What country music does at its finest is to tell a personal narrative. Too often, the history of rural small town America is either erased or falsified into an overtly nostalgic value set in pop culture. It is important to share these stories, and to open up this genre to voices we might not…
By our own former FP intern (who may or may not be self-promo-ing this right now, promise this is my last post!) Madeleine
The last in our series of four installments from the Feminist Press, here are queer theory essentials, because you cannot understand the intersections of gender and sexuality, without sexuality. All books are linked to their publisher’s purchase page, not Amazon. Most are published by independent presses.
Epistemology of the Closet- Eve Sedgwick innovates what we now call a “queer reading.” Look specifically for her introduction, Axiomatic, where she argues against any kind of absolution or binary when it comes to gender and sexuality.
Spit and Passion- Christy C. Road’s graphic novel about her experience as a closeted twelve-year-old in a Cuban Catholic family obsessed with Green Day, a story about how music can save a soul.
A History of Sexuality- Michel Foucault’s three-volume pioneer for sexuality studies that studies how sex has always existed in public discourse (even when we don’t see it!), a fascinating and essential read.
Testo Junkie- Beatriz Preciado continues where Foucault’s History of Sexuality left off, highlighting how hormones modify how we concieve of our bodies, and how pharmaceutical and pornographic industries produce desire.
Tango- by Justin Vivian Bond, a memoir of “difference” and an utterly relatable tale of adolescence, told from the trans/queer kid who joined the cub scouts and had secret trysts with the bully next door.
My New Gender Workbook- Kate Bornstein writes an accessible guide and fun framework to living with, without, and in between genders.
We Walk Alone- When Ann Aldrich’s book came out in 1955, it was the first in its field. In this memoir and investigative work of journalism, she writes about the underground urban lesbian culture of New York City.
Fun Home- Alison Bechdel writes a startling personal narrative and comic history, a countercultural icon for lesbian and lgbtq narratives.
New Lesbian Studies- this collection, edited by Bonnie Zimmerman and Toni McNaron, reveals the differences between lesbian perspectives and activisms. Writings about theory, practice, and lived experience.
Stranger on Lesbos- Valerie Taylor wrote three explosive and utterly entertaining lesbian pulp fictions. When a bored housewife meets Blake, a butch lesbian, at a community college course, her world opens.
Black Queer Studies- E. Patrick Johnson and Mae G. Henderson, a groundbreaking volume to increase visibility of queer, black communities, and the erasure of black communities and perspectives within the LGBTQ movement.
Pissing in a River- A lesbian punk-soundrack by Lorrie Sprecher, this intoxicating and hilarious novel depicts young Amanda who moves to London to get immersed in its punk and queer activist scene.
Gender Trouble- Judith Butler writes against feminism’s tendency to essentialize sex and gender, rewriting how we think of gender as learned and performative rather than a priori reality.
Queer Ideas- An essential and interdisciplinary introduction to queer ideas, a collection of the key thinkers of today and yesterday reflecting on their experiences and theorizing into new fields.
There’s cult status and then there’s occult status. For the past five years, nothing has drawn New York’s nocturnal creatives deeper into downtown’s darkness for nights of apocalyptic fun quite like the iconic GHE20G0TH1K parties. Last weekend saw the summer’s final fete, which brought together not only two of electronic music’s most progressive female fixtures, but two best friends: GHE20G0TH1K founder Venus X and Nguzunguzu’s Asma Maroof.
Venus X: I’m definitely a feminist, but I don’t agree with all of that stuff that people are calling feminism right now. Feminism isn’t just about women or just about gender, it’s about making everyone acceptable. People in wheelchairs, trans people, poor people, black people, everyone! But now, people are using feminism only to speak about sexuality and sexual freedom. The world doesn’t become a better place because you showed your ass in a thong on Instagram. That’s not intersectional. That doesn’t reflect the progressive ideals of feminism, it’s like going back two waves of feminism. It’s not the 60s, we already made those strides. In the 80s and 90s, feminism was redefined as something that should include racism and disabilities, but nobody’s talking about that. Nobody wants to say that the person who’s fat and doesn’t look like Beyonce is actually more of a feminism than Beyonce. Poor little feminism. The word is just getting pimped out!
Hello lovely FP tumblr followers, thanks for (virtually) hanging out with us this summer. It’s been a blast! Sadly, this is goodbye from this account, but you can check out our contributor page if you want to know who we are and if we have blogs you can follow. Thanks again, and watch out for new batch of FP interns soon.
