I saw this call for submissions in a comment thread on Alas and since I thought it would interest people who visit this site, I am posting it here:
With a half-finished bottle of soju sitting on the floor between us, and another two waiting to be opened, we settled in, my friend Mr. Lee and I, for an evening of drinking in my very small seven-and-a-half pyong apartment in the part of Seoul known as Chamshil. I lived in the the Ju-gong Apartment Complex, where the English Training Center (ETC), the hagwon, or private language school, that had hired me to each for the year housed all its faculty. We were not far from the Olympic Stadium, where the opening ceremonies for the 1988 Summer Olympics had been held. In fact, some of my colleagues and I had watched the ceremonies from the roof of my building. Mr. Lee had been a student in one of my classes, and when it was over, he asked if he could be my friend. When I said yes, he suggested this night of drinking as a way to cement that friendship.
A white woman’s mouth in the act of swallowing a white man’s penis fills the screen of my TV. Almost directly in the center of the picture, the shape of his organ glides back and forth against the inside of her left cheek. Panning back, the camera shows her kneeling on all fours in front of him, her lips engulfing and expelling his genitals as if she were the only movable part of a well-oiled machine. She looks up at him and asks, with a lust-filled and mischievous grin, “Does that feel good?”
“You suck a mean cock, Cherry,” he answers, his tone flat, as if he were reading her name out of the phone book.
Translation work has taken me away from this series, and I have been missing it. A conversation I had today with a friend reminded me, though, of the conclusion to an essay about pornography called “Inside The Men Inside ‘Inside Christy Canyon,’” that I published in 1994 in the now-defunct literary journal called “The American Voice.” This is a slightly edited version of that conclusion.
Male dominance instructs men that our bodies are tools. By turning male orgasm into the "cum shot," heterosexual pornography reflects and perpetuates this image of the male body. Yet it does not have to be that way. Erection, for example, the gradual hardening of a man's penis--in the hand or mouth or inside or against or at the sight, sound or smell of the body of his lover, or in his own hand--is the physical corollary of, a concrete metaphor for, that man's capacity for trust, something Sharon Olds explores in her poem "The Connoisseuse of Slugs:"
Fragments of Evolving Manhood: Do You Like Your Body 3 (Preliminary Notes On the Expendability of the Foreskin)Submitted by richnewman on 12 August 2010 - 5:48pm
In 1834, Sylvester Graham—inventor of the cracker that continues to bear his name—published a book called A Lecture to Young Men, in which he warned that masturbation would transform a boy who practiced it regularly into:
a wretched transgressor [who] sinks into a miserable fatuity, and finally becomes a confirmed and degraded idiot, whose deeply sunken and vacant, glossy eye, and livid shrivelled [sic] countenance, and ulcerous, toothless gums, and fetid breath, and feeble broken voice, and emaciated and dwarfish and crooked body, and almost hairless head—covered perhaps with suppurating blisters and running sores—denote a premature old age, a blighted body—and a ruined soul! (Quoted in Kimmel)
At eleven, I am the youngest of eight boys lined up along one row of lockers in the otherwise empty men’s room at the swimming pool to which the day camp we are attending takes us every other day. Normally, I’d be changing with boys my own age, but a mix-up back at the camp grounds landed me on the bus with these guys, who are all twelve and thirteen. I turn my back to them to hide the erection that has taken hold of my body and which I am having difficulty fitting into my bathing suit. Despite my best efforts to remain inconspicuous, however, my movements attract their attention and one of them sneaks up behind me and looks over my shoulder. “Hey,” his voice rings out metallically, “look at the size of Newman’s boner!”
Like a pack of dogs that has been thrown a single piece of meat, the group surrounds me in a tight circle, while I stand there not moving, body pointing me into the air above the middle of the room, wishing I could vanish, that it would vanish, but no matter how much I will it, the damned thing will not go down.
“What are you, a homo!?”
As a Jewish man, like it or not, my identity within the Jewish community as both a man and a Jew is defined by the fact of my circumcision. Even though I am Jewish first because my mother is Jewish, at least according to the tradition accepted by most of the Jewish communities in the world, I entered God’s covenant with Abraham, became fully a member of my own people, only after my foreskin was removed, and for the first fifteen or so years of my life, I romanticized the moment of that cutting. Imagining a bloodless ceremony saturated with self-conscious majesty, I saw my boy’s body wrapped warmly and securely in a blanket, held peacefully at ease in the lap of my Uncle Max, smiling drunk on the wine-soaked cloth I’d been given to suck on to dull the (as it was explained to me by my grandmother) very small pain I would feel. Prayers were uttered over my flesh, and after the cutting was done, my membership in the covenant, not to mention into the community of Jewish manhood, was celebrated with food and drink. I pictured myself being passed lovingly among the guests, cuddled and coddled as they talked about the man I would grow up to be.
Serious domestic/intimate partner violence trigger in the first few paragraphs.
Sitting on my bed with her back against the wall, my lover—who’s come to visit during my first year of graduate school—tells me that she’s at last made her decision: she’s going to study fine art. I should be happy for her, but I’m suddenly listening from a place so deep inside myself that the sounds leaving her mouth no longer coalesce into meaningful units. There is a moment of blankness, and then, as if someone else has taken control of my brain, I am forced to watch a vision of myself getting up from the chair where I’ve been sitting, putting one hand around my lover’s throat, holding her against the wall, and slapping her face back and forth with my other hand until she is senseless and bloody. I see myself screaming in her ear, letting her drop to the floor, and kicking her in the stomach as hard as I can. In the vision, my mouth moves but no words come out.
Hi everyone! My name is Richard Jeffrey Newman, and I am a friend and colleague of Elizabeth's. She and I talked about my blogging here on SitPS some time ago, but it's only recently that I have turned my attention (actually, returned my attention is more accurate) to material that would be appropriate to post here. Before I start doing so, though, I thought I should tell you a little bit about myself and my work. Pretty much everything I write about gender and sexuality is rooted in some way in my experience as a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, by two different men, at two very different points in my life. At the time, this is more than 30 years ago, the only people who were talking at all about child sexual abuse, or pretty much any kind of sexual abuse, were feminists; and so it was through feminism that I found a vocabulary to name not only what had happened to me, but also how I wanted to live in my body in response to what those men had done to me.