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Last night at PPO -- Binders Full of Targets of Feminist Rage, and when I say "target"...

This is what I read last night at PPO. As it is, ahem, highly topical and flirts with sex and violence without actually putting out (much), I'm not sure what I will end up doing with it in the future, so what the heck! I post it here! Enjoy.

Binders Full of Women Cost 72 Cents, Binders Full of Men Cost a Dollar

By lunchtime, Denise Gutierrez Rosenblum, single mother of two, had a run in her stocking. A run in her stocking and a half hour, unpaid, to deal with it. A half-hour unpaid, a soggy tuna sandwich and no nail polish in her handbag. And a diet Coke.

Exasperated, Denise shucked the damaged stockings off her legs. She worked quickly, hiding the deed under the lip of her desk and hiding the evidence in the small trash can her office provided each cubicle dweller. If she played it right, nobody would notice her lack of hose during the afternoon hours. It wasn't a dress code violation anyway. It's not like she worked in a law office.

She hefted her handbag onto her shoulder and across her chest. It wasn't too eye-catching and it wasn't too large, with one diagonal dark blue stripe over a black background and enough shiny hardware to look modern and stylish in a subdued way. The blue matched her cardigan. The black matched her skirt. The metallic hardware matched the small sterling rings in her ears.

Then she hefted the larger bag she kept tucked in her bottom file drawer. It was large and featured a lush flower pattern in tropical colors, printed on a wipe-clean surface. Small pockets dotted the outside and zippers of all sorts festooned every corner. It looked exactly like what it was -- a diaper bag. Even though Denise's youngest was now five years old and her oldest was 13, nobody ever asked why she still carted around the thing. And nobody ever looked inside.

In one bag: a wallet, a linty tube of lipstick, a single condom close to its expiration date. A brown paper bag with a soggy tuna sandwich and a diet Coke.

In the other bag: a recently oiled AK-47 with a foldable stock.

Denise hates taking her car out of the parking garage at lunch. Who knows if there will be a space waiting for her when she returns? She's certainly nowhere near senior enough to rate a reserved space. She's stuck in the pink-collar pool, manipulating graphs and spreadsheets for her bosses' endless presentations, photocopying, compiling reports, answering e-mails and ignoring the phone. Most days, she takes the train into work. She lives in the inner suburbs, where the rents are cheaper and the grocery stores further away. But today she's running errands during her precious half hour lunch break. No time to actually eat.

She tosses the AK diaper bag into the trunk.

She keeps the gun at work because she has kids at home. She doesn't trust gun locks. Her kids are smart. Too smart. And too young. When it's time, she'll take them to the gun range and teach them to shoot. But for now, they will have to make do with knives.

Denise starts the car and pulls out of her parking space with a jerk. She has deliveries to make and no time to waste. She is a single mother and she has to make it home tonight in time to cook her kids a home-cooked dinner. It's her night. Her older daughter, Marisol, will throw a fit if she has to cook two nights in a row.

Next to Denise, piled in the passenger seat, are a series of color-coded three-ring binders.
Binders full of men. Names, photos, curriculum vitae. Maps and mugshots. Denise doesn't need to even glance at the top binder. She has the data memorized. She is on her way to her next target. She has 20 minutes.

Her thighs chafe, just a touch, as she shifts. Dammit. Next time she's wearing biker shorts.

There is a War on Women. There is a War on Women and Denise has enlisted. Denise enlisted a long time ago. She's boycotted Nestle. She's boycotted Coke. (And breathed a sigh of relief when the boycott was over. Sighed in relief and bought a 24-pack. Diet.) She's done clinic defense. She's written letters to her congressperson. She's refused to cross picket lines. She's marched on picket lines. She's baked brownies for striking teachers and she's bought school supplies for her daughters' classrooms. School supplies, cookie dough fundraisers, knit a scarf for a homeless mother this winter. We cannot knit our way to the revolution, a man had once said in her hearing.

He wears an eyepatch now.

Denise is celibate for the revolution. No, that's not quite right. Denise is single for the revolution. Denise favors anonymous sex, occasional group gropes and hook-ups with fellow activists in her revolutionary cell, and daily masturbation as self-care. You know, endorphins and stress relief and all that good stuff. Denise is not against the idea of revolutionary companionship in the abstract, but Denise has two kids. Two children and the love of her comrades. It is enough.

Denise prefers her self-care rechargeable, waterproof, and manufactured in small batches by a woman-owned company. So-called retail activism is just a distracting chimera, it's true, and often laced with toxic class assumptions besides. But once in a while it can't hurt, Denise figures as she rides the vibrations emanating from a smooth chrome bullet.

But that was last night. There is a time and place for everything and right now she has other priorities. Denise practices her Kegels for the revolution as she sits at a stoplight. Fifteen minutes.
The hardest part of her lunch break errand days is deciding who to target first.

Today there was a rally at a downtown plaza outside of a hotel where the CEO of some natural foods conglomorate was speaking, delivering a keynote address about how promoting healthy foods and clean living supplanted the need to pay for health insurance for his employees. A group of activist women were going to pelt the building with tampons, IUDs and those birth control packets shaped like clamshells, no pun intended. Denise admired the women's politics and their flair for the dramatic, but the CEO was not her target.