Part III in our Feminism 101 Book Series, this series particularly focuses on writing women back into history, and giving due attention to women figures of yesterday and today. This is a pro-books and pro-independent publishing blog—no links are to Amazon, and most are to independent publishers.
Who Is Ana Mendieta?- In the tradition of Maus and A Graphic History of the Beats, Christine Redfern’s explosive graphic novel serves the reader with the creative and political legacy of exiled Cuban artist Ana Mendieta. Women to know about.
Witches, Midwives, & Nurses- now-legendary Barbara Erenreich and Deidre English pioneer women’s revisionist history with an expose on the interactions between the fear of women healers and political and economic suppression.
Valerie Solanas- Brienne Fahs writes the first biography on the woman who wrote the SCUM manifesto and shot Andy Warhol.
Hillbilly Women- Skye Moodey tackles two ignored subjects in nonfiction at once—oral history and Appalachia. So, so important for revealing the raw and multifaceted experiences of a largely misunderstood community.
Life in the Iron Mills- Rebecca Harding Davis wrote the “Uncle Tom’s Cabin of American capitalism,” largely considered the first careful expose of the U.S.’s very poor.
Assata: An Autobiography- Assata Shakur, Black Power Activist and the first woman on the FBI’s most wanted list speaks in her own words. Listen to her.
Pussy Riot! A Punk Prayer for Freedom- What place does music have in activism today? How much influence can activism have in a repressive society? Read the first and most comprehensive book on the group that captivated the world.
The War Before- Black Panther activist and former political prisoner Safiya Bukhari writing about her experiences shifting from pre-med student to activist, the place of women in the black Panther movement, and the families left behind in the movement.
Redefining Realness Janet Mock’s memoir of her experience claiming her own identity as a trans woman simultaneously provides an elegiac personal and community statement, and shows the enormous lack of other comparable writings available today.
The Riot Grrrl Handbook- is in equal parts important feminist theory, and the most fun you’ll ever have with a book. A collection of zines that inspires and rages across the decades to the present day.
Meet FP's Art Director Drew Stevens: "I couldn't be a priest because I wanted to fall in love with a man..."
Last week, I got to sit down with Drew Stevens, Feminist Press’s Art Director. Drew was born in Cincinnati, but moved to Louisville, Kentucky when he was 10 and considers it his “spiritual home.” Drew has led quite the colorful life thus far. After studying architecture for two years at the University of Kentucky, Drew decided he wanted to be a Catholic priest, so he moved to northern Kentucky to attend seminary and finished his schooling there, graduating from Thomas More College with bachelor degrees in history and philosophy. But it is his two years of training in architecture that he uses the most in his work as a graphic artist: the principles of two- and three-dimensional design, color theory, structural hierarchy.
Drew said he developed an interest for architecture at a very young age. “When I was 5 years old, I flew in an airplane for the very first time. We were going from Cincinnati to Minneapolis, and had to change planes in Chicago. There was heavy cloud cover over all of Chicago, but the top of John Hancock Tower was popping up out of the clouds. To me, five years old, it was the most magical site I had ever seen in my life: this building popping out of clouds. That’s what got me interested in architecture. I wanted to build something that popped up out the clouds like that. Kind of Freudian…” After we giggled, he went onto explain how he went from wanting to be an architect to a priest:
Well, I had always been aware of the spiritual self within me, but as a youngster — I was 20 years old when I went into seminary — all I knew was the Catholic Church,” he said. “I wanted to pursue a spiritual life. I didn’t really know what there was besides Catholicism so I gravitated toward it, but I only stayed for two years. I left seminary because I finally admitted to myself that I was gay and that I wanted to be gay. I couldn’t be a priest because I wanted to fall in love with a man. I stayed in the Catholic church for another three or four years after that. I had continued to believe that Catholicism was the spiritual path for me. The reason I left the Catholic church was actually completely political. In the mid-80s the pope was staging some sort of crackdown on homosexuals in the priesthood. In Louisville, where I was living, there was a hate crime law making its way through the local legislature. The archbishop publicly announced that he did not believe homosexuals needed any special protection under this hate crime. Well, I knew the archbishop and I knew that the archbishop said to all of his gay seminarians and gay priests, ‘As long as I am in this chair, you don’t have to worry about anything. You have special protection,’ but then he comes out to the public and says ‘Gays don’t need special protection.’ That was it. All of sudden I saw the hypocrisy that is so rampant the church hierarchy, the scales fell from my eyes. I was a Catholic one day, the next day—out—I just did not darken the door of a Catholic church again. From there I embarked on a quest to absorb everything I could about Eastern religions, astrology, paganism, Jungism, Gaia theory … a quest I continue twenty-five years later.
