Art by: Carla Bartow
LETTER FROM THE EDITORS Dear Readers and Contributors, When we founded The Riveter Review in the summer of 2013, we possessed some vague idea about creating something more socially conscious than a traditional literary magazine and more artistically conscious than a traditional feminist activism group. And because we had parameters, we needed to appeal to a minority within a minority—feminists who write and writers who are feminists. That might have made things difficult. But it didn’t. We were exhilarated to discover that feminists were already writing and writers were already thinking about women—in a positive, respectful, smash-the-patriarchy way. We didn’t need to create a movement to satisfy our own aspiration to fight misogyny with words and doodles; we only had to broadcast one that already existed. And the words and doodles we’ve received—well, we think they’re stunning. Stunningly beautiful and stunningly relevant. Seriously: if you haven’t already, check ‘em out. Art isn’t just something to admire. Art should make you think. It should inspire and frighten. It should be what you turn to when you feel purposeless and it should do more than just sit there and look pretty—let’s not objectify art. The Riveter Review seeks to celebrate art with purpose. We’re proud to present the talented feminists who’ve contributed to this inaugural issue of The Riveter Review. Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and stories. Sincerely, Elizabeth, Sariel, and Katie
ABOUT US Elizabeth Engel loves a lot of
things and people. At the top of that list would be creative writing, followed closely by Richard Siken, Taylor Swift, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, making people smile, David Levithan, astronomy, her Bearded Collie, music, feminism, and the movie Inception. She has been writing prose from a young age, and has participated in three summer workshops since her freshman year of high school: Sarah Lawrence Writers Village, University of Virginia’s Young Writers Workshop, and the Kenyon Review Young Writers’ Workshop. She has a bad habit of liking every single thing that the Facebook page I Fucking Love Science posts, and has the Scale of the Universe graphic memorized. Emma Goldman and Laci Green own the corner of her heart dedicated to feminist role models, with Emmeline Pankhurst as a close second. If you think Phyllis Schlafly is a good person you should probably never talk to her, but otherwise she loves meeting new people and would especially love if you wanted to recommend music to her.
Sariel Hana Friedman
is a Pisces from Los Angeles, CA. She is a published poet and artist who loves travelling, watching films, listening to music, anything British and the 1960’s. She cofounded her school’s Gender Equality Club, writes for The SPARK Movement – an international organization to end the sexualization of women in the media, and is editor-in-chief of the awardwinning Dark as Day Literary Arts Journal. She was recently featured on a Nick News segment with Gloria Steinem entitled “The Future of Feminism.” Sariel’s favorite Beatle is George Harrison and she follows the philosophy of Oscar Wilde — “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.”
is a student at West High School in Madison, Wisconsin, where she coedits the school’s literary magazine. An avid creative writer since the age of six, she attended the Kenyon Review Young Writers’ Workshop in the summer of 2013 in order to further her interest in fiction. When she was sixteen, she wrote a 50,000 word novel for National Novel Writing Month in November. She knows too much about Harry Potter and once kept a diary written entirely in Tolkien’s elvish. She adores anything created by Aaron Sorkin and everything written by David Foster Wallace. Alice Paul is Katie’s personal hero in the women’s rights movement because she had the audacity to lead a hunger strike from prison after she was arrested for protesting outside the White House in 1917.
FEMINIST FILMS AND LITERATURE (as suggested by our readers) Easy A directed by Will Gluck
Persopolis Marjane Satrapi
Thelma and Louise directed by Ridley Scott
A Room of Oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Own Virginia Woolf
Iron Jawed Angels directed by Katja von Garnier
Jane Eyre Charlotte Bronte
Mona Lisa Smile directed by Mike Newell
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi directed by Sudhir Mishra
The Feminine Mystique Betty Friedan
Erin Brockovich directed by Steven Soderbergh
The Song Seekers Saswati Sengupta
Offside directed by Jafar Panahi
Speak Laurie Halse Anderson
Long Walk Home directed by Richard Pearce
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman Mary Wollstonecraft
Legally Blonde directed by Robert Luketic
Alanna: The First Adventure Tamora Pierce
Miss Representation directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom
The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins
The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne
Friend of My Youth Alice Munroe
Madame Bovary Gustave Flaubert
The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath
The Girl Who Played with Fire Stieg Larsson
The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Emma Jane Austen
The Mill on the Floss Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Golden Notebook Doris Lessing
The Appeasement of Radhika Muddupulani
The Summer Before the Dark Doris Lessing
Yellow is the Colour of Longing K. R. Meera
Sula Toni Morrison
The Awakening Kate Chopin
The Color Purple Alice Walker
Love Stories #1 to 14 Annie Zaidi
The Beauty Myth Naomi Wolf
My God is a Woman Noor Zaheer
The Red Tent Anita Diamant
Cuckold Kiran Nagarkar
Feminism Is For Everybody: Passionate Politics Bell Hooks
Tee God of Small Things Arundhati Roy
You Canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t Put a Good Woman Down Alice Walker
Anna Karenina Leo Tolstoy
Orlando Virginia Woolf
In the Body of the World Eve Ensler
The Womenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Room Marilyn French
The Vagina Monologues Eve Ensler
Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches Audre Lorde
Racing Hummingbirds Jeanann Verlee
The Mists of Avalon Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Book of Orgasms Nin Andrews
The Second Sex Simone de Beauvoir
The Boyfriend List E. Lockhart
Mrs. Dalloway Virginia Woolf
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks E. Lockhart
I met you outside a mosque Katie Paulson “I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.” –Jane Austen, Persuasion That eve I met you, you told me You used to tear the petals from flowers Simply because you’d tired of the garden. You said the discarded heads of daisies and violets, Orchids and yellow tulips fell like tears from April’s eyes when Mars shone too bright. But you left the gladioli whole because you Liked their hardy hue. Your father found you with a leather necklace Coiled around your throat while you applied Apple-red rouge to your lifeless lips and He told you that if you wanted to go out you Could stay out. So you left to fight April’s war. You told me you declared your sentiments to a lonely waterfall And wrote a new Bible because silence hurt your ears. You became your own God and returned to Your father’s House, offered to scrub the hard, crusted Alcohol from his teapots, to doctor the flow of booze Into his pregnant kitchen cabinets. And this time, when He cracked a young wood cane across your shin, You struck back. He called you psychotic. I envisioned that as you were dragged to a colorless room By a cacophony of red and blue lights, The stars cried a lament in your name. You slept one-hundred Nights of Terror Surrounded by a shade of yellow That they pumped into your veins.
You waited with a gladiolus next to your bed. Until you were nineteen and you were released. I know you built wings Daedalus would have envied And you traveled the world alone And freedom felt riveting. But there were still more petals to pluck. I met you outside a mosque. Gray clouds grasped its navy minarets like spears, Lurking overhead, warning me away when I tried to enter with my hair unbound. I was still an explorer, venturing across Bronze curves and blond rivers in the Riviera, Electrified because it was the first time I had seen such mountains. The contours of your body still tasted as Unfamiliar as the Spanish language On my pink tongue. I painted myself onto a canvas I imagined belonging to you. I swept the hair from my legs down The shower drain, believing in the artistry Of its dance and I took one of yours as my friend Because I thought she would make me A woman. While I squeezed myself into the legs Of the jeans I thought were yours Two-thousand and eight women told us We weren’t there yet. But when I met you outside a mosque, You said I could be If I wanted to.
Adolescence Margaret Heftler Maybe she could like being a woman, she stands at the mirror and thinks: These new wide hips might be good, maybe sexy in tight jeans or her school uniform. As she puts her hands on them, she ponders how they feel: substantial, alive rooted strong, even. She has a body made for earthly things: for ice cream and fruit in the summer, spontaneous rough-housing, being held tight, the comfort of a blanket on bare skin, for dirtying, bleeding, burning and healing, in time. Her body has a quiet power distinctly human a power pulled up from the earth and perfected in her posture; the breath of life. But she is not a woman. she is still a girl, perhaps not responsible enough yet for this heirloom, or mature enough to understand it: the vibrator, hidden under an old T-shirt in her sock drawer, next to the diary that divulges its use.
These earthly things are small and unimportant, she tells herself, rolling her eyes at the lip gloss girl’s twitterings on boys and Katy Perry, she sees her life in other images: thick novels prominently displayed on her bedside table (this week it’s “The Gulag Archipeligo”), accolades, honors, groundbreaking something-or-other, high heels clicking in marble hallways, the shuffling of important papers in board rooms, a halo of highlighted hair. Or failure, maybe frames without diplomas empty rooms, mediocrity She looks back at the mirror, pulls her stomach in, and can see the outline of her rib cage, her hip bones not prominent, but there. They seem to be pointing toward somewhere more ethereal, free from these earthly things a power more god-like than human, they tease her with freedom. she sighs, steps away from her spot at the mirror, and into a self that is still, somehow, a stranger.
