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Wei Tchou

‘As a Grown Woman, I Still Have To Continuously Learn To Say No’

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Wei Tchou | Longreads | October 2018 | 14 minutes (3,646 words)

We’re certainly living in a time of revolution. I feel a great deal of wonder when I reflect on the fact that we’ve witnessed our society’s cultural norms regarding sexual assault and consent shift in real time, on the most public of stages: Washington, Hollywood. Yet I’m perhaps less attuned to the shifts happening within myself, in light of the national conversation. I know that I conceive of my own consent and agency more intentionally now, from day to day. But where I most often notice this evolution is in the way I think about my past — it’s as if many of my memories have been entirely rewritten.

I was thinking of all of this as I read Tanya Marquardt’s Stray: Memoir of a Runaway. In the book, Marquardt writes about escaping her dysfunctional home at age sixteen and finding community within the early-nineties underground goth scene in Vancouver, British Columbia. The book is haunting and spare, and wrestles with the nuances of one’s agency, in the face of cyclical abuse. Marquardt is an award-winning performer and playwright. Her play Transmission was published in the Canadian Theatre Review, and she has published personal essays in HuffPost UK and Medium.

We became friends, back in 2011, while we we both attending the M.F.A program at Hunter College, and we sat down recently to speak about the art of crafting memory into literature, the ongoing stigma against personal writing, and the ways in which the cultural conversation surrounding consent affected the writing of her book, among other topics. Read more…