JESSIE’S GIRL WITH A PEARL NECKLACE

ELOISE GRILLS

The opening chords of Jessie’s Girl are the origin of the world
That oil painting by Courbet, parted thighs of a person, face unseen
Vulva dissolved by a turps-soaked rag
I asked my housemate; she said it might be an innie
So maybe I am not acknowledging the wild and bio-diverse variation
Of front bottoms in our universe but to me her cunt looks
Like the pussies of women airbrushed in porno mags
Or girlie magazines
Like my father calls tampons/pads, girlie things
Dads make Polly Pockets of us all

Remember how that performance artist
What was her name… Deborah de Robertis…
Performed her own work in front of the infamous painting
Naked except for gold gloves, gold body tube, & lack of a smile?
Her legs spread wide open wide open

She was arrested and charged with sexual exhibitionism1

No good deed goes unpunished
No good pussy goes unfucked

Courbet was never arrested for his painting
(And I’ve never forgotten his name)
But he was jailed for destroying
The Vendôme column, a symbol of the Napoleonic regime
This action classified under “Political Belief” on biography.com
Because column-toppling resistance is très masculine
Especially when it involves men pulling down
Skinnily veiled monuments to other men’s dicks
Courbet looks like a guy you’d swipe right to at peak desperation
& he would spend the whole night telling you how much he loves eating pussy
Before you finally fall asleep on his face

Courbet’s pussy painting is so transgressive2
Like a lookout on top of a mountain
on top of a cliff on top of two tits
with a telescope that reveals the grooves of
his own arsehole
Like a big clubhouse and a sign that says no girls allowed
He makes me hungry
He makes me thirsty
He makes me want to kill hungry thirsty dead
He makes me want nothing and it makes me sad3

The opening chords of Jessie’s Girl are the world cumming into the world’s mouth
The opening chords of Jessie’s Girl are watching me with those eyes

I danced to a bad cover of that song with my parents at St Leonard’s Pub
We were drinking cheap wine
A man in a fedora was singing that song
On a stage with a scarf draped around his neck
And these girls were singing along
The girls were much more interesting and entertaining
Than the man singing Jessie’s Girl
Living and hugging and wearing nice earrings
They didn’t even have to sing to be the warm centre of the universe
My father bought them a bottle of domestic bubbles
As thanks
I said to my parents, laughing, that Jessie’s Girl is my favourite problematic pop song,
A true unironic pop banger about misogyny
About seat-sniffing about panty-raiding
About used panties on trees like a filthy Xmas fantasy
Or about cuckolding
Though I didn’t say that last part
Mostly because my parents wouldn’t understand what cuckolding is
Or maybe they do
And that would raise a series of other questions
And I don’t need to know if Dad is Jessie
Or even Jessie’s Girl

A few hours later while we were either still drunk, or more drunk
He took issue with my issue that ex-footy player Wayne Carrey
Renowned woman beater, was still on TV
He said, what does he have to do to come back from that
Why does it matter that he is on TV
He’s not a politician; he’s not in public office
People deserve a second chance
And I said, has he asked for a second chance, though?
Or was he just given one?
And then he went on and on, something about the power women have over men
Not financial power or any other real-world, discernible, quantifiable power

Not dollar power or business power or political power but something sun-charged and strange4

but something sun-charged and strange

You don’t notice until it’s dark
Skins glowing infrared with
A poker-hot sexual power

There are innate differences between men and women
That cannot be traversed; biological differences, sexual differences
Men cannot be trusted
I know, I am one

In the morning we pretended nothing had happened and drank coffee together
Or maybe he didn’t have to pretend because he is old
Lucky for him he can’t remember what he says when he is drunk anymore
Time heals all wounds
Alcohol/brain damage reduces all anxiety
A few weeks later, when we were baking muffins together as a father–daughter activity
He said he liked the singer he was playing to me, her feminine values
I said: did you mean feminist?
And he: no, no, I don’t like that word

What if god was wanking us?

God said:
I brought you into this world and I can take you right out of it
God said:
Hey girl, I brought you into this, and I can take you right out
God said:
Get out of my head; get into my car
God said:
Life is a game of Grand Theft Auto except the Auto part is your automatic urge to give your little red Corvette over to me, your hot red tush

God said:
Life is a game of The Sims where I took the ladder out and I’m watching you all drown in the pool
God said:
Life is like we are naked in a fountain
Like I am naked outside a fountain
Jerking it while watching you naked in the Trevi fountain

God said:
I have a me-complex

Oh, so you’re one of those Botticelli arseholes
How much Venus belongs to Botticelli?
How many miles of Lisa’s smile does Mona own?
How much should we champion Duchamp’s hot asssssss?
How much hot wind can we blow up said hot assssss when we know that it was not him that made that urinal readymade at all, but a woman by the name of Freytag-Loringhoven5

Who took the name R. Mutt
Before Dirty Dog Duchamp claimed it
And then who actually made the readymade that they both appropriated
And who plugged that pisser into the wall?
And who do we let work at the hot piss face
Stirring bleach and elbow grease when the pub closes up

Washing shit streaks from the stalls?