Boy Crazy Emma Seely-Katz A boy cost me my life. He’d sit in the back of my freshman French class, rolling his eyes at every exhalation my poor teacher made, slapping his pretty friend’s knee then letting his hand inch up her leg under the desk as she blushed without expression. Justin* was a year ahead of me in school and two years older than me, and he wasn’t even real to my freshman eyes. He didn’t seem to care about anything or anyone too much, while I cared about everything and everyone, and I admired him for his lack of sadness, happiness, pain. I might’ve talked to him once or twice in ninth grade, rolled my eyes at a stupid quip he made, or teased him about his penchant for Eminem and Tupac, but I don’t remember. He wore all black and his backpack was bright green and Jansport. Justin walked into my sophomore French class with one iPhone earbud stuck in his ear, the other perpetually swinging around his torso, and I don’t remember him ever taking it out, not even when we held hands. We held hands after a semester of a secret crush on my part and teasing banter on both parts and sexual innuendos on his part. I had just gotten over him, and we were friends, so Justin snuck over to my seat during a boring Power Point about Haiti or something and that was normal. My hand was draped over the side of my seat and then suddenly the not normal commenced: I could feel the heat of his glance on my hand. And then there was a touch and more touches and our hands were talking and saying “hi” and “oh my god” and “is this actually happening dude” and his index finger intertwined with my pinky in a kind of backwards hand-hold. My blush prone skin hurt with the hot blood that attacked it from the inside. We didn’t look at each other because we were already shaking too much, we’d have probably thrown up. We fought 5 times. “Fight” is not the right word in any capacity, but there hasn’t been a word invented yet for when someone needs to be with someone like they need to use conditioner in their spread of curly-frizzy hair or everything will be gross and sad, but the other person is toxic and they know it and they won’t let you suicide bomb yourself with love. Justin had a reputation. And a criminal record. He’d gotten a sexual molestation charge because a girl had wanted more than his body and he hadn’t wanted that for them and so he left. She cried. He couldn’t trust girls anymore (Me: “So. . . you can’t trust me?” Him: “No, I just can’t trust any girls right now. “ Me: “So. . . you can’t trust me. “) and he knew that we were water and alkali and that we would end up all over the ground, separated into molecules if we combined. But I knew that if he tried, if he let go of his problems with commitment and intimacy, we would be beautiful. I was beautiful when he told me I was, and not a second more. I’d send him pictures of my naked chest and he would appreciate me. I’d never been appreciated like that before, and he wasn’t taking advantage of me because I wanted it maybe more than he did. I drowned in the adrenaline. I needed him every second. I didn’t study anymore, I ate either sparingly or compulsively, I checked the “read receipts” on texts I sent to him 5 times in 5 minute periods. I had no friends, I had Justin. And then he told me we had to stop. “Doing what?” I said. All we’d done was kiss. “Doing anything,” he whispered threateningly. He was one infraction away from getting kicked out of school. He called me and yelled at me and told me I was being selfish and I told him I’d do whatever he wanted, whatever he needed. It ended with the school year. He left my school, I’d probably never speak to him or kiss him again.
“Dear Wikipedia. Am I crazy? I don’t like anyone but him and I like him too much and he likes me. I know he does. But he doesn’t need me, and that’s a big problem. Because I need him to need me like I need him. Help me?” “Dear Emma, Codependency is defined as a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (typically narcissism or drug addiction); and in broader terms, it refers to the dependence on the needs of, or control of, another.” Ohhhh. One of the main values of feminism is independence, so when you find out that your brain tends to hold others so closely that they become a part of you, then all of you, and you are not you, it feels like a lie to call yourself one. Feminists are not supposed to need other people! Especially not men. But when I realized that almost every criteria of codependency loomed in my life, I couldn’t deny it any further. So instead, I started hiding away from people, too afraid to make a sudden movement, too afraid to love someone deeply enough to scare them away. I let one person break my self-imposed barriers of loneliness. My friend, Nick*. I met him at summer school for politics in Washington, D. C. Nick is gay, and he asked a particularly eloquent question to an openly anti-gay marriage politician during a lecture. I was instantly smitten with him. Not romantically or sexually, but I thought he was a beautiful person. I made it my mission to become friends with him, and I did, soon realizing that oops, I transferred my feelings of need from Justin to Nick! But there was something different this time around the codependency carousel. Besides the obvious not-hookingup-with-Nick part. This time, I told Nick how much I needed and loved him. He didn’t say it back, but he didn’t run away, either. He helped me realize that I have an insane amount of love to give, and even though it’s unusual, it’s not bad. I just have to be careful about who I choose to bestow my love upon. When I found out that I was codependent, I felt all the power that I had once felt over my own life slowly seep out of me. I was a sitting duck, a punching bag, vulnerable to any and everyone’s whims and desires. I was a mirror—I was only ever as whatever people saw in me. But Nick gave me back the keys to my life. I can need people, I can ask for things from people (they can’t always fulfill my desires, but they can try), but in the end it is my choice who I ask for these things (a hug, a funny email, a listening ear) from. Nick gave me back my independence. People have called me “Boy Crazy” because I’m prone to all-consuming, dramatic, painful crushes on those of the male gender. I do love boys. And my codependency issues are by no means over, or even less painful. But now, I try to love boys who help me love myself just as much as I love them. *All names changed except my own
Art by: Molly Cohn
Histopathology Julia Tompkins At the Brooklyn Farmerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Market my mother
Birthed from the MRI machine the radiologist tells me I have a knot, a neural mass
bought a pomegranate with too much skin bunched up
beneath my skin. I wait for him to say that I have masses other places
in its middle, pushing away the seeds, forcing rot she saw
but I am the unremarkable patient with Bible bumps under ground
only once she cracked the fruit open. Eye to eye with its clinical
too small to see but they are there. The doctor tells me that in my uterus
features she carved out the mass and served up the seeds already
I have a small cyst, thin-walled, air-filled, should hurt for
bleeding out onto my salad. This is the disease I know about,
two to four days, while I lie on my back staring
the study of changes in tissue, and in that I am safe as the
up at the white linoleum of the ceiling. She spoke on for six hundred
crevices of myself that I have made airtight. Nothing will grow here.
minutes and some of the men used their fat fingers to plug
We take apart the dead to better understand the living and when I opened up a rat I found
ears that had trained long ago not to hear what was not wanted, so
that her children look just as I did at three months, thirty-six weeks before
they could watch a woman with yellow hair and a back brace tell them she knew better,
I wanted to breath, bland tissue and I couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t even see.
because it had been forty years and they thought that by now we
You would get rid of it he said when I talked about
would give it our bodies let it infect our tissue like I let my wrist
my body, while Carolina re-elected another man who wanted the
grow fat with bumps I did not want, easy to diagnose but stagnant as a
unborn to have more protection than the living. Changes in tissues
river crocodile not sleeping off the pain she has felt but merely
caused by disease of wanting to be filled up but not left full
digesting her young.
Art by: Sarah Hartmann
Untitled Zachary Kimmel The grass on the field was neatly trimmed, and the lines marking out-of-bounds were wet with a new layer of white paint. The August air was sweltering and humid, but a light breeze would roll in occasionally, promising September. It smelled like the beginning of soccer season. Andrew stepped tentatively on the grass. He started to take a light jog towards the center circle of the field where the Varsity team was assembled in a silent huddle, listening to the words of the coach as if he were a prophet, bringing the divine word of God himself. As he drew close, whispers whipped around the huddle like a forest fire; the upperclassmen shot glares that burned into him. Freshman were not very welcome on the team. Andrew quickly apologized to the coach for being late, and scrambled to the back of the huddle. Andrew did not catch much of what the coach was saying. He was too far away, and his mind was too nervous to hear him. He was anxious about playing with the stronger and faster upperclassmen, and wasn’t sure that he could do it. In fact, Andrew had been late because he had been vomiting in the third stall of the locker room. His nerves had gotten a strong grip on him, and had no intention of letting go. Andrew was awakened from his train of thought by the girls’ Varsity team assistant coach. For a preseason workout, the boys’ and girls’ teams were scrimmaging against one another, because nothing motivates teenagers more than the prospect of beating a member of the opposite gender. Andrew was given a yellow pinny and directed to the far side of the field. The game began. The girls won the ball, and the first thing they did was to pass it back to Katie Shaw, the undisputed star and leader of the team. She controlled the pass delicately, caressing the ball with her instep, and then she took off. She was a blur. She dribbled around one boy, then two, then three of the boys with a dazzling display of step-overs and body-fakes, and she topped off her humiliation of the boys’ team by poking the ball in between the legs of the center midfielder and then sprinting after it. She had long, dark brown hair that she had pulled back in a tight ponytail. As she ran, her hair bounced joyfully, waving to onlookers. It was as if she was dancing, just with the ball at her feet, graceful and agile, and yet powerful and definite. She had rare hazel eyes that could scan the field strategically and know exactly where her teammates would be. She was the conductor, the orchestrator of the team that kept the offense humming. When she found an open teammate, she would flash a smile, and small dimples would poke through. Most girls Andrew knew weren’t very muscular, preferring that boys have the brawn, but with her strong and well-defined legs, Katie Shaw was the most stunning girl Andrew had ever seen. Andrew shook himself from his wishful trance just in time to watch the ball fly into the top corner of the net, leaving the boys’ goalkeeper sprawling and helpless. It was Katie’s exquisite shot. Andrew’s mouth hung open. He no longer had possession of his heart. Katie Shaw had stolen it from him just as easily as she had stolen the ball.
