Schumer has been labeled a sex comic, feminist icon, and walking think piece. But in her candid, thoughtful new book, she paints herself as something entirely new: a human being.”>
The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, the much-anticipated (not to mention lucrative) book of autobiographical essays written by Schumer, hit shelves Tuesday.
And heres that realization she was waiting for.
In line with its genius name, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo tackles the arduous task of explaining how Amy Schumer of Long Island became Amy Schumer of Vogues cover and internet think pieces, packed with the characteristic self-effacing humor and unfiltered raunch you crave.
Detailing her one and only one-night standoh yes, be ready to have your preconceived notions about Schumer be dutifully thwartedshe recalls meeting her future bed partner while looking like Bruce Vilanch, instructing readers to just picture a barn owl wearing a blond wig should they not know who that is. And her first chapter? Its an open letter to her vagina.
Amy Schumer is a so-called sex comic, a feminist icon, a cultural lightning rod, a TV star, a walking hot take, an activist, and one of our most visible celebrities. But for all the labels and broad generalizations we thrust on her, Schumer paints herself in Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo as something we often refuse to see her as: a human.
She wasnt kidding about that tough life. The chapter titled Dad, for example, begins with the line, When I was fourteen my dad shit himself at an amusement park. Her father suffers from multiple sclerosis, and their complicated relationship plays like a moving score through much of the book. As that first line suggests, she spares no detailfecal, emotional, or otherwise.
Her parents divorce takes up requisite pages, as does their fall from jetting-off-to-the-Bahamas status to losing it all: I dont remember how it felt to lose everything, but I do remember men coming to take my dads car when I was ten, she writes.
But the two stories predestined to make the most headlinesand knowing that probably made Schumer all the more insistent to include them with such painful specificity in the bookwill be her recounting of being sexually assaulted as a teenager and of the physical abuse she received from her long-term boyfriend when she was in her twenties.
People will have opinions about this chapter, she writes, after she details her encounter with her then-high school boyfriend, whom she lost her virginity to while she was hazily passed out after several beers and a long night.
He penetrated her while she was sleeping. She knew right away she had been violated, yet she felt compelled to comfort him about the whole experience. (He felt bad, as if that made it OK.)
Some might say it wasnt a big deal, she continues. Or that it was all my fault since I was drinking, he was my boyfriend, and I was lying right there next to him.
She approaches the latter portion of this essay from the perspective of a PSA, complete with statistics about sexual assault, a plea for more honest discussions about consent, and an acknowledgment of what her sharing her story could do for other women who have been in the situation. This happens so frequently that clearly we need to talk about it, she writes.
Its a similar tone a hundred pages later when the chapter that is teased ominously throughout the book, titled The Worst Night of My Life, arrives.
Her relationship with Dan ran hot, with equal parts fucking and fighting but maybe a more severe-than-normal cloud of psychological warfare. It was everything you could want, if what you want is Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardems relationship in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, she writes. And if you didnt see that movie, I was the Whitney to his Bobby.
She recounts how he would emotionally manipulate her self-esteem, pointing out her bodys problem areas and even pissing on her feet while she stood naked in the shower. Still, hed get jealous when other guys showed her attention and do things like grab onto her wrists so hard they bruisedalways apologizing after for such accidents.
I think somewhere in the relationship, I started to confuse his anger and aggression for passion and love, she writes, as foreplay for the storys harrowing climax: a night in which he threw her onto a parked car and chased her into a gangs house, calming down enough for them to go home before blowing up again once they got there, threatening her with a butchers knife.
Again she provides domestic abuse statistics. And again she reveals why shes sharing: Im telling this story because Im a strong-ass woman, not someone most people picture when they think abused woman.
In truth, most chapters end this way, winding down with a lesson other people can learn from the personal anecdote she just shared. Only occasionally can you hear the Full House piano keys tinkling as the moral comes. But Schumer, adamant not to pen a self-help book, largely avoids transforming her life into fodder for a series of Very Special Episodes.
Not that there isnt celebration in the book. If possible, the entire thing reads triumphant. Joyous even.
Theres a criticism of Amy Schumers outspokenness that assumes theres some sort of entitlement to it, whether shes talking about the simple act of what its like to live as a woman in our culture, or crusading for gun safety laws.
But its much simpler than that. Shes a survivorof abuse, of her upbringing, of the entertainment industry, and of her own self-destructionand her advice, her comments, and her comedy stem from that. Its a position that shes earned.
Her origin story as a 5-year-old girl playing Gretl in The Sound of Music tees off her chapter recounting her dogged journey to becoming a successful standup and, finally, a zeitgeist-dominating celebrity.
There are tales of her first comedy sets, and howd shed take cassette tapes of her filmed performances and study them at Best Buy because she couldnt afford her own VCRs. She talks about her experience on Last Comic Standing, her big break, and details the work ethic it took to get to where she is now.
Its the part of the book some people will find most boring. Its also the part of the book some people will be most interested in. Either way, its a reward for both camps that the next chapter is titled, true to aesthetic, Times Its Okay For a Man Not to Make a Woman Come During Sex. Its a short chapter.
It should come as no surprise that tales from Schumers love life are a humor-filled pleasure to read.
For the record, Schumer has had sex with 28 people and never hooked up with a girl, had anal sex, or done cocaine. She meditates twice a day.
When you hear about them all back-to-back it probably sounds like my vagina is a revolving door at Macys at Christmastime, she writes, admitting that grouping her handful of sexual misadventures back-to-back into one standup set has probably led to the misconception about her promiscuity.
She excels as a storyteller, and, sure, her recounting of a fumbled sexcapade with a well-endowed hockey player is fit for its own HBO special.
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