BRIEF ILLUSTRATED HERSTORY OF WOMANKIND the publishing cabin
BRIEF ILLUSTRATED HERSTORY OF WOMANKIND March 2014 Editor Ana Flecha Marco Layout & design by Ana Flecha Marco Texts by Stina Pettersson, Kelly Matias, Andrea Galaxina, Ana Flecha Marco, Julia Makayova, Guy Elisha and Evelyn Hernรกndez Images by Andrea Galaxina and Ana Flecha Marco Made in Flekke
There are 3.5 billion women on this planet. The world is full of women and yet we very rarely hear about them. This is a (very) short subjective compendium of girlsâ€™ and womenâ€™s stories, a humble celebration of women and womanhood. Stories about women, by women, for mice and wo/men. Thanks for reading. And thanks for sharing.
Ana Flecha Marco
I WOULD LIKE TO THANK MY MOTHER... text by Stina Pettersson
A herstory can be very personal. Therefore, I would like to thank some of my personal female favorites for preventing me from being more of a mess:
Mary Wollstonecraft, I would like to thank you for being like a less aggressive and more intellectual Karl Marx of feminism. Pippi LĂĽngsturmp and Ronja RĂśvardotter, for having such awesome hair and being such riot grrls and so damn radical at the age of eight. My seventh grade Swedish teacher, for never ever shutting up about feminism and for giving me reading lists.
All the feminist-blogs out there, because when I read you I hear the revolution. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichies, for making BeyoncĂŠ an outspoken feminist and for the best Ted Talk this century! My biological sister and all my not-so-biological sisters, for being the best thing in the world. Warsan Shire, for being my favorite poet and writing about patriarchy and pain.
Gudrun Schyman and Birgitta Ohlsson, for being kick-ass feminist politicians in my home country that has never had a female prime minister!
Lena Dunham, because she is hilarious, without joking at the expense of women. And I would actually like to thank my mama too. And her mama, etc.
I WAS 21 YEARS OLD text by Kelly Matias
This text was written in honor of all stories of women dead in the Latin American dictatorships that were not told after 40 years of the coup in Chile and 50 in Brazil. It was written as a way to remember that their battle is still alive, we are still fighting. They never won. It was also written as a way to celebrate what they left behind in Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and others: their courage to change what they saw as being wrong, to be the first to stand up for themselves . It was written in honor of the women around the world being used as war weapons and being silenced for their fear of being judged. It was written for every person who believes in gender equality, every women and men who has a dream and is not afraid of living and dying for it.
I was 21 years old. Do you know that feeling you have when you love something so much that you could die for it? I felt that constantly. I felt that for my people, for my country. I felt that every day when I left my apartment to buy food in the grocery downtown just to realize there were many, many people around dying of hunger and being forgotten by my government. I felt that when I was not allowed to learn how to drive, to get involved in politics, when I was overprotected. I was still lucky, I knew that. It didnâ€™t mean I should give my back to what my heart was feeling.
For the very first time we would hold presidential elections. The dream, the euphoria: you could breathe it! At university you could hear warm discussions about what would be the best for the country â€”the communist panic was very alive on my medium class environment. We should be all careful to not make the poor lazier; we should make sure to protect our daughters from the idea that we are all equal: of course we are not! I and my friends went to the streets. We believed in a country where everyone could go to school, we believed in a place where the land stolen would be given back to the ones it belonged to, we believed in opportunities, we believed in peace.
We never got to know how my country would have been. We won the elections, but we lost the battle. The panic won. The military and its coup d’état began what they called a new country: love it or leave it. Artists were censored, there was not a single party allowed to speak out for their beliefs, there was no freedom. We were better off without the fucking communists around, they told us. I loved my country too much to give my back to it. I and other young women and men decided to fight. Some people called us terrorists —but terrorism was what they have done to my people to protect their own needs. Terrorism was the amount of deaths and lies they told us, terrorism was how fake our lives had become: pretending everything was fine. What is it to be a woman in a dictatorship? I tell you my friend, it is not easy. Because we are not only afraid for ourselves, we are afraid for our children, we are afraid for our men. And as in any war fought by humanity, we are very often forgotten. There is nothing more disgusting and disturbing than the way they used our bodies as a war weapon, as we were nothing more than a toy. I heard stories before it happened to me. You never believe something like this is going to happen to you. But it did.
