Skin Teet: On female mirth.

Skin Teet: On female mirth.


I found thinking and writing this a challenge. It made me question what I write and why I choose to write it. My writing comes from a sense of being othered, in a black girl blues tradition, examining human connection and what that means. But when do I write about fun? I like to laugh, it’s one of my favourite things, why don’t I write it? I’ve recently been a part of a short listing process for stories and the amount of pain porn I read, actually hurt. My spirit ached. I was left with this same question, can we, as writers only write about misery? It struck me, that any creative endeavour would reflect the society in which it takes place, so are we more miserable? I think the world is suffering from a depression epidemic, it surrounds us so thoroughly that fun and joy have become harder to find. There is a shame in that.

So I set to the task and fought with it. Fun is something that I would read but not write. It’s as if that the words and ideas fall easily into cliché, but then that must be product of what we see as serious. We don’t take fun seriously any more. But fun is as real as misery and joy and anger and sadness. What affects us, affects us all. There is a truth in fun, an unguarded, pure expression of a state of humanness. With this new piece, I wanted to write about someone having fun, despite themselves, to move away from the familiarity of pain. Do women writers feel we have to tackle those difficult issues in order to be taken more seriously? Must we bleed in order to write? There is something in that, that the only relevant literary woman is a suffering one, even more so if she is a WOC. And when did laughing Black women become so dangerous? Never more so than on a wine train in the Napa Valley. The male gaze should not be our concern. I hope that we can write about fun and pain in equal measure, because they are both a part of the human experiences and documenting that is our job, after all.

Mirth isn’t gender specific, but what were told about it is. Female laughter must be contained or policed because to laugh is to let go and we really can’t be allowing that. What if we were to laugh at ‘them’? My son, who is autistic, rarely laughs and means it. He knows when to laugh on cue, it’s taken him many years to learn. Sometimes it’s a hearty pirate thing, sometimes an understated chuckle, all learnt from hours and hours of watching films. But when he actually he does, when it actually bursts from him, uncontrolled and unhindered, it’s like listening to a miracle that stops me in my tracks. Over art homework, we were talking about Leonardo Da Vinci. He looked at the Mona Lisa for a while and said, “she’s not a good smiler”.  And I thought, yeh, enigmatic, puhleeeze. My girl needs to skin some teet.




Inspired by a piece written for The Lighthouse Journal

Lighthouse Issue 13