“When people of colour are expected to educate white people as to their humanity, when women are expected to educate men, lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world, the oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions.”
“That’s what we’re all doing —trying, with varying degrees of success, to impersonate our assigned genders. This life is like a costume party where we all get handed an arbitrary outfit at the door and told, “Here, you’re a pirate.” If you say “But I wanted to be a princess” they say, “Tough—we got enough princesses already, you’re a pirate,” so you put on your eyepatch and hook and fake parrot and wander around halfheartedly waving your cutlass saying “Arrrr—Aye’m a purr-ty princess!”, feeling ridiculous and wretched. Even now, whenever I change a tire or throw a football with a respectable spiral, I’m still secretly impressed by my own display of male competence. There’s always a sense of successful fraudulence to it, the way you feel the first time you manage to order food or ask directions in a foreign language.”
Instead of waiting in her tower, Rapunzel slices off her long, golden hair with a carving knife, and then uses it to climb down to freedom.
Just as she’s about to take the poison apple, Snow White sees the familiar wicked glow in the old lady’s eyes, and slashes the evil queen’s throat with a pair of sewing scissors.
Cinderella refuses everything but the glass slippers from her fairy godmother, crushes her stepmother’s windpipe under her heel, and the Prince falls madly in love with the mysterious girl who dons rags and blood-stained slippers.
Persephone goes adventuring with weapons hidden under her dress.
Persephone climbs into the gaping chasm.
Or, Persephone uses her hands to carve a hole down to hell.
In none of these versions is Persephone’s body violated unless she asks Hades to hold her down with his horse-whips.
Not once does she hold out on eating the pomegranate, instead biting into it eagerly and relishing the juice running down her chin, staining it red.
In some of the stories, Hades never appears and Persephone rules the underworld with a crown of her own making.
In all of them, it is widely known that the name Persephone means Bringer of Destruction.
Red Riding Hood marches from her grandmother’s house with a bloody wolf pelt.
Medusa rights the wrongs that have been done to her.
Eurydice breaks every muscle in her arms climbing out of the land of the dead.
Girls are allowed to think dark thoughts, and be dark things.
Instead of the dragon, it’s the princess with claws and fiery breath
who smashes her way from the confines of her castle
and swallows men whole.
“Intelligence always had a pornographic influence on me.”
- push yourself to get up before the rest of the world - start with 7am, then 6am, then 5:30am. go to the nearest hill with a big coat and a scarf and watch the sun rise.
2. push yourself to fall asleep earlier - start with 11pm, then 10pm, then 9pm. wake up in the morning feeling re-energized and comfortable.
3. erase processed food from your diet. start with no lollies, chips, biscuits, then erase pasta, rice, cereal, then bread. use the rule that if a child couldn’t identify what was in it, you don’t eat it.
4. get into the habit of cooking yourself a beautiful breakfast. fry tomatoes and mushrooms in real butter and garlic, fry an egg, slice up a fresh avocado and squirt way too much lemon on it. sit and eat it and do nothing else.
5. stretch. start by reaching for the sky as hard as you can, then trying to touch your toes. roll your head. stretch your fingers. stretch everything.
6. buy a 1L water bottle. start with pushing yourself to drink the whole thing in a day, then try drinking it twice.
7. buy a beautiful diary and a beautiful black pen. write down everything you do, including dinner dates, appointments, assignments, coffees, what you need to do that day. no detail is too small.
8. strip your bed of your sheets and empty your underwear draw into the washing machine. put a massive scoop of scented fabric softener in there and wash. make your bed in full.
9. organise your room. fold all your clothes (and bag what you don’t want), clean your mirror, your laptop, vacuum the floor. light a beautiful candle.
10. have a luxurious shower with your favourite music playing. wash your hair, scrub your body, brush your teeth. lather your whole body in moisturiser, get familiar with the part between your toes, your inner thighs, the back of your neck.
11. push yourself to go for a walk. take your headphones, go to the beach and walk. smile at strangers walking the other way and be surprised how many smile back. bring your dog and observe the dog’s behaviour. realise you can learn from your dog.
12. message old friends with personal jokes. reminisce. suggest a catch up soon, even if you don’t follow through. push yourself to follow through.
14. think long and hard about what interests you. crime? sex? boarding school? long-forgotten romance etiquette? find a book about it and read it. there is a book about literally everything.
15. become the person you would ideally fall in love with. let cars merge into your lane when driving. pay double for parking tickets and leave a second one in the machine. stick your tongue out at babies. compliment people on their cute clothes. challenge yourself to not ridicule anyone for a whole day. then two. then a week. walk with a straight posture. look people in the eye. ask people about their story. talk to acquaintances so they become friends.
16. lie in the sunshine. daydream about the life you would lead if failure wasn’t a thing. open your eyes. take small steps to make it happen for you.