Drew’s definition of feminism is probably one of the most unique that I have come across during my series of interviews. Drew didn’t identity himself as a feminist until he started working at the Feminist Press:
I wasn’t anti-feminist, I knew feminism was out there and I knew it was important, but I was too busy having a fabulous social life to think much of it. I didn’t feel as though it concerned me. Joining the Feminist Press, it began to concern me, and not just because it was my job to be concerned. I became aware on a much deeper level. What I have come to understand is the masculine primacy that predominates on Earth is not in balance with the energy of the universe. Within the universe, male and female are two very small parts of a much greater picture; but Earth is all about male and female energy. Earth is equally male and female and yet with this masculine hegemony in place the planet is completely out of whack. You can see the results of men being “in charge” everywhere: the wars, the destruction of the environment, the economic injustice, just the sheer brutality that we see every day in our entertainment — movies, TV, music. All of this malaise is absolutely tied to this imbalance of masculine over feminine The survival of the planet is at stake here. We need to restore the feminine to her rightful place; we need a gender balance so that the earth will vibrate properly. It’s wobbling right now — it’s getting worse and worse. We need to honor the energy of the planet through gender equality. This really is the root. This is how I see it.
Drew is probably one most poetic humans beings I have ever come across. He has one of the most welcoming presences I have ever encountered. One of my personal favorite memories of my summer at FP was seeing Marilyn Maye with him at 54 Below, the former Studio 54. Drew has truly transformed the look and feel of FP books. He designs covers that truly draw you in and lays out pages that continue to draw you into the world of the book.
“1.Neither video has appeared as a commercial on television. Both were released on the Pantene and Always brands’ YouTube channels and then promoted via social media and subsequent publicity.
2. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg was a consultant for the Pantene video.“Women’s empowerment exercises can be tricky,” said Pantene spokesperson Cheri McMaster. “We wanted to make sure we were going down the right path.” Sandberg’s feedback? Glowing, McMaster said.”
Ninety-six women, recruited on Facebook, gathered in Tucson, Arizona to disrobe in front of total strangers in the name of body love. This is the second time Baker and K have shot images for this project.
In a blog post about the shoot, photographer Liora K explained how she stressed the beauty and uniqueness of every participant during the process:
What I really wanted the women to get out of our time (how ever brief) together was that they were IMPORTANT. That their bodies deserved to be seen, that what they perceive as faults are simply THEM, and are neither right nor wrong. That showing their bodies won’t innately cause them harm. That their breasts won’t cause damage to those around them, or their bellies or thighs either. That their nudity, while making them vulnerable, does not make them at fault. And that lastly, their bodies are their vehicles through life, and to treat them with kindness. I hope that came across.
Because lying to your kids about sex helps nobody. Telling them that sex is “only between mommies and daddies” is a lie that leads to confused, hormone charged teenagers. Telling them that sex is “only something that happens when two people love each other very much” is a lie that causes hormone charged teenagers to confuse “love” with “lust,” or “obsession.” It leads to leaps of logic like, “If I have sex with them, we must be in love.” Or worse- “If I love them, I have to have sex with them.” And how many teenage tragedies are based on that misconception?
The truth is human beings, almost universally, like sex. It feels good. I’s supposed to feel good. If it didn’t, the human race would die out. The truth is sex isn’t special and magical just because it’s sex. The truth is you can have spectacular sex with strangers who’s names you don’t even know. The truth is that just because you can, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should.
And that’s what sex positive parenting really is. Not telling kids lies about sex to keep them from behaviors we don’t think are healthy. It’s telling them the truth, the whole truth, and letting it sink in so they can make their own good choices.
—Lea Grover defines sex-positive parenting over at Scary Mommy
“Why are police calling the people of Ferguson animals and yelling at them to “bring it”? Because those officers in their riot gear, with their tear gas and dogs, want a justification for slaughter. But inexplicably…we turn our attention to the rioters, the people with less power, but justifiable anger, and say, “You are the problem.” No. A cop killing an unarmed teenager who had his hands in the air is the problem. Anger is a perfectly reasonable response. So is rage.
…How dare people preach and condescend to these people and tell them not to loot, not to riot? Yes, those are destructive forms of anger, but frankly I would rather these people take their anger out on property and products rather than on other people.
