There are times, like tonight, when I do not smile upon my physical form, I do not take comfort from my shape and my softness. It took me a good ten years of being on this planet before I could even get my head around being a girl at all, and even then it felt like a strange act to put on in so many ways.
And yet, I remember staring at myself in a mirror whilst on summer holiday one year, at my cropped hair, my thick boy's shirt, my gangly shoes. And I took a straw hat from a stand and put it on my head, cocked it to one side and narrowed my eyes the way I had seen those stars of American Seventies films do when they were being meaningful and sexy. I wanted to look like a film star, I wanted to pout and to seduce the way they did, and from that time on, I would sit in the back of our family car whilst my Mum stared ahead driving, looking out of the car window in a dreamy, deep, dramatic way, my eyes again narrowing in film star pose, as I imagined a secret camera filming me rolling through the streets of Hawarden, up Bennett's Lane, under the bridge where I would hold my breath for good luck, past the nuns playing their recorders in the Convent garden and up our long drive that led to home. In those moments I was all of Charlie's Angels. I was Daisy Duke. I was Wonder Woman.
But I never could imagine becoming Wonder Woman in reality, with her dynamic basque and erotic hotpants, her large, powerful breasts, her lassoo. Instead, I felt more inherently like I was Dangermouse. Or perhaps a kind of hybrid of Carry On characters (my favourite films growing up)- a bit of Charles Hawtrey crossed with Hattie Jacques, a liberal dose of Kenneth Williams morphing into the cackle of Sid james. So on the inside I felt more like these, but at the same time desperately wanted to be Wonder Woman, or better, one of those dancers in the Kenny Everett Show, Hot Gossip, who wore very little, and whom my mother would try and ban us from watching whenever the programme came on.
Maybe I still felt more like Dangermouse when I finally lost my virginity at sixteen. I would wear basques and frilly black knickers and stockings, because that was what I thought was meant to be sexy, what my boyfriend thought was meant to be sexy. But I always felt too flat chested, too girlish to pull off seduction, not yet in either my body or my sexual power to get anywhere close to understanding what all this meant. And it took me years to realise that what was meant to be sexy would never be sexy as long as it stayed in the realm of what was 'the done thing'. 'The done thing', largely, in my experience of the world of sex throughout my teens and early twenties (despite trying to pass itself off as wildness and experimentaton), seemed largely to consist of disembodied people (myself included), committing disembodied acts with each other, being shown disembodied sexuality in film and magazines (meant to be a turn on), whilst living in a largely disembodied bigger sexual culture.
And of course, in a culture like this, in a mind set like this, nothing is really sexy. And I thought it was me, that there was somehing wrong with me. Or with my partner perhaps. But I realise now that it was nothing more than a symptom of being young and inexperienced in a culture where we read Page Three with our cuppa, where pornography = the death of the Imagination on all levels, and women are brought up to believe that lacy thongs from Knickerbox are what makes her a desirable woman.
I no longer feel like Dangermouse. Though in fact, I wouldn't be too disturbed if I found myself feeling like that in a moment of arousal, who knows, it could be quite sexy. But I do find sex as it is presented in our culture, possibly one of it's most tedious and banal shortcomings. Sexual consumption and artifice seem to be what is peddled daily by our media and sex industry. Perversion and kinkiness yawn at us from every street corner (and that's just the billboards). Jesus, hasn't anyone cottoned on yet that the breaking of sexual taboos has become just the latest form of conformity? That every man, woman, transgendered person and their dog has probably done fetishism in some form, no matter how slight, and it doesn't need to be rammed down our throats (excuse the turn of phrase) at every opportunity in order to sell a new perfume, promote the latest facile pop act, sell a few more million newsapers that aren't, in reality, fit for us to wipe our bums on.
I digress. I want a new sexual thrill. An extremity no one has ever dared to peek inside before. And I'm not talking nailing my nipples to a wooden post, or hanging by my toenails from the chest of Pamela Anderson. Jesus, my life is filled enough of that stuff anyway in the real world, never mind in a fantasy one (metaphorically speaking, of course). No, this thrill would come from the society around me. Just give me something pulsing with aliveness, something articulate and meaningful and born of the stuff that life, growth, decay and death are made of. Just spare me the alienation and manipulation and exploitation, the dead dog that tries to pass itself off as sexual consciousness in our society. Then I might just get a thrill, I might just feel even a flicker of interest in what our culture wants me to get turned on about. And this is not some feminist plea, god save me from that. It is simply a desperate, fed up call, away from the superficiality and crippling blandness of mass sexual consumerism, towards life force, imagination and, dare I say it, soul. Whether that soul is as clear as the sun up in the bluest of skies, or whether it is a blackened, twisted thing of many contours and many lonely lanes. Whether it is made of perspex or rubber or tin. Whether it is a violence of sound, or makes the tiniest whisper in the morning. Perversion and fetishism was always a means of contacting the deeper, darker, powerful forces of life and death, of subverting tired norms. It saddens me that now it just seems like any other episode of Hollyoaks.
I can fill a bra and pair of stockings these days. I might even look pretty good in those gold hotpants. But that doesn't really do it much for me tonight. Tonight I feel more like an 18th century boy, hat in hand, my shirt open to my belly button, the material of my trousers caressing my slim hips, my toes pale and dirty. And I'm looking for a house where I can take myself and my longings, and it's not in this country, it's not in this century and it's not here.
N.B. any cheap, stupid or obscene comments made on this post will be immediately deleted unless of course they are made by my boyfriend.