‘What Girls Are Made of’ by Pat Califia

The first and last stories of Pat Califia’s second collection share a milieu and a theme: the taming of the butch.

‘Big Girls’ is a harrowing character study, or test of character, like a Pinter two-hander except for negotiating a satisfactory-all-round conclusion. I think its Olympic-level sadist, Reid, would have made a far more interesting lead and far more wholesome role model than the serial killers who infatuated the era’s media executives, but nobody axed me.

‘What Girls Are Made of’, on the other hand, is a sociable comedy cut to a classic pattern: charmingly awkward young person progresses through a series of slapstick humiliations to achieve a more settled position.

Regrettably, my libido slithers quick as a garter snake away from bondage, discipline, pain given or received, or even basic role-play. But I love comedy, I trust comedy, and I couldn’t find a Robert Benchley piece suitable for this last slot, so here we are.

Published in Melting Point, 1993

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