Amid shouts of frustration from the boys’ defense and coaching staff, Andrew heard a faint yet ecstatic cheer from the other side of the field. It was Katie’s teammate, Heather Davidson. She was small for sixteen, and had dark brown hair that she wore very short. She was quiet, and kept to herself. She was rumored to be a very intense athlete, with an overwhelming passion for sports, but Andrew had never really talked to her much. As Katie jogged back onto her side of the field with her sweet smile, she was met with an enamored embrace from Heather. They hugged for a long time, longer than other teammates, Andrew thought. When they pulled out of the embrace, Heather gazed at Katie proudly. Andrew felt his stomach clench. He desperately wanted to be the one hugging Katie, sharing that moment with her. But he couldn’t. He felt so far away from her, having to play against her when he wanted to be on her team. The game resumed, and the ball was played among the boys for a few, short moments until Katie stole it. Instead of dribbling herself, she passed the ball off to Heather, who sprinted down the left wing. With a burst of emotion and adrenaline, Andrew dove in for a slide tackle and connected cleanly with Heather’s ankle. She tumbled over him as the ball rolled out of bounds. Andrew walked over to her, looking down at Heather clutching her leg. Before he ran off to collect the ball from the bushes, he muttered to himself, “Don’t hug her again.” The ball was thrown back into play, and the boys’ goalie passed the ball out to Andrew. He controlled it, and turned upfield, when he was met by a fierce tackle. His knee twisted and he crumpled to the turf. As he slowly got to his feet, his tackler, Heather, whispered “Jealous much?” Andrew realized that Heather was right. A burning jealousy was bubbling up inside him. The game raged on, and Andrew and Heather exchanged hard tackle after hard tackle, slowly realizing that more than just the game was involved. Finally, Andrew slid in from behind Heather and upended her, sweeping her legs out from under her. The referee blew his whistle loudly and promptly handed Andrew a yellow card, a cautioning about going too far. The coaches began to walk onto the field, signaling the battle’s end. Andrew stood in the huddle, his vision blurred from sweat and emotion. He glanced over at the girls’ huddle and saw Heather gazing admiringly at Katie. Sheer delight, admiration, deep fondness emanated from Heather’s face. Heather’s visage looked familiar. Andrew recognized it as the same look he must have had when he first saw Katie Shaw. His hand ascended to his chest, where he could feel his heart beating through his jersey. The coaches pushed their teams into single-file lines and sent them towards each other to shake hands. A chorus of “good games” rang out as Andrew high-fived all of the girls’ Varsity players and coaches. Katie Shaw gave him a warm “nice game,” after which Andrew could only smile sheepishly. As he neared the end of the line, he came to Heather. He shook her hand tentatively, and he looked at her with a searching expression. They locked eyes, and in that moment, they both understood they had something significant in common. They were more alike than they knew before the scrimmage began. Andrew momentarily pondered the possibility that the two of them saw other things besides Katie Shaw in the same way. Maybe they shared other perceptions, and prized other qualities in common, and could become friends... but Heather’s burning eyes told him that for now, they could only be rivals. Andrew lowered his head, finished his handshake, and walked towards the locker room with his team. The boys’ and girls’ locker rooms were next to each other, and as Andrew reached for the door, he glanced to his left to see Katie walking towards him, followed closely by Heather. She jogged ahead and slowly opened the door for Katie, beaming at her. Heather’s eyes followed Katie’s movement, transfixed. Andrew saw it again, feelings just like his own in Heather’s face. Then Heather darted through the doorway and into the building. Andrew held the door open for himself and carefully stepped inside. He wondered if Katie saw it too.
Execute Lucy Wainger the most terrible phrase in the english language sits uncomfortably between my legs. â&#x20AC;&#x153;with my thighs,â&#x20AC;? replied anne boleyn when asked how she planned to stay atop her horse. and i thought she was going to kiss me. i was so sure she was going to kiss me.
Art by: Liv Thurley
Why I Won’t
I am a poet, but don’t ask me to slam. I spent the first half of my life listening, and I’m testing out a voice for the second half. My voice has surfaced like bruised fruit, stewed long enough. My voice is unexpected and thrilling, but still unfamiliar to me, of all people. My words are gay and newly emerged from the closet, full of righteousness and fear, angst and relief. They are the frailest of tendrils, rising from concrete and straining towards the sun. I have no intention of hurling my words against the wall of yours to see what sticks. My words are saving my life. I am a poet, but I am also a lioness guarding her cubs. I could kill you on sight. Don’t ask me to slam.
Art by: Liv Thurley
When is sexual assault your fault? Alexa Barrett We live in a country and an era in which 97% of rapists are not incarcerated, and one in six women has been a victim of attempted or completed rape in her lifetime. These statistics are not only scary; they are disgusting, they are wrong, and they should not be stood for. But what should we expect from a nation in which more sympathy is thrown to two rapists than their 16-year-old rape victim? In August 2012, high school football players Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond from Steubenville, Ohio sexually assaulted their 16-year-old, intoxicated classmate, Jane Doe. After dragging her barely responsive body around from party to party, the boys recorded a 12-minute long video in which they mocked the helpless girl and joked about raping her. Doe claims to have woken up the next morning naked, disoriented, and unable to remember anything about the night before. It was only after she saw friends’ text messages, a photo of her lying on the ground, and the video that she began to grasp the true horror of the situation. This case is simply one in thousands of rape cases in America each year. This is just one girl, one victim, representing countless others who are taken advantage of. As a nation, it is time to take a stand against these kinds of obscenities. It is not okay that teenage boys find this behavior not only acceptable, but laughable. It is not right that someone can record a video poking fun at sexually assaulting a helpless girl and see nothing wrong with it. It has come to the point that rape is seen by many as some kind of joke, that an individual can be attacked and violated and people will find it funny. To put it bluntly, it is sick. This silent acceptance of disturbingly high sexual assault statistics and a drastically misinformed populous can be summarized in two words: rape culture. Rape culture is an environment in which rape and sexual assault are common, and instances of sexual violence are often normalized, tolerated, and excused. According to a study done by the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), out of every 100 rapes here in America, only 46 are reported to police, a measly 12 will result in an arrest, nine cases will be prosecuted, five will end in a felony conviction, and a flabbergasting three rapists will spend even a single day in jail. These statistics indicate a blatant acceptance of sexual assault in our society that is terrifying. We must, as a society, begin to address and rectify this problem. But the first step is to achieve widespread acceptance of the fact that rape culture exists, which will be difficult in and of itself, largely because a great deal of Americans are extensively misinformed about what rape is. One of the biggest contributors to rape culture is that as a society, we teach, “do not get raped” instead of “do not rape”. Young women are told much too often that their rape is their own fault for dressing “too promiscuously”, for drinking “too much”, and for being out “too late” after dark. Victims are told that it is their fault for being raped. With their clothing and their behavior, they must have been “asking for it”. That twisted logic can be cleared up quite simply. By definition, rape does not happen to those who give their consent.
Nobody has ever been raped because they wanted to be. In any case of rape, the assaulter is 100% at fault. But unfortunately, this kind of “blame the victim” reasoning is what causes so many victims to ashamedly hide their stories for fear of being blamed for their own rape, and it is the reason why less than half of the rape victims in this country bother to report that they were sexually assaulted. Can you imagine something worse than being sexually violated? Well, how about your society telling you that it is your fault that someone pushed him or herself upon you and you could not do anything about it? How about being sexually violated and being forced to blame yourself ? In the Steubenville case, Jane Doe received numerous threatening and critical messages on different social networking websites blaming her for her rape and attacking her for bringing Richmond and Mays to court. A tweet from a classmate read, “You ripped my family apart, you made my cousin cry, so when I see you [expletive], it’s gone be a homicide.” Other people from all over the country started chiming in as well, tweeting things like, “Why do women get away with no responsibility when they themselves decided to get too drunk in the first place?”, “I don’t believe in ‘sexual assault is never your fault’ in every situation. The 16 yr old girl wasn’t forced to drink—set herself up,” and “I honestly feel bad for the boys in that Steubenville trial. That whore was asking for it.” As if her rape had not been enough, Doe almost immediately had to deal with humiliating cyber-bullying and ostracism from her own classmates and people across the nation. This kind of victim-blaming contributes not only to making victims feel responsible for a situation they were not in control of, but also to a phenomenon present in our country that allows many attackers to believe that when they rape someone, they are not at fault. In a RAINN survey of 11-14 year olds, 51% of males and 41% of females reportedly thought rape was okay if a boy spent a lot of money on a girl, 31% and 32% thought it was okay if the girl has had a past sexual experience, 65% and 47% thought it was okay if a boy and a girl had been dating for longer than six months, and a shocking 87% and 79% thought it was okay if the man and woman were married, respectively. These statistics indicate that there is an alarming misunderstanding in American youth about the definition of rape that needs to be clarified. Rape is, by definition, “the unlawful compelling of a person through physical force or duress to have sexual intercourse.” Rape is not dependent on circumstance; it is irrelevant how much money has been spent on a date, how much sexual experience a person has had in the past, how long a couple has been together, or what level a relationship has reached. If Sally does not give her consent when Bill asks to have sex, and Bill continues to make advances on Sally, Bill is sexually assualting Sally. It’s as simple as that. But one witness in the Steubenville case testified that he did not know the boys were raping Doe, because, as he put it, “well, it wasn’t violent.” This witness is hardly the only one in our nation who is dangerously misinformed about rape. Society must begin to teach teenagers what rape is in order to efficiently and successfuly break down the accepted misogynistic and dangerous societal behaviors that have become, to many, the norm. As a society, we must not only properly define the word “rape”, but also the word “consent”. It needs to be taught in schools, working environments, and everywhere else that “consent” does not mean “the absence of a ‘no’”. Too many people believe that if their partner says “yes” when asked to have sex and changes their mind, or says nothing, or isn’t able to say anything due to inebriation or unconsciousness, then it is not rape. This is false. Consent means that both parties have given a “yes” and have stuck with this “yes” throughout the course of their sexual experience.