How much of Jessie’s girl belongs to Jessie herself?
How much poor little rich girl does Edie get to deep-dick?
How many pearl earrings can one Vermeer thread together
Before it becomes a pearl necklace?
Before it becomes a pearl dog collar?
Before it becomes a pearl choke chain?

I fill with… joy?… whenever I see Vermeer-brand woodchippers on the highway
Something about masculine painter energy paired with
Machinery that shreds wood like air
The way Plath’s Lady Lazarus devoured men

If the mini skirt fits…
My mother told me that at twenty-nine I shouldn’t wear mini skirts for much longer
She told me that when you are with a man you get fatter, like it was a bare fact
Simple science
The world is flat
You just get fat
I told her that women could wear whatever they want
And she said, yeah, but they don’t look good doing it
She had a limp that day; I called her Quasimodo
My mother told me that she doesn’t like body hair on a woman
I said, well what about on men?
And she said that they should shave their pits too
But I don’t think she’d ever enforce it
One to talk, she was renowned for short skirts in high school
Her yearbook caption:
If it fits, wear it

Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your pubes
When I was eleven I was the first person ever to get pubic hair
I was so embarrassed when we had to get changed at the swimming pool
I heard girls whispering:
Did you see that so-and-so already has a bush??? Yuck!

I was so embarrassed, at thirteen
My map of Tasmania taking on an expansionist policy
Flooding my basement… but not in a good way…
Pushing its way to my Antarctic depths

I started shaving but I got a rash
My friend said her aunty had shaved her pubic hair
And now it grew almost to her knees
Like a kind of spiderweb Rapunzel
She chose the wrong form of self-punishment
The razor burn and the in-growns and the pus pus pus
Laid below her tower like a long, ratty braid

When I was eighteen I hadn’t even let anyone near my bush
But I started getting it waxed off
All of it, full Brazilian
So fucking painful
But I could feel clean inside my pants6

I went to Montreal and didn’t know how to ask for a painful wax en francais so gave up
The first person I ever had sex with
I overheard him
Saying how disappointing it is when you get someone’s clothes off
And their body doesn’t look tame how you thought it was going to be
Up-top brows are neat and hair straightened
Down south the garden’s end is where
The Wild Things Are
Like… a children’s book… but more hairy and
Erogenous…
But I guess not for him

Dream dick lover
Recently I had a dream where that person came to Melbourne
At first I didn’t want to forgive him
But then the narrative continued and he gradually eked back my trust
He said he loved me
But he had to go back to Montreal to live with his wife
He would come back every few years to be with me
Our love would be a bushfire that would destroy me
And then I would regenerate before he’d burn me down again
In the dream even though I knew it was bad for me I fucked him
He pushed me onto the bed; he held me down; he scratched uncut nails down my back
He choked me and told me he loved how submissive I was
Who’s my little sub, he whispered, laughing, again and again
Who’s my little sub
When I woke up I was frustratingly close to cumming
I felt so gross I didn’t even try to finish

How many times can Jessie’s Girl turn on the jukebox before a man can love a woman enough?

When a man loves a woman very much
But not as much as video games
Or craft beer
When a man loves his woman very much
His good farm girl, he’ll buy the cow get the milk for free
And if she wants the city life she can go to the mince factory7

He puts his seed inside her; a farmer pushing his fingers
Into moist earth so carelessly
You’d think it was an accident!
A glitch in the farming simulation!

When a man loves a woman very much and then never sees her again
When I think back on that dream

That return of the sexually repressed
I think it was representative of my subconscious desire for people to like me
Even the people that I don’t like
Even the people who I would rather see in hell
Than in my dreams

I realised later that the portrait of my ex-lover
Was heavily borrowed from the manipulative and charming and morally bankrupt
Nino Sarratore in the Neapolitan novels
Nino, the ultimate fuckboy who fucked the protagonist’s life up
Fucked her friend’s life up
Fucked up the lives of every woman he touched
While making them feel like he was doing them a favour
The other day my friend Paul and I got cake and bitched about Nino for a good hour as if he was one of our ex-boyfriends
But like, pretty much
Everyone has a Nino
But not many get an Enzo in this life
Everyone has been an Elena at least once or twice
Fool me once
Fool me twice
Fool me one more time
I’ll tell you when I’ve had enough!

