Hit That Perfect Phrase Boy

Not to say that radical femaleness can't be as powerful and fearless and confrontational as any spasm of machismo, without the childishness of blood sport attached. In Rockville, the classic example of this (it appears emblematically in the crucial essay collection Rock She Wrote, for example) is Kathleen Hanna ripping up her shirt and shouting at the audience, "Suck my left one!" (a Bikini Kill title from their first EP). That was revolution girl-style then: co-opting boys' suck-my-diction, demanding pleasure or even subjection, assuming the right to make any and all such demands. And all the time refusing theorist Luce Irigaray's famous philosophy of body parts to the effect that "man is what is always touching something else; woman is what is always touching herself." It's hard to imagine Tori Amos reading Irigaray or, for that matter, giving a second thought to Kate Hanna. But she knows all this and more, and she's ready to take the two and go one better.

The buzz is that "She's Your Cocaine" is the Ballad of Trent and Courtney: "She's in control and then she says to control her then she said you're controlling the way she makes you crawl." But it's not going to settle for being a celebrity skin flick. For two minutes the song is a murderous blue streak, banging and furious, noisier than anything we've heard in three and a half records. Then everything falls away: The multitracked guitars and bitchslap bass, the drums and the metallic digital whistle all yield. It's an area opened up within the body of the song, and she invites you inside: just the familiar piano and the voice gone from sneering to direct, suddenly in the first person, as close to plain speech as Tori Amos will ever come--"If you want me to, boy I could lie to you--you don't need one of these to let me inside of you."

Tori! Tori! Tori!: She'd rather die than see you controlled?
Tori! Tori! Tori!: She'd rather die than see you controlled?

The moment for which we wonder what "one of these" might be is a brief one. And the boys cringe and the girls smile, all the debt that the romantic idea of "inside" always owes to the physical utterly put paid; the abstraction collapses and we remember there's a real inside, that this belongs to the girls, and everyone knows this is somewhere.

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