Living With the Fourth Hand Dildo

by Hawa Adula 

Jess X Chen and Will Giles, two Asian American spoken word poets, performed at the Calhoun Cabaret Monday night and gave all audience members a lesson in intersectionality.

The poems covered a range of topics including colonialism, queer love, womanhood, and identity. Chen and Giles’s pieces on colonialism felt particularly riveting in the wake of the excitement surrounding the campus-wide celebration of Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Will Giles, in his poem about Pokemon and depression, renamed depression a “fourth hand dildo.” He assumed that if depression was renamed a fourth hand dildo there would finally be something light hearted about an all too serious condition. This fourth hand dildo is meant to be what depression is not: something that is funny.

Giles’ fourth hand dildo analogy can be applied to all the topics covered at the show: the struggles of being everything from queer, a minority, female, male, immigrant, to just broken.

“Imagination is daring to love what is not in front of us, a new definition of home when the word betrays us”- Jess X Chen

Our fourth hand dildos, the identities and the names that define us, are our own little burdens to carry. They are the feelings of resentment and hopelessness against a white America that wants to crush our spirits, the confusion of not being able to reconcile our faiths with our sexualities, and the choice of marginalizing our identities, like our ancestors experienced, or revitalizing these identities with a final end goal of self-love.

“How do we keep these brown boys above ground without a rope; how do we tell the difference between a lifeline and a exit sign?” Will Giles

Giles and Chen’s poems were a powerful reminder that the various parts of our identities can intersect and find peace with one another. The poems prompted listeners to understand the beauty that encompasses their varied identities.

Chen’s fierce rebuttal against critiques of queer love in her poem about the history of homosexuality in nature made listeners agents of their own identity and exploration. It challenged us to never let “infant[ile]” condemnations against our identities make us stop searching for the person we were meant to be.

“Now I do not lament my lack of roots, instead, I grow them myself” – Will Giles

Our identities are not independent beings; they are the intersection between our cultures and histories; our future and our present, soon to be pasts. These identities, our fourth hand dildos, are an unshakable presence.

It is up to us to figure out how to live with our fourth hand dildos. It is up to us to decide whether we will be crushed under the weight of our confusion, anger, and resentment or as Chen said, “soar in the direction of our dreams.”