New Voices: “The Theme Park of Women’s Bodies” by Maggie Cooper

July 11, 2022

“Welcome to the Theme Park of Women’s Bodies,” says Tina, our tour guide through the amusement park, with attractions like the River of Menses, the Land of Sex and Sexuality and the Palace of Female Empowerment. But despite Tina’s best efforts to hide the truth, this theme park is not the bastion of feminism and progress it purports to be. Cooper’s sardonic voice guides us through “The Theme Park of Women’s Bodies” below!

 

Welcome to the Theme Park of Women’s Bodies! I’m Tina, I use she/her pronouns, and I’ll be your tour guide today as we explore the park, making stops at the River of Menses, the Land of Sex and Sexuality, the Palace of Female Empowerment, and our newest addition, Beautyland. Before we begin, management requires me to run through a few ground rules: No running, no outside food and drink, and no unauthorized video recording. Finally, we ask you to please remember that the park is a no-smoking facility and weapons of any kind are not permitted.

On to the good stuff: The tour will take approximately one hour and will end right in front of the entrance to the Miracle of Life, one of our most popular rides, which allows guests to follow an ovum from the moment of conception through the various stages of development and finally, experience the birthing process through a state-of-the-art twenty-five-foot model of a woman’s vagina!

Before we get going, I’d like to invite anyone who is visiting the park for the first time to raise their hands. We are always particularly excited to welcome new visitors, and my assistant, Andie, will be coming around with a special souvenir for those of you just beginning your empowerment journey. That’s right! Andie is passing out a few of this month’s limited-edition collectible tampons. These tampons, courtesy of one of our sponsors, Tampax, can also be purchased in any of our gift shops. Enjoy, folx!

Now, with no further ado, let’s get started. Our first stop on the tour is the historic park entrance, fondly known as the Boob. Our founders, who originally envisioned the park as a monument to the feminist movement, imagined visitors entering through a model of a breast because they considered it a universal symbol of the woman’s body. While today we have a more nuanced appreciation for the relationship between biological sex, gender identity, and expression—not all women have breasts!—at twenty-three stories, the Boob is still quite the architectural marvel! The original park committee commissioned an all-female team of architects to tackle the design, and the nipple at the top was sculpted from one-hundred-percent Italian marble. The areola, made of glass, is illuminated every night. As we pass through, make sure to take a look at the photos of our founders on display. These are the women we have to thank for this important landmark, although you may note that fashions have changed somewhat in the last forty or so years. Get a load of those haircuts!

Just through the Boob, you’ll find some of the historic features of the park, including the famous Tower of Flaming Corsets, which is lit every evening at dusk, and the Second Wave, one of the park’s only water features, where you can cool off after a hot day of sightseeing. Those of you who signed up online will come back here for our virtual reality experience Roe Revived, which transports visitors back to a time of legal abortion in all fifty states and allows participants to practice guiding abortion seekers through crowds of protestors rendered in highly accurate 3D. Terrifying!

For now, let’s gather round the Womanly Welcome Center, where you can view a complete topiary model of the park as it appears from above. True to the vision of the founders, the entire complex takes the shape of a beautifully curvy lady; we are currently standing at the base of her elbow, right about where Andie is pointing. Please, no bush-related jokes—trust me, I’ve heard them!

Everyone stand to the right for a moment, please. It looks like Officer Patty’s making her way down towards Beautyland, so make sure to give her a wave! She’s our Chief of In-Park Security and works tirelessly to make sure that each and every visitor leaves safe and happy. Looks like she’s in a bit of a hurry today.

While we’re here, let’s have a few trivia questions. First, can anyone tell me the original name of the theme park? No, I’m afraid “Tittyville” is not the correct answer, sir. Any other guesses? Yes, you there, in the sunglasses. That’s right! Until 1988, the Theme Park of Women’s Bodies was officially called WomynWorld. The name was changed after the purchase of the park by Nabisco. That’s right, Nabisco, the company that makes Oreos! Andie, let’s get this woman a snack pack of Oreos. She knows her history! You may notice that the cookies in this package are on the smaller side—they’re specially made to be 84% the size of regular Oreos to represent the ongoing pay gap between women and men in the workforce.