Jessie’s friend has always been a good friend of mine
But not good enough to respect my autonomy or romantic choices

Or to call me anything other than a man’s possessive
Jessie’s friend has always been a good friend of mine
But not enough to actually ask me if I like him or not
I don’t, by the way
Let the record show
And by the record I mean my ass

Art Star
Every time I’m asked to do something arty recently
I hold my breath
Wait for the big but to drop
We love your work
But does it have to contain so much nudity
We love your work
But does she have to be so…. naked?
We love your work
But does she have to have so much cum on her tits?
Does she have to be… you know… legs akimbo, enjoying herself, sexually, I mean?
Does it have to be so… artistically nude?

It’s not like I’m not grateful for the opportunities
It’s just that I’m not grateful
When they turn out to be… not very good opportunities, artistically speaking
But by all means, gentlemen, pay me

Last year I made a poster for a festival
The festival wanted me to make it
Or, they asked a zine shop
To have someone make a poster for them
And the zine shop chose me
The staff member from the zine shop battled them for a month
Too rude, too nude they said
But then we buckled together under the pressure
And the naked girl disappeared from the posterIt’s like she never even existed!!
It’s like she never got her kit off!

It happened again
I was supposed to do a reading
At a big public space
And they said, ok but not the images,
And then they said… actually… can you not at all
And this is what I wrote them without identifying features of course
(A lady never gets fucked and tells):

The last two days I have been extremely distressed by this turn of events, feeling as though my art is being censored and that my ideas have been misunderstood and then rejected, without adequate explanation, on an institutional level…This series of events have tarnished the entire experience and have made me feel shamed as a person and an artist…I would like to note that women writing openly about their experiences, about street harassment, about their sexuality, their bodies and their inner worlds has been frowned upon for a long time and is only recently becoming more accepted. Men’s depictions of women’s sexuality, often in extremely problematic and troubling paradigms, are common and are often questioned: think Lolita, or the works of Henry Miller. It seems pretty ironic to me that this series of events is unfolding in a week where Mark Knight has had a racist and sexist comic published, without having his platform removed. And it seems unfair to me that because my work depicts sexuality, but is not inherently sexual or pornographic in nature, it’s been rejected from this event. The “offending images” are in fact joyous in nature and explore the experience of being in a woman’s body.
What I really wanted to write: Actually, fuck you
What I really wanted to write: How dare you!
My pussy is perfect; My cunt is a paradise and you are not invited
What I really wanted to write: Eat my tits, you ass

They backpedalled, hard, and let me do the performance, in full
Full as my wondrous tits
Full as my preponderant ass
I wore a thong to the event (accidentally)
Not realising you could see the full rounds of my ass through my pants
But then I embraced it

Anyway I performed; a roaring success
By which I mean a small crowd gave me a polite level of applause
Before the reading the manager approached me, said I’m so so sorry
After the reading she said that was… good?
I have been asked to do an exhibition with no nudity
Instagram doesn’t even let you have tits
My friend, a mother, was rejected from a job cause she had too many pregnant nudes on her socials
And I am summarily like wtf

I am the girl from Jessie’s Girl
I am watching myself with mine own eye
I am rubbing my tits in ecstasy
I am venerating my small and humble clit
So you can’t confuse it with a mountain
I shall fuck them on the molehills and the peaches
I shall fuck them with the teaches of peaches
I shall fuck them with love and with screeches
I shall fuck them with the butt end of a broken champagne bottle

I am loving myself with this body; I just know it
I am not putting up with it
I am not putting up with it
You don’t own me; these hot hips, these parted lips
You don’t own me; I am gay for plaid
You don’t own me; I have a pussy like Medusa surrounded by snakes
Lick my cunt but don’t make a mistake!

.

.

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[1] https://news.artnet.com/exhibitions/artist-enacts-origin-of-the-world-at-musee-dorsay-and-yes-that-means-what-you-think-35011

[2] Why must transgesssion—social and artistic alike—always be enacted (by men) on the naked bodies of women?’ Linda Nochlin, Representing Women, 1999: 144

[3] ‘What men want is what want is; men’s want defines desire itself.’ Linda Nochlin, Ibid: 45

[4] The “woman” fights back against reductionism, “naturalness”, essentialism. Linda Nochlin, Ibid, 35

[5] https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/was-marcel-duchamps-fountain-actually-created-by-a-long-forgotten-pioneering-feminist-10491953.html

[6] ‘Because it is impossible for women’s bodies to conform to the societal ideal, they are ‘by definition violations, of cultural imperatives’ Debra Gimlin, Body Work, 2002: 5

[7] In the 19th century artist present the fantatasy of the sexually healthful peasant woman in opposition to the unnatural and sexually aggressive factory woman: Linda Nochlin, Representing women, 1999: 86

ELOISE GRILLS is an award-winning essayist, comics artist, critic and poet living in Melbourne. In 2018 they won the Woollahra Digital Literary award for Non-Fiction, the Lifted Brow Experimental Non-Fiction Prize, and they were nominated for a Walkley for their illustrated criticism. Their first poetry collection, If you’re sexy and you know it slap your hams, is out now with Subbed In. They tweet and gram as @grillzoid.