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Because we have the right to create and distribute work that critically considers the world around us and our place in it as young women and as women of color. Because we have the right to let others know what we think, connect with those who feel the same way, and educate those who disagree. Because we have the right to acknowledge that we have been oppressed as women and as women of color and to encourage other women to identify and fight against oppression in their lives. Because we have the right to help cultivate a strong female community at K College, in Kalamazoo, in this country, and in the world. Because we fucking hate patriarchal, hierarchical, bourgeoisie, white supremacist society that tells us we're weak. Because we have the right to not speak, and listen, and shout at the top of our lungs, and be acknowledged and respected. Because we have the right to wear our hair naturally, cut short, legs hairy, short dresses, or low cut shirts without being ogled. Because we have the right to flaunt our sexuality and visions without consequences, threats, or fear. Because we love our fat, bony, curved, muscular, soft, pale, dark, golden, beautiful selves. Because we remember that what we do to the earth and each other, we do to ourselves. Because our anger and sadness and empathy and love is valid, and we won't apologize for it, or let it be burned out or turned against us. Because we believe the change will not be televised, tweeted, posted, tagged, blogged about, painted, sung, scrawled, or published. Because we believe the change starts from within. Because we believe in the inherent dignity of each and every person. Because we believe in a better world with our whole spirits, minds, and bodies, and imagining and working toward one is what we do.


How to Lose (Yourself) Your sister says she’s going on a diet. She has always been more beautiful, well-liked, clever, interesting than you, but at least you are thinner. You can’t lose that too. Casually try to dissuade her: Why do you care so much? It’s not that important. Next, make it a game, where losing is winning, no rules, no end point, no score. Your period doesn’t come at the end of the month your thighs lose magnetic pull, begin to repel jeans that were once too tight are now too loose, you are getting the hang of this game. She watches what you’re eating wants to learn your strategies, staring at your body with a pained look on her face, well, good luck to her, it takes talent; it takes skill. Soon you can run your finger over the ridges of your ribs, touch the empty spaces like a tongue caressing the sockets where baby teeth once were. She talks about you to whoever will listen and everyone is watching don’t choke now it’s a mental game don’t let them get into your head. Eventually you fit into your sister’s jeans— your younger sister’s— she is eleven. Victory. But the game doesn’t end until you say it does and you’re still rolling the dice, no one can stop you, you’re competing against yourself.


Your bones are medals and trophies on display, you hide them in dusty corners of cotton, afraid she will take this from you. -------

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Cookies are a Sometime Snack, Megan Garn


