Weird Sister is happy to be co-sponsoring a Candlelight Vigil for Free Speech on the last day of AWP in Washington DC next week:
“We invite writers assembled in DC for AWP to a Candlelight Vigil for Freedom of Expression. This basic freedom is threatened in new ways and with more intensity than in recent memory. As the nation’s poets and writers, editors and critics, we have a unique and vital obligation to stand watch over free speech and expression. May our candlelight vigil February 11 provide encouragement and focus to our watch in the coming years.”
When: Saturday 2/11; 6:15 – 7:30
Location: Lafayette Park, across from the White House. A 20-minute walk from the convention center. Close to the Farragut North Metro stop on the Red Line.
Speakers: Kazim Ali, Gabrielle Bellot, Melissa Febos, Carolyn Forché, Ross Gay, Luis J. Rodriguez, Eric Sasson.
Learn more on the event’s Facebook page.
My mom told me a story recently about when she was a senior in high school in the Bronx, and there was a snowstorm during a transit strike the week she had her English Regents exam. She walked five miles to school in the snow and when she got there, a male teacher made a comment about her not being allowed to take her test because she was wearing pants instead of a skirt. My mom wasn’t permitted to wear pants to school until she was in college, and even then she usually didn’t because she went straight to work from school and was required to wear a skirt at her job. When she told me this, I’m embarrassed to say I was kind of shocked. I’m 34 years old, and my mother’s story reminds me that my own relationship to pants as a women’s clothing item is a privilege.
What did it mean for women to wear pantsuits on Election Day? “Pantsuit feminism” is a powerful concept in certain ways that my age may allow me to not think about—pantsuits, as an extension of pants worn by women in nonprofessional settings, are emblematic of women entering traditionally male professional spheres as men’s equals. Pantsuits were surely symbols of feminist progress for certain women. Women were, for example, barred from wearing pants on the Senate floor until 1993. Hillary Clinton was the first woman to wear trousers in an official First Lady portrait. The image of the pantsuit recalls for me the 80s “working women” of movies and TV shows like Working Girl and Designing Women—those satirized more recently in Amy Schumer’s hilarious comedy sketch “80s Ladies.” A woman poet friend of mine recently joked on Facebook that jeans are “modern-day corsets,” and that she prefers the comfort of leggings. We’ve come so far as women, in little ways like these that we don’t even realize. With a new year upon us, I’m afraid of where 2017 and beyond will bring us, or leave us behind.
“Pantsuit feminism,” empowering as it may be for some, of course prioritizes the concerns and experiences of certain privileged groups—white, cisgender, upper-class women like Hillary Clinton herself “leaning in” to climb to ranks of high-power jobs—and leaves behind many women of color, working class women, and other less privileged groups. Did wearing a pantsuit on Election Day mean pledging allegiance to this problematic strain of feminism?
Last Thursday night, December 15th, Weird Sister joined Hyperallergic, Well-Read Black Girl, The Creative Independent, Lenny, VIDA, and many other arts organizations for ART AFTER TRUMP at Housing Works Bookstore. The night featured over 150 artists of all disciplines responding to the questions posed by the event organizers: “As an artist, how are you reacting to this uncertain future? What do you want to say or do?” Performances ranged from poems and essay excerpts to letters, speeches, and songs—you can listen to full audio from the event over on The Creative Independent. Below are the pieces that Weird Sister’s five performers—Merve Kayan, Christopher Soto/Loma, Naomi Extra, Cathy de la Cruz, and myself—shared that night:
“In 1961, Fannie Lou Hamer went to the hospital to have a cyst removed and left with a hysterectomy. Forced hysterectomies on black and brown women were a common practice in Mississippi. One of many victims of gendered racial violence, Hamer’s body, as both woman and black was under siege by the state. Still, she fought. In 1963, Hamer and a fierce set of lesser known black women—June Johnson, Anelle Ponder, Dorothy Height—used their voices to fight against voter suppression and more broadly, the Trumps of their time.
I refuse to think of Trump as a threat located in a single body. I resist this as a mode of organizing and as a political stance. As a black woman in America, I reject anti Trumpness as a galvanizing energy in fighting oppression. It is contrary to my lived experience. It is contrary to the political work of black women radicals like Fannie Lou Hamer, Ida B. Wells, and Ella Baker who fought against multiple forms of oppression. Who fought for women’s rights, labor rights, and civil rights. As a black feminist, I locate myself as part of a long history of fighting against the Trump-like terrors that have plagued poor people, women, the LGBTQ community, and people of color for centuries. Continue reading
NYC Weird Sisters! Join us at our holiday happy hour next week.
Come say hi, have a drink, and kiss 2016 goodbye.
When: Monday, December 19th. 6PM – 10PM
Where: Night of Joy, Brooklyn
More info is on the event page here.
Calling all Nasty Women Artists.
“Trump Syllabus 2.0,” assembled by historians N. D. B. Connolly and Keisha N. Blain.
Bitch shares 10 concrete actions we can all take right now.
