The Body Always Remembers

“To be a woman in pain is to be hysterical or invisible."

Putting gendered violence into words is a site of struggle. Press here and I’ll tell you if it hurts. 

Amy Berkowitz’s Tender Points opens with a riddle: “Why, exactly, am I constantly in pain?” This question positions itself as a point of urgency and entry into the difficult work of investigating inexplicable pain in order to uncover the original source of trauma. For Berkowitz this pain manifests as fibromyalgia, a medical condition characterized by the presence of widespread chronic pain in at least 11 of 18 designated “tender points” throughout the body. In Tender Points, the body that is mapped out becomes a conduit for cultural and somatic reflections on memory, rape, male authority and the cruel assumption that a female truth is never a truth but an exaggeration. Using a fierce, lucid prose, she writes in a refusal to accept her diagnosis as a sentence of silence. The following is an interview -- or rather an expanded conversation about our mutual experiences of trauma and pain -- conducted this past summer.

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