If people are properly informed about rape, perhaps another situation like the one in Steubenville will not happen. Because one has to wonder, since Richmond and Mays were bringing their victim from party to party, photographing and videotaping her, was there not a single person who thought that maybe, just maybe, they were doing something wrong? Was there no voice of reason present anywhere they went to say, “Hey, that is wrong, you should stop that”? One of Mays’ friends reportedly tried to help Doe, telling Mays, “’Just wait — wait till she wakes up if you’re going to do any of this stuff. Don’t do anything you’re going to regret.’” But Mays immediately shut down this suggestion, and his friend didn’t push the point further. Part of the blame for the Steubenville rape must also be placed on the bystanders at the parties the rapists attended. Those who watched, doing nothing, as a girl unable to help herself served as putty in the hands of two ill-willed classmates, were unknowingly contributing to rape culture. Those individuals should not go on in their lives without feeling guilt and taking no responsibility for their part in this rape. They must be made aware of the role they played, and informed that they can help in situations like the one in Steubenville. And if one person learns that he/ she can stop a situation from becoming dire, if just one individual becomes aware that he/she is able to stop someone’s rape, it will be worth it. In order to properly break down the defective idea we have in America have a right to rape, all Americans – namely the youth – must be properly informed. On March 17, Mays and Richmond were found guilty of sexual assault and distribution of child pornography. They will both serve their sentences in a juvenile detention facility until they are 21-years-old. When CNN stated the verdict, the report strongly emphasized the fact that the two delinquents broke down in tears after being found guilty. Correspondent Poppy Harlow is quoted as saying that watching the court proceedings was, “incredibly emotional, incredibly difficult”, because the two rapists “had such promising futures, star football players, very good students” and they “literally watched as they believed their lives fell apart.” This kind of public sympathy for perpetrators of sexual assault is exactly what makes rape culture so dangerous. When people watch reports like that, they are conditioned to believe that rapists are the ones who deserve sympathy, not victims. People need to learn that it does not matter who a rapist is; he/she can be a movie star, a politician, the person who cured cancer, or yes, even a budding football star, and he/she should be punished with the same severity as anyone else who has sexually assaulted another human being. A rapist tears his/her own life apart. It is his/her own responsibility, and he/she deserves to face the consequences of his/her actions. In most cases of rape, society is as much to blame as the rapists. Our lack of conscious effort to diminish the prevalence of rape culture here in America is, in fact, largely responsible for the various wrongful assumptions made about rape that are so common among rapists and victims. Without the appropriate education, rapists will continue to misunderstand their behavior as something different from rape, victims will not understand that they are not at fault for their rape, and bystanders will never learn what exactly rape is and how they can actively stop it from happening. Younger generations need to learn about rape and consent the right way for rape culture to be destroyed. The American school system needs to immediately rectify the lack of proper sexual assault education. Consent needs to be a part of the curriculum. Because if people are not informed that their actions are wrong, how can we, as a society, hope to prevent them from continuing the same behavior?
Art by: Joey Scher
Untitled Sierra Morris
Perfectly good silkworms spoiling in the papaya colored sun Born into helter-skelter-In someone’s backyard made of soupy mud Born to do one and one thing only-Create. Impeccable and intricate silk threads That took painstakingly long to make That one day, will be the bedding to some girl’s coffin The girl She’ll be rapt in an immaculate turquoise sheet Thinking how she’s inadequate But don’t let her speak such things Don’t let her lie in bed reading over a diary that bowdlerized all her best features and highlighted her flaws Hoping that someone would find it and tell her otherwise. Under the cerulean sky Silkworms sit in trees creating cellophane sheets that slowly asphyxiate beautiful beings who, deserve much more than this. Silkworms spoiling under a papaya colored sun In the end they fly away. Remember: They will soon be moths They will soon be moths
The Vietnamese Woman Ho Lieu
On the way home In the afternoon on lunar new yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s eve A woman rode an old motorbike laden on both sides with flowers, sweets &cakes, chicken, new clothes, and so on. I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see her full face only her smile. Maybe she was thinking about her children waiting at home. Everything was cheaper in that last moment and for once she could be a bountiful mother. She is just an ordinary woman similar to many others who have founded my motherland.
Art by: Carla Bartow
So You Want to Be a “Sad Girl” Keri Karandrakis
If you call yourself a “sad girl,” you’d better know what you’re getting into. Because the boy on the radio praises girls who deny their own beauty, it is not an excuse to make abstract art on a pillowcase with mascara from the drugstore where you buy cigarettes. You don’t even like smoking, but the girl who sneaks off during lunch with the boy who has hair as black as her eye makeup-she pinches cigarettes between her teeth every waking moment. You’ve seen her notebook drawings, the “I hate myself ” in bold charcoal letters, the red droplets that must be blood--this is a sad girl, you think and boys must love her; who can resist a damsel distraught? “But,” you say, “boys can never love a sad girl.” Yet you walk around like this label is two bright red high heels, and make sure to take the stairs so everyone catches a sight.
I’ve got news for you--sadness isn’t a new pair of pumps. It’s two dusty tennis shoes, handed down from your brother, which you stuff with tissue so your feet won’t slide around. It’s not blowing cigarette smoke rings into a sunset; it’s reaching your frail hands for another joint from a hospital bed, while no one comes to visit--they’re waiting for you to keel over from emphysema (they’ve already planned the funeral). So next time you prance around with a crown of barbed wire and pretend it’s a tiara, keep all of this in mind: I knew a sad girl once. Past tense. I will never get to see her get married, have children, grow old. All I have is a sixteen-year-old photograph of her room with the word “winter” written in Russian above her bed-a mattress that now lies frigid in a vacant guest room that her parents could not bear to disassemble. Dripping salt water over your eyes will not make them glimmer; it will make them sting.
Beauty and the Betch Celia Watson “If you’re spending more than 15 dollars out in a major city at night you need to fucking lose twenty pounds,” quotes no. 202 of the Betch List: Getting Shit For Free. The recently controversial website titled Betches Love This has created not only a list of materialistic behaviours required of a “Betch”, but an entire platform where three, twenty-something Cornell graduates poke fun at the vainest expectations of women. With tongue-in-cheek remarks such as “it’s almost a challenge to not look at yourself in the reflection of your freshly painted top coat,” (Betch list no. 169: Reflective Surfaces), it is clear that the website is intentionally hyperbolic. Yet there is a question of whether its satirical purpose has gone too far. A post that “advised” to not order a meal when out with friends in order to fake anorexia was thankfully taken down after a reader had not eaten anything within two weeks of reading. But the responsibilities of The Betches are still questionable. As quoted in The New York Times on June 26, co-creator Samantha Fishbein admits she “can’t feel responsible for every girl who feels like she needs to be 90 pounds because we made a joke.” So it seems like either we take the offence and ride the bandwagon, or feel subconsciously less worthy of not being part of this exclusive, Diet Coke-drinking mindset. Although the humour can be admittedly witty and sharp at points, much of the content still pushes the boundaries of reader sensitivity. On Betch List no. 109, we are told that “’having ADD’ is an essential part of what makes us betches...As a betch, your attention is something that others should work for.” Any insulted response to this post was quickly snapped up by a clearly entertained, and “not serious” reader, such as anonymous’ “ Betches don’t like [to] do work. Duh. So we love [A]dderall [an ADHD medication] and ‘having ADD’. Note the quotes, dumbass.” An environment where people’s medical issues are openly made fun of and pinned down by brutal comebacks of those who “get it” surely can’t be healthy. It is essential to ask how much of this so-called satire is actually taking effect in the behaviours of its predominantly young, female audience. What is confusing is that the co-creators actually find the Betch ethos to be one of empowerment. In an excerpt of their latest book, Nice is Just a Place in France, featured online on The Today Show Books, Betches (as opposed to nice girls) “want to be strong, confident, not care what people say about them, and not take s--t from anyone.” Yet, as featured in no. 169, “while nicegirls and fuglies reflect on the larger issues of the world, like poverty and natural disasters, betches reflect on the only thing that fucking matters: ourselves.” Brash, exaggeratedly self-absorbed comments such as these undoubtedly call the authors’ credibility into question. In an interview with The Today Show Books, Jordana Abraham, another co-creator, reminds us that “it’s worth saying a lot of things that a lot of girls our age, in our generation, are thinking, but they’re not really saying out loud...It’s almost like a guilty pleasure.” Have the minds of young women actually become so brainwashed with Mean Girls’ Regina George superficiality that these remarks are now what is whispered by “the devil on your shoulder?” It is perplexing that three intelligent women have decided to invest so much energy into supposedly undermining the critical nature of our society, yet at the same time, may be unknowingly pushing girls in the wrong direction. The online hub of rabid Iced Coffee and iPhone consumption is certainly an entertainment outlet for some, but naturally there still lies the more grounded group of women who don’t care to “put on a short dress and her tallest pumps in order to get all the free drinks, drugs, and dinners on premises” (no. 202). Whatever truth lies within Betches Love This is hazy and most definitely deterring. Hopefully the string of crude jokes will fade given time, but this is only possible if we pull young women’s unfair standards back down to Earth, where “paying for shit” is not just “for ugly people.”
