The Most Beautiful Suicide: 23-year-old Evelyn McHale jumps to her death from the Empire State Building. Her body lands thousands of feet below, on a parked United Nations Limousine.
"Evelyn, still clutching a pearl necklace, looks disarmingly placid and composed – as if simply asleep. Around her, however, the broken glass and crumpled sheet metal of a car roof show the brutally destructive evidence of her 1050 ft jump. Some 60 years later the photo remains as haunting and affecting as when it was first published."
I am surprised by how much sex I have had in my life that I didn’t want to have. Not exactly what’s considered “real” rape, or “date” rape, although it is a kind of rape of the spirit - a dishonest portrayal or distortion of my own desire in order to appease another person.
I said yes because I felt it was too much trouble to say no. I said yes because I didn’t want to have to defend my “no,” qualify it, justify it - deserve it. I said yes because I thought I was so ugly and fat that I should just take sex every time it was offered, because who knew when it would be offered again. I said yes to partners I never wanted in the first place, because to say no at any point after saying yes for so long would make our entire relationship a lie, so I had to keep saying yes in order to keep the “no” I felt a secret. That is such a messed-up way to live, such an awful way to love.
So these days, I say yes only when I mean yes. It does require some vigilance on my part to make sure I don’t just go on sexual automatic pilot and let people do whatever. It forces me to be really honest with myself and others. It makes me remember that loving myself is also about protecting myself and defending my own borders. I say yes to me.
—Margaret Cho, “Yes Means Yes” (via lavenderlabia)
This morning as I was scrolling Tumblr in bed, I caught this quote by Margaret Cho. 6AM, half-asleep and squinting at my screen with one eye open, the words rang loud and clear. I sat up. Yes, I too, have had the kind of sex Cho talks about; the kind where your mouth says ‘yes’, but inside you’re saying ‘no, no, no, God no.’
When I was eight-years-old my cousin took me by the hand, pulled me into the hallway of my parent’s small federation home, and asked me if he could touch my vagina. I froze. In the background I could hear my older brother playing Space Invaders on the Atari. I stood there sending telekinetic messages to him: turn around, turn around, turn around. Nada.
My cousin asked again. He asked nicely, firmly. He said please. And just like that, for the same reasons Margaret Cho mentions (and many more), I said ‘yes,’ and consented to one of the most invasive and confusing experiences I have lived through. It wasn’t an isolated event. These types of things happen in patterns, in circles. Once I said yes that first time, it felt like I had signed a contract to a lifetime of encroachment. I felt like I couldn’t say no to anyone. I was embarrassed to say no. I thought ‘no’ was impolite. It was hard work defending my no. Sometimes I said no, and it didn’t matter anyway.
Men, as far as I understand, have never been particularly sensitive to the subtleties of girls and women. It’s not enough to cry, or cover your body, or look up with sad, pleading eyes. That kind of shit is beyond them. When Margaret Cho says, ‘that’s a messed-up way to live,’ she’s damn right. If I’m lucky enough to have a daughter, her favourite word is going to be NO. I’ll tell her to deliver it with confidence, and never for a moment think that she needs to defend it. No, no, nah, FUCK NO.
“But Paris was a very old city and we were young and nothing was simple there, not even poverty, nor sudden money, nor the moonlight, nor right and wrong nor the breathing of someone who lay beside you in the moonlight.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
This time last year I had just arrived in Paris. It was exactly how I imagined, only colder. The first night I froze in a short skirt and coat, and bumbled through the cafe menu, ordering the only thing I could pronounce (buckwheat crepe w/ham).
Central Park with The Dakota in the background, 1890.