Eileen G’Sell on the “pop culture progress myth.”
“Community is the answer.” – Angela Davis shares post-election wisdom at the University of Chicago.
Remezcla’s reading list for understanding “how we got to this point, and how we can organize for the future.” Continue reading
Poems for coping, curated by Janice Lee.
“I grab myself by the pussy and I ask myself for more.”
“We will still create, write, perform, sing, dance, and anything else we can, because that’s what we do.”
“Keep your calls for unity, white people.”
Oh shit! The what should I do before January guide.
“Empire Wasted metabolizes the twentieth century into the fashionable neons of a numbing regime.” New Yorkers, come help launch Becca Klaver’s new book this Saturday, and listen to poems we need now more than ever.
Hope in the Dark “makes a radical case for hope as a commitment to act in a world whose future remains uncertain and unknowable.”
New Women Space in Brooklyn is partnering with Got a Girl Crush to bring the New Women Print & Zine Fest tomorrow—it’s free, and features a bunch of great women and GNC-led publications, along with post-election group grief counseling.
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New podcasts we’re obsessed with include Get It Right and Black Joy Mixtape.
The art of losing is hard to master.
If women wrote men the way men write women.
Thank your lucky stars for the internet: it’s a list of fully funded MFA programs.
The 2016 Belladonna* auction is now open. Continue reading
Via British Library. University of Essex Theatre Arts Society: © University of Essex Theatre Arts Society, Richard Demarco Gallery: © Richard Demarco Archive.
Today—October 27th, 2016—would have been Sylvia Plath’s 84th birthday. Plath’s work is remembered for being many things, but one important aspect of her poetry that often doesn’t get enough attention is its complex depiction of motherhood and women’s reproduction. Looking back at Plath’s 1962 play in verse, Three Women: A Poem for Three Voices, it’s striking how well this piece speaks to our current political climate around reproductive rights—to Trump’s ridiculous claims about late-term abortion, his promise to appoint anti-choice justices to the Supreme Court who would “automatically” overturn Roe v. Wade, and to the widescale Republican war on women’s reproductive rights. It’s incredible, and terrifying that we’re still having this conversation. Right-wing anti-choicers could learn a lot from Plath’s play, which takes place in a maternity ward, and depicts—through three series of monologues—three distinct women’s very different experiences with pregnancy. The first is a married woman who’s excitedly welcoming her new baby; the second is a secretary who experiences a miscarriage, and the third is a student who places her child up for adoption. Plath’s play can be read as a meditation on the complexity of women’s feelings about pregnancy, why reproductive options are right and necessary, and why men, the government, and other structures of power really have no right to have any say about it.
Each of the play’s monologues hold equal weight within the piece, and the title, “Three Women,” conveys an equalizing recognition of all three perspectives on motherhood as valid, natural female experiences. Two of Plath’s women speakers have deep feelings of love for their unborn children—Woman 1 excitedly anticipates her son’s arrival (“I cannot help smiling at what it is I know./ Leaves and petals attend me. I am ready.”) and Woman 2 feels shattered by the loss of her pregnancy (“I am dying as I sit. I lose a dimension.”). Woman 3, on the other hand, expresses feeling trapped by her unwanted pregnancy:
“I wasn’t ready. The white clouds rearing
Aside were dragging me in four directions.
I wasn’t ready.
I had no reverence.
I thought I could deny the consequence–
But it was too late for that. It was too late, and the face
Went on shaping itself with love, as if I was ready.”
I always wanted to be a Claudia, but I know deep-down that I’m a Stacey.
Let me explain. I think of Claudia Kishi and Stacey McGill—two characters from Ann M Martin’s The Baby-sitters Club book series, for those of you living sad, BSC-free lives—as two sides of the same very beautiful, exquisitely complex coin. Claudia and Stacey are BFFs, of course. They met in seventh grade when they literally ran into each other in the hallway. As Stacey put it, “We realized we were dressed alike — in very trendy clothes — and somehow we hit it off.” Stacey and Claudia are by far the most fashionable members of the Baby-sitters Club. But Claudia is a “wild dresser” while Stacey is “sophisticated.” Claudia is a spangle of braided belts and homemade earrings, while Stacey is Benetton and black ballet flats. Claudia hides candy all over her room—there are literally chocolate bars and Lifesavers spilling out of her pillowcases—while Stacey is diabetic and daydreams about rivers of chocolate that she cannot drink from.
Looking back at the Baby-sitter’s Club series, which turned 30 this past summer, I started thinking about how Stacey and Claudia each approach art, style, creativity, and, yes, sugar—and what they’ve come to represent for me along the way. I think of Claudia as joy and creativity topped with even more creativity; Stacey is joy and creativity restrained. Religiously reading the BSC books when I was younger, I related most to Stacey’s struggles, but I aspired most to be like Claudia. I think that combination of inspiration and identification was what made the series so important for so many of us. Each book helped us to navigate our struggles and goals while figuring out our places in the world—and, of course, what we wanted to wear along the way. Continue reading