Dear Lands’ End,
I am a feminist and a mother and I spend waaaaaay too much money on Lands’ End clothing, backpacks, parkas, boots, and so on every year.
Look, here is a pile of Lands’ End stuff.
Look, the labels are out. It’s from Lands’ End.
I have been a loyal customer. The shit from H&M is cuter but it falls apart and The Gap is too expensive and not that cute nor that well made. You send me those emails saying extra 30% off and sometimes I actually click and buy! But now… I don’t understand what is happening. You issued a formal apology for featuring an interview with feminist icon Gloria Steinem in your spring catalog after backlash from the anti-abortion movement? Continue reading
Photo by Nicole Heffron
This fall, while I was working on a few artist statements for a few different applications, I was concurrently reading up on Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I was particularly interested in how Narcissus almost did not make it into the DSM-V. He eventually held on to his spot in the Personality Disorder section, despite all the debate. So proud of you, phenomenal Narcissism! You survived your potential death knell and continue to plague society. Or is it society that plagues the Narcissist? Arguably, this particular “disorder” has socially constructed, rather than biological, roots. In a nutshell, rates are higher in the US than most other countries, and are higher among men than women. These facts are not surprising. Our capitalist, individualist culture fuels narcissistic tendencies, surely. But do our literary and artistic communities need to feed narcissistic tendencies? Or is there room for all sorts of brilliance to shine, equitably?
The woman who wears
these shoes will be a warrior, will not think
about how wrong she is, how her calculations
look like the face of a clock with hands
ticking with each terrorizing minute. –Tina Chang, Duality
Hello on this el Nino-warmed December day, Weird Sisters!
Whenever anyone points to the potential frivolity of style, I have a curator friend who says, “First we clothed ourselves, then we drew on cave walls.” Meaning that in the grand scheme of human development first came fashion, then came art. Fun fact about boots: The oldest known depiction of this tried and true footwear is in a Spanish cave painting that’s dated between 12,000 and 15,000 B.C.E.
First came boots. Then came art.
As you may or may not remember, about a month ago I put out a call for your best Power Outfits–your sartorial solutions to the onslaught of B.S. this world likes to throw; your enviable ensembles designed to strike fear in the hearts of slow walkers; or simply what you don to feel comfortable and confident when you travel to visit family.
I have to admit that I felt a little bad about adding to your list of things to do during the already busy holiday season, but I’m happy to report that a few of you took up the challenge in spite of your schedules…and boots showed up as key power players in both submissions.
Here are your stories. Continue reading
Trigger warning: this piece deals with sexual violence.
Trigger warnings are relatively new to the popular discourse. Some people don’t understand them, but as a former peer counselor, now part of a psychiatric team, I’ve seen strong evidence that they support emotional health and intellectual development. This is mostly a personal essay, but I’ll launch into some obligatory context for a moment.
The broader debates about the balance of power in higher education, from sexual assault to racist Halloween costumes, from online activism to recent campus protests, have been repeatedly misunderstood by cultural critics and the media. Since avoiding triggers is a symptom of trauma, many journalists (including this Atlantic cover story), argue that trigger warnings aren’t a healthy way of dealing with PTSD; even President Obama has concluded that they “coddle” students. Yet in making these arguments, all these folks miss a fundamental point about the balance of power (and another one about the nature of trauma, but I’ll get to that later). If statistics told you that one in four students were likely to have been traumatically attacked by spiders and that some developed serious arachnophobia, we would hope that classes dealing with spider attacks would do so with tact and compassion. A trigger warning is a tactful, compassionate nod to student experience. It allows students who have been denied agency by an oppressive experience to choose if they are interested in engaging with it, and to engage with it knowing what it entails, and taking the necessary steps to care for themselves as they do. Yes, the ongoing effects of trauma may involve avoidance of something deeply feared; that’s due to a difference in the individual’s ability to extinguish their fear response. The best place to confront deep fear is in therapy, not in a classroom. To subject such students to assignments or public discussions about the subject of their trauma without warning is to re-enact oppression, denying them time to assemble their courage. I know a little about this from my own experience. Continue reading
Background on this essay: It was written while experiencing intense violence & disassociation. I was looking at the literary community talk about diversity while I was fearing death. I felt like the literary community forgot about me because I wasn’t producing work. I was angry about all the talks of diversity & inclusion because they felt so middle class to me. I consider myself part of the literary community & was wondering why none of the literary-activists were outreaching hands of support to help me get better, to help me survive & continuing producing. Helping a transfemme latin@ poet that you know survive & continue to produce work feels like activism & community to me. I felt so alone, disappointed, & disinterested in those conversations about diversity.
While co-curating the reading series for Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color //
people said shit like, “The event needs more women, the event doesn’t have any Latinos.” And people NEVER said shit to me like, “Why aren’t their more youth represented? Why aren’t disabled queer people of color more represented? How do you center incarcerated QPOC? There aren’t enough trans/gender nonconforming poets in the reading.”
… Thus, I am wondering, who is worthy of being represented and who is not?
… I am worrying that we look at race and cisgender folx // then forgot about all the other nuances of our identities.