I was 21 years old. They caught me in one of the reunions we had, all of us. “Fucking communists, you don’t deserve to live”. I thought I would die right way. I never thought I would have wished to have died the moment they caught me as I did afterwards.
They didn’t allow me to shower, they didn’t allow me to see a doctor even though I was pregnant, I wasn’t allowed to sleep. I was raped because I wouldn’t delate my friends. I was raped because I was a communist. I was raped because I was too pretty and I deserved a real man, and not the stupid communist I dated. I was raped because I was a woman. I was 21 years old. I could hear my boyfriend screaming while they tortured him with electrical shocks. I could hear my best friend crying.
I felt my baby going away. When I was at that dark cold room I didn’t see my life passing through my eyes or anything like this: I was too tired to think about it. I concentrated on the life we were dreaming for my country, for the other girls, for my baby. I just wished my death had changed something for the best.
I was 21 years old when I died. They told my family I fought with the police when they tried to interrogate me, so they had to shoot me. My mom wasn’t allowed to see my body, but at least she knew where it was. Many other mothers never got to know what actually happened to their children, there was no body to be seen. I don’t know how my life would have been if I had survived the torture: a piece of me was left in that room. Many of my friends could never get away from being in panic for themselves and for their families: they saw how evil the society they loved could be. They were just crazy women when the dictatorship ended, no one talked about them. The shame, our fear of a society who judges a woman is to blame for being sexually abused, was bigger than our willingness to let them know that a democracy was just the beginning of what we really wanted and needed. We wanted equal education, we wanted equal rights, we wanted patriarchy to shut up and stop telling us what to do, how to dress and to forget our own dreams. I just wished this time we had not been forgotten, that our stories had been told as men’s stories were told. We also fought, we also lost, and when the time came, we also deserved to win.
A SHORT SUMMARY ABOUT RIOT GRRRL text and illustrations by Andrea Galaxina
In the 90â€™s a cultural movement that changed the relationship between music and cultural activism appeared in the USA. This movement was Riot Grrrl.
In the late 80â€™s, the USA was living a moment of underground cultural splendour, especially in two cities: Washington DC and Seattle. In the first one, we could find the Hardcore punk scene and straight edge movement, which rejected alcohol and drug abuse and sexual promiscuity. While in Seattle grunge emerged, with Nirvana as capital band, whose music addressed issues like apathy or social alienation. Both scenes had a sexist and violent mood and the presence of women was scarce. At the same time, in Olympia, a small town in the state of Washington, a young women movement responded to the rejection of these scenes and created its own. This is how the revolution girl style now came about.
The main Riot Grrrl precursors were Kathleen Hanna, Tobi Vail, Allison Wolfe and Molly Neuman, members of the music bands Bikini Kill and Bratmobile. Kathleen and Tobi lived in Olympia and they were connecting with its important cultural scene. For example the Evergreen College, known for its artistic and alternative character, the radio channel KAOS or the independent records label K Records. Influenced by this, they decided to create their own zine called Bikini Kill. Allison and Molly lived in Eugene, Oregon, they had too their own feminist-punk zine, Girl Germs, and they later formed their music band Bratmobile. In a pre-Internet world, the main means of communicating and networking across the US was through exchanging zines and writing letters.
