On Serving Because I Want To

I had been told about the magazine and invited to submit. He laid out the requirements as explicit and weird. He said my themes sounded like they could fit the bill. He said o dam.

I liked that he used o.

He said the magazine would be purely erotica. He described its focus as being "on transgression and temptation and subverting your own notions of self."

At the time I had been changing myself, I was something else, it was sexual.
I feel perfect.

I send two pieces and am uncommitted.

I am watching Steven Shainberg's 2002 film Secretary.

Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a young woman released from an institution after being caught cutting herself with the kitchen knife. She needs a job but has no credentials, so she masters typing and is hired by James Spader, playing a quiet lawyer.

"I want to be bored," she tells him.

They enter into a sadochistic-masochistic relationship at his office.

It is never clear what he thinks about her.
It is never clear what he actually wants with her.

He needs a secretary.
He has one.

It seems unintentional. It seems short-lived. It seems random.
She becomes obedient to his attentions and he becomes disinterested.
She becomes an object he sexualizes but does not gratify personally.

When she refuses to leave his office after days of starvation and unmoving from her seat at his desk, they are married, and she loves him.

It feels dumb and we still don't know what he wants.

The man lets her starve. The man starved her of his attention. The man hired a new secretary as soon as she was gone.

Still, they marry, and he teaches her how to make his bed that they now share.
He goes to work in the mornings, but she stays home because she is no longer his secretary.
Now she is his wife and his servant.

And him, we still don't know what he wants with her.

I'm frustrated by the film and can't finish it.
I pull out my Mary Gaitskill paperbacks looking for her 1988 story, "Secretary."

I think about having been hired and interviewed by companies and offices and people before.

"Secretary" has never been a title I have held. But I am aware of the sexist and sexual parallels of being hired to serve an executive, to do as they bid. That is the job, and nobody else has it. Where other roles have a task list of responsibilities to define their job, this role in particular will rely on the feelings and fancies and whims of a manager to gauge success. Failures are instantaneous; failure looks like not getting along. In an office you may have a single boss but you may ultimately be hired to serve everyone equally.

You are hired to be an attractive representative. You are hired to learn what your bosses like and to foresee how to gratify without reciprocation. You are hired to please. You are hired to be pleasing. You are hired to please do whatever is asked of you.

You have been chosen. You made it.