… I am worrying that we profit on the disenfranchisement of the most underrepresented members of our communities, while asking for our inclusion. We ask to be published in the name of literary diversity, to represent the trans community, but then we forget about the trans girls who don’t have access to the MFA or know any contemporary poets or have money to afford submission fees for journals.
I am not interested in retroactively adding another woman to the reading line-up. I am not interested in adding another Latino. Just cuz folks want more representation of _______________. Continue reading
Image via Angry Little Girls, Lela Lee.
I wrote/recorded (click here to hear) the following in reaction to recent events. Also, our fabulous Weird Sister Soleil Ho wrote a related post (which you should also check out if you haven’t already)…
[Procedure: Have an actual Asian female poet silently mouth “take my face take my voice take my face take my voice” throughout this entire audio recording]
Are you a cis-white male poet who’s been rejected over and over for the same shitty poem? Do you want this same shitty poem to be selected for the Best American Poetry anthology?
Then look no further–just adopt an Asian female voice! Continue reading
Image By Rupi Kaur
To my first menarche party I brought strawberries and red paper plates found in the forgotten Valentine’s corner at Walgreens. Everyone was instructed to bring some blood-themed food to commemorate eggs falling un-inseminated out of our vaginas, so on the table where red brownies, cherry pie, lollipops, beet salad, red wine, red chips, salsa, tapatío, red rice, red chicken, etc. You get the point.
The lead facilitator wore a red wig and a red shirt with MENSTRUATION IS BEAUTIFUL, Coca-Cola style across the boobs. It was supposed to be evocative. We sat in a circle passing around diva cups, small tampons, regular tampons, big tampons, home-made pads, Kotex pads, douches, and any other possible menstruation product now available at Walgreens. The girl who brought the home-made pads explained how wonderful they were, how the textile softly touched her pussy, how old-school, how anti-capitalist, how pro-femme, how her mama even sewed her one! How she washed them in hot water at night and boom you got yourself another pad without supporting the white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy. Everyone nodded. It seemed all the “natural” home-made products were winning in this game. Tampons were shamed, diva cups exalted. There is no way a piece of your mama’s cloth is gonna resist the avalanche that comes out of this pussy, I thought. Give me my extra-large tampons back and blessed art thou Kotex and the Colombian equivalent, Nosotras. Muchas gracias reinita pero no.
In the month-long Sunday of August, it’s normal to feel anxiety creeping in. Especially when some folks still need convincing that Black Lives Matter. Especially when Donald Trump, with his blood-fear, has been saturating the media and you’re scared half-to-death of the rest of the imminent sexism bound for us this election season.
When I feel like I’ve got to hold on tight, I turn to the Tulsi Elixir brewed by Dandelioness Herbals. This Ayervedic medicinal herb, commonly known as holy basil, is known to keep you balanced and your energy vital. Plus it tastes good. Dana L Woodruff is the feminist herbalist behind Dandelioness, and she knows that staying balanced is a necessity for community healing. She makes a wonderful activist self-care kit, an elixir for the heart, an elixir to calm the rage, and much more. You can stay up-to-date on her insights and workshops, including one on decolonizing herbalism and one on menstrual health for all ages, at her Facebook page.
I encourage you to support Dandelioness, or your local herbalist, but if you’re strapped for cash, you can always make your own holy basil tincture. Rosemary Gladstar recommends that you:
- Pack a quart jar full with holy basil leaves.
- Fill the jar with 80-proof alcohol (Dandelioness uses brandy. She also adds local Vermont honey.)
- Put on the lid and shake gently.
- Set it on a windowsill and let it steep for 3-4 weeks.
- Strain and rebottle.
- Take half a teaspoon of the tincture twice daily.
Dating white people is tricky—when you’re a person of color. Even though the Supreme Court’s Loving v. Virginia decision legalized cracker fever in the U.S. 48 years ago, many American PoC still hesitate to embrace our lighter, whiter brethren (in the Biblical sense). Now, why is that? Shouldn’t we be rushing in droves to bring some of that Aryan hotness home to show our grandmas that we finally made it to the big time? Continue reading
My cold hand lands on Laura’s leg while the woman behind us holds her husband’s hands tight, whispering cariñitos to him. We’re here to prove we love each other. To prove this is a true white-picket-fence-two-point-five-children-Christmas-card kind of love, even if it’s homo love. Promises of a better future after this horrid appointment fly in the air in Spanish, Arabic, Russian. Inside the Soviet-looking immigration building Laura and I are literally moscas en leche. Perro en misa. Gallina en corral ajeno, etc. All the couples here are straight. Some even brought their kids, dressed in their Sunday’s best. The children are instructed to shut the fuck up and smile. Arturito, saluda al oficial mi rey. They’re here as evidence. The mamis with their hairs done, nails done, high heels and glossy lipstick. Men with gelled black hair, black button-down shirts with a few open buttons revealing gold crosses, chest hair. Legs crossed impossibly tight, smiling at every and any immigration officer walking through. Good afternoon, Mr. Officer. Nobody speaks loudly, we all hush and whisper and hold tight to our brown folders, our photo albums.
Porque mamita, you never know.