Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Image of Saffiyah Khan

First off let’s face it, this is straight up hilarious - this Chihuahua of a man nipping at the ankles of human decency. You can just about hear his ridiculous yelps (like our ruling party’s goons but with an accent) growing more and more hysterical as the mistress of bindi stares him down. “Should I swat him now?…Now?” I imagine her wondering which Louis Vuitton handbag he leaped out of. Bigot want a biscuit?

Look at her power stance – does she walk around like that, with her body angled for battle, her back ramrod straight, chest out, neck stretched, face relaxed yet ready to get into just about anybody’s face? Is this her normal life-condition*? I slouch, always have. That’s my normal life-condition. I have a weak core. My back is sick & tired of being sick & tired.

When I was 12 there were two Chihuahuas that would accost us on the way to our school bus stop. I remember being terrified in anticipation before I stepped out of my house. I’d pray they wouldn’t be let loose on the street that morning. If I saw them scurrying to get at our ankles, I would panic and slouch-run across the road. Maybe if I’d known, like Saffiyah does, that Chihuahuas live in handbags, I wouldn’t have been so afraid.

By her own account, when the image was taken, Saffiyah Khan was protecting another woman who’d been surrounded “360” by the same yelping thugs. Reports have interpreted Khan’s demeanour as ‘unfazed’. That’s bullshit if you ask me. She had to have been fazed, most fazed. You don’t get to stand like that if you haven’t been similarly fazed time & time & time again. You get to a point where the fucking Chihuahua has barked at you one too many times and you’re like fuck it, if it even bares its toothpicky teeth in the direction of your ankles, you'll swoop down, scoop it up and lob it into the stratosphere before its keepers realise that their dildo-themed pet has gone missing.

One might ask, why didn’t you swoop & scoop before? Why did you endure years of intimidation at the hands of these canine hobbits? Can’t speak for Saffiyah but when I was 12 they seemed bigger. Everyone at our bus stop was afraid of them, even the 16 year olds. Over years, they’d acquired mythic status and the stories had been handed down from seniors to juniors. ‘Did you know they bit so-and-so and they had to amputate his foot?’ ‘Their owner is a tantric yogi. His dogs have secret powers.’ (Ok that one I made up, such was the terror unleashed by these unleashed beasts.)

Obviously I don’t know what Saffiyah Khan is really thinking in these images but to me she has become the Monalisa of pussy power. She has run out of fucks to give and this fuck-deficit has allowed her insight into the Chihuahua’s handbag world. Sure it’s Vuitton (and that’s nothing to scoff at) but it is, at the end of the day, a dank handbag, made even danker by dwarf-dog sweat. Does Saffiyah Khan find this realisation amusing? Or did the Chihuahua pee in the bag just a little, its stench reaching everyone’s nostrils? Is that why Saffiyah is smiling? 

I’m no longer haunted by the Chihuahua twins from my school days but I have new challenges. The apartment where I live comes with neighbours, whom I would term ‘distinctly asshole-ish’. I realized this the day I moved, when the movers decided to use the elevator to transport a heavy sofa up two floors. My neighbour stood at the entrance of the elevator and threatened to let loose Jack – her 350 kilo vicious-looking dog. She knew the men were terrified of Jack, they’d asked her to keep him leashed. But she didn’t like ‘those men’ using ‘her lift’ and she let Jack loose. I slouch-stepped in and blocked Jack in a friendly embrace. Jack was confused. The men laughed. He jumped again. I slouched towards him again. This time Jack’s tail went insane, whiplashing his human-shaped asshole. She yelled “JACK! No!!”. I held out my hand. Jack held out his paw. We shook like adults who had no beef with each other. As we retreated to our corners, the men grinned and I thanked god that Jack didn’t live in a handbag.

Check out this beautiful Twitter thread:

* Incidentally, her stance has been described as an “improbably calm stance – smiling, slumped shoulders, hands in pockets” – I view the image very differently.

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