Yesterday, at the reading, Simone Muench mentioned our shared penchant for dead girls in our poems which made me laugh when I thought about it. It got me to thinking why this might be. On one hand it's very sticky, the whole notion of whether or not an obsession of that sort in my work would be considered anti-feminist by some. I mean there are lots of obsessions in my work, but that's one that crops up again and again, in imagery, in subject matter. There's alot of literature I know on this in regard to Poe---his dead woman complex. And I do admit, the first poem I ever loved at age 14 (and probably one of the only ones I know by heart) is "Annabel Lee". And I mean, historically, women were quite expendable--Shakespeare, Irish ballads, etc. In fact, cultural history is woven through with this sort of stuff, from the perceived dead girls of fairytales (Snow White, Sleeping Beauty), to Ophelia and Desdemona, to urban legend and Hollywood.
Not just cultural media, even. When I was a kid, there was this really high profile kidnapping case that occured near the neighborhood where we'd once lived. A ninteen year old had been last seen getting into her car in a river side park and then went missing. It was a cautionary tale of sorts, even for me, who wasn't yet allowed to go out all that much on my own.. People worried over their daughters. There were no suspects, no clues. I remember just this overall fear about "getting grabbed" as my mother termed it. I suppose every town, every community, has this sort of thing. They never caught who did it, but about a year or so later, her body was found in the nearby Sugar River. After my parents had moved out into the country, another woman's body was found in a field about a half-mile away...a hooker it turned out in the end, murdered in town and dumped by someone who figured they were far enough out where no one would find her. I keep waiting to turn on the news and not hear a story where some woman or girl is murdered, raped, attacked in some way. It doesn't happen. Soon you just stop turning on the news.
I am aware of the irony, here, with enough dead girls in my poems to start an army. Maybe it's something I'm stuck on like a broken record, that fear, that anxiety of being a girl, being endangered in some way. Not victimization, exactly, not repression. But danger and fear. All tied up in sex and violence and the male gaze. One of the reasons I loved Buffy so much, was because it turned all this on it's head. Gets me thinking of Daphne Gottlieb's Final Girl, and all the horror movies I watch. Gothicism in general and the peril of the female figure.