Scared Screamless by Ms. March The summer after you’re twelfth birthday, you realize you like to sleep with your left hand between your legs. One night, you try to fall asleep without your thumb pressing against your skin down there, but it doesn’t work. You find the pressure comforting. You begin to wonder—hope—other girls do it too. The first day of junior high you have to pick an elective. Your choices are limited to Exploring Music, Choir, Wood shop, Foods, Debate and Careers. According to your friends, all the girls want to do Foods or Careers and the boys want to do Exploring Music or Wood Shop. Your best friend chooses Foods because of this, even thought you talked about doing Wood Shop together because you both liked doing crafts. You’ve always liked to sing, so you think about choosing Choir. When you walk over to the sing-up sheet, you realize that everything but Choir and Debate are already fifilled up. You’re relieved that there’s still a spot for you in Choir, but when Caithryn Driscall sees you write you’re name on the short list, she faces you and laughs. “Sucks to be you! I hear Choir is going to be awful.” You walk down the hall feeling embarrassed and wish you had just signed up with your best friend. Choir is your last class of the day, seventh period. The room is brown with beige trim and has a giant student-painted mural on the back wall, behind the rows of elevated steps. In the center there’s a ridiculous, giant eyeball with red veins streaking the light blue cornea. Mr. Myskowski welcomes you to class by handing you a black folder held together with old duct tape. You choose to sit on the left side of the room, far away from the eyeball, in the second row. Two minutes after the bell rings, there are only a dozen or so people in the room, all girls except for one scrawny looking boy and one big guy people call “Chubs.” Mr. Myskowski starts to introduce himself. You zone out because you’ve already heard this speech six times before from other teachers today. He holds up his own black, broken folder and says something about sheet music but you aren’t listening, you’re trying to read what it says on the painted handprints on the door. Suddenly the door opens and a group of five kids stumble in laughing, ten minutes late for class. “Are you kids supposed to be here?” Myskowski asks. “You’re already ten minutes late on the first day.” “Wood shop was closed” the tall guy in the front says. “So they forced us to come here.” The three girls standing behind him start to giggle and tug their short skirts down. e second guy just chortles a deep “Yeah” in agreement. Myskowski hands them all folders and tells them not to be late tomorrow. We finally start class with some simple vocalizing warmups. You sing, but quietly. Almost everyone else mouths the words. Except for the tall guy. He sits two rows behind you and sings loudly. And well. You like his voice and want to turn around to watch him sing, but don’t. As the last bell rings, everyone rushes out of the room to catch their busses. “Next time I want to be able to hear more than Hannah and Lloyd!” Myskowski shouts over our bobbing heads. You snicker at his name. Lloyd. You think its weird, but you keep repeating it in your head as you try to remember what bus you’re supposed to take. Out in the hallway Lloyd stands behind one of the giggling girls with his hands on her hips and whispers into her ear. A few people call out his name, trying to get his attention. He bites the girl’s ear as she squeals into his neck before running over to his athlete friends. You hate the giggling girls. You always think you sound silly when you laugh, but you’re starting to realize you might just be jealous of their bouncy hair and their short skirts. Lloyd leaves with his pack of friends to go to football practice. You get in line for your bus. As you wait among all the other impatient kids, you whisper the warm up scales from class, “me-me-me-me-me-me-me-me-me.” °°° A week later Lloyd sits right behind you in class. You wonder why he moved down a row, away from his four friends. You’re starting to practice for the winter holiday concert. You like most of the songs, but everyone else groans when Myskowski announces what you’re about to practice. After the first few groans, you find yourself groaning along with the rest of the class. You and Lloyd are still the only two who sing loud enough for the class to hear.


Myskowski has started to use you as examples. You like whenever he says your names together. You sing louder just to hear your names together. But Lloyd never talks to you, just to his friends. He doesn’t seem to notice you, even when you wave to him as you walk past each other in the hallway. You always see him groping his girlfriend, and hate the girl, but not him. She should know better than to let him touch her in the hallways. Myskowski decides to have the class practice for the upcoming concert on the risers. He has you line up by height to decide where everyone should stand. As the tallest girl in the class, you have to stand by the tallest boy, who happens to be Llyod. Just like class, you sit in front of him. But this time there isn’t the back of a plastic chair to separate you. Sometimes his knee bumps the back of your shoulder and you get shivers between your legs. Myskowski likes to talk a lot about ‘concert etiquette,’ but you and everyone else stops listening and concentrate on keeping your eyes open so that you don’t accidentally fall asleep. As your eyelids $utter, closing as you drift off to sleep, you feel a slight pinch on your shoulder. “Hey. Jessica.” Lloyd is pinching your bra strap. “Hey. Jessica. Is that you’re name, Jessica?” You don’t know what to do. He doesn’t know you’re name? But Myskowski says it all the time. He keeps pinching you. “I’m just going to call you Jessica. You’re kind-of-sort-of-pretty Jessica.” You’re face is hotter than it has ever been. You don’t know whether to correct him or to ask him to stop or to start talking to him. You slip your hand between your legs out of habit and cover your lap with your folder. “I really like you Jessica” Lloyd whispers, caressing his index finger across your neck. “Is this okay, if I keep touching you?” You feel tears welling up in your eyes. You’re so confused. You don’t want Myskowski to look over and see what’s happening. He said that if you get caught talking he’ll fail you for the concert. You just want Lloyd to stop. His friend is watching, laughing at what’s happening. Lloyd slides his hand over the middle of your back, right over the latch of your bra. “What if I undid your bra right here, Jessica? Would you like that?” The girls next to you hear what’s going on, but they don’t do anything. ey’re trying to pay attention and not get in trouble. “Please don’t,” you plead in a whisper. “What was that, Jessica? What did you say” Finally Myskowski sees what’s going on. “Lloyd! Stop talking or you’ll fail your concert grade! Hannah! You stop talking too! You should know better.” As you walk out of the gymnasium, Lloyd follows you. “I’m sorry about that Jessica. I almost got us both into trouble. at wasn’t very nice.” You look at the tiles on the $oor and keep walking. You can’t cry inside the school. You won’t let yourself. All you have to do is make it to the bus without crying. “You’re not going to talk to me Jessica? Don’t you like me anymore?” You realize you’re alone in a hallway. You turned the wrong way. Suddenly, you’re scared. “Please stop Lloyd.” “Stop what, Jessica?” Suddenly Lloyd slams his fist into the locker right in front of you. You feel a scream in your throat but nothing comes out. He just stares at you. Then he turns and walks away. “See you tomorrow, Jessica.” °°° That night you dream about Lloyd. You dream that you’re a giggling girl and instead of biting your ear, he’s sticking his hand up the back of your T-shirt, unlatching your bra, and you like it. You wake up with your hand between your legs, shivering, with the covers scrunched up at the foot of the bed.


