Behind the Scenes
“That girl needs to be fucked”: language and responsibility
I thought, “That girl needs to be fucked.” I could feel the thought in my body. It fell like a heavy lack toward a corner of my back. My back–but it wasn’t mine anymore: the thought was using my spine to move me. “That girl needs to be fucked”–I was thinking it about myself as if I were somebody else. Who did I think I was?
I remembered a night–it was New Years Eve, about to be 2005. I remembered the hand that was on my back–I was lying face-down on a bed. The hand was on my back and there were two men on the bed with me. They were talking about somebody–I had made sure she wasn’t me–and one of them said, “That girl needs to be fucked.” I understood that he meant someone should have sex with her because she was a little too independent and because he liked to lose himself in sex (I had had sex with him); or just that she had done something that made him want to push her down a little, make her a little less noticeable to herself, a little less of a self.
The hand on my back belonged to a man who laughed at what the man who liked to lose himself in sex said. The hand traveled with the laugh down my back to rest on my ass (it felt like an ass in that moment). The hand cupped my ass and made the laugh about my ass. I could feel both men looking at me as something to see while they thought about the girl who needed to be fucked. I knew her. She was a friend of a friend and I could easily think of her face and how it displayed shades of what lived inside her and in me too–a widespread dissatisfaction with our selves that made it difficult for us to connect with anybody else. But I was laughing too. I was laughing about what the man who liked to lose himself in sex had said and about how my ass had become my head–how it was the thing the men looked at while I laughed because it was shaking a little and making the hand into a slap that was slapping my ass.
Then I was telling myself that I felt too much like shit to do anything but lie on the bed and laugh with the men and the hand that was also a slap. I told myself I had been drinking too much and hadn’t eaten enough or had eaten too much to do anything besides what I was doing, laughing and letting the hand slap my ass and agreeing with the men that “That girl needs to be fucked.”
I didn’t like how I was feeling, being there on the bed with those men and agreeing with them, yet I was suspicious of that feeling–I worried that if I admitted I didn’t agree with what they were saying, then I would become the girl who needed to be fucked, and I didn’t want that. It seemed I wanted to be the girl who was fucked. The girl who would agree and who would let the hand slap her ass and laugh as the hand slapped her ass. I just wanted to be the girl who would agree. I thought that by agreeing, I would be permitted a kind of safety and privacy wherein I could secretly disagree with the men and hate the hand and hate myself for having agreed with them. It seemed I wanted to be turned against myself, and I was–I was so against myself that I could not help anybody else. I could not, in the silence after the laugh had become a slap had become a hand again on my ass again, I could not say, “No.” I could not speak because I would not let myself.
But that kind of privacy–the sick feeling of quiet you get when you haven’t done what you know you should have–felt like a trap. I had trapped myself within myself. And here’s what I know about being trapped: the same things keep coming back. The same walls, the same containment; the same captor keeps coming in to see how you have been. And the same words, again and again: “That girl needs to be fucked.” “That girl needs to be fucked.” “That girl needs to be fucked.” I think the words triggered a gene to begin destroying me.
Last week I heard myself thinking it about someone else. She was pregnant. I saw her and the words occurred: “That girl needs to be fucked.”
It was almost immediate: I threw up.
When the vomit seemed to be stopping, I tried to make it keep coming. At the bottom of the vomit were the words. How could I get them out? How–once you have permitted language to change you, to enter your mind and decide for you how you will be–do you become free? How do you unlearn how to speak harmfully?
I thought, At least while I am vomiting I cannot speak.
Now that the vomiting has stopped, there’s a lot I want to say. Language has a force. It has the power to change how we behave. How we move and use our bodies. Language has the power to change our bodies. Language is how concepts move and change. Concepts are the screen through which we see and believe. But a lot of the time we make a mistake: we mistake the concepts for reality.
All along, part of me had been hiding in reality. It was a part unfucked by “That girl needs to be fucked.”
It is a great strength. It is always moving toward the source of hate, ready to hear what it has to say.