Before we move on, do you have any questions for me? Yes, mm-hmm. A gentleman near the front here was just asking how I became a tour guide at the park. Well, I was a Women and Gender Studies major, and while my parents always warned me that I might have trouble finding a job in my field, this position opened up at the perfect time! No, sir, I am not a lesbian. I identify as bisexual—you can learn more about that over on the Wheel of Sexual Orientations. It’s a great ride for the whole family! Now, ma’am, don’t you think that’s a little personal? Okay, yes, one more question. Oh. The recent protests? I’m sorry, miss, but I’m not approved to comment on any political activities relating to the park. Let’s keep moving. Follow me.

Our next stop will be just outside the Palace of Female Empowerment, but as we pass over the River of Menses, make sure to admire the lovely tributary of blood and cellular debris that threads through this area of the park. For those of you in the mood for something romantic, I absolutely have to recommend a sunset gondola ride with one of our all-women team of gondoliers, several of whom were recruited from Venice.

What’s that? You’re wondering about the crash that just came from behind the Roller Coaster of Women in Politics? I’m sure that’s just the ride soundtrack, which culminates with the cacophonous shattering of the glass ceiling! Now let’s move along. No time to dilly-dally!

Can everyone hear me? On your right, you’ll see the entrance to Beautyland, one of the newest additions to the park, sponsored by Neutrogena. Visit the selfie parlor, enjoy a makeover by one of our natural beauty artists, and check out the Hall of Hair, a tribute to lovely locks from women in more than one hundred countries. One of my favorite spots in Beautyland is the Reflecting Room of Inner Beauty, a fun-house style hall of mirrors. It’s a little out of the way, but well worth the visit! We’re so grateful to our corporate sponsors, with whose help we’ve been able to keep the theme park open for the past forty years.

People often ask why there’s no Theme Park of Men’s Bodies, and while I can’t answer that question for you, I can tell you that, in the U.S., women are almost five times more likely than men to be victims of sexual assault. What a number, right? Unfortunately, the Realm of Sexual Violence is closed for the renovations. It’s not set to reopen until 2025, which means that you’ll just have to come back soon in order to experience everything that the park has to offer! You can see the old entrance just over there, beyond the snack bar. I highly recommend the funnel cakes!

More questions? Yes, I do see that smoke rising over the tower of the Palace of Empowerment. No, I do not think it’s any cause for concern. Security inside the park is very good, and while I know that you may have read about the protests last week, I can assure you that reports have been wildly exaggerated. The Theme Park of Women’s Bodies has an excellent relationship with both its founding board members and its corporate sponsors, and there has certainly never been any kind of violence on the park grounds.

Now, due to schedule constraints, we’ll be skipping over our penultimate stop at the Land of Sex and Sexuality, and instead moving towards the Miracle of Life ride, where I will conclude the tour. Please follow Andie towards the entrance to the womb, where she will give you each a wristband and a souvenir pin. Yes, that’s right. Just follow Andie. And best of all, it looks like the line is nice and short today, so you’ll be journeying down the fallopian tube in no time!

Sir, please, let’s keep things moving. I do, I do indeed hear that shouting, but I can assure you that there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. “Watered Down Feminism” is one of our most popular new rides—I’m sure you saw the signs on the drive up to the park! Right, exactly, just like “Fuck the Sellouts.” No, no, those women are certainly not protesters. Just some of our biggest fans! “Let the Patriarchy Burn” is actually the name of a new show that some of our dancers will be performing on the mainstage of Beautyland starting next week—fireworks for the fourth of July, you know, which might be what we’re hearing. There goes another one! They’ve got some impressive pyrotechnic power for this rehearsal!

Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to step back into line please. Once visitors have entered the ride perimeter, we cannot allow them to exit. Andie, how are things going up there? Everyone buckled up and ready to go? Wonderful! A little smoky smell is perfectly normal, nothing to worry about at all. You’re all going to enjoy this so very much! And if—when!—you emerge at the other end, I guarantee you’re going to have a newfound appreciation for the Miracle of Life. Thanks so much for joining me on this tour of the Theme Park of Women’s Bodies! Enjoy the rest of your visit, and we’ll look forward to seeing you again soon! Don’t forget: Gender is a social construct, trans women are women, and a good skin care routine is the key to both beauty and empowerment!



Maggie Cooper is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. Her fiction has mostly recently appeared or is forthcoming in
Hobart, Quarterly West, and The Rumpus. Follow her on Twitter @frecklywench for recipes, reading recommendations, and photos of trees.

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