How to Get Into the Twin Palms
by Karolina Waclawiak
Two Dollar Radio, July 17, 2012
192 pages / $16 Preorder from Two Dollar Radio
When I was a teenager, I didn’t understand feminism and thought feminists were whiny and annoying. I know from teaching freshman undergrads that this is a common way of thinking. We are told we are a progressive society—sexism and racism are things of the past. I grew up in a household with an Italian matriarch grandmother who regularly attacked my grandfather with household kitchenware. My father was a truck driver and my mother had a graduate degree and made all the money, so it seemed to me that the women were the ones with the power. I didn’t notice the rest of what was going on around me. I thought it was normal to stay with abusive men, men who didn’t come home, who had women on the side, who broke plates over your head. I thought that braving through abuse is just what we, as women, must do. If anything goes wrong, it is the woman’s fault, because men will do what they will. The woman’s job is to stay.
When boys bashed my head into the walls at school, they would hold my neck against the cold tile and ask me, “Does it hurt?”
“No.” I’d say. Steely like I didn’t care. “It doesn’t hurt.”
Every so often I will feel a little pool of hunger open up in me, and the only thing that can quell this need are books by women, about women. There is something that is wanting and it has nothing to do with men. I need a safe space where the line between the story and me is permeable. When I am in these moods, I will trust the author more if she is a woman, in the same way I don’t want someone who doesn’t also have curly hair to cut my hair. I want the person who conceives the book to know me, to know what being a woman is. This is not to say that I don’t think men should write books about women or women should write books about men. I think they should and of course I will read them—we all do. The beautiful thing about writing or reading is the discovery of a life other than your own. Sometimes, though, there are pieces of me that need speaking to, and the timbre of the voice comes from the magical synthesis of me, a woman, reading a book by a woman about a woman.