Sunday, 18 April 2010
Extract from Andrea Dworkin, Heartbreak: The Political Manifesto of a Feminist Militant:
There was one day when all my schoolmates and I knew that we were going to die. According to historians the Cuban missile crisis lasted thirteen days, but to us it was one day because we knew we were going to die then, that day. I don't know which of the thirteen it was, and I don't know if I'm collapsing several days into one, but I remember nothing before the one day and nothing after. In the back of the school bus all the girls gathered in a semicircle. We talked about the sadness of dying virgins, though some of us weren't. We spoke with deep regret, like old people looking back on our lives; we enumerated all that we had not managed to do, the wishes we had, the dreams that were unfulfilled. No one talked about getting married. Children came up in passing. We 'd feel our own bones melt and in the particle of a second see our own cities drowned in fire. I wasn't afraid to die, but sitting still and waiting for it was not good. I still feel that way. We all, including me, felt a little sorry for ourselves, because everything we had ever known had been touched by nuclear war; it was the shadow on every street, in every house, in every dinnertime conversation, in every current-events reprise; it was always there as threat, and now it was going to happen, that day, then, there, to us. The school bus was bright yellow with black markings on the outside, just the way they are now, but everything was different because we were kids who knew that we were going to be cremated and killed in the same split second. I could see my arm withered, the flesh coming off in paper-thin layers, while my chest was already ash, and there'd be no blood—it would evaporate before we 'd even be dead superheroes. The girls were serious and upset. Even those who didn't like each other talked quietly and respectfully. There was one laugh: a joke about the only girl in the school we were sure was no virgin. She was famous as the school whore, and she was widely envied though shunned on a normal day, since she knew the big secret; but on this day, the last day, she could have been crowned queen, sovereign of the girls. She represented everything we wanted: she knew how to do it and how it felt; she knew a lot of boys; she was really pretty and laughed a lot, even though the other girls would not talk to her. She had beautifully curly brown hair and an hourglass figure, but thin. She was Eve's true descendant, the symbol of what it meant to bite the apple. Tomorrow she would go back to being the local slut, but on the day we were all going to die she was Cinderella an hour before midnight. I wished that I could grow up, but I could not entirely remember why. I waited with my schoolmates to die.