$60 Defense DVD Gabby Krieble
There seems to be no female Kerouac but that’s only because the Road is much more perilous when you are soft and pretty. Besides, this was before they began to sell pepper spray in pink, bedazzled containers. Once in a group of seven young women, six of us knew the keys-between-the-knuckles weapon-in-a-pinch / in-a-parking-garage trick. One girl put forth the “kicking Chihuahua” defensive technique she learned on daytime television. Defense is the cultural language we share, and even so, it’s demeaning. Fighting mixed with toning branded for the mother-daughter team or the ladies lunch group. Buy the tote, buy the mat, buy the half-sized gloves. Schedule it between morning hot yoga and the afternoon rerun of the Real Housewives of whatever city. Get a flat stomach, a tight ass, lean muscles, because God forbid you bulk up too much in your self-defense class. Got to stay pretty, but not too pretty because then, apparently, you’re asking for it. My father once told me that “Pretty girls don’t swear.” Well fuck that. Fuck purity. Fuck victim blaming. Fuck your sixty dollar anti-rape class and DVD I won’t pay protection money on my body because you can’t keep it in your pants.
Art by: Catherine Bailey
Ana Megan Sims
Ana I know what you’re hiding between your thighs. You’ve cultivated the emptiness as storage space for the monsters that lived in your closet when you were a child. Did you envy the princesses or did you envy them? Ana how many times have you cried on tile floors at night when you haven’t slept in days? Ana you cut yourself on your jutting bones, you loved the look of blood that was always prettier than you. Ana did you cry when I left you? Ana did you bleed again? I don’t believe you saw me standing behind you or felt my hand on your shoulder because you fried your eyes and starved your nerves. Ana you sense nothing but a mirror now. Ana I’m afraid of what it means that he loves you more than he ever loved me and that your beautiful is my bones. Ana I’m afraid you’re in my bones. I’m afraid for you Ana.
Ana do you sign all your letters with a question mark because there might not be enough of you left to answer them? Ana do you remember your funeral? Tonight you will choke on your reflection like you choked on sobs and dinner before you decided bones are beautiful. Ana was there a time you thought you knew yourself and you wouldn’t go further? Was there a time you looked back? Ana this is not the time to trace your spine. Ana are you greater than your skin? Ana are your hip bones sharp enough to prick your fingers? Will you be sleeping ugly, sleeping beauty, or do you sleep to compensate? Ana is this it? Ana I haven’t even met you but I’m not ready to say goodbye. Ana I’m holding your hand and wishing you weren’t here. Ana don’t clutch yourself clutch my wrist instead. Ana I can take it, my bones are strong enough. Ana don’t die tonight.
Art by: Joey Scher
The Adolescent Male’s Guide to Assembling Your Very Own Girlfriend Emma Hyche Step 1 - First comes the midsection, the stem of your beautiful flower. Hopefully not too thick or rounded, but individual variation is, alas, rampant and thus must be tolerated. Hopefully not too thin either, or you may be blamed for your Very Own Girlfriend’s poor upkeep. Nourishment should be placed in the stomach daily; this additional charge, however grudgingly or unwillingly taken, will be lauded as “chivalry.” Step 2 - Next are the arms. Screw them tightly into their specialty sockets. They must be strong enough to carry plates, picnic baskets, babies, groceries, etc., but must never be stronger than the user’s own, for fear of embarrassment, emasculation, or worse, inferiority. The arms must remain free of any unsightly hair, scar, or blemish, as to remain comely and, better yet, childlike. Step 3 - Next are the legs of your Very Own Girlfriend. Add with care, making sure the plastic sockets can bend and snap back into place. It is recommended that these legs be slender, toned, hairless, and attractive, but Girlfriend Manufacturers regretfully acknowledges the unavoidable quirk of diversity. Celebrate the divergence of your girlfriend’s legs from the norm; wear it as a source of pride in your own beneficence and politically-correct diversity. Accept whatever form your Very Own Girlfriend’s legs take. Celebrate them, ogle them. But always ensure they are mostly hidden to all viewers except you, to ensure against her, or worse, your, embarrassment. Step 4 - Last is the head, popped onto the neck and pushed into place until you hear a snap. This final piece contains ears, nose, eyes, and mouth, which is to be opened at the user’s own risk. Contained within this head is your Very Own Girlfriend’s brain, buzzing with the static electricity of thought. (Warning: competent intellect is probable. Encourage this in your Very Own Girlfriend, but exercise caution. Too much intellect, and she may cease to be your Very Own, despite your proof of purchase, assembly box, and receipt.) Congratulations! You have now assembled your Very Own Girlfriend. Product is now ready for use. Suggested capabilities include: a trendy arm accessory at parties, an open receptacle for frustration, lust, or rage, a fulfillment of personal fantasy, etc. Further capabilities are subject to owner’s discretion. Keep warm, dry, and away from flame.
Weaker Sex? Nalini Priyadarshni
Dissatisfaction and dissent Like bulbous plague Pulsate just beneath my skin Scratch it once too many times And it will burst Geyser of rage Scalding sweat Destroying all those who think They know who I am Or should be Better than I do.
Art by: Sarah Hartmann
Fall Lily C. Buday There was never a snake She could taste it on her tongue Nor indeed, any need of oneEven as she scorched her feet on the new-made earth, You couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have stopped her from eating that apple Punishment, they called it, but she laughed, a laugh if you tried, Full of the beautiful seeds of her transgression Pearly teeth seeming to sharpen That eclipsed it all- Eden, seraphim, what did they mean As they pierced bloodred skin with a delicate, defiant now? crunch What could they ever mean, when her newfound, That shook heaven and hell alike. fledgling soul Why bow to one who had wrought her but to bend Could now love, and fear, and strive, and hope, and hate? and obey? She can still taste that moment now, No, she found her own holiness that day, The moment when her split-second defiance forged her, When she chose to take that forbidden fruit to her a woman lips, Who fought, and fell, and laughed, Chose knowledge over ignorance, chose to stand And is still standing. And not to kneel- never to kneel, Did you ever consider, Not when she had found such blessed almighty within You, in your halls of carefully consecrated words, her own breast, That she was not your fall The surety of those eyes wide-opened But rather your savior? To sustain her as she plummeted With no need of the flighty wings of angels.
Letters to an Ex-Boyfriend Diana Mellow You and I live in different worlds You are from a town of ashes where the women all sit and nurse gray children who wail into the emptiness while their dark-eyed mothers fade into a gauzy gray background with gauzy white blouses undone and breasts swelling with gray milk The men in your world walk through women like ghosts through decaying walls Only hunting season brings color-bright red killings against an eternally gray sky against ash-covered houses and colorless fields The animals bleed colors no one in your world has ever seen before But in my world people are not gray they are full and bursting with shades of red they open up their own chests they jump off buildings tear their veins and set anchors in one another Because dying is what the living do And I am not a gauzy gray woman nursing a colorless child But when you hold me in your graveyard arms the only things I see are ash and animals
A Feminist’s Guide to Taylor Swift Elizabeth Engel There are two facts about me that people seem to have a hard time believing can coexist peacefully: 1. I am a passionate feminist. 2. I am a huge fan of Taylor Swift. “Taylor Swift!?” you may cry in outrage. “But she’s a feminist’s worst nightmare!” While I respect that you have an opinion about Taylor Swift and the image she puts forth, I am here to prove to you that no, Taylor Swift is not a feminist’s worst nightmare; in fact, she very much so empowers women. First off, something I’d like you to keep in mind as you read this is that Taylor Swift is currently a woman who runs her own empire. She is the head of her management company (13 Management), and runs almost everything. Any and all decisions made about her career, from where a light should be placed on stage for her tour to what songs should be finalized and put onto her album to who else should be hired to assist her, are all made by Taylor. That is something so rarely seen in the celebrity industry nowadays. By not letting anyone else make decisions for her, she is telling young girls to take responsibility for their actions and be independent. I don’t know about you, but I don’t see anything wrong with that. Now, one of the biggest arguments I hear that places Taylor Swift “in the doghouse” in the minds of many feminists is the fact that a majority of her music is about boys, and therefore she teaches girls that they are only defined by the amount of boyfriends they have had. This, however, could not be further from the truth. Not only does Taylor write a lot about things that have nothing to do with romance (take, for instance, the song “Tied Together With a Smile”, which she wrote about her friend who had(s) bulimia), but in not one of her songs does she ever define herself by her boyfriend. In fact, in the song Dear John, she scolds herself for getting so caught up in a boy that she lost herself, singing, “Long were the nights when the days once revolved around you...I should’ve known.” She concludes this particular song with an assertion of her independence: “I took your matches before fire could catch me so don’t look now/I’m shining like fireworks over your sad, empty town.” Another song which shows this rejection of traditional views of romance (princess rescued by prince, damsel in distress rescued by a knight in shining armor -- you know, all the typical patriarchal ideas of romance) is off of her second album, Fearless. Some of you may know this song, as it was released as a single. It’s called “White Horse”, and it’s one of my favorite songs that she has ever written. The song itself is a very slow, sad song, as it chronicles a tale of a relationship in which the power dynamic was off and the boy didn’t treat Taylor the way she deserved to be treated. The song ends with her proclaiming, “There you are on your knees/begging for forgiveness, begging for me... but I’m not a princess/this ain’t a fairy tale/I’m gonna find someone someday who might actually treat me well.” She’s refusing to be trapped in a relationship where she knows she’s not getting the treatment she deserves -- and in today’s pop culture, that’s not a value that’s often shown as important to young women. A great majority of the songs that are shown to young women nowadays via pop culture often have to do with objectification of her body or are relationship songs in which the girl is very much either shown as a victim of the Big Bad Man or shown as a manipulative bitch who wants nothing more than to break the hearts of as many men as possible. Taylor does something that is actually quite hard to find in modern music -- she writes about her feelings in a confessional manner and holds absolutely nothing back, and for that, she is seen as annoying, boy obsessed, and a negative role model for any feminist woman. She says it best herself in a recent interview with Vanity Fair: “For a female to write about her feelings, and then be portrayed as some clingy, insane, desperate girlfriend... that’s taking something that potentially should be celebrated... and twisting it into something that is frankly a little sexist.”