Her eyes were beautiful, I Mustbe Anonymous Her eyes were beautiful, a dark chocolate, that demanded your attention, that spoke without words, that told of longing, that begged for comfort. She was not fat. She was not thin. She was so very smart. Yet her eyes knew pain. She only knew of self comfort, self pleasure. I could not comfort her. She was 17. I was not. Her eyes were beautiful. She did not see the beauty. We ran together, some. We talked together, some. She wanted to lose some weight. We stopped. She was 17. I was not. Spring came. She never took off her sweats. Her eyes were beautiful. Her eyes still spoke. July. Family picnic. Two families. Her eyes were beautiful. Sweats came off. So much weight lost. So thin. So very thin. Much too thin. We spoke when we were alone. She touched herself while we were alone. To show me she was a woman. She asked me to touch her. She knew I could fill her. She knew I could give her the pleasure she so craved. She knew I loved her. She was 17. I was not. The doctors helped her gain back some weight. August. College beckoned. Goodbyes. Find your self. Find your strength. Find your beauty. Here eyes have always been beautiful. Her soul has always been beautiful. She will always be beautiful. She found herself first. She found love after that. She found her pleasure in the body of another woman. She discovered that she IS beautiful. -----


As Tall as the Trees, Jenny Tarnoff


There’s a girl who has my heart. I held her for the first time when I was seven years old and all I could think to myself was: What is this weird looking thing and why can’t she stop crying? Now I look at her and can’t believe that the beautiful woman in front of me was the baby I held in my arms before I knew what she would come to mean to me. She is my sister. She is 2,000 miles away. With two words she shook up my world, sent my heart plunging, made my eyes heavy. “I’m ugly,” she said as her voice quivered and tears swelled up in her eyes. She said she was fat and boys don’t like that. It must be true, no boys had asked her to dance all night and all the girls had been asked, even Nicole. It is hard to describe the feeling of complete helplessness; the deafening blow that such words can deal. She was the one that I swore I would always protect. She was the one who put her hand on my shoulder when I thought that everything was falling apart, and I knew that it would be okay. But she was alone now and I was far away. I pulled my sweatshirt over my mouth so that she could not hear me cry and the phone was silent. I resented the fact that she had been made to feel that way. I hated that society told her that she couldn’t be beautiful because she was tall, because she had curves, because she had a brain, because she wasn’t the kind of girl who looked like she would give you everything just because you gave her the courtesy of a grind at a high school dance. I think of all the people who can hug their sister tonight but let the moment pass. I think of all the opportunities to tell the important people in my life that they are beautiful, but I let them slip away. I’ve heard that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but whoever said that didn’t know the first thing about teenage pain. So tonight I will lay here and dream of her under city lights and wish that I could be there to keep her safe, to tell her all that she is.