In 1991, an event led to the birth of Riot Grrrl. In May of this year erupted in Washington DC the Mount Pleasant Riots. An AfricanAmerican policewoman had shot a Latino man. This incident sparked an intense civil unrest as hundreds of youth fought the police in the streets. That same month the Supreme Court upheld the Bush administration’s gag rule which prevented federally-funded clinics from offering abortion counselling threatening the Roe v. Wade landmark decision that had made abortion legal in the United States. These events created a social situation of urgency and frustration among the politicised punk underground and it led Jen Smith (member of different DC punk bands) to write a letter to Allison Wolfe which explained this situation, thus resulting in the term “riot grrrl” when she said: “we’re going to have a girl riot this summer”. Molly and Allison took it to name a new weekly zine that involved their friends including Erin Smith, Tobi Vail, Jen Smith and Kathleen Hanna. Riot Grrrl rewrote feminism and activism into a punk-rock rebellion, and was responsible for young voices that were felt to be missing from the forms of feminism available in 90’s. Feminism was seen like something that concerned older, middle-class, heterosexual and educated women, and riot grrrls was seen to be a re-working of feminism to work through the needs, desires and issues in the situations specific to young American girls in the 90’s.
Riot Grrrl also proposed a different way of feminist activism, move away from traditional protests like marches, rallies and petitions, towards an idea of cultural activism which incorporated everyday cultural subversions like creating art, film, zines, music as a part of feminist activism. The beginning of this collective action and the new contra-cultural feminism took place with the encounters between riot grrrls in which they discussed and pooled their own experiences, cheered and supported each other.
Angry grrrl zines Fanzines were a Riot Grrrl tool to communicate and to spread ideas, as well as a means for cultural resistance. Them captured their feelings, frustration and anger on words, announced their shows and shared addresses and phone numbers. These zines were known as â€˜angry grrrl zinesâ€™.
Influenced by Dadaism, The Situationist International, the punk movement and social and cultural subversion movements like ACTUP, Guerrilla Girls, Queer Nation or Lesbian Avengers.
Many zines like Jigsaw, Riot Grrrl, Girl Germs or Sister Nobody, were created. They were aimed to know other girls and express themselves through feminism about music, art or literature. These zines addressed, in first person, issues like the experience of growing in a patriarchal society context, menstruation, sexuality, bodyimage, beauty, eating disorders, sexual abuse, etc. with a style that ranged from art or protest to confession and therapy. Zines were an alternative to teen-magazines, a way to overcome the female stereotype unrepresentative of reality. Though somewhat aesthetically pleasing, they were ungroomed and urgent, and used aggressive language and words that have traditionally been used to denigrate women such as bitch, slut, whore, dyke, butch, pussy, etc. As a riot grrrl and zinester say: “It’s a powerful form of resistance: to say, I exist, I am this particular way, and my story is worth telling. I lay out these words and photocopy them and send them out because I think it’s important for my stories to be heard, that I have something worth listening to. That’s an intense way of resisting white-heterosexual male hegemony”.
Riot Grrrl’s life was too short but in addition to the musical legacy of the bands that were part of the movement as Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Huggy Bear or Heavens to Betsy, or initiatives such as Ladyfest, its spirit continues to encourage and inspire many girls to pick up a guitar and make their own music and do their own fanzines. Do not wait for something to happen, make it happen.
SOME OF MY FAVOURITE PEOPLE DONâ€™T KNOW I EXIST text and lettering by Ana Flecha Marco The title of this article is the essence of fandom. It might sound superficial, but admiring someone is serious business. I would like to talk about some of my favourite celebrities, those who have taught me and inspired me the most, in order of appearance in my life. Yes, one of them is a fictional character.
I got to know Mary Poppins through the 1964 Disney’s film, of course dubbed in Spanish. I will never let go of my old VHS tape, even though I don’t have a VHS player. Mary Poppins taught me a few very important lessons:
1. In every job there is an element of fun, you just have to find it 2. You won’t need to give references if you do things right. 3. Friends are important.
4. If you run out of words, you can always turn to Supercalifragisticexpialidocious. Mary Poppins is not an easy character to love. She is pompous, slightly pretentions (just like me using the word pompous right now), and seemingly stuck-up, but she is also kind and takes pride on a job well done while leaving space for improvisation. She is independent and well travelled, and knows how to make her way into people’s hearts without compromising her personality. Oh, and she has a flying umbrella!