One thing that people often say reflects poorly on women and is a reason not to look up to Taylor is the fact that she portrays herself as a blameless victim all of the time. This, as one would see if they took the time to actually listen to all of her songs instead of a select few, is not true at all. Below are some choice examples of Taylor Swift taking the blame: 1. “Maybe we got lost in translation, maybe I asked for too much.” - All Too Well 2. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, yeah, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” - Breathe (note: this not only goes on much longer in the song, but the secret message she spelled out in the lyrics with this song is also “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”) 3. “Was I out of line? Did I say something way too honest?” - Forever & Always 4. “Me and my stupid pride, sitting here alone...I keep going back over things we both said. And I remember the slamming door and all the things that I misread.” - The Other Side of the Door 5. “You gave me all your love and all I gave you was goodbye.” - Back to December (basically this entire song is basically her owning up to all of mistakes in a relationship.) 6. “Maybe it’s me and my blind optimism to blame.” - Dear John 7. “And I said ‘I’m sorry, too.’ And that was the moment I knew.” - The Moment I Knew 8. “You do what you want ‘cuz I’m not what you wanted.” – Cold As You Another specific lyric that is often brought up as an argument as to why Taylor Swift is the ultimate anti-feminist is from her song “Fifteen”, which chronicles her and her best friend’s experiences as freshmen in high school. In this song, she sings, “Abigail gave everything she had to her boy/who changed his mind/we both cried.” Many people take this line to mean that Taylor is saying that Abigail was defined by the fact that she had sex with this guy, which would feed into the idea that a girl loses something (her so-called “virginity”) when she has sex for the first time. One critic specifically says, “That’s right. All Abigail had was her hymen.” However, Taylor writes this lyric with a literal meaning; she means to say that Abigail lost herself in this guy, not knowing any better -- and yes, that does include sex -- but once the boy changed his mind, Abigail didn’t know how to handle it. Isn’t that understandable? Taylor is not saying that Abigail’s body and hymen is her “everything”; she literally means everything about her was consumed by this boy. The line before this is something I think forces a listener to reevaluate their take on that line if they think Taylor is saying that girls should be/are defined by guys. She sings, “Back then I swore I was going to marry him someday but I realized some bigger dreams of mine.” Taylor is flat out saying that she did not want to define herself by her boyfriend because she recognized that there were so many better things out there for her than dating some guy in high school. “In your life you’ll do things greater than dating the boy on the football team,” she later tells listeners, bringing the point home even further. And then we get to the slut shaming. An argument I often hear is that her song “You Belong With Me” spreads messages of slut shaming far and wide. While I do agree it crosses over into the gray areas of that issue, I believe if you really listen closely to the song and the narrative, you’ll see that she’s not saying she’s better than the girl because of the infamous “short skirts vs. t-shirts” debate; what she’s doing is differentiating herself from a specific girl who has treated the guy she’s infatuated with in a poor manner. By pointing out the differences between herself and a girl who is treating a boy badly, she is trying to show him that she would treat him as he deserved to be treated. Another thing this song was trying to do was redefine beauty, by telling girls that even if they don’t wear clothing or accessories typically attributed to beauty (short skirts, high heels, etc.), they can still be beautiful. “Unique and different is the new generation of beautiful,” she said once in an interview when asked about this song. Another lyric often brought up when people attack Taylor for slut shaming is a line from the chorus of her song “Better Than Revenge”. Although it was never released as a single, many people have heard of the line in which Taylor sings, “She’s an actress, whoa/she’s better known for the things that she does on the mattress.” Now, I’m not going to bullshit you. There’s pretty much no beating around the bush here: she is calling the woman she’s addressing in this song a slut. And both you and I can recognize that as terrible, and slut shaming as something no one should condone in any manner. However, consider that when Taylor wrote this song she was probably around 17 or
18 years old. Can you honest to God tell me that during your high school years, whether they’re happening now or are long over with, you never once called someone a slut, either before you realized just how detrimental it was or before you knew what slut shaming was? Taylor was angry, and she said something she shouldn’t have. It happens. We all do it. “But she’s a celebrity!” you cry. “She needs to be aware of her image and what she’s telling everyone with her music and decisions!” And I agree. But I also think that Taylor is more conscious of her image that most celebrities in the industry. In an interview with Regis and Kelly, she states, “You have to be conscious of [being a role model]. If you’re choosing to put out music and be out there in the public, you have to be conscious of the fact that you are part of the raising of the next generation and you do have an impact on that, so choose your words and your actions carefully, because I think it matters.” So yes, I do agree that Taylor slipped up while writing “Better Than Revenge”. But I also think that finding one lyric in which she slut shames and then proclaiming her “the ultimate slut shamer” is definitely going overboard, and not keeping the context of her youth in mind. Many people also cite the fact that Taylor has said on multiple occasions that she wants to be a stay-at-home mom once she has a family as an anti-feminist ideal. But isn’t the idea of feminism that if someone wants to be a stay-athome mom, they can choose to be, just as someone who wants to be the head of a corporation can be? By saying that Taylor’s decisions to be drug free, to not publicly drink often, and to embrace motherhood are anti-feminist, you are making feminism a “members only” club where only people you think are feminists can be feminists. But feminism is about having the right to choose the lifestyle you want, not about pursuing a specific lifestyle. If you want to choose a lifestyle where romance and motherhood is involved, that is perfectly okay. If you want to choose a lifestyle where neither of those things play a part, that is also perfectly okay. The entire point of feminism is giving women the power to choose which lifestyle they want for themselves. I mean, let’s admit it: unless you identify as aromantic, chances are you’ve fallen in love in your life. So chances are, you know how all consuming that emotion can be, how the person you are infatuated with can be the center of your attention in both the best and worst ways. Taylor Swift, instead of rejecting that, embraces it, and writes songs also embrace that - she writes in a way that leaves no details out, and for that she is often criticized. But why are we criticizing a girl for simply writing how she feels? Not only is it a completely harmless and healthy activity, it also gives many girls (and guys) something to connect with that they wouldn’t otherwise have. I know I’m not alone in saying that a Taylor Swift song or interview has helped me through a tough time. Personally, a Taylor Swift song (“You’re Not Sorry”) helped me realize that a relationship I was in was very much toxic and unhealthy for me, and ultimately gave me the courage to speak my mind and get out and feel okay not being defined by that guy any longer. There’s definitely something to be said for an artist who can spark that sort of revelation through her music and interviews, and I think that “something” is purely positive. If you don’t like Taylor’s music, I understand that completely. But if you truly think that she is a bad role model for girls growing up, then I think you haven’t yet seen the whole picture of her work as an artist, nor have you seen her attitude toward her fans (see: the 13 hour meet and greet that she extended to 14 and a half hours so she could meet everyone in line) because if you did, then it would become apparent that she really is someone that we should be looking up to. “Well, the way it works, as I’ve learned recently, is if you reach a certain point in your career where things are going very well, public perception needs a ‘Yeah, but.’ Like, ‘Yeah, but she’s been on lots of dates apparently.’ ‘Yeah, but I hear she’s crazy.’ I think you’ll find it has a lot to do with being a woman. And I resent that. That there has to be some downside to your personality or lifestyle if you’re a woman and successful. But I’m not gonna say to my guy friends, ‘No, I can’t go to lunch because people will say we’re dating. I just reject the idea I have to change the way I live my life.” – Taylor Swift, Glamour UK, October 2013
Art by: Alona Bach
Come the Revolution Hettie Ashwin “If there is one piece of advice I can give you it is never say no.” I listened intrigued at the conversation on bus 34a which was scheduled to stop at Fulham Road, Bayswater Terrace and terminated at the Morningside Shopping Centre. A well-dressed woman, in her 80’s I supposed, was espousing her considerable opinion on a girl, like a Queen dispensing her largess upon her subjects. “Men,” she continued warming up to the subject, “are a creature much studied by women. And women,” she pointed at the girl, “are the brains versus the brawn.” The bus lurched to a stop at the traffic lights and we waited. The woman’s hat, sporting a wide brim and a pearl hat pin that would deter the most determined purse snatcher, bobbed about as the bus ground its way into gear. “Don’t misunderstand me my dear,” the old lady began again, “men have a place in this world, but it is at the discretion of the woman.” The girl nodded, and it seemed to me, she was hanging off every morsel of the matronly advice. “But,” I listened captivated by the discourse, “Men are simple creatures and without our guidance they are,” and here she paused to emphasize her point, “just ruled by their base instincts.” I briefly wondered who had ‘done her wrong’. This old woman was only half the argument, probably from an age when half the argument was never heard. Times change, I thought. Men, the ones I knew anyway, had always been intelligent, dynamic voices in my life. They all recognized I had a right to be heard. The bell rang, signalling a stop, and we watched a passenger alight, all shopping bags and sensible shoes. She struggled with her load, giving a backward glance at the surly bus driver who seemed more interested in his fingernails than a helping hand. The old lady began again, “It is a mistake to assume that men have the same sensibilities as you or I, Marjorie dear. They do not, and if you remember this, then your young beau will not disappoint you.” Her words struck a chord with my own feelings as I recalled my recent quarrel with Darryl. He just didn’t seem to understand how I felt, and try as I might to explain my feelings, or sensibilities as the woman put it, he was silently indifferent. Perhaps if I hadn’t assumed he should understand, then we might not have argued in the first place. Watching the pair I tried to fathom their relationship. Niece and aunt, or grandmother and granddaughter. I studied their faces looking for a family resemblance. “But Mrs. Eden,” the girl began, “I could change him. Bring him around to my way of thinking.” Mrs. Eden chuckled. She adjusted her handbag on her lap and smoothed out her skirt over her knees. “My dear Marjorie, so innocent. You have just uttered the one phrase that all women through the ages, from Cleopatra to Queen Victoria and I imagine Hillary Clinton have wished for in their relationships. To change a man is the fervent hope, but a futile exercise. I understand that you can see great promise in your Jonathon, great possibilities, and the chance to mold the man, but be warned, this only leads to frustration at the inferior raw materials and its inflexibility.” The mother, with a sleeping baby on her lap, smiled. Mrs. Eden seemed to have an opinion on everything, albeit a lopsided one. Had I tried to mold my Darryl? I wondered. I figured we were partners of equal measure...most of the time. Our bus crunched to a halt and scooped up two old women with tartan shopping trolleys. They lugged their carryalls onto the bus, never-ceasing their conversation and plopped down next to the young housewife and her sleeping charge. Adjusting themselves on the long bench, the women’s small feet swung in time to the gear changes, and they reminded me of my bus rides as a school girl, when my feet couldn’t touch the floor.
