there is a movement in todd haynes’ movies—(all the white gays like todd haynes)—where, classically, all eyes turn to you, the camera, the alienated abject subject, and you are pinned, wriggling, prufrock-style (see, two can play at that game!). that moment is, serendipitously, right now. they peek from behind their laptops. i am old-fashioned in my emphasis and i have made them uncomfortable, even though i know how to namedrop many famous white men because that is what i have studied and i am, if nothing else, a good student.
can lara croft, someone ventures, really be “a universal woman” when she is maybe possibly a…colonizer? prof says no, that’s not within the scope of the essay. she’s an explorer, not a colonizer. those are only small artifacts. the matter implodes softly. i scratch the side of my thigh. i am perhaps one million pounds. i am the organs i cannot divest.
(scribbled) “ideal woman as signifier of desire”
no one actually addressed race, though.
the prof always says thank you after i speak, in order to cut me off. i stand for all identity. i feel it tip the scales. to be a body. to be a weight. to think—wouldn’t it be nice to be pure abstraction, sea foam, the air that moves after wingbeat? but i am merely this: an ugly set of vowels. a point to respond to. how do you say your name? they ask me. what is metaphor? the professor asks, not aiming her words at me.
i write in my statement of purpose—i am interested in identity. the internet says—do not say “i am interested in x.” write instead—i am not not interested in identity.
i cannot claim the “i” so i often write in the “you.” i cross my legs. i will not cry. there is an hour left. prof says that men can claim lara croft (sexually), women desire to protect her (maternally). thought mulvey was dead and gone. thought i’d already gone thru enough today. wonder how it is possible to survive as a queer woman of color in the humanities. i am studying the colonizer’s language. i do not know cebuano or sinhalese. i know a little french. think about vomiting in the classroom to test the boundaries between the human and the non-human. are these fluids universal once they are expelled from my inconvenient brown body?
the white kids in the room are laughing about legends of zelda. i am definitely not crying. this is white privilege.
the white kids are talking about “controlling bodies” solely in the context of the sims. they are having a great time. this is also white privilege.
(i am probably not getting an A in this class.)
the virtual reality of rpgs. the virtual reality of picking one bubble. the virtual reality of my empty chair. the virtual reality of a body count. the virtual reality of “they aim a gun at your face and it tells you what color you are.” the virtual reality of trauma. the virtual reality of “you” and “me” and “they” and especially “we.”
(i am not being personal, goddammit!!!!)
so…what did i inherit to resist? presence? fun? america?
…well, am i a body or aren’t i?