Adrienne G. Perry on the Male Gaze and What It Means to Be Desirable
This Week from The Common Podcast
Adrienne G. Perry speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about her essay “Flashé Sur Moi,” which appears in The Common’s new spring issue. Adrienne talks about the questions that inspired this essay: questions about memory and friendship and coming of age, questions about what it means to desire someone and be desired, and what we do to appear desirable to others. She also discusses her approach to teaching creative writing, her interest in writing about place, and her current works-in-progress.
On her approach to teaching creative writing:
I want to make students aware of themselves as speakers and listeners, and as part of a larger audience. Not an audience of people they need to please or perform for, but people who care what they have to say and want that kind of care in return. I felt like my students this fall really got into vulnerability—a fierce kind of vulnerability in a way that I hadn’t seen them do before. I think they understood that is a kind of superpower.
On the essay’s exploration of what it means to be desirable:
I’ve always wondered, since I was young, do I have to not be myself in order to be desirable, or to be desired? Maybe it was naivete but it totally baffled me, and disgusted me. I don’t think I understood at the time how people could take on personas in their acts of seduction, how that could be part of the fun for them. I didn’t have words for it at the time, but I think I was picking up on the male gaze and felt that it was so limiting for everyone involved. The way that I would see people manipulate their bodies and their faces, their intelligence—it’s always seemed like the real perversion to me. It’s something I’m troubling through in this essay.
Adrienne G. Perry grew up in Wyoming, earned her MFA from Warren Wilson College, and earned her PhD in literature and creative writing from the University of Houston. From 2014 to 2016 she served as the editor of Gulf Coast. A Hedgebrook alumna, she is also a Kimbilio Fellow and a member of the Rabble Collective. Adrienne’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Black Warrior Review, Indiana Review, Meridians, and elsewhere. She teaches at Villanova University. Read more from Adrienne at adriennegperry.com.
Emily Everett is managing editor of The Common magazine and host of the magazine’s podcast. Her stories appear in the Kenyon Review, Electric Literature, Tin House Online, and Mississippi Review. Say hello on Twitter @Public_Emily.