pia bramley


Reasons Why Not Shaving is Not a Crime Against Nature Emerson Invert 1. It's not against nature Mature mammals—females included—have body hair. It's how we keep warm. The advent of leg, armpit, pubic, and sometimes stomach hair is a mark of sexual maturity. So while people enjoy calling unshaven women unfeminine, i pose that hairiness is a sign of femininity, as opposed to the hairlessness of childhood (see number 2). 2. Shaving reinforces pre-pubescent ideals of beauty A huge component of mainstream ideals of female beauty is female infantilization—look at any high fashion ad and you're sure to find a women in a childish pose, perhaps standing pigeontoed. Though disturbing, this trend is mirrored in numerous cultural practices, including the removal of body and pubic hair. Have you ever thought how it's strange that having hair, as most adult women do, is considered sexually unattractive, while not having hair, even on the pubic mons, as children and young teens don't, is considered sexually attractive? It squicks me out, at least. 3. Buying razors, shaving cream, and other accouterments adds up Women spend an average of ?? per month on shaving paraphernalia, not to mention the water—and time—used to shave. Imagine what nobler things that money could be put toward. 4. It's not dirty The removal of hair doesn't equal hygiene; bathing does. In fact, in regard to pubic hair, it's more hygienic not to shave, as the hair is there to protect the vagina from dirt, bacteria, etc. If hairlessness=hygiene, why don't men also shave their legs and armpits? Why don't we all keep our heads shaved? 5. Women shouldn't have to "maintain" their bodies in order to feel beautiful Women are beautiful with their hair, just as they are. If women consciously choose to shave, that of course is their decision, but i have to push back against it when it becomes a point of necessity, like, "Oh, my god, i haven't shaved in two days, i can't show my legs even though it's boiling outside." Silent completion of the thought: "Because i'd feel unfeminine, or undesirable, or ugly." That's not how it should be. The Diplomatic Disclaimer I'm not saying that you have to shave to be a feminist—or that if you don't shave, you even are one. I'm not saying that if you shave, you suck, and if you don't, you're automatically the shit. What i am calling for is an examination of why you shave, if you do. Is it a personal preference, or do you feel insecure or ugly if you don't? I guess what i'm calling for more than a league of hairy women is a league of women who are comfortable with their bodies whether or not their legs are hairy, or their lips are painted, or their lashes mascaraed. It's 100% not a binary: i realize fully that some femme women, complete with long locks, smooth shins, and painted nails, are as fierce and confident and feminist as certain hairy, dreadlocked, make up-less hippies. Women—people—come in all different styles, all different gender expressions. But i am sick of getting stares at my hairy limbs, of people (particularly family members) hinting that i look dirty or unattractive because of them—just as i consider shaving a valid choice if it's considered rather than blindly adhered to, so should be not shaving.


You tried to kiss me and you tried to take off my hat. The one with the brim. I took it back with a smile and said, “No kissing; just dancing!� Did you think you had some kind of right to me? We are bodies here on this dance floor giving one another thighs, hips, points of contact, motion. Don't think that means anything but what it means. After this clitlove, this dryhump, this hot hot leglock arousal, I will shake your hand in thanks and walk away. --


