I think dismissing female pain as overly familiar or somehow out-f-ate—wice-old, thrice-old, 1001-ights-old—asks deeper accusations: that suffering women are playing victim, going weak, or choosing self-ndulgence over bravery. I think dismissing wounds offers a convenient excuse: no need to struggle with the listening or telling anymore. Plug it up. Like somehow our task is to inhabit the jaded aftermath of terminal self-wareness once the story of all pain has already been told.
“For a long time I have hesitated to write a book on woman,” is how Simone de Beauvoir starts one of the most famous books on women ever written. “The subject is irritating, especially to women; and it is not new.” Sometimes I feel like I’m beating a dead wound. But I say: Keep bleeding. Just write toward something beyond blood.
The wounded woman gets called a stereotype, and sometimes she is. But sometimes she’s just true. I think the possibility of fetishizing pain is no reason to stop representing it. Pain that gets performed is still pain. Pain turned trite is still pain. I think the charges of cliché and performance offer our closed hearts too many alibis, and I want our hearts to be open. I just wrote that. I want our hearts to be open. I mean it.