Poetry slams can be pretty hit or miss: there’s always a danger that the message can get lost in or distorted by the medium; that delivery might obfuscate substance, or lack thereof, in that egoistic complicity between performer and audience. Katie Roiphe‘s controversial 1993 tract The Morning After detected shades of this in its postmodern critique of America’s Take Back The Night movement, for example. With that in mind, I still found Pages Matam‘s Piñata (below) both convincing and moving. As we discover at 2.00 this is a subject close to his heart, and it’s heartening to see a man calling out sexism amongst his fellows: it happens too rarely. I’m surely not the only guy guilty at times of keeping his head down for fear of being alienated amongst my peers for not being ‘one of the lads’. I says much about the current state of sex relations that I and others feel that men who do so are still worthy of note, and that men persistently fail to alter their standards of behaviour until another man calls them out on same.
A piñata (little donkey – Mexican), for the uninitiated, is a device featuring in ceremonies and celebrations – commonly associated with Mexico, though thought to date back to ancient China – consisting of a hollow receptacle which is smashed open with sticks to release candy or other treats. It’s not hard to imagine why Matam seized upon it as metaphor for (sexual) violence. For cultural and experiential reasons that might require another whole post – or book – to elaborate on, men seem to be drawn to metaphorical modes of thinking, and nowhere more so than in this subject area, and Matam‘s response to a stranger’s crass proclamation well articulates certain toxic connotations of ‘beauty’ and ‘masculinity’.