On a spectrum of sexual adventurousness, I’m probably just right of the Pope and left of God. I’m unabashedly anti-porn and you won’t catch me rocking costumes and rolling 50 Shades Style if I have my way.
How I ended up with Amy Schumer’s biography The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo, I may never know. (I suspect Audible recommended it because I’d read Bossypants and Born Standing Up.)
To say the very least – I was floored. All I knew about Amy Schumer was, from her own admonition, that she was a crude, sexually explicit comic who has no problem detailing her sexual encounters for millions. I braced myself to have a listen. After all, I was looking for some bubble gum to listen to and this couldn’t have any real depth, right?
I was dead wrong. The book was funny; not in a silly, slapstick choke-on-your-tongue way, nor in a more sober, cerebral way like Tina Fey’s Bossypants. (Can I use cerebral in the most absolutely flattering way possible here?)
Schumer’s biography, though riddled with sexual encounters, went into some really dark caves and shined the light on facets of rape, domestic violence, and even divorce that you don’t often see with such clarity. Schumer held nothing back. She told these stories with absolute humility and insight.
The most powerful story Amy told for me was that of her brush with domestic violence. For some time she dated an abusive guy. She would brush off his abuse with thoughts like, “we’re passionate people” and “he didn’t mean it” and “he apologized profusely.” She admitted that she loved her boyfriend and although today she’d run long and far away from such a tool, at the time she justified the abuse in the same way as nearly every woman I’ve ever met whose been in an abusive relationship.
Okay I’ll stop beating around the bush. She told MY story. That’s what shocked me. I can’t imagine how she got into my own brain and hijacked all these vivid memories and thoughts from me and millions of other women who’ve found themselves in an abusive relationship. Many women, myself included, suppressed and even blocked out such experiences. But Amy told her story with such sobriety that I wanted to rip out the pages of the book and share it with every woman I know.
Above all, while reading “Girl”, I felt grace for myself. My first (brief) marriage was to a man who appeared to everybody on the outside to be the perfect church boy. He was artistic, musical, eccentric, devout, and a devoted friend. But when he lost control over work, finances, family, and especially me; he’d snap. The kitchen knife would be against my chest. He’d rip me out of the shower and slam me against a wall, holding me there dripping and humiliated while he intimidated me. He could get this horrifying, “I’m gonna kill you” glare in his eyes. It was pretty much the low point of my life.
I’ve read a lot of survivor’s stories in my healing journey, but Amy’s touched me in a unique way. She’s one of the first people who’s told her story with such humility and honesty that I actually evolved while reading it. I put down “Girl” and knew that I’d never be the same. She ushered me to a new level of healing. Above all, she helped me forgive myself for all the years I wrongfully shamed myself for my choices. Here’s another powerful, intelligent, hard-working woman who was a victim of domestic violence; but who is not a victim. (Shameless feminine interruption: I feel so much love and gratitude for my sister Amy!)
In the chapter about her abusive boyfriend, Amy wrote, “I thought he was the love of my life for a long time but I allowed him to hurt me in ways that I still don’t understand,” she writes. “Dan and I would go to happy hours and get drunk, and then he’d get mad and shove me little. Sometimes from the shove, I’d trip over something and fall, and get hurt.”
The abuse got worse to the point where Amy thought one night that surely the boyfriend, Dan, would kill her. Instead of justifying and excusing the actions that got her into the situation, Schumer states chillingly, “I’m a strong-ass woman, not someone most people picture when they think ‘abused woman,'” she explains. “It can happen to anyone. You’re not alone if it’s happening to you, and you’re not exempt if it hasn’t happened to you.”
Pick up The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo for more stories, mostly sexual in nature, but also dealing with divorce, body image, fame, money, and friendship. After reading the book you’ll definitely agree with Amy’s statement that she’s one “strong-ass woman”.
And now this question remains: does Amy Schumer really have a lower back tattoo? What I’ll say is this: there’s a story “behind” her book title and you’re going to have to pick up the book to hear about it.