No, I don’t support looting. But I question a society that always sees the product of the provocation and never the provocation itself. I question a society that values property over black life. But I know that our particular system of law was conceived on the founding premise that black lives are white property…
Nothing makes white people more uncomfortable than black anger. But nothing is more threatening to black people on a systemic level than white anger. It won’t show up in mass killings. It will show up in overpolicing, mass incarceration, the gutting of the social safety net, and the occasional dead black kid. Of late, though, these killings have been far more than occasional. We should sit up and pay attention to where this trail of black bodies leads us….”—Brittney Cooper (via blue-author)
The idea that women in media (and specifically in women’s media) could be making millions of dollars if they just tried is a laughable one, and no one is more aware of it than the women in women’s media. The fact that someone with money, connections, clout and most importantly — white cis male privilege — can swoop into a space where women have been working sixty hours a week for years and declare that what they’re doing is either inadequate or not even there is rage-inducing.
The thing is, though, that this isn’t the first time it’s happened. For women who work in women’s media — especially if it’s media that includes content for “niche” readers or demographics like women of color, and especially if you don’t have men in some way backing or funding your company — it’s a regular fact of life to roll your eyes when other outlets are lauded for content that you’ve been publishing for a long time. It’s familiar to see something that you were doing first become popular, garnering millions of unique views and thousands in advertising dollars, because it happened on a website that was in some way backed by men, whether that means it was founded by them, funded by them, or is a women’s vertical of an already established site that was established by men.
—Rachel of Autostraddle explains why Bryan Goldberg’s Bustle.com received $6.5 million in venture capital when female-run websites rarely generates funding
And books like 50 Shades set a dangerous precedent for would-be subs: one where hyper-femininity is demanded and safe words are for the weak. I understand why, upon reading these books, some people become adamant that D/s is just an excuse for violence against women. The relationships portrayed in these books are, without a doubt, abusive. I worry about the women who, instructed by 50 Shades, would not be able to recognize the difference between an abuser and a Dom — the women who will inevitably take their curiosity over to Fetlife.
In the world of 50 Shades, I — a queer Domme — am unthinkable. And the subs I know, not instantly recognizable, but real people with a variety of preferences, are equally absent.
—Jennifer Hanks of Autostraddle explores how Fifty Shades and its imitators have affected the public perception of BDSM
Thor’s power used to be embedded in Thor directly. But when Thor’s father, Odin (also the king of Thor’s realm, Asgard), wanted to punish Thor for violating his direct commands, Odin stripped Thor of his powers and enshrined them instead in Mjolnir. Here’s the spell Odin put on the hammer to do so:
Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.
Translation: To get Thor’s power, you have to be deemed worthy of it by successfully picking up the hammer. In most Marvel Thor origin stories, eventually Thor redeems himself, reclaims his hammer (without first knowing why he couldn’t pick it up any longer) and then becomes the “real” Thor again, ready to return to his lightning-summoning, hammer-slinging self.
But Thor isn’t the only person who’s lifted the hammer: Captain America, the Hulk (eventually!) and Superman (crossover!) were deemed worthy and got Thor’s power. Who does the deeming is something of a mystery, but I’ve long thought that Mjolnir itself is sentient and the hammer itself decides who’s worthy of it.
Part II in our Feminism 101 Booklist series, here is a list of literature by ladies that shakes the boundaries of old-white-dude academia. All books are linked to their publisher’s purchase page, not Amazon. Most are published by independent presses.
Give it to Me- by Ana Castillo, the hilarious, bold, and insightful journey of forty-three-year-old, pansexual Palma, in equal turns addictive and poetic.
Purple Hibiscus- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s first novel, an intimate narrative of fifteen-year-old Kambili in a religious Nigerian household; a reflection on joy, power, and family.
Brown Girl, Brownstones- Paule Marshal’s tale of coming of age in a Brooklyn immigrant family and the struggle of balancing personal and community aspirations.
Persepolis- by Marjane Satrapi, a two-volume graphic novel confessional of a young woman coming of age in Tehran, the story of a girlhood and the story of a country.
I Love Myself When I Am Laughing- by Zora Neale Hurston, edited by Alice Walker. Hurston is one of the essential voices of the twentieth century, shaping and reshaping literary convention. This is the first and most comprehensive collection of her short works.
NW- by Zadie Smith is the story of girlhoods, the story of difference, and the story of a city. Anyone who has avoided the eyes of a stranger they pass by on a city street will recognize themselves in its poetic narrative.
His Own Where- June Jordan is best known as a poet, but this short fiction remains her only novel. Nonetheless, poetry seeps into this young-adult love story. One of the most crucial voices of recent decades.