“Women are designed to bend. And bend we do,” Mrs. Eden said. The two shopping companions stopped their chatter and looked at Mrs. Eden. “We have a capacity much like the willow. We bend to the will of the wind, we shelter those who ask, wanting nothing in return. We are practical and useful, but more than this, we are supple, beautiful, and as the wind whispers its secrets, we hold them close.” Marjorie smiled, as did my other travelling companions. My Darryl was solid as rock, I had convinced myself of that fact, but just once I would like him to bend a little. We rounded the corner of Centennial Drive, and the bus gathered momentum for the short but tedious stint on the express way. “My Jonathon is not like that Mrs. Eden. He always asks me what I want.” The two tartan sisters, as I called them, shook their heads at Marjorie’s naiveté. “Oh, yes, it is a common misconception Marjorie. They say they want you to choose, so that if it goes horribly wrong, then, who made the decision in the first place,” Mrs. Eden answered with a wry smile on her face. “Well it wasn’t my fault the holiday in the blue mountains turned out to be a disaster,” Marjorie retorted. “Of course not dear.” The bus screeched to a halt as a traffic jam loomed ahead. Everyone grabbed the nearest rail or bar and held fast. Mrs. Eden clutched her handbag and hat as we came to a stop. Things were adjusted, prams and shopping trolleys swung back in their constraints and a collective sigh of relief was heard. The tartan sisters produced black and white humbugs and offered them to those sitting closest. I sensed that the lollies forged a bond between us, when Mrs. Eden widened her audience to confide that she was given humbugs by her uncle Gerald just before he went to war, and they always had a special place in her heart. “You know dearie,” one of the sisters started, “men have a special place. After all, we couldn’t live without them. They make you feel sooo good,” she said, digging her sister in the ribs with her elbow, and giggling like a school girl. “And they have such strength of will. Taking charge, making all the important decisions,” the young mother added stroking her sleeping child. “No doubt, no doubt,” Mrs. Eden said, “They most certainly do, but,” and here Mrs. Eden pulled herself up in her seat and drew breath as if to do battle with the unbelievers. “But,” she reiterated, “just look at those decisions.” I contemplated my life made by my partner. I had moved to a new city, gave up my job and friends, to follow Darryl’s career. True, he had given me the choice of house, but it was I who packed up, arranged all the moving, cleaned, and then did it all again in a new house, while he started his new job. “The trick is,” and here Mrs. Eden leaned in a little closer to her ring of confidants, “The trick is, to make them feel like they made the decision in the first place. It is this that sets us apart. Psychology,” she ended sitting back, sucking on her humbug. Mrs Eden had spoken. I figured that whoever had married the feisty old woman must have been brave or foolhardy. But the underlying message about women and their strengths stayed with me. Our bus moved slowly to the freeway exit as Mrs. Eden opened her handbag and rummaged about. I expected something amazing to be produced from her Mary Poppins bag and wasn’t disappointed.
This old woman, who seemed to have a firm handle on life and its vagaries, produced a little silver flip case. We watched spellbound as she flicked open the lid with a practiced air and after choosing one of many, fixed a slender cigarette into an ebony holder. Then a second rummage came up with the lighter. Fashioned as a little gene lamp, with one small stroke the flint was seduced to spark and to her astonished audience, she sucked deeply, drawing the flame to the cigarette end. A gentleman two rows back coughed rather loudly, I assumed to register his disapproval, but Mrs. Eden remained oblivious, or maybe I thought, defiant to the protest. I didn’t know whether I should be disgusted or admiring of her action. She had an undeniable swagger as she smoked, and I knew if the tables were turned, I could never have pulled off such a disregard for the law. The young mother politely pointed to the no smoking sign and shifted uneasily in her seat. “My dear,” Mrs. Eden answered her action, “When our civil liberties are being eroded at every turn, it is up to the individual to take a stand in whatever small way one can.” And with that pronouncement Mrs. Eden dragged heavily on her cigarette, and the smoke disappeared, only to re-emerge a few seconds later as a banner of protest. The tartan sisters grinned, and taking the cudgel of freedom, fossicked about in one of their shopping bags to bring forth a packet of crisps. Then, in a flourish, the bag was opened and they began to eat, the sign indicating a bright red slash food and drink being mocked at every crunch and chew. They giggled and ate, swinging their legs as the bus moved off the exit ramp and swung around the roundabout, to emerge on Bayswater Terrace. As we gathered speed the driver must have caught a whiff of smoke and I saw him hunting in the rear vision mirror for the source. His eyes darted from road to cabin looking for likely suspects. I didn’t suppose he would have given Mrs. Eden a second glance, but his steely glare fixed on her almost immediately. She saw his look of indignation and nodded politely at the back of his head. This, it seemed, was not an isolated incident. Bayswater Terrace is a no stopping road, as the climb is torturous to all vehicles, and any stop would hold the traffic at a ridiculously sharp angle, brakes clutching wheels to defy gravity. The driver changed down a gear and swung around to give our Mrs. Eden a withering stare. His jaw slacked as he took in the tartan sisters enjoying an afternoon snack. Life it seemed was unraveling before his very eyes. His gear changes reflected his displeasure as they crunched up and down propelling us to the summit and stop 21 opposite the war memorial. “We were not meant to be put in a box before our demise, and I will resist the Governments temptation to do so with vigor and some personal justification.” Mrs. Eden puffed her smoke, tapping the ash in a little silver pot decorated with swirls and ending with a small filigree tassel. Someone at the back shouted, “Here here,” as they do in parliament, and the small sisters clapped their greasy hands. Marjorie looked to the floor and, rather than face the rebellion, shuffled her feet, while examining the hem of her coat. Mrs. Eden was in full swing now, and pronounced we should all take the time to claw back one eroded civil liberty a day, lest the powers run away with their own selfimportance. “If,” she pronounced, “we let the law makers make all the decisions, we will forget to make our own. And if we don’t make our own, we have no destiny and are no better than sheep.” A university student let out a loud “Baaaaa,” and the other passengers laughed, though not too loudly. Mrs. Eden had the look of defiance, as she stubbed out her cigarette and slid the little silver lid down on her pot of ash. The driver rammed the gears and bolted to the top of the hill before the rabble turned into a lynching mob. Our bus swung into the stop and the automatic doors opened. We sat transfixed knowing the showdown was coming. One passenger who wanted to get off remained; her front row seat a prime position for what was to follow. Bus driver 3442, a Mr. Holloway, so his badge indicated, strode out of his seat and stood at the front of the bus. He eyed the cabin setting his gaze on each passenger making them feel sheepish and uncomfortable. The sister’s act of bravery was quickly scrunched up and hidden in a coat pocket, each wiping her lips with a hastily produced tissue.
