Margaret Atwood: The Female Body

02 March 2018


The Female Body has many uses. It’s been used as a door-knocker, a bottle-opener, as a clock with a ticking belly, as something to hold up lampshades, as a nutcracker, just squeeze the brass legs together and out comes your nut. It bears torches, lifts victorious wreaths, grows copper wings and raises aloft a ring of neon stars; while buildings rest on its marble heads.

It sells cars, beer, shaving lotion, cigarettes, hard liquor; it sells diet plans and diamonds, and desire in tiny crystal bottles. Is this the face that launched a thousand products? You bet it is, but don’t get any funny big ideas, honey, that smile is a dime a dozen.
It does not merely sell, it is sold. Money flows into this country or that country, flies in, practically crawls in, spiteful after suitful, lured by all those hairless pre-teen legs. Listen, you want to reduce the national debt, don’t you? Aren’t you patriotic? That’s the spirit. That’s my girl.

She’s a natural resource, a renewable one luckily, because those things wear out so quickly. They don’t make ‘em like they used to. Shoddy goods.
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Margaret Atwood, The Female Body, from The Michigan Review, 1990 (full article on PDF)

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