The term “tear gas” is a misnomer. For one thing, “tear gas” seems to imply something innocuous— you would think it’s just a chemical that makes you tear up. In fact, tear gas is a dangerous, potentially lethal chemical agent which is outlawed under the Chemical Weapons Convention for use during wartime. As the Omega Research Foundation argues: “Less-lethal weapons are presented as more acceptable alternatives to guns. But these weapons augment rather than replace the more lethal weapons. Euphemistic labels are used to create the impression that these weapons represent soft and gentle forms of control. CS is never referred to by the authorities as vomit gas, in spite of its capacity to cause violent retching.” NGO Physicians for Human Rights believes that “ ‘tear gas’ is a misnomer for a group of poisonous gases which, far from being innocuous, have serious acute and longer-term adverse effects on the health of significant numbers of those exposed.”
He is taking a course on Marxist ideology.
He says, “The only real solution is to smash the system and start again.”
His thumb is caressing the most bourgeois copy of the communist manifesto that I have ever seen,
He bought it at Barnes and Noble for twenty-nine U.S. American dollars and ninety-nine cents,
Its hard cover shows a dark man with a scarved face
Waving a gigantic red flag against a fictional smoky background.
The matte finish is fucking gorgeous.
He wants to be congratulated for paying Harvard sixty thousand dollars
To teach him that the system is unfair.
He pulls his iPhone from his imported Marino wool jacket, and leaves.
What people can’t possibly tell from the footage on TV
Is that the water cannon feels like getting whipped with a burning switch.
Where I come from, they fill it with sewer water and hope that they get you in the face with your mouth open
So that the hepatitis will keep you in bed for the next protest.
What you can’t tell from Harvard square,
Is that when the tear gas bursts from nowhere to everywhere all at once,
It scrapes your insides like barbed wire, sawing at your lungs.
Tear gas is such a benign term for it,
If you have never breathed it in you would think it was a nostalgic experience.
What you can’t learn at Barnes and Noble,
Is that when they rush you, survival is to run,
I am never as fast as when the police are chasing me.
I know what happens to women in the holding cells down there and yet…
We still do it.
I inherited my communist manifesto,
It has no cover—
Because my mother ripped it off when she hid it in the dust jacket of “Don Quixote”
The day before the soldiers destroyed her apartment,
Looking for subversive propaganda.
She burned the cover, could not bring herself to burn the pages,
Hoped to God the soldiers couldn’t read,
They never found it.
So she was not killed for it, but her body bore the scars of the torture chamber,
For wanting her children to have a better life than she did,
Don’t talk to me about revolution.
I know what the price of smashing the system really is, my people already tried that.
The price of uprise is paid in blood,
And not Harvard blood.
The blood that ran through the streets of Santiago,
The blood thrown alive from Argentine helicopters into the Atlantic.
It is easy to say “revolution” from the comfort of a New England library.
It is easy to offer flesh to the cause,
When it is not yours to give.
There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard
An antidote: a gallery of same sex ballroom dancers. I love love love swing dancing with other women I can’t even tell you.
I am desperately tired of seeing sexual violence depicted from the point of view of the perpetrator, little fillips for our understanding of a male character; tired of female sufferers rendered mute by the fictive world. If a novel is to depict sexual violence, let it do so from the point of view of the victimised, rather than the victimiser: let it create empathy, rather than elide it.
So this book has one dubious consent scene and one rape scene within twenty pages of each other aaaaaaaaaaaand that’s where I gave up.