She stands on stage, sweating, struggling through her presentation. She’s been giving the same talk night after night, and she’s hearing herself speak as if from a distance.
‘Only when a woman has broken through to the essence of her own sexuality will she understand the meaning of the emancipation of women. Only then can she fuse her psychological education with her physical education and say no. Say no to transgressive behaviour.’
When she reaches the last sentence, she takes off her reading glasses and looks over the lectern into the hall. She’s been reading for twenty-five minutes, but only now realises that the majority of her audience is male. She clears her throat.
‘Women of the earth, this is a last call. Learn. Read. Study. Work. Travel. Develop. Negotiate. Do everything you need to do as a woman. Say no.’
Much to her surprise, her last words are accompanied by jeering. She is pelted with bras, her trademark after joking in an interview with a feminist magazine, ‘Why do women always throw knickers at rock stars, but no one ever throws bras at me?’ One member of the audience even burnt a hole in one, the irony of it causing a throbbing sensation in her clitoris.
She leaves in a hurry, it’s essential to always enter and leave the stage energetically. No silly intellectual loitering. The organiser of the event is waiting for her at the bottom of the steps, a smile on his boyish face. It’s ridiculous how some forty-year-old men look like twelve-year-olds in suits. Who would want to go to bed with such creatures? For God’s sake. The man is disgusting in all his awkwardness. Unattractive men are an insult to the female gender.
She doesn’t smile, stopped doing so twenty years ago. Pleasing is the end of emancipation. She even had it printed on a T-shirt once as part of a campaign for women’s rights in Rwanda. Live by what you preach. She looks Mr Organiser in the eye and takes his hand, squeezing it effectively. ‘Thank you, Sir. I really appreciate it.’ ‘No, madam, the pleasure is all ours. We really appreciate having a thinker like you in our midst! That doesn’t happen very often. It was exciting. Yuk, he holds her hand for too long.’
Let’s get away from this man as soon as possible. She throws him off. ‘I’ve got a headache. Thanks again, Sir.’ It’s a mystery how Me Too could have happened with these kinds of male monstrosities around.
Now she is standing in the deserted hotel bar and is tired. Suddenly. Should she go to her room first? What’s this
place even called? Way too conceptual all of this. This is how it’s been every single night of this PR tour. Why was it so
important to sell her book? This isn’t a life for a woman of thirty-nine.
Or is it? It is. This is all she’s ever wanted.
To be a feminist icon. To be a role model. To have a voice.
‘Hello,’ a voice says.
She turns around.
It’s a young man. The waiter? No, he’s not wearing a uniform, and he doesn’t look like he’s the serving kind. Hello, he says again.
‘Hello,’ she replies.
‘I was at your reading.’
He has jet-black eyes, thick eyelashes, a straight nose, long hair tied back.
‘I would like to ask you something, if I may.’
‘Only if you stop saying things like
if I may.’
‘Okay. May I make a suggestion?’
He is quite young, this man, and a sharp contrast to the repugnant event organiser. It’s nice to think that her ideas attract handsome twenty-something men. Also, it’s great that her feminism doesn’t only appeal to white men. She will tell her manager, it’s an essential selling point. Perhaps she can take a selfie with him, this will score on Instagram.
‘If you’re open to the idea, I’d like to teach you something about feminism.’
‘Excuse me?’ she says, pulled out of her train of thought.
‘I think I can teach you something about feminism.’
‘You talk about women and sexuality on stage as if all your knowledge has been acquired from books. So my question to you is as follows: Have you ever let yourself go with a man until you no longer knew in which universe you lived, until you were torn apart and flew through space in a thousand pieces? Have you ever been licked, sucked, kissed and stroked so long, so attentively that you became one with the world, until all your feminism went out the window because the only thing you wanted to do was die and be born again?’
She looks at him. He calmly looks back at her. Mildly, almost.
‘You say things about male and female sexuality that are born of ignorance. If you’d like to be pulled out of your ignorance, I’m at your service. I can teach you what it means to be a woman.’
Next evening. Another hotel. While speaking, she is very much aware of her own voice. Tonight, her audience consists of women attending a corporate business school.
‘Only when a woman has broken through to the essence of her own sexuality will she understand the meaning of the emancipation of women. Only then can she fuse her psychological education with her physical education and say no.’
When she reaches the last sentence, she takes off her reading glasses thinking of that one word, the one she kept repeating over and over again last night until her voice was hoarse from shouting. Until the hotel bedding was torn to pieces and blood was dripping off the sheets. Blood of joy, blood of slaughter. She kept saying it, moaning, groaning, screaming, crying: yes, yes, yes, yes! She looks straight at the audience. The young women look back at her expectantly. Then she clears her throat.
‘Women of the earth, this is a last call. Fuck. Lick. Blow. Suck. Stroke. Slurp. Throb. Pull. Kiss. Spit. Shiver. Come. Do everything you need to do as a woman. Say yes.’