Becoming poor and menial

The descent of a fashion-conscious middle-class woman into shabby poverty, all at the behest of another woman, fifteen years her junior.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


I’ve crept away to write this, despite having guests. I’ve had to do this because I’ve been ordered to write up an account of my emotions, my feelings – it is an assignment – my homework – of the kind that I give my students – or in fact, because I at least give them a week, and I had this sprung on me a couple of hours ago, it is like the homework that schoolchildren are given. And of course, this makes me sodden with yearning and shame: that I should be treated as a schoolgirl by someone younger than me. And it reminds me of all I do for her: all the things that affirm her superiority, and brand me incorrigibly her inferior.

Today I stuffed my face again on the tube – ‘porking out’, as I have to do every day until I am given permission to stop. In time, I know, the effect of this will be seen on my waistline and on my whole body – just in time for the warmer weather too - my wobbling thighs – the thighs of a woman who will, I’m sure, soon be verging on the obese. It is not being fat in itself that so arouses and humiliates me – but what it represents: that not even my body is my own – that a woman many years my junior exerts such a control over me that she can mould and shape me as though I were made out of playdough. My own flesh seems suddenly compicit with her: not my own – my body seems to be laughing at me.

And everything else colludes in this sense of shame. The fact that my clothes will continue to be winowed out – and soon I will be wearing nothing without the permission of my Mistress – like a toddler – a small child – and no matter how many tantrums I throw, there will be no escaping her strictures. And then on top of that, of course, the fact that soon I will no longer be in a position to buy anything even if I could summon the will: because my spending money is being leeched: every week I am tithed – and when I complain, my Mistress says that this will last forever: that I am a serf for life – property – with no function save to fill her coffers. I will become fat and shabbily dressed, and be leeched of my spending money, so that she can become more beautiful. And this, I realise, is why being the serf of a woman is more humiliating than being the property of a man: because every woman’s dread, that she is getting older, and being upstaged by those younger than her, is being foregrounded in my mind by the brute fact that I am owned by a beautiful 24 year old.


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