Why teenage girls?

A question for Trisha Low

One segment for this Jacket2 column will be titled “WHY__________?” in which I will ask certain people Why questions. Participant responses must be between 100-300 words. One of the first people I had a Why question for was Trisha Low. Because it’s a thread running through all her writing and performance work (she reads their diaries, their feminist blog comments, their love letters; she dresses like one in performance then throws up fake blood on herself) I asked her: Why Teenage Girls? Here’s her answer.

After Tiqqun’s Theory of a Young Girl, I think Poetry thinks of teenage girls the way some magazine editor looks at a contact sheet, selecting the spectacle and then pulling it up on the screen for the airbrusher going “INFLATE HER HAIR SO WE CAN SEE THAT FRAGILE VACUITY. I WANT TO SEE THOSE CAPITALISTIC PROCESSES NOT THAT CELLULITE. HAVE THIS SHIT ON MY DESK BY 2.” It’s apt that when I sit down to answer this WHY question, it’s 5.51 pm, I’m listening to slowcore and unwrapping a new tattoo, one that I acquired because of a certain amount of emotional distress, leaking blood and ink while I’m looking at the ‘real’ image reflected in my computer screen of me writing about ‘real emotional’ teenage girls, because what I’m really interested in is the cultural demarcation of the confessional genre. The tension between our structures of feeling (ie. the artificial way in which these feelings will be aestheticised or they will be bullshit) and the socially unfit waste of the feminine, the excess that is created in tandem with these scripted confessions. I have no patience with looking for a sufficiently ethical poetic representation but I’m interested in how your 'ethical' poetic representation is just a fantasy of reparation. As Mary Jacobus writes on Klein: “to make reparation would be such an all-consuming task that an unending, fake analysis is preferable to ‘cure’.” How is Poetry complicit in the urge to falsely ‘heal’ societal wounds into the silent fixity of It Gets Better? What better place to look than the teen girl, whose cut wrist is an abject fuck-you; whose cute Band-Aid and its artificial ‘healing’ is really just your sentimental fantasy – a palatable performance of narrative object that could really just be your worst nightmare. This is also how I do kissing nbd.