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Rah! Rah! Roundup




We’ve been following conversations on Facebook about this week’s Poetry Project event, “Short Texts on the Future Nature of the Reading.” CAConrad writes: “THOSE OF US WHO WERE AT THE POETRY PROJECT LAST NIGHT WILL NEVER EVER FORGET WHAT EILEEN MYLES SAID!! There are some FUCKED UP old man poets who are the Bill Cosby’s of the poetry world RIGHT NOW. LET THE RAPIST, MYSOGYNIST CREEPS BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE!!” Jennifer Tamayo asks: “I have questions about accountability. what happens after names have been named. what happens after bodies have been counted. WHAT HAPPENS AFTER.”

Slate logs the textual alterations Claudia Rankine has made before each printing of Citizen, such an instant classic that it’s now in its third printing.

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Rah! Rah! Roundup



If you were to argue that the only things to look at on the internet this week are pics of dogs in Santa hats, entire families in matching jammies, and your couple friends posing for ironic holiday card portraits, you’d be wrong, but you wouldn’t be that wrong. But fear not: WEIRD SISTER is dedicated to pleasing all you feminist news junkies home for the holidays, feeling your weird sister (or weird brother) roles afresh, experiencing that particular ennui known as “No one in my family is interested in debating the nuances of Beyoncé’s feminism,” and desperately scrolling your phone for something to remind you of your core values. Your hardcore pop literary feminist values.

Well, you’ve found it! Here’s this week’s links roundup:

90s nostalgia now has its own TV show, called Hindsight, debuting soon on VH1. (And if I didn’t feel called-out enough by the “What if you had been less Angela and more Rayanne?” ad I saw in the subway the other day, it turns out the protagonist’s name is Becca. :/ ) You can watch the trailer for the show here.

Speaking of subways, the NYC MTA about to launch its campaign against man spreading, and Gothamist recently interviewed men on the train about whether they were familiar with the term. My favorite response is from the guy who says, “If you notice, every man on the train has their legs wide open, am I correct? But you have to.” But you have to! Such simple, straightforward, elegant illogic.


In year-end music news, Ann Powers writes about how “Beyoncé set the bar for the several other women who scaled pop commerce’s heights with her in 2014, to present selves and songs defined by a feminist concept of abundance” and Jezebel rounded up a bunch of smart cultural critics to talk about “Nicki Minaj’s Ass and Feminism.” I also loved this little piece at The Toast called “Requests Made By Blondie During ‘Call Me,’ In Order Of Reasonableness,” wherein “Call me any day or night” is slotted in the “High-Maintenance But Nothing Unusual” category.

It only took 91 years, but this year Disney finally realized that audiences love female protagonists interested in more than just getting married. Marvel’s got some catching up to do, but plans to release Captain Marvel, its first movie with a female lead, in 2017. Manohla Dargis tells us how bleak the situation is for women directors trying to get hired by the six major Hollywood studios, which only released three movies directed by women this year. That’s right, T-H-R-E-E. Dargis reminds us that this probably isn’t a conscious act of discrimination, but the product of ye olde subtle, insidious sexism, which “often works like a virus that spreads through ideas, gossip, and stories about women, their aesthetic visions and personal choices, and doubts about whether they can hack it in that male-dominated world. Of course, the end result is that female directors don’t get hired.”

I loved this interview with Taja Lindley or Colored Girls Hustle on Feministing, which reminds us of the ways fashion and ornament have been historically devalued because they’re aligned with femininity:

Anytime we choose to enjoy and celebrate our bodies, it is a big middle-finger-up to all of the systems and people who would like us to hate ourselves instead, that would like us to be dead instead. Honoring and affirming our bodies by ornamenting them with adornment is a pleasure ritual. It is a freedom ritual to discover and express pleasure in a body that is under constant, severe, calculated, and systematic policing, surveillance, hypersexualization, demonization, marginalization and other forms of attack.

“If I was the fountain, she was the crank”: Dawn Lundy Martin’s essay on moving to San Francisco at 22 at learning from Angela Davis is worth it for the gorgeous prose alone, and is also very wise and very timely.

Last but not least, Ms. has a list of the top ten feminist hashtags of 2014. For me, it was the year of the affirmative hashtags #YesAllWomen and #BlackLivesMatter: yes and yes.

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On “Man Spreaders”

Last night, I was on the C train on my way to a meeting of feminist poets, standing facing an MTA poster that first went up a couple years ago, announcing the return of the Poetry in Motion program. “Many of you felt parting was not such sweet sorrow,” reads the poster, but whenever I see it, I wonder, Did people really write or call the MTA clamoring for poetry? I then thought about how easy it is to run into a poet on the subway or on the streets of Brooklyn, and figured that it was possible that I lived in a city where people were hungry for more poems to read on their commutes. Still, I was skeptical.


After the meeting, I came home, scrolled my feed, and saw an article reporting that the MTA’s new courtesy campaign announcements would target “man spreaders.” Man spreaders! I thought to myself. “Man spreaders!!” I said aloud and then posted on Facebook along with the article, delighted by the elegant ridiculousness of the term. I felt a wave of relief go through my body, a cultural-linguistic tingle similar to what I’d felt the first time I’d heard the term “mansplaining.” Oh, there’s a word for that. And then suddenly many separate incidents, many men, rushed forth from memory to cluster around the term. Man purse (or murse), Man sandals (or mandals), and man nanny (or manny) had only ever made me laugh or roll my eyes, but a term like “man spreaders” does something different.

Besides sounding vaguely like a personal assistant who will spread Nutella on toast for you when you ring a little bell, “man spreaders” more importantly offers a succinct, clever, easily-rolled-off-the tongue way to name those guys on trains who spread their legs over three seats while those around them stand hunched over by the weight of three bags. #NotAllMen are spreaders, and not all spreaders are men, but on an average day on the train, the person sitting with his legs splayed is usually a man, and the person standing holding three bags is usually a woman. (The reasons for those three bags are for another post, but from one bag lady to some others, it’s true.)

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