note: the lovely nymeria-sand translated BOTH oona’s video and print interviews with fotograma this morning without even being directly asked. so this is for her.
She thinks about calling her brothers, after she shoots her husband. It only takes one bullet, straight between the eyes. She can imagine it, Robb, quick with his fists and angry and Theon behind him and she puts down the phone. The body lays heavy on the floor.
She dials in a different number.
“This didn’t happen, okay, Arya?”
Her sister smirks.
“I’ll keep your secret, sis.”
He had a wife before and didn’t tell her. It is Theon who lets it slip, actually, one day—makes a reference to her being the second Mrs. Stark and she laughs, because she thinks for a moment he means Catelyn and Theon looks pleased with himself because she really doesn’t know.
She asks him, later, in bed, her lips near his neck and he flinches when she says the name.
“She died, Jeyne.”
“Okay.” She purses her lips. “How old was she? Your age? Do people just die in their twenties?”
“She was killed, all right?” It comes out fast, harsh and she is sorry she said anything.
“She was from one of the families—it seemed like the right thing to do and we got married and then she died. That’s really it, okay, Jeyne. I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Fine,” she says, and turns over.
Her first kill is at eighteen. Her brother laughs when he kisses the blood off her lips and says he likes her this way.
Later, they send her his hand and she burns it all down.
It is strange, to disappear into a killing this way. The politician’s daughter with her smile and her pretty children is a gory photograph on the front of the newspaper for years after.
Nobody remembers her, really.
“I’d kill for anyone in this room,” she says, her voice low and her sons have ceased to be surprised.
(Once Ned could not shoot a man and she did it for him.)
You don’t want to see her at your door, they say and it’s true, you don’t. She doesn’t pass for a boy anymore, not quite, thin as she is, but does that matter? She’s a clean up girl, they say but frankly, she could be better—a really good hitman doesn’t enjoy it.
Variations of the word boo—including bo and boh—have been found in books as published as far back as 500 years ago. While the Oxford English Dictionary notes the similarity between bo and the Latin boāre and the Greek βοãv, both meaning “to cry aloud, roar, shout,” it’s unlikely that bo and boo—as nonsensical exclamations—derived from these words. An etymological dictionary of Scottish from 1808 notes that the sound might denote “a sound in imitation of the cry of a calf,” or be related to menacing creatures like the bu-kow and the bu-man (a possible ancestor of the modern bogeyman).
The combination of the voiced, plosive b- and the roaring -oo sounds makes boo a particularly startling word. Some linguists argue that the “ooh” or “oh” sounds can be pronounced at a higher volume than other vowel sounds, such as the “ee” in “wheel.” Since boo is a monosyllable, it can also be said very quickly, which may add to its scariness.
“I am not sure that I exist, actually. I am all the writers that I have read, all the people that I have met, all the women that I have loved; all the cities I have visited.”—Jorge Luis Borges (via harisfirdaus)
If one more person tells me that “all gender is performance” I think I am going to strangle them. What’s most annoying about that sound-bite is how it is often recited in a somewhat snooty “I-took-a-gender-studies-class-and-you-didn’t” sort of way, which is ironic given the way that phrase dumbs down gender. It is a crass oversimplification that is as ridiculous as saying all gender is genitals, all gender is chromosomes, or all gender is socialization. In reality gender is all of these things and more. In fact, if there’s one thing that every person in this room should be able to agree on, it’s that gender is a confusing and complicated mess. It’s like a junior high school mixer where our bodies and our internal desires awkwardly dance with one another and with the external expectations that other people place on us.
Sure, I can perform gender if I want. I can curtsy or throw like a girl or bat my eyelashes. But performance doesn’t explain why some behaviors and ways of being come more naturally to me than others. It offers no insight into the countless restless nights I spent as a pre-teen wrestling with the inexplicable feeling that I should be female. It doesn’t capture the very real physical and emotional changes I experienced when I hormonally shifted from testosterone to estrogen. Performance doesn’t begin to address the fact that, during my transition, I acted the same — wore the same t-shirts, jeans and sneakers that I always had — yet once people started reading me as female they began treating me very differently. When we talk about my gender as though it were a performance, it seems to me that we let the audience — with all of their interpretations, prejudices and assumptions — completely off the hook.
I know that many contemporary queer folks and feminists embrace mantras like “all gender is performance”, “all gender is drag” and “gender is just a construct”. They seem empowered by the way these sayings give the impression that gender is merely a fiction. A facade. A figment of our imaginations. And of course, this is a convenient strategy, provided that you are not a trans woman who lacks the means to have her legal sex changed to female, and who thus runs the real risk of being locked up in an all male jail cell. Provided that you’re not a trans man who has to navigate the discrepancy between his male identity and female history during job interviews and first dates. Whenever I hear someone who has not had a transsexual experience say that gender is just a construct or merely a performance, it always reminds me of that Stephen Colbert gag where he insists that he doesn’t see race. It’s easy to fictionalize an issue when you are not fully in touch with all of the ways in which you are privileged by it…
Instead of saying that all gender is this or all gender is that, let’s recognize that the word gender has scores of meanings built into it. It’s an amalgamation of bodies, identities and life experiences, subconscious urges, sensations and behaviors, some of which develop organically, and others of which are shaped by language and culture. Instead of arguing that gender is any one single thing, let’s start describing it as a holistic experience.
Instead of dismissing all gender as performance, let’s admit that sometimes gender is an act, and other times it isn’t. And since we can’t get inside one another’s minds, we have no way of knowing whether any given person’s gender is sincere or contrived. Let’s fess up to the fact that when we make judgments about other people’s genders, we’re typically basing it on our own assumptions (and we all know what happens when you assume, right?)
Let’s stop claiming that certain genders and sexualities reinforce the gender binary. In the past, that tactic has been used to dismiss butches and femmes, bisexuals, trans people and our partners, and feminine people of every persuasion. Gender is not simply some faucet that we can turn on and off in order to appease other people, whether they be heterosexist bigots or queerer-than-thou hipsters. How about this: Let’s stop pretending that we have all the answers, because when it comes to gender, none of us is fucking omniscient.
Instead of trying to fictionalize gender, let’s talk about all of the moments in life when gender feels all too real. Because gender doesn’t feel like drag when you’re a young trans child begging your parents not to cut your hair or not to force you to wear that dress. And gender doesn’t feel like a performance when, for the first time in your life, you finally feel safe and empowered enough to express yourself in ways that resonate with you, rather than remaining closeted for the benefit of others. And gender doesn’t feel like a construct when you finally find that special person whose body, personality, identity and energy feels like a perfect fit with yours. Let’s stop trying to deconstruct gender into non-existence and instead start celebrating it as inexplicable, varied, profound and intricate.
So don’t dare dismiss my gender as a construct, drag or a performance, because my gender is a work of non-fiction.