My#past#makes#my#ears#ring.# It’s#loud#and#it’s#heavy#and#it’s#embarrassing#as#hell.#Because#it#sticks#on#my#skin#and# interrupts#my#dreams#and#makes#itself#known#when#the#mirror#doesn’t#look#back#at# me#quite#right.#And#I#know#this#isn’t#eloquent,#but#fuck#it.# # I#was#bulimic.# # I’m#sick#of#not#talking#about#it,#and#pretending#it#didn’t#happen,#and#laughing#about# it#at#family#dinners#because#it’s#just#too#serious#to#be#taken#seriously.##I’m#sick#of# feeling#weighed#down#when#I#say#it,#like#my#“emotional#baggage”#is#something#I’ll# have#to#carry#for#the#rest#of#my#fucking#life.#Like#it’ll#never#go#away,#and#I’ll#always# be#suffering,#and#I’ll#never#be#able#to#rise#above#it#or#reclaim#it#as#a#part#of#who#I#am.# I’m#sick#of#explaining#it#to#niceElooking#people#in#leather#chairs#who#tell#me#all#the# things#I’ve#been#repeating#to#myself#for#years#now.#I’m#sick#of#repressing#it,#of#being# ashamed#of#it,#of#feeling#weakened#by#it.#I’m#sick#of#it#defining#who#I#am.#I’m#sick#of# not#saying#it.## # Bulimic.# # I#should#be#fucking#shouting#it!#I#want#to#say#it#slowly#and#loudly#and#with#pride.#I# want#to#feel#the#words#buzz#in#my#mouth#and#caress#my#lips#and#echo#in#the#air# around#me.#I#want#to#let#it#out#and#see#it#and#grab#it#out#of#the#air.#I#want#to#hold#it# close#and#stroke#it#and#tell#it#I#love#it#and#that#I’m#sorry.#I#want#to#thank#it#for#making# me#better,#stronger,#more#appreciative,#and#shiny#inside.#I#want#to#laugh#in#its#face# and#tell#it#I’m#not#scared#or#embarrassed#anymore.#I#want#to#say#it#to#everyone#I# know,#and#say#it#smiling,#so#that#they#know#they#can#talk#about#it#too.#I#want#us#all#to# shout#it#together.#I#want#my#friends#and#family#and#my#beautiful,#ragged#sisters#to# stand#up#and#hold#my#hand#and#sing#it#as#loudly#as#possible.## # I#WAS#BULIMIC!!!!# # Yes!#I#was#bulimic!#I#ravaged#my#body#and#my#soul#because#I#couldn’t#see#every#little# segment#of#spine#sticking#out#yet.#Because#being#thinner#and#eliminating#everything# in#me#would#make#me#lovable,#would#make#him#love#me#again,#would#make# everyone#love#me.#So#I#made#myself#puke,#three#times#a#day,#for#several#months.#Yes,# I#did#it.#I#rammed#my#fingers#into#the#back#of#my#throat#until#my#eyes#watered#and# my#nose#ran#and#my#body#was#empty.##I#ate,#and#puked,#and#sobbed#quietly#on#the# bathroom#floor,#and#brushed#my#teeth,#and#did#it#again.#And#again.# # It#was#horrible.#It#was#soulEkilling.#It#made#me#skinny,#and#bony,#and#lifeless.## # But#it#was#not#my#fault.#It#was#not#our#fault.#My#dear#friends,#my#sweet,#aching,#bony# sisters,#we#were#victims.#Listen#to#me.#WE.#ARE.#VICTIMS.#Victims#of#magazine#ads# and#movie#stars#and#a#lack#of#respect#that#makes#us#forget#about#everything#that# really#matters.#Victims#of#their#eyes#and#their#expectations#and#their#hands#that#


