By Deborah Kampmeier
My body is in a rage, a fury, a storm of hate. So fucking sick of all this talk about uniting our country, about having compassion for Trump supporters. I don’t want to find common ground. I don’t want to build fucking bridges. That’s like saying I have to marry my rapist and carry his fucking child to term. I don’t care to live with my rapist. I don’t care to ever see him again. I do not want to open my door and invite my rapist to sit at my table or shove his cock back in my mouth or cunt or ass. No, I am not building fucking bridges. Yes, build a fucking wall, but not between Mexico and me. Between me and you mother fucking racist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, misogynistic rapists, and the rest of you who condone them. Stay out of my home. I have no interest in sharing a country with you.
My body is a home to violence. She is not your country, she is mine. You may visit but you will not take root here. You have not learned how the darkness feeds. When you descend into her cavernous depths, she will show you there is nothing to fear. The walls are damp. There is the dripping sound of the beginning of time. And the wailing grief and howling rage of every woman, ever, who can no longer be silenced. These women’s wails are buried here, echoing through generations of DNA. The endless injustices are in every cell of my body. Dig around for these gems of rage, these gems of fury, these storms of hate. Dirt and clay under your nails, mud covered body and pubic hair clotted with blood. This is an excavation. Not to bring light to the darkness but to integrate darkness into the light. Do not be afraid of my rage. She is a storm that will clear every lie in her path. She is not afraid to speak for every woman who has had her tender vulva, clitoris, labia, vagina ripped asunder. She is holding every abandoned piece of self, every single piece of our feminine selves we betrayed in order to survive the patriarchy. Now it must all be reclaimed.
My body is rediscovered every time I lie on the floor and come in floods. There was a time when I could not find my clitoris. It was numb. As were my insides. I felt nothing no matter how hard I rubbed. I lived in a tiny apartment on Bleecker Street, in the city, New York. I walked the neighborhood in a long black skirt with no underwear and let my period blood slide down and cover my legs. I would come home and draw spiral designs in the wet redness. I put stone eggs with weights inside my vagina and did exercises of squeezing and releasing, squeezing and releasing. And I danced the go-go in Queens. Thinking it gave me power. It didn’t. It just separated me more. Just as it did to let old men shoot cum over my tits in hotel rooms with orange carpet. Just as it did when I heaved into the toilet bowl day after day, year after year. Puking out my guts and everything I might know. Abandoning the self, over and over and over. Where are you my love?
Chattanooga, Tennessee. I was born there in 1964. Then, in 1971, when I was seven years old, they said they were members of the playboy club. They were in high school. I think seniors. It seemed to be true. Their membership. I just knew it had something to do with rabbits. A white rabbit head on a black background. And a bow tie, I think. It seemed important, their club. And special. That’s what they said. They said they had to do it because they were members of that club. They pulled the garage door shut, it was heavy, and they must have locked it because no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t open it. And then they disappeared and I was alone in the dark. There was a dripping wet sound. And their laughter. They called for me. What was worse, to stay in the dark alone, or find my way to the safety of their jeering? I had to climb a ladder to get to the other side. A ladder in the dark. I thought I was climbing up, but I know now that I was climbing down. And I would stay down, for a very long time. Hidden in between the dark root systems, nursing the self, my child, my love. In the roots. Strong and wide. Hidden in the darkness. A ladder in the dark. I was afraid of heights. But I climbed anyway, because their promise of safety was better than being alone in the dark. And so when I reached the top, shaking, and climbed across into the room with light, and slid down onto the dresser, and climbed down into the room, to see them there naked and laughing was beyond what my seven years of life knew how to categorize. How to categorize naked boys that you need so as not to be alone. But the history of every woman before me and their wailing grief and rage rose into terror inside me and I ran. I tried to escape. I did not know how I knew this was danger, but the howling rage of every woman before me who knew, screamed inside me. Naked white boys are danger. I tried to escape. But doors were locked. And the boys took hold. They thought it was their country. And they used it as they would. And the inside voices, those of the women who had gone before me, stopped. And all was silence. And afterwards, while heights and fear seemed meaningless, I sat in the branches of my favorite tree and buried myself deeper and deeper and deeper, praying my mother would never know. And she never did. And she never will.
Taken from my body were four unwanted fetuses. Like blood and mud drawn from my womb. A slipping out and away. No drawing of spirals. No ritual. And no blood let from my heart. It wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t a problem. I did not repent and suffer for those choices. I didn’t. I don’t. I won’t. At all. What was a big deal was giving birth to my daughter. That excavation of love. I knew she was the same spirit coming around for the fifth time. I had visions of her each time she entered my body, beginning to take root, etching herself on the walls like cave drawings. She always looked the same there, the way she would look in life, thick brown curly hair and eyes wise as the night. Actually, she wasn’t taken, she was given from my body. After forty-eight hours of hard fucking labor, a new passageway was carved into the earth of my body, or carved might be too gentle of a word, my midwife ripped my cervix open. She did. As I pushed she took her first two fingers and ripped me from zero to six centimeters. And another rip from six centimeters to eight. And I screamed with the history of rage and fury and storm of every woman in my body. I pushed with a fury, a rage, a storm at the history forced into my body by men that wanted to rob me of this experience. I screamed “Get the fuck off of me.” I screamed “Get the fuck off of me.” I screamed “This is mine, you cannot have this.” I screamed “This is mine, get the fuck off of me.” I screamed it like it was life or death. It was. And I won. It was mine not theirs. I pushed my child through an eight centimeter opening instead of ten. My midwife, salt of the earth, pushed my not quite open cervix over my daughter’s head in excruciating pain and glory. She came out fast then. Out of the opening of my glorious dark cave. Past the mud and gemstones which collected on her body, shimmering. When she was born with the cord wrapped five times around her neck, like the number of times she had come around, five wraps around her neck, a rare feat to survive, she looked like a goddess, a priestess, with a royal necklace of blue. The color of voice, of all those voices. In her glory she found my breast and held on for dear life. And from that moment on I have fought to protect her kingdom, her country, with my rage and my fury and my storm.
Deborah Kampmeier’s first feature Virgin, starring Elisabeth Moss and Robin Wright was nominated for two 2004 Independent Spirit Awards. Her second feature, Hounddog, starring Dakota Fanning was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Deborah’s third feature, SPLiT had it’s premiere in competition at the 2016 Sarasota Film Festival and won Best of Show at the 2016 Female Eye Film Festival in Toronto. And will be released worldwide in March, 2017. She is in development with several films including Tape, Crazy Head Space, an Untitled Carson McCullers Project, Persephone and Untamed. Deborah is the founder of Full Moon Films, a company dedicated to the development and production of films by and about women. Watch trailers and learn more at www.fullmoonfilmsny.com.
Thank you for your courageousness Deborah Kampmeier in sharing the raw depth of your truth. A hard read as it echoes in my cells.
To your last sentence, I would only add “my fierce love” because I know you to embody such in all that you do.
this is such a beautiful, painful, powerful, raw piece. you are an amazing writer, and i’m so glad you survived. i’m so glad you have your daughter, and i wish you both peace and safety and LOVE. xx’s
[…] cannot shake this piece by Deborah Kampmeier. Each segment is profound, but I keep pondering her fierce opening, because […]
The evil that buries itself within us. So glad you brought your daughter into this world. Love to you.