(FEAT. TOBI VAIL)
I was lucky enough to see Tobi Vail life two years ago in Barcelona. (Those of you who don’t know who she is should read Andrea Galaxina’s article on riot grrrl, and also look her up on the almighty Internet and learn about her.) At that little gig, Tobi played the guitar, sang, and showed a homemade video called Nostalgia. She also talked about many things: punk, friendship, staying true to yourself, feminism… But from everything she talked about, what I remember the most is what she said about Yoko Ono, as a metaphor of “the artist’s girlfriend”, what is known as “the Yoko effect”: there is a moment in the early stage of a relationship between a young girl and her musician boyfriend, in which they have “the talk” about how Yoko Ono broke up The Beatles. Deliberately or not, he is asking her not to be Yoko, not to break up his Beatles. It doesn’t matter if the girl has her own band, or her own project, just as it didn’t matter that Yoko Ono had a career as a conceptual artist way before she met John, the fact that The Beatles were already falling apart as a group, or the fact that John Lennon was willingly dating her, and was not under any spell. The Yoko effect is based on the idea of woman=trouble. It fails to see women as independent individuals, who have value within them. The Yoko effect is visible every time women’s work is not taken seriously, which tends to happen especially if those women are behind great men. I love The Beatles, but I also love Yoko and, until I heard those words from Tobi Vail, I had always thought I was alone in this. Yoko Ono is surely not the best artist in history —nor she needs to be—, but she is clever, witty and extremely inspiring. She believes in herself and is unafraid of trying new things, and that must not be easy when you seem to have the whole world against you.
For those who don’t know who I’m talking about, Louise Bourgeois was a French-American artist who made awesome sculptures and drawings, many of them huge spiders, for which she was known as ‘Spiderwoman’.
Her works were completely autobiographical. She related the spider to her mum, who was a weaver and who, in the artist’s own words, was ‘clever, helpful and protective, like a spider.’ Louise knew how to turn things around. She had a unique sensitivity to universal feelings and aesthetics. And she spoke to the heart. She was born in 1911, the year Roald Amundsen and his team reached the South Pole (information sponsored by Nordic Studies). I have always been fascinated by old women I’ve met. My grandma was born in 1915. I could never get my head around the changes she had gone through, and how she had constantly adapted to new times, to crazy new rules, not to mention mad little gadgets or telecommunication media as eccentric as the good ol’ TV or *oh* the Internet.
Women in the 20th century worked both at home and at the oddest jobs. They started and supported small and big revolutions. And Louise Bourgeois was a revolution in herself. She used art as an outlet for inner struggles and made them speak to people. She always kept an open mind and never stopped making art. She was a feminist and an advocate for Human Rights. She is probably my favourite artist of all time.
Tavi is so honest, so fresh, so proactive, so extremely inspiring, she makes me smile, and cry, and believe in this world all at the same time. She also makes me want to do things and get better at them.
Counting on some friends and some friends-to-be, Tavi created something that, believe it or not, didn’t exist before: an online magazine for teenage girls by teenage girls (not by men, not by grown women, not by corporations) that managed to capture boys’ and grown-ups’ attention too: Rookie. The fact that she started it age 15 just adds to the awesomeness.
Rookie is the magazine I had always been hoping for, and I will be forever thankful to Tavi for that. It is so full of wisdom and yet so little prescriptive, so insightful and humourous. As Tavi herself puts it, Rookie “is not a rulebook, but a process, a conversation”. It is monthly themed, updates three times a day on schooldays, and twice during the weekends, and touches on a wide variety of topics from many different points of view. I am not exaggerating when I say that Tavi Gevinson is one of the voices that has shaped me the most, and probably my number one idol of all times. Had I not come across Tavi five years ago, I would probably not see the world in the same way. She’s daring and unpretentious, funny and extremely intelligent. She’s not afraid of exposing herself, and that alone is immensely powerful.
