Sometimes I wonder if this occurrence is peculiar to my own personal experience, or if it is the experience of Woman. But then, the experience of Woman is peculiar. I suspect, my own personal experience is the particular expression of that peculiar phenomenon embodied as Woman.
What I find so strange are the memories of the "before." I remember when I did not question my worth; my "being-there" (Dasein) determined value. And I had no consciousness of my body. It was simply ready-to-hand (Zuhandenheit), and an extension of my will. I played; I climbed; I caught snakes. I cut Barbie's hair; I built blanket forts; I jumped on my bed. I asked where babies come from; I asked why that girl in kindergarten was a different color; I asked why God always "was" in Sunday school.
But then, the hammer broke. And everything changed. Suddenly, my body waged a revolt.
I remember one day in school. I was wearing white jeans and a long powder blue sweater that fell at the top of my thighs. I wasn't aware of the attack my body had forged against me until I went into the bathroom. And there, the first victim, little white princess underwear dripped crimson. I tried to clean up the bloodshed with the toilet paper in the stall. Then I returned to class. But the war had already begun, and the defiance of my body bled through those underwear, through those white jeans, through that powder blue sweater. And having recruited peering and jeering eyes, my body launched a full attack upon my psyche.
Then, there were my breasts, two large undulating pendulums that ordered the snicker of every boy and giggle of every girl.
I was twelve years old.
From that moment on the war waged on until my entire Being suffered complete corruption. I gazed upon a body growing more and more alien until it was no longer me, and no longer mine. And I watched as this foreign object was felt and grabbed and pinched and, finally, raped. And I watched as this foreign body was stared at, pointed at, and judged. Until finally, in complete subjugation, I peered out from this prison: a beautiful statue.
For many years I protested the war by hiding that artistic form under formless clothing. I severed that still thinking head and placed upon a sheet.
And then, something else happened... A truce?
One day I pulled off the curtains and gazed upon the line and curves of this Aphrodite, and recognizing the immense power in those lines, set out to use her for my own empowerment.
And so I rejected those formless draperies and chose instead dress that extenuated every curve and undulation. I painted the smile of Mona Lisa upon that body's face, and I colored in dark piercing eyes. Then I watched as so many spectators came to gaze upon this figure and let every hand reach out and caress that fine marble.
But empowerment has a flaw: desire.
How I desired this body to be desired. For in those moments, when one approached, I breathed life into this form, and let a voice cry out. And in many languages and literature from all of history I made this puppet cry out, "hear me, love me!"
But desire deafens the mind. And upon filling their appetites, and feeding desire, one by one, the spectators leave. Only to be replaced by another audience, and another. Every night another show, where patrons gaze and grasp at Truth.
And then, when some nights, there appear so few admirers, I begin to fret. I gaze upon that body, and study every small chip and blemish from so many years of (ab)use. I erase the smile, and paint something new. I tear off the clothing and place upon it a new dress. I stand back and judge with a critical eye, and never satisfied, I place the figure once more upon the pedestal.