Heather Treseler '10Ph.D. | December 14, 2015
I grew up on Manet Road, the street named after Édouard Manet, whose portrait of a candidly nude, desiring woman, Olympia , incited a near-riot at the Paris Salon in 1865. Nestled in one of America’s safest neighborhoods, Manet Road was the cozy haven of Boston suburbanites with chrysanthemums on the front porch and composts in the backyard. It was a place where self-invention seemed possible. It was a place where, on a friend’s dare, I rode my purple Huffy bike two lengths of the street, my T-shirt flagging from the handlebars. “ Vive la France! Vive Manet! ”
No one got my joke. No one looked at the 10-year-old, streaking the street, and thought of Manet’s nude painting. It was my first lesson in the limits of metaphor and the often subtle limitations of gender. Mr. and Mrs. Tudor, pushing a baby carriage, clucked as I sped by. Mrs. Linnehan scowled from her porch, and Mr. Gladchuck looked as though he might call the police or turn his garden hose in my direction. So I put my shirt back on. I calmly parked my tasseled bike in the garage.