I could go on and on about this, but I would rather you checked it out by yourselves. Read Rookie, and watch Tavi’s 2012 TED talk Still Figuring It Out and Tavi’s Big Big World (at 17) on youtube now (and thank me later).
what are they really like? text by Julia Makayova
Stories...â€Śby telling stories we define women through someoneâ€™s perception, we thus create women through what we think of them. Yet, what are they really like?? Who are they??
The stories that are told, the stories that are heard, the stories that become known are already a selection from women’s lives. It’s only a small sample of what women do and it’s far from who they are.
We know and keep telling thousands of bizarre stories of women’s bravery, creativity, ingenuity, novelty, anything we can find to admire, and this has felt like a desperate appeal to eccentricity, as though by telling all these stories we simply try to defend the status of women, as though we try to draw attention by saying, “Look how great women ALSO are!”. And the truth is that their reality can only be understood beyond any comparison. Women are who they are despite the image the world has been creating around them.
Of course we need these powerful stories, however it’s only because the prominent women figures serve the role of inspiration and drive for the rest of us, they enrich our lives. But these rest of us are who the most of women actually are. Several years ago I saw a woman in a bank, she was working as a bank assistant I assume. There was nothing special about her, well maybe only that she seemed to be having a cold and clearly was not at the best of her spirits, yet there was something about her whole way of being that was mesmerizingly drawing me to her. Even today the clear picture of her remains in my mind. Nothing particularly great seems to have been added with her existence, but just by being she makes me smile, she made me a better person. Just like that, in the very simplicity, women are everything human beings are. They act evil and caring, sensitive and selfish, coward and stupid; they are everything human experience allows to be.
It’s not to recognise the best manifestations of women’s achievements or their extraordinariness to justify their worthiness and significance, it’s to be more appreciative and attentive to who women around us every day are. And all the rest, what we make visible of women by telling and talking, is just a beautiful story.
i have never met her text by Guy Elisha
I have never met her, however, I consider her to be one of the most inspiring young women I have ever seen. She is 28 but I came across her for the first time 3 years ago, when she was 25. This woman is the one who lightened the first match that set on fire the biggest group of demonstrations ever in Israel. This revolution had and still has a heavy influence on Israeli politics, and added new terms and topics to the everyday conversation. Most importantly, this revolution showed a big middle class group in Israel that we have a voice and that we can make a change.
Her name is Daphni Leef, a film student from Tel Aviv. She is a socialist, a feminist and one of the most famous political activists in the 21st century in Israel. In the summer of 2011, a time when most Israelis think about their tanning and summer vacation, she raised an important issue that shouted down the whole country.
She opened an event on Facebook that called people to join her and her friends to live in a tent on the main street of Tel Aviv. This is after she has realized that Israel is one of the most expensive countries to live in, in a comparison to the net income. Renting an apartment is almost impossible and buying one is a dream that cannot be fulfilled by young middle class citizens. Soon, her tent attracted hundreds of people as well as media attention. On the 3rd of September, the biggest demonstration ever in Israel took place, of course, thanks to her organization. 400,000 people from all around the country gathered. Daphni Leef presented an amazing and inspiring speech that clearly stated her ideology and visions to the future.
She was elected as the most influencial woman in Israel for the year 2011 and set a great example for a female leader who did everything in order to reach her goal and spread her ideas. And for me, I wish that I will be like her, stand behind the idea I believe in. and that one day, an 18 year-old girl will look at me and say â€˜I want to inspire people like herâ€™.
A Satire, + Condensed text by Evelyn Hernรกndez
You don’t understand that the patterns she weaves Are just as pathetically vapid as seems, For she is but only a sufferer with dreams, So don’t show commiseration To the only one who’s an abomination Who will never be redeemed. Who shall be redeemed? The ones who serve as innovation To whom we allow some consolation, For they are all survivors who dream, And just as worthwhile and exuberant with glee All because we comprehend so perfectly The utterly contemptible pattern they weave.
Edited with love in Flekke, Norway.
[a (very) short, subjective compendium of girls' and women's stories]