after Off!Elena.
And as far as Off!Elena goes, her Stefan interactions have just driven it home so much more just how little affect he has on her (or potential affect). Damon is the one she puts effort into getting away from because she knows he can/will make her feel. And the interesting part about that? He really can do it without trying too hard. That was evident the past episode where his attempt to make her feel was lackluster at best, yet she couldn’t distance herself fast enough. And I actually found it humorous after an entire scene dedicated to Stefan’s beyond lame attempt to make her ‘feel’ by ‘touching’ her, that it was being held in Damon’s arms — in a non-romantic scene no less — that you could see the humanity in her. And yes, I know that fear played part in sparking her humanity, but Damon and Delena were all over that scene — from her calling out to him to the split second before Stefan vervained her.
So, call me DElusional or crazy or whatever, but I truly believe this will all shake out at the end of the day and everything everyone has been saying almost every episode will be proven so wrong they may not want to offer opinions again. I think Damon’s insecurities have been ramped up for the express purpose of giving him and the audience a huge pay off.
Elena will come out of this, stronger than ever because she’ll know who she is, what she wants, and who she wants to be. And as a result, I think Damon will be floored when she unequivocally, without the SB, ‘chooses’ him and shows him just how much she really, truly loves him.
Because Elena’s feelings are real. Damon is the best for her. And they are endgame.