grope#for#hipbones#and#weak#spots.#We#are#victims,#and#we#have#been#tricked#and# lied#to.## # But#I’m#not#going#to#accept#it#as#a#weakness.#They#lied#to#me#as#I#grew#into#this#body,# but#I#refuse#to#let#them#deceive#me#again.#Being#bulimic—the#vicious#cycle,#the# chaotic#catharsis—made#me#who#I#am.#It#revealed#to#me#the#deep#dark#underbelly#of# the#lie#that#was#bred#into#my#bones.#It#stripped#me#down#to#the#core#until#all#that# was#left#was#the#truth.#And#there#was#nothing#to#do#but#start#from#scratch,#build# from#the#bottom,#make#a#new#body#and#see#it#with#new#eyes.#And#now#this# miraculous#body#is#mineE#I#made#it,#and#I#alone#decide#that#it’s#beautiful.#Everything# about#this#body#is#incredible#and#sexy,#and#I#want#to#touch#it#and#look#at#it#all#the# time#because#I#can#do#that#now#without#cringing.## # So,#don’t#ignore#it,#or#look#at#me#with#wide,#bewildered#eyes#when#I#say#it.#Don’t#feel# sorry#for#me,#or#treat#me#any#differently.#Don’t#think#for#a#second#that#I’m#fragile#and# need#to#be#treated#nicely#and#gently#and#carefully#because#I#carry#this#thing#with#me.# I#know#it’s#confusing,#and#it#sounds#violent#and#painful#and#scary.#And#it#was.## But#I#will#fucking#say#it,#even#if#it#makes#you#uncomfortable.#I#will#say#it,#I#will#shout# it,#I#will#let#it#ring#in#my#ears#and#let#it#fill#my#brain,#my#heart,#and#my#whole#body.# Because#I#am#not#ashamed,#and#I#want#you#to#know.#I#want#everyone#to#know.#I#want# them#to#see#it#and#look#at#my#glimmering,#powerful#body,#and#feel#the#joy#leaking#out# of#my#pores,#and#know#it#for#what#it#is#and#repeat#it#with#me.## # Bulimic.# # Bulimic.# # Bulimic.# # # # # ELady%Stardust#


Just keep Repeating the Mantra, Megan Garn


The morning is when I see Subbaraman

Lately I've been waking up transparent as somber morning light wafts through closed blinds and through my body. A frigid bite of morning air cuts deep through already exposed skin and the murmur of my empty stomach drags me from the temporary refuge of unusually uncreased blankets and deceiving warmth. Awaking to the bunches and creases of blankets and skin was once a habitual reality, but now it seems no energy remains to contort what has already been distorted. Stepping out of bed, the mirror before me reflects a foreign body, more parasitic than any sickness that could envelop me. I faintly recognize myself by the freckles scattered below my breast and above my exposed clavicle. The unknown torso stretches to reveal another rib peeking through skin begging to be hidden once again, and I bask in the insubstantial satisfaction of being empty. This frailness plagues me with the pleasure of not filling the clothes that once clung close and caressed my body but the feeling lasts only as long as my gaze in the mirror. I stand and shiver and let all that does not belong inside me enter. I do not have enough substance to keep anything out or hold anything in. I look until I cannot look back any longer and another bite of frigid air persuades me to cover myself. For a feeling that should be no feeling at all, I wonder how emptiness can be so filling.


A NOTE: Don't misconstrue. Extroversion, introversion — we all have different ways of being. I don't even know anything about persimmons The apple is always the starting-place, weighty and firm-fleshed with wan skin and precious juice. She holds the brown seeds between thumb and forefinger, one hand tucked within the other. The pomegranate should come first, according to her—far more prolific. Tasting earthy and shrouded in sweet, those blood-bombs are the treasure of the gourd. So unexpected, the jeweled fistfuls. The peach, forthcoming with what drips down the chin, nevertheless guards well her pit: I've heard it's a double casing. Within the riddled brown eye, a smaller, smoother secret. There's a word for that. And it's much the same with plum, candy-water fruit holding the stone fast, translucent. Raspberry and blackberry, thimbleberry, grapes; they clan together, cluster up, each precious germ given her own minute, plump queendom. But consider the strawberry's startling nonchalance. Wearing seeds like sequins as an afterthought. Makes me unslouch.


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