Politics, Pornography, Poetry: Some Thoughts on What It Means to Be Toxic

Like so many people, I’ve been watching the thermonuclear war that’s begun within the Republican Party with my heart in my throat. Much has been written about the large numbers of voters rallying behind the current GOP front runner — including the overall indictment of the Left Behind Economy that is killing the middle class — and the particular brand of evangelicals that favor Ted Cruz.

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Political talking points between these two candidates have been dominated by sexist comments recently, concerning these men and their wives, and who has the hotter wife, and the GOP front runner also commented that women who receive abortions ought to be punished.

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Plenty of people reacted with horror, watching this drama unfold, and I’m not the only one who’s decided listening to the news has become a miasma, with radioactive clouds of hate blowing everywhere.

Then there is my personal life. Small and mundane. So far away from the events taking place between these two political candidates — but so intimately close all the same.

A man I know, a Republican who supports the GOP front runner, recently upset me a great deal. He lives in Durango. He did something extremely inappropriate. This unmentionable something involved sexual content, a phone, and the debasement of women I do not know. In my opinion, this man did something cruel, though he viewed his behavior as good fun, nothing that caused any harm. I saw the essence of his attitude being reflected in the news, and I’m sure he did too, like a sick stamp of approval.

What the man’s behavior made clear was that he sees women as objects. Brainless toys. Human beings so lesser, they exist within a frightening paradox — on the one hand, he is focused on having sex with as many of them as he can. On the other, they are so far beneath him, they are nothing at all.

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Which is also the ethos of modern pornography. The universe of adult films has seen an upsurge in portrayals of violent, debasing sexual acts against women. A long list of activities with names that conjure violation and shame.

I’m so alienated from the porn industry, and the plethora of new videos produced every year, that my contact and awareness is limited to what I glean from the news and my friends. My isolation is vital, a determination to keep myself sheltered from the horrors of that world, because the few exposures I’ve had to adult films just scar me for life. My empathy level is too high to witness that kind of degradation and pain. It’s the opposite of arousing to me.

Not so for this man who upset me.

He adores the porn industry, especially the proliferation of free porn. He also struggles to stay housed and employed. He drives a flashy car he can’t afford. He hangs out in bars, charging drinks.

He owns a Colt .45. And a rifle.

To look at him, you probably wouldn’t assume he lives with constant eviction, playing roommate roulette. He’s 38 years old, unmarried, childless. And still falling deeper and deeper into debt. He dresses well. He has a super nice phone. And his electronic device can transmit — via email and messaging — sexual images and videos I can only call living hell.

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So today I channeled my outrage and horror into a poem. Because sometimes the only place for emotion that strong is a poem.

Violent pornography is everywhere, and it’s being consumed by children and teens as well as adults. For the young, the videos are a sex ed class. The effect of these films on our youth is as scary as the thermonuclear war taking place within the Republican Party. Both are part of a cultural matrix we’ve built for ourselves, nailed together with a warped lumber.

Which is the point of my poem. It’s telling a story about the material we use to assemble a culture. And the ugly complicity of missed expectations.

 

Masculinity

 

 

Honestly, you women have it easy

Compared to me

 

But you call me toxic

 

Me

The one who can’t ever succeed

No matter how hard I try

 

The house, the picket fence

The two-car garage someone shipped overseas

While I went on unemployment

 

I take the blame

Wear the failure

 

You complain I want you

To be skinny, with nice tits

And makeup and long shiny hair

Like the girls in the triple X films

 

And I do

 

At least you can starve yourself

Bleach your hair

Shave your event pass

The ticket I mangle and pound

To make you scream like the women

Who get paid to lie down and

Take a beating

 

But I can’t just

Explode in your face

Ruin your makeup

Watch you smile

Through my mess

 

You expected a castle

Diamonds and gold

A bloodline, a carriage that would gleam

In the sunset

You told me I needed those things

To be Charming

 

But I’m never gonna be rich, baby

Never gonna ride a white horse

 

Doesn’t stop you

Pointing your finger

Saying this is all my fault

 

You’re the one shaving

Not me

You’re the one putting on all that makeup

 

You starve, and I eat

 

But no matter how many ribs I can count

Your bones won’t alchemize into gold

 

And maybe I’m not big enough

Not hard enough

To throw down my dignity

For minimum wage

Dressed in a loud, tacky uniform

Sewn with shame

 

But I can still make you scream

 

My rage measures up

Even if the rest of me never will

 

You see my fists, girl

The bullets I load in my gun

I can spray them in your face

Just as easy

 

So don’t you dare tell me

 

I’m the toxic one here

 

You’re the one

Who made me

Listen

To the fairy tales

 

4 thoughts on “Politics, Pornography, Poetry: Some Thoughts on What It Means to Be Toxic

  1. Melissa, you have such a wonderfully painful paean inscribed in your heart-rending poem. Yes, you hit a bulls eye (an oft used male metaphor), right to the heart of American male culture, you know the one I refer to, the gloatingly haughty world and female gender destroying US male culture, ‘el hefe’ over nations. The US male, molded in the image of a Hitler, desiring to remake all cultures in HIS image. What a blight on our poor, victimized earth that would be!
    Yes, you wrote it so well in your poem, a poetic voice crying in the wilderness of male dominated cultures. Voices like yours: the degraded female voice pleading like a plaintiff in a male dominated courtroom. Would that your paean poem could really be heard, really attended to, the world around. Love, ed

  2. Brilliant, dark, scary, and too beautifully horrifyingly real. Love the poem though hate the reality behind it.

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