Rah! Rah! Roundup

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“While we respect that many people feel as though they want to be in solidarity with the city of Orlando, we are centering in this space the voces of #Pulse, the latinx and queer who are still as always the subject of multiple oppressions and erasures.” – Drunken Boat holds space for “queer latinx gente” to respond to the Pulse nightclub shooting.

“We need to include eating disorders in the larger conversation about mental health lest they continue to remain—to the greater public—dismissible, peculiarities of girlhood.” – JoAnna Novak talks with Nina Puro, Sarah Gerard and other writers about “the literature of eating disorders.”

I’m so excited about Tamara Winfrey Harris’s new column for Bitch, “Some Of Us Are Brave,” which highlights “the intersected identities and experiences of American women.” Continue reading

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Trying to Express Something but Can’t: An Interview with Chelsea Martin

Chelsea-Martin-by-Catlin-Snodgrass

Mickey, the new novella from Chelsea Martin, starts as the story of a breakup gone wrong. The unnamed narrator dumps Mickey almost as soon as the story starts before asking him back, asking him for favors, pushing him away and pulling him in every confusing direction. It’s a tale of an accidental dominatrix, until, that is, the third major character of the novel, the unnamed girl’s mother, is introduced. The novel opens up, explains the narrator as a human rather than some dumb, flawed millennial as we see every one of the girl’s actions reflected back onto her from her own mother.

It’s a fascinatingly quick, yet intense tale of flawed relationships and the cycles they create. I couldn’t help but ask Martin to tell me more:

Kati Heng: Is the narrator of Mickey in any way based on, or like you?

Chelsea Martin: She’s a character. She’s not me. Her experiences are different than mine and her relationships are different and her personality is different. But I do see the book as a self-portrait in some ways. I was working through some personal stuff while writing it. That stuff just didn’t get expressed literally in the book.

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Sass and Sincerity: Arielle Greenberg’s Locally Made Panties

Arielle Greenberg's Locally Made Panties

Vintage photograph c. 1975 from the collection of James Mullineaux, “Darkroomist,” courtesy of Goldline Press.

Not too long ago my friend Kiki and I were sharing an impressive order of fries and hashing out the long-held divide among feminists about the frivolity vs. importance of fashion in general, and personal style specifically. Always an expert with the killer one-liner, Kiki managed to skewer the notion of fashion as frivolity with, “First humans clothed themselves, then they started drawing on cave walls.” Meaning that “fashion” is in fact so integral to our sense of self, of personhood, it preceded all other forms of expression short of, possibly, language.

Sure, to call the clothing that enabled early humans to migrate out of Africa 170,000 years ago “self expression” might be a stretch, especially since we wouldn’t evolve the high order thinking skills that led to “art” for another 130,000 years, but still. Let’s just say our ancestors married form and function.

Either way, in the intervening centuries fashion has evolved as a form of language in and of itself–an aspect of personal visual culture that can be “read” with all the subtext, narrative arcs, and suspense of a good book. The stories of our “selves”–our bodies, our fears, our aspirations, our successes, our interests–are the stories we tell with our clothes. Continue reading

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Pulse Nightclub and the Queer, Brown Space

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Image via The Orlando Sentinel

Space, As in Room, Pt. 1

I tell her that if there is a horror like this that she must run.

If we are away from each other–I at the bar–she at the table–she cannot look for me. She must, instead, find the exit and run.

I cannot sleep because I do not want her to die.

 

Space, As in Room, Pt. 2

Queered spaces, especially when brown, are brick and moral stances. A room when kissing and dancing are acts of activism. We speak of these political outcomes first even though they are secondary. The main purpose for these spaces are for moments to reclaim a completeness; to access one’s humanity because every other place abstracts your identity magnifying the whitest, straightest, or wealthiest of learned postures.

Simply put these rooms are where people go to be people.

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In Honor of Father’s Day: 5 Classic Poems About Sh*tty Dads

Sylvia Plath poems Fathers Day
The internet has no shortage of warm, fuzzy Father’s Day cards, memes and messages celebrating great dads. But let’s be honest—our feelings about our dads aren’t always all flowers and teddy bears and references to fishing. For those of us who don’t have the best relationships with our fathers, I’ve rounded up a few classic poems depicting less-than-perfect paternal units as a reminder that not all dads are the best around, and Father’s Day can be complicated.

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Daddy” – Sylvia Plath
Soooo I can’t decide if I should start my Father’s Day card with “Daddy, I have had to kill you. / You died before I had time” or close it with “Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I’m through.”—or both! Plath’s speaker battles with an omnipresent, tyrannical, pretty terrifying Daddy figure. She compares her relationship with her father’s memory to that of the Jews to the Nazis (a move which has received lots of criticism, for good reason), and to her romantic relationship with a male partner  (“I made a model of you, / A man in black with a Meinkampf look”). From Robert Phillips’ 1972 review: “When [the speaker] drives the stake through her father’s heart, she not only is exorcising the demon of her father’s memory, but metaphorically is killing her husband and all men.” Happy Father’s Day!  Continue reading

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Rah! Rah! Roundup

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Remember their names, faces, and lives– these are the victims of the Pulse shooting, primarily queer POC.

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Feminist Summer Reading List (or, Books I Wish High Schools Would Assign For Summer)

Action A Book About Sex - Feminist Reading List

I recently taught high school for two years at a private school in the South, and for two summers in a row I witnessed the school’s Summer Reading List: ten or eleven books total, from which the students could select one book to read over the summer and then discuss in a small group on their first day back to school in August. Both years, the list of books was predominately male-authored, with one or two books written by—or about—women.

Something about this really pisses me off. I’m going to assume that the high school at which I taught was not unique, and that the pattern is to teach/assign/read books by male authors in classrooms (and summer breaks) across the country. The longer we assume that “male” equals ”universal” and “female” equals ”specific,” the worse off our society will be. It would be beneficial for teenage boys to have to read a book by and about girls. It would be beneficial for teenage girls to see that their school values their experiences as valid, interesting, and important.

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