I love sugar. Every day, I eat a cookie or a cake or a confection of some sort. Caramel, whipped cream, cool buttery frosting. I love how chocolate feels in my teeth. I love how cookies melt into paste, how brownies break apart crystalline. Nothing feels as much like love or sex or NOW as sugar.
When I was a girl and desperate to get love or sex, to get into now, I thought someday I would luck someone (I loved) every day and I wouldn't need the sugar. But that's not true. It's still SUGAR. Even when I know sugar has had as much a hand in oppression as gold or cotton or the trade in bodies.
No love is free. I think about this especially when I teach feminist materialism. My body is never going to be my own.
I think it would be wise for every adult to do a stint of intense caretaking wherein s/z/ he put the needs of another human's body before her/hir/his own. Had to anticipate those needs. Let's imagine two weeks wherein my showers, my meals, taking an aspirin, defecating, brewing coffee, removing a splinter all came second to enabling the adjustment of another body's temperature, filling a belly with pleasing sustenance, emptying a diaper or bedpan, checking eyes for stray eyelashes, straightening a sock...
My body belongs to the bacteria that roost here. My body belongs to the children it forged. My body bears the stamp of their father's DNA. My body is the property of the state. Or perhaps it's more correct to say the state owns shares in my body and has a vote in particular matters--most especially the so-called unnatural death of this body, the sale of this body, the substances I apply to this body, and the use of this body as a weapon. My body is not the sort the state likes to conscript during wartime, but it is the sort the state loves to conscript for subtler projects. The state often requires my presence at meetings and events, prefers me in fancy dress (that is, made up). The state has underpaid me. Once it paid me so little that I had to apply to it to birth my child. The state wants you to guess its name, but it isn't foolish enough to sing out that name by firelight.
My partner is a man. He owns my body no matter how often he tries to pass the deed back to me. My daddy owned my body. My men have. And when I had women, I suppose they owned my body, too. They owned this body's stories and the other half of the cleave. How many lovers would I need to keep any one human from having the monopoly? If I had no lovers, would I be a free agent?
Commerce owns this body. I am the market's bitch. I'll kill for clothes and creams. For a chicer shape, for a phone that keeps me safe in the dark. I'll kill to eat, and kill to retain my half-acre of supposed privacy.
Property is theft. I don't want to own this body, but no matter how many ways I unravel the dull myth of independence, I reinvest. My license, my legs, my hours. I don't want to own this body, but even less do I want you to own it / to burden you with it.
The girl is an ornament always-already bought and paid for. She's often defective. Her legs unshaved, her eyes lowered in a glare rather than coquette, her ass covered even when she bends over, her ass uncovered when she bends. But those are small coups. Look there, her panties for sale in the vending machine. Look, she's tricked out of her own image, she's photographed drunk, she's crammed into a blood-bathed frock so someone can cram into her. She's a vacant lot and a fine accessory. She rides quietly in a quilted bag, her beribboned head peeking out from under the arm of her glossy manager. She's eating lipgloss by the pound.
When you're a girl, your parents own you and then raise you to death with their repulsion. When they finally disown you, you'll find yourself on the street still looking like a girl to everyone around you. You'll find yourself a gaping wound.
And when that wound scabs over, you'll think she's (finally) dead, but there she goes banshee-headless hovering over the threshold of every hovel in which you'll ever abide. She ruins your days.
I'm keeping her at bay, filling her up on sugar. What is it with girls and sugar? Asks the teenage killer in Gillian Flynn's Dark Places. Asks Nabokov's Ada as much as his Lolita. Asks the girl with the most cake. What is it with Gretl and that candyman witch. Marshmallow pinwheels, rainbow cupcakes, ropes of red licorice.
Gender is only sometimes liquid, fluid. It's often frozen. It's sometimes a deluge. It's a rock candy sucker. I ask my kid, the second-grader, what's a girl, and she answers, "sometimes it's somebody who really likes princesses. And always likes to dance around. But really I think a girl could be anything she wants to be." I ask her who owns a girl and she says "moms and dads." How much does a girl cost "nothing." Are you a girl? "In some ways you could say yes, in other ways you could say no." Is a woman a girl? "Yeah. A grown-up girl."
Right now, the epistolary form allows me to address those parties who will never actually receive me/her/the girl. The letter is also a performance of the intimate self. Through the letter, I channel the girl I'm usually bleaching the fuck out of, tying down, jamming a stick in her mouth, whatever will keep her from foaming all over my workaday. It's a Ouija board of sorts.
Also, I lucked out. Think about Francesca Woodman and all those girls before her (and after her, let's be honest). The hip-cock of twenty years and I'm across the line before I'm dead. I survived girlhood, which is a disease-crisis. I outlived the girl who was taunted, bartered, belittled, neglected, dosed, dragged, drowning, wasted on the rocks of her own intelligence, poorly dressed, small of features, unable to regulate her volume, speaking a second language with a paperclip through her tongue, wearing a second and third and fourth body, wearing a loose sack of shoplifted gestures, wearing a thin burlap fetish, wearing out before her time, all girls marked and dying, all girls marked for death, all girls especially boring. It is easier to stay alive if you're going to be able to make a living.
I'm a wound my parents carved in the world and the state/my lovers saw fit to carve deeper. I'm both the scab that takes the girl's place, and the creature she becomes when she's scabbed over. How did I get so sweet?