March 30, 2017 (Thursday)

by Yule Heibel on March 29, 2018

Last night W. and I went to a dance performance, which was a fundraiser for three refugee families newly settled in [city]: one Afghani, one Syrian, one Congolese. I don’t think any of them were at the event, however. The event venue has a raised, open area in back, and the first thing to greet us on entering the space was the unbearably overpowering stench of body odor.

It’s possibly mean-spirited to say this, but fuck you, women (and some men), who seem to think that your BO is a political statement against “normative” oppression. Your right to express your views on gender norms or alleged female oppression around shaving one’s armpits or using deodorant – or simply washing – stops at the point it reaches my olfactory glands, especially if I’m a captive audience and can’t (for various reasons) leave. It was nauseating. I had to make an effort to keep from gagging. One person [X] was clearly the worst offender, but I suspect some of the cosmic yoginis in attendance – unlike [X] for the most part post-menopausal – were totally copacetic and exuded their own musk-gone-wrong stink, almost like a “sisterhood” menstruating together, except …menopause.

One audience member in particular had me eye-rolling: A “classic” yogini in the sense of being a superannuated hippie, she sported a pair of trousers which were spectacular in how they suggested a permanent wardrobe malfunction. Her spartan, unadorned face reminded me of someone Mennonite, or perhaps a Margaret Atwood character set in a dystopian future-past. (Remember, hippie: superannuated.) She looked mannish in her face, her hard chin and unbroken, beak-like nose jutting out like a prow beneath an impossibly high forehead. The hairline, once it finally began, sprouted crinkly hair, pulled into a copious, thick pouf at the nape, suggesting both volume and severity.

I suppose part of what put me off about her were the elements reminding me of myself – the mannishness, the sternness, the absence of gentle beauty. My face isn’t completely unadorned, though; I’ll wear lipstick. Interestingly, one woman, who invests time and money in fashionable haircuts, but never paints her face, last night sported lipstick and eye makeup. To my mind, it made her BO seem worse, like a painted, decomposing corpse’s…

Back to our yogini: mannish above the neck (and in her hands, too), but sporting a pair of pants that were unreal in their coding of otherness and femininity. They were made of two different fabrics:  a black solid and a printed floral. The floral fabric was used on the part from just about the pubic bone (and about the anus at the back) to the ankles. Loose, flowing, like the fabric was not holding on to the body at all. The black fabric, clingier and of a different material than the floral, made up the top bit, which was fitted sort of like a relatively low-slung panty, although the waistband was not quite at a lower hip-hugger level, more an upper hip-hugger. The overall effect, however, was of someone walking and moving with their pants pulled down (the floral bit) in the most egregious way. It was both sloppy and sexual, sort of rapey, and in combination with the mannish woman who wore them had a most disturbing effect. That she sat with a younger, more conservatively dressed, more feminine but equally yogini-ish friend, suggested a love angle I didn’t want to contemplate too much (even though it has often amused me to imagine what people might be like in bed). Both women grooved ecstatically on the opening music, a long Islamic religious piece (which no doubt was never meant to be perceived as sexually sensual as they were making a show of feeling it).

Otherwise, the performances were quite good.

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