Why I’m not a Feminist: All empathy and no sympathy

That was a deceiving tag line. Sort of. I mean, it is true and slightly linked to this short piece of fiction, but in no way will this piece try and translate my empathy for feminism into a creed. Unless that creed may begin “I feel” and also feel the freedom to live humanly, meaning; often contradict itself. This is more about the push toward empathy for all. That’s all I really want to say. Take me out to coffee if you really want to talk about this stuff, but you’re buying.

Per Usual: Dear Beloved Family, mom, grandma, and other sensitive friends who I know perceive me as a saint…I ask you not to read these things, I only let my brain think these thoughts for art’s sake. The aim is incarnation. To be human and put myself in the best position to locate the divine. One looks from the ground up at the cross, never down upon.


Tube Sock

He had boobs when he was sixteen. They were like the beaks of bottle nosed dolphins, and the nipples, I remember, were little budding things you could write poems about, nothing like Robbie Levatino’s, which reminded everyone of pepperonis the way they were white-headed with ingrown hairs like marbled sausage.

I played football with a kid who had the prettiest sister. Everyone knew it. She was a leather boots and black jeans kind of girl. A Nikon hung around her neck like a rosary and everyday she kissed it with her eyelashes, worshiping through the lens the shadows trapped in the dihedrals of buildings, abandoned plastic bags wavering in the wind,and timid sneakers shuffling down crowded hallways. She lugged around an overstuffed and faded backpack, and a heart, riven at the seams. It hurt her. So she hurt it back. She loved it, the artful revenge of designing along the thigh skin or the paper wrists for no one to see, the marks, smooth as flower petals.

Into her underwear, I heard, she crammed a tube sock big enough to know what it would be like to have a porno dick. She walked around a like a penguin, up and down the hallway, tried to make breakfast, went for run even, the whole time the folded wool balls bulging out of her tiny girl underwear. After lunch she pulled the stinking thing out and stuffed it under her mattress.

That kid with the knockers, it took him two years, but he eventually threw them up. I think about that now, the two years of a swollen esophagus and the brittle teeth, chipping away from wave upon wave of stomach acid; all the other shit he told me is almost nothing. Almost. I never noticed, thought the boobs popped up out of nowhere, and in the same way, just one day disappeared. But in elementary school, I guess, was when kids started giving him titty-twisters. I remember the knobby bruises, like a bear’s paw bit down and broke the skin. He would get four or five at a time. Both sides. Then there were the junior high locker rooms. You’ve heard about all the grab ass that goes on in those places. The guy on guy stuff that no one ever wants to admit. Justin Barrett felt him up and called him a bitch. Johnny Martin too. He bounced them in his cupped hands; played them like bongos.

I heard it was her grandpa’s fault. She found his magazines in the bathroom. The cover story in neon letters strobing like a marquee into her memory; Fattest Dicks and Punishment Pics. So she punished herself with those slashes on the wrists.

I heard it was his grandpa’s fault. Every time he would hug this kid he would take big handfuls of his sides and tell him he was too fat. He would touch his dolphin tits. And so it took two years. He threw up his dolphin tits and every time he thought of girl boobs it made his stomach sick.

He heard it was his own grandpa’s fault. He heard about the porno mags. He found the pictures of the women in his grandpa’s desk. He heard about the sock. He heard about what his best friend did to her because she was pretty. Everyone knew it.

He asked. So she pulled the thing out from beneath her mattress. He took it and three times cut in half until it was big as baby’s dick. He stuck it down his pants. “It’s not so bad” he said, and together they laughed. She hugged him and He cried; the stinking sock smooshed in silence between them.


I welcome potential coffee dates!


One response to “Why I’m not a Feminist: All empathy and no sympathy

  • Deborah Tomes

    The road to recovery is becoming more vivid every time you write. Not too mention the way you draw me in with your colorful descriptions. They are both beautiful and ugly. My heart breaks and rejoices. May you find God’ grace and healing as you provide art as a means to recovery. I love you son.

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