Just a block away, at the last bookstore in town, a best-selling author was holding a lunchtime reading series. His books always feature a dead woman. Preferably found half-naked and violated, her pain, intimately detailed in page after page, invoking sympathy for the reader and motivation for the male hero. The story is built upon her dead body. Women have to die for stories to be written.
Tempting. And the security is likely to be lax. But not today.

The guy on the dating site who calls women who won't let him open doors for them feminazis? Soon, perhaps. How helpful of him to post his picture for identification. But today there are bigger fish to fry. Bigger even than the man who posted online his true to life exploits as a serial date rapist on a popular message board. He was anonymous, but the movement has its methods. A whole pod of hackspace users was on his tail right now.

The blue-eyed congressman running for national office, with his jokes about left-handed Irishmen, is unfortunately in another state. But he'll be taken care of. As will that still-employed actor who left seven stitches in his girlfriend's lip and the other actor who punched his mistress in the stomach. And that French guy, yeah, the one who likes raping African maids. Denise's comrades are on it.

And what about that man who likes to claim he is a feminist and then spends a whole lot of time talking about how he almost murdered his girlfriend back in the bad old days when he was doing lots of drugs, and how men, poor fragile little men, feel renewed and cleansed when they come on your face so it's not so bad now, is it? Oh, and let me tell you the hilarious tale of how I once fished a tampon out of my ex-wife's vagina. My ex-wife. You'll scream? Denise had wanted that assignment so badly, but it was given to a certain svelte blonde student in one of his community college classes. He loves to teach those youngsters all about the, er, ins and outs of feminist praxis from a male point of view. She's going to let him. Up to a point. A sharp and fatal point.

Denise knows she's not the only operative working hard on her lunch break today. A few blocks north, a sex worker is giving a lap dance to one of those middle management silk tie over the shoulder types. That tie is so convenient for strangulation, but she has a wire wrapped in her hair, too, just in case.

And downtown, a town councilwoman is going to ask for a private meeting with the mayor to try and settle the teacher's strike. One way or the other.

Nonetheless. Targeted assassinations are all well and good, but Denise and her AK and her hot magenta binder of men had slightly bigger plans today. She's going to crash a party.

In a conference center just a few minutes from Denise's day job, a large multinational corporation is holding its annual shareholder's meeting. This corporation produces toxic fumes and toxic sludge that poisons the air and the water and the soil of the low-income communities its manufacturing plants and refineries reside in, only a few dozen miles from the conference hall. The toxic fumes and sludge are truly the main output of the manufacturing plant, even though what they sell is a different set of toxic chemicals, only more pure, more refined, wrapped in bright yellow and red warning labels and topped with child-proof caps, with the sludge left behind to cause the reproductive cancer rate in nearby female residents to spike like an unholy Matterhorn.

Denise parks in the cavernous underground lot and drags her "diaper bag" and its coordinating binder from the car. 10 minutes. A bit of a rush job, but nothing can be done. She walks quickly, her stacked heels echoing against the cement, to the elevator. Denise strides purposefully across the lobby's carpeted floor. She heads not toward the conference room proper, but instead takes a sharp left down a short corridor.

Her contact is there waiting for her, behind another door. Opal Kim hustles her into catering service whites, slapping a hairnet and a pair of vinyl gloves on her. She swoops in for a quick but passionate kiss. "We're ready," Opal says, taking her diaper bag from her. "Come here and watch."

Opal leads Denise through a maze of stainless steel racks to another door. She cracks it open. Lunch is being served to the stockholders: sandwiches neatly boxed tight next to green salad and a chocolate chip cookie. All organic, of course. Opal holds up a small brown glass bottle in one hand and with the other hand, wags her index finger in a scolding manner.

"Thanks for bringing the backup," Opal whispers, glancing at the diaper bag, "but I don't think we'll be needing it." The sounds of coughing and wheezing begin to filter through the crack in the door.

"Poison," Denise says, grinning. "So old-fashioned. I like it.'

"So feminine," Opal adds with a wink. "And also appropriately ironic, don't you think?" Denise stifles a laugh that Opal acknowledges by saying "Yes, I thought you'd appreciate the gesture." She starts stripping out of her caterer's uniform. "They'll probably evacuate the premises shortly. I have one more thing for you before we head out." Opal hands over a bright pink gym bag that seemed peculiarly heavy for its size. "This is for the women's shelter," she says. Denise hefted it and started to grin. "Can I guess?" she said.

Opal nods, her own smile bright. "Grenades. One for each client -- or more accurately, one for each of their abusers. I'll be training them this weekend," she adds.

"I love you," Denise says.

"How many minutes do you have left on your lunch break?"

Denise glances at her watch. "Oh shit, like, three minutes," she said.

"Then I'll have to give you your congratulatory orgasm later," Opal says, biting her earlobe. "Drop the bag off after work. When's your kids' bedtime? I'll stop by after."

"The baby goes to bed at eight."

Opal laughs. "Your baby's five years old. She's not a baby any more."

"I know," Denise replies. "You should see her with a stiletto."


I love it! If only . . .