“Three noes, one for each of us: my rapist, the Institution, and me.”–Melissa Ferrone and Kelly Sundberg
“I know it may seem silly to talk about television and movies when hate is on the rise and the very soul of our country is at stake, but this is the exact time that artists must speak up.”–Jessica Mason
Finally! A menstruation coloring book.
Performance still from ASKING FOR IT
Asking for It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy And Little Else! is a performance that’s very much about performance. It’s a one-woman show where the performer runs out into the audience to steal sips of audience member drinks, leaving lipstick trails on our cocktail glasses. The character that Adrienne Truscott portrays is a party girl who just wants to go out and have fun. Along the way, she encounters a bartender who wants to get her blackout drunk so that the men at his bar can have their way with her… again. When told from this character’s perspective, the idea is horrifying. Then you start to realize how nonchalantly this “joke” could be told from a comic’s mouth into a microphone. Truscott’s anonymous character is the female butt of a misogynist joke manifested in the flesh. She’s the embodiment of the woman whose body and misery is someone else’s punch line. Truscott wants the audience to remember that the woman on the receiving end of a rape joke is in fact a real human being who statistically is out in the world being assaulted somewhere right now.
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
Introducing…HINDER! Hinder is “an exciting new app that helps you keep track of all the unhinged anti-abortion zealots right in the palm of your hand!”
Available on: http://ladypartsjustice.com
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
Sarah Clements, the daughter of a Sandy Hook survivor, wrote an open letter to Amy Schumer saying, “as a woman, a daughter and sister, a national figure, and a role model, you have a real stake in gun violence happening all around you.” Clements went on, “the experience of women in a country overshadowed by rampant, targeted gun violence and fear and hatred of women by people who are armed. This is not freedom — at least not for women.”
A writer at Paste Magazine responded to this call for Schumer to take arms by saying, “I can think of one reason why this unrealistic expectation of Schumer is so difficult for me to resist: She and I are both women and we all (other women included) expect women to be self-sacrificing for the sake of the social good.” What do you think, Weird Sister readers?
The following is an interview between Amy Berkowitz and me for her new book, Tender Points (Timeless Infinite Light), to be published this month. A narrative fractured by trauma and named after the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia, this book-length lyric essay explores sexual violence, gendered illness, chronic pain, and patriarchy through the lenses of lived experience and pop culture.
My body is washing dishes and it’s in pain. My body is on hold with California Blue Cross Blue Shield and it’s in pain. My body is dancing and it’s in pain. My body is Skyping Beth and it’s in pain. My body is taking a shower and it’s in pain. My body is riding BART and it’s in pain. My body is politely saying no and it’s in pain. My body is reading a book and it’s in pain. My body is at work and it’s in pain. My body is writing this and it’s in pain. My body is walking to meet you and it’s in pain. (127)
I’ve been diagnosed, at various times in my life, with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Sometimes, and with some people, it’s nothing to wear these labels. Many other women I love have a similar diagnosis, as do some guy friends. Women are twice as likely to have (or rather, to be diagnosed with) an anxiety disorder than men. As Americans, we live in an anxiety culture. Work is demanding, home is demanding, looks are demanding, social life is demanding. As women, we live in an anxiety culture within an anxiety culture. We are simultaneously marginalized and the targets of insanely high expectations.
Photo by NicoleHeffron.com
At age 13 I made a general life rule to stay away from trashy girl magazines, and instead subscribed to Ms. during my school’s annual magazine drive. As a result, I feel lucky to be relatively non-anxious about fat or wrinkles. My general lack of TV-watching also helps me to be less afraid of germs and terrorists than others. I admit Jaws ruined swimming for me, and after Psycho I showered in fear for a decade. I also admit that TV, movies, and other media born of our white supremacist patriarchal culture affects the ways I think about race and gender. I’m not immune. TV, even in small doses, does work its magic on me. I once saw a reality disaster show that involved a teenager getting buried alive in a school bathroom after an earthquake, or maybe it was a tornado. No, it was a tornado. Definitely. The image of him in child’s pose for thirteen hours under thirty feet of rubble is seared into my PTSD-addled brain. I am terrified of being so stuck, of no escape. I’ve been there before. Continue reading
When I was reading Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl—sometime in early October, right before the movie came out—there was this one plot twist I was scared of reading, and as I got further and further into the book I got more and more scared. It’s kind of the main plot twist, and I’d read spoilers, but that was before I had any interest in reading Gone Girl, so my understanding of how it was going to work was hazy. “This is fun so far, but I’m not sure I’m going to be able to handle it when that happens,” I worried early on. “Oh my God,” I thought to myself, about a third of the way through, “that’s who NPH plays, oh no.” Then I got to a point where I was like, “Wait, maybe this will be okay. Maybe I can bring myself to read it if this is what happens.” And then I was like, “Oh, wow, that’s how it’s going to happen.” I was glad it was going to happen. I was like, “Hooray for Amy Dunne! What a brilliant and accomplished young woman.”
I hope I grow up to be this alert and well-coiffed!
I describe this process not to demonstrate how I developed Stockholm syndrome from drinking in too much of the brilliant prose of Gone Girl, like how you read Lolita and you’re like, “Ooh, I hope Humbert Humbert gets to make out with Lolita,” at least you are until he says something like, “You see, she had absolutely nowhere else to go.” I’m describing how my feelings about this plot twist shifted because that was how I realized that everyone had lied about it.
Well, they misrepresented it.
HERE IS WHERE I AM GOING TO SPOIL GONE GIRL: Continue reading
Part Two of the Female Aesthetic(s) Symposium, moderated by Metta Sáma, went up this week on The Conversant. It features Racquel Goodison, Monica A. Hand, Patricia Spears Jones, Tracy Chiles McGhee, and Arisa White.
“Avant-garde poetry’s attitudes towards race have been no different than that of mainstream institutions.” – Cathy Park Hong in her essay, “Delusions of Whiteness in the Avant-Garde.”
Delirious Hem’s forum on Rape Culture and the Poetics of Alt Lit continues during November.
Sarah Seltzer’s interesting take on the Lena Dunham controversy explores the distinctions between triggering art and abuse.
Various cartoonists give their perspectives on writing characters of different races than your own.
Read an interview with Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, the artist behind the “Stop Telling Women To Smile” anti-street harassment campaign.
Women, Action and the Media (WAM) has partnered with Twitter to support women experiencing gender-based harassment on the social media platform. You can report any instances of harassment through this online form.
Poets in NYC met this week to talk about sexism and accountability in local poetry circles. Read the meeting handout here.
What did we miss? Share your links in the comments.