Jane Eyre- Charlotte Bronte’s classic is shocking for its explicitness, for the direct force of its woman narrator that remains just as accessible today
The Yellow Wallpaper- Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s now-classic work of feminist realism, a story of repression and creation that blurs the lines of reality and sanity.
The Bell Jar- Sylvia Plath’s dizzying tale of the brilliant Esther, a reflection and question on the boundaries of sanity that takes the reader along for the ride.
The Color Purple- While this seminal work by Alice Walker has achieved much popularity based on its film and reputation alone, read the book for a heart-wrenching portrayal of inherited pain, family, and love.
Into the Go-Slow- Bridgett Davis’s tale of a younger sister attempting to make sense of her radical black activist sister Angie’s death in Nigeria several years before; honest, intimate, and utterly relatable.
A Gate at the Stairs- Lorrie Moore’s story of college student Tassie, who becomes the babysitter for a white family adopting a black daughter. Moore can write about topics from inane, to hilarious, to utterly depressing all with a poetic attention that captivates her reader.
Jazz- Toni Morrison shows how a rhythm modifies storytelling, how obsession changes a relationship, and how an urban landscape alters the tempo of daily black lives.
Zipper Mouth- Laurie Week’s tale of drugs and backroom escapades during a lower-east-side adolescence in the early nineties, told in the voice of a fast-talking, confiding best friend.
Maryam Mirzakhani is the first woman to ever win the Fields Medal – known as the “Nobel Prize of mathematics” – in recognition of her contributions to the understanding of the symmetry of curved surfaces.
Congrats to Maryam Mirzakhani!
Those of you interested in entering the math field should attend our STEMinism event on October 23rd! It is FREE and it comes with breakfast! For more information click HERE and learn more! Hope to see you all there!
• When your daughter responds to your denial of a cookie request by pooping in the tub, and then you put your face in your hands because you’re tired, so tired, and it’s only 10 A.M., and you wrap your daughter in a towel, hand her a cookie, and lie facedown on the carpet, you haven’t failed as a parent. Your daughter has simply succeeded in the kind of scorched-earth negotiation tactics that will one day garner her the salary that she deserves.
Is it not an assault on Black people’s reproductive rights to brutally and systematically deny us the opportunity to raise children who will grow to adulthood, who can experience the world with childlike wonder? Is it not an assault on Black people’s reproductive rights to tell us we give birth to future criminals and not innocent children, to murder one of us every 28 hours and leave a family in mourning?
Those victims are not just statistics; they are people, with bodies and families and future generations who will never see them smile again. They are children, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, and chosen family members. They are integral parts of communities that raise children. As RH Reality Check senior legal analyst Imani Gandy tweeted, we cannot ignore the truth that “police violence against black and brown people is a reproductive justice issue.”
Women of color bear a relationship to reproduction that is fraught with trauma and state control, a perpetual tightrope that stretches beyond the simple paradigm of “pro-choice” organizing. Police violence against our children is a continuation of the same culture that lynched pregnant Black women, that forcibly sterilized cisgender women of color well into 2010, that has required mandatory sterilization for trans people, that paints reproductive rights as an issue only affecting cisgender women. The unifying message is simple: Black bodies, trans bodies, disabled bodies are not worthy of defending. We do not need to continue existing, to further our legacies.
—Hannah Giorgis explores the relationship between reproductive justice and racialized violence on The Frisky.
"Comprehensive contraceptive coverage improves use: Methods of contraception differ dramatically in their effectiveness and are not interchangeable medically or otherwise. That’s why the ACA contraceptive coverage benefit matters so much—women need access to the full range of contraceptive methods."
“[Science-fiction movies] are the kinds of movies I enjoy watching, much as I really enjoy history and science,” she recalls, “but I was noticing that I was having trouble convincing people, when I was pitching on projects, that I would be capable of doing this. There was a little bit of an attitude of, ‘Well, you’re a woman, you’re not writing romantic comedies, we’ll give you the Marie Curie biopic.’”
She kept trying. She pitched one company a project with a sample that they loved, but they told her that even though they appreciated her take on the article they had optioned they weren’t sure she could write the more action-heavy parts. “They kept saying, ‘This is a guy’s movie, you know, it’s really a guy’s movie.’ I didn’t want to say, ‘Are you saying a woman can’t write a guy’s movie?’” Perlman recalls. “What is a guy’s movie anyway? If you’re making a movie that’s just for one gender, what’s the point?’”