His tactics brought instant crowd control, and then he settled his eye on Mrs. Eden. Marjorie shifted in her seat as Mr. Holloway walked to the first seat after the three-seater. He stood looking down at Mrs. Eden as she adjusted her hat and smiled. “Get off my bus,” Mr. Holloway said with a faint Scottish accent. “I don’t believe this is my stop,” Mrs. Eden replied. “I’ll not have the likes of you on my bus. Flouting the rules. Goading the other passengers. Now get off my bus.” He pointed theatrically at the door. “I have paid for and intend to get my full fare ride thank you sir.” This feisty old woman was not for moving. Someone at the back piped up with “Ow let the old lady ride, she ain’t doing nothing.” Again an anonymous “Here here” was heard. Mr. Holloway pointed to the no smoking sign, and as he warmed to the argument, his Scottish brogue came to the fore. “Canna ya read ta sign woman. I’ll be calling up my supervisor if ya dinna git off ma bus.” “Call if you must bus driver, but to inconvenience these paying passengers with bad service and tardy timetables would not bode well for your employment.” “She’s got a point mate,” a young lad shouted. The passengers began to murmur discontent as time ticked by. I wanted to be courageous. I wanted to shout my approval for all Mrs. Eden stood for. I felt swept up in the moment, and so I said, “It was only one cigarette.” Mr. Holloway rounded on me as the straw that broke the camel’s back. I pushed myself back into the seat, wishing I could just disappear. “Just one cigarette. Just one cigarette,” his voice getting frantic. “It is the wee thin end of the bloody wedge. Oh you say ‘just one’, but where will it end. A cigarette today, tomorrow… anarchy.” Obviously I had touched a raw nerve and I imagined Mr. Holloway was in considerable pain at the thought of life without boundaries. “We’re not all bloody sheep mate,” the lad said, and it seemed the passengers agreed. We stirred as the proletariat stirred on Bastille Day rising to the challenge. “Drive the bus,” a small Italian looking man at the back said, and the mantra was taken up by the crowd. “Drive the bus, drive the bus,” we chanted. “Right.” The bus driver stormed to the controls and grabbed his radio. Over the chanting he demanded assistance, then shut his little gate against the world, and sat stoically looking through the windscreen at nothing in particular. Our chanting petered out without a protagonist and we sat silently waiting for something to happen. It wasn’t long before the police arrived. They were a little bemused at the scene that greeted their distress call from the bus terminal telling them of a riot at stop 21. We were all sitting silently looking particularly normal and ordinary. No ripped seats, no graffiti, no broken glass to speak of, and about a dozen orderly citizens sitting on bus 34a at 3.22 in the afternoon. A young female officer boarded the bus and scratched her head. She turned to the driver and asked about the only sensible question she could in the circumstances,“this is stop 21 isn’t it? We watched Mr. Holloway in the rear view mirror mangle his lips into a tight purse, “Aye it is.”
The second officer a young clean shaven square jawed man looked at the collective working classes. He spied Mrs. Eden and I guessed, he presumed by her appearance, that she was a sensible older woman, so he produced his note book and began to ask for particulars. Mr. Holloway looked like he was incensed at being left out of the proceedings, and he unlatched his little partition and pointed accusingly at Mrs. Eden. “It twas er. She,” and he wagged his index finger at Mrs. Eden, “She’s ta one.” His rage boiled in his cheeks and his face resembled a day at the beach without shade. His eyes narrowed as he wished the devils own curse on, ‘That woman’. P.C. Bunton grabbed his arm and with her gentle touch he collapsed back into his seat a spent man. “I don’t know what came over him, really officer.” Mrs. Eden was adjusting her attire as if she had just survived a force 10 gale and still managed to get to church on time. “Are we right to go then?” Officer Bunton asked poor Mr. Holloway. He gazed in his mirror and saw 12 sets of eyes staring back at him. A small almost inaudible, “Aye,” managed to sneak its way from his throat and he lowered his glare to the controls. The plateau at the top of Bayswater terrace is covered in smart houses hugging the hill, their stilts like the long legs of spiders crawling up the wall. We studied these houses looking out the windows with concentration, rather than face each other. The Police car had sped off to some other dire emergency, and Mr. Holloway was left to suffer the indignity of silence. The few remaining stops to the shopping centre saw our little band of rebels disperse, until there were just the sisters, Marjorie, Mrs. Eden and myself. I felt we were united in sisterhood, bonded by humbugs and rebellion on that bus, and we might just carry the banner of civil action beyond the plastic seats and chrome hand rails to a wider audience. Mr. Holloway slid the bus into the terminus, and opened the doors. He sat, it seemed to me, a broken soul, as the fabric of society had been stripped away to reveal chaos, and in his words, anarchy. Mrs. Eden gathered her bag and stood. I was surprised at her physical stature. She was no more than 4 foot tall, which was at odds with her robust character. She leaned heavily on a stick, and gingerly made her way to the door. Marjorie solicitously steadied her as she negotiated the steps. Turning at the last step, she smiled at the driver, and thanked him for a most enjoyable journey. The sisters followed, as I stood and waited my turn. They smiled at me, and I felt we shared more than a moment on a bus. I took one last look at Mr. Holloway as I stood on the pavement and felt almost giddy with a new lease on life. Here was the beginning of the new me. The decision maker, the feminist, the civil activists. I looked around to find my mentor, but Mrs. Eden and Marjorie had been swallowed up by humanity. Exercising my rights I crossed the road on a ‘do not cross’ flashing sign, and never looked back, thanks to Mrs. Eden and her cigarette.
Art by: Sariel Friedman
Womanhood Iris Cronin
I was fourteen when the red jeep pulled up alongside me. Blonde head leaned out, lethal boy-man combo, he was talking not to me but at me, hey you, nice ass Nice ass. Nice. Ass. Until that moment I was not aware of my body as something others Appreciated or Rejected or Absconded with, Taylor swift t-shirt, purple flowers on my bike basket, what about my appearance made him think I wanted this? The question was not rhetorical. Thanks, I told him, I made it myself. Head disappeared and red jeep drove away, That was the day I started Noticing license plate numbers.
Art by:William Levenberg
Look Who Is Talking Ankita Anand Chubby cheeks, dimpled chin, Rosy lips, teeth within. What do you say, son? Looks like a good one. Curly hair, very fair, Eyes are blue, lovely too. Speaks too, though, you sure that will do? ‘No, no, no!’
Fallout Lucy Wainger
i shaved my legs for you and then rubbed all over with oil and sugar and lemon juice which is supposed to make dead skin cells slough off like islands after earthquakes; and i rubbed vanishing cream into my chin ‘cause god forbid you’d see something imperfect in my skin; and i inked a large R into my hip mapping the place where i think i really ought to sear the goddamn thing into the ground: a controlled burn, penance, blue bobby pin held over the lighter. my skin’s still radioactive from the bombs i detonated for you. my insides, however, are unmarked.
Feminist Margaret Heftler
The word, they’ve heard describes some whiny bitch with her hands on her hips, stamping her feet like a two year old, conjuring up injustice out of the air. because when I mention “feminism” at the dinner table one night, casually, my brother asks me if I’m a lesbian, and my dad says I’m too pretty for that, jokingly, of course. I guess I do not need to wrap myself up in this word, to use it as protection. I guess men didn’t catcall me on the way to school when I was twelve, saying Hey Sexy, I’d tap dat ass girl, look at dem double D’s. I guess I wasn’t taught to hate my body because girls can’t walk alone at night , of course, girls need protection, not adventure. cover yourself up, keep your head down, don’t trust strangers don’t speak too loudly, don’t take up too much space, boys are only after one thing. I guess I wasn’t taught to keep silent in middle school when the boys jumped up and down in their seats in math class, cracking “make me a sandwich” jokes, calling out answers, as I sat, silent, trying to calculate the calories in my lunch, but girls aren’t good at math anyway. I don’t say any of this.
Art by: Cilka Bidwell
Misplaced Tragic Heroes J.D. Baldwin
I don’t know what I’ve done wrong To deserve this A sickly aching feeling Stained by a diseased animal All their stares Accusing me Poking at me I want to curl up and shut them all out I hear their whispers Hissing like voices in the dead grass They name me slut And he is their hero A perfect man Lured in by my exposed flesh I wanted him to do it, they said to me Old men I desired his breath and spit His weight crushing me The black and red spots on my face This is his tragedy, not mine. And when my limbs ache and it hurts to much to cry They won’t say it but they’ll think “I hope the slutty bitch dies”.
Remkiashta Catherine Bailey
Now and then the world haunts our eardrums with its silence, so during adolescence I invented needed words. Renisive. Adjective. Resentfully resigned. Therystic. Adjective. Awed by unearned praise. Remkiashta. Noun. A platonic kind of lover. The thing I decided I wanted in place of the boy who thumbed my jeans. He told me on a bridge once how he longed to be my lover. I stared at the daisies he held in his hands and the way they all snagged on the wind. Our voices fluttered downward, apocalyptic arrows that brushed the backs of car roofs, reluctant in the rain. I told him if he wanted he could be my remkiashta. Our knowledge and our yearnings swerved, wet wheels across gold lines.
Our Motherland & Water Ho Lieu
Our motherland & water Even now the burden of the family is still on the slenis truly the land & water of the mothers der shoulders of the woman from primitive vegetable gathers, fruit pickers, and tuber dig- daughters must bear all domestic chores gers at school they constitute the majority and show their to present-day globalized exporters of rice, coffee, cashew, superiority and sea-foods but what for? long before the arrival of Buddhism, Confucianism, Islam, when they must stop at the barrier of marriage and and Marxism the priority of male lineage our native religion is the worship of the Inner Dao of the when each year there are 100,000 childbirths but eternal female Creatrix 130,000 abortions in Saigon only as codified in philosophy by Laozi’s Daodejing and in poetry gender equality is set up in the constitution, laws, and by Qu Yuan’s Nine Songs propaganda the mother goddess of love, mating, and fertility is great but inequalities are everywhere in daily life above all and beyond everything and the worst is that these injustices become unconshe is unique and anonymous, but venerated under multiple scious names and respected by all women as their own virtues. to satisfy the diversity of human needs. My interest and work in feminism In agricultural civilization, she resides in the Four Palaces, have started when i look at my mother, my sister, and as Mother of Heaven, Mother of Forests & Mountains, my close friends Mother of Waters, and Mother of Land what has become of their lives as Nüwa, she created humankind and repaired the broken and what lies in the future for them sky with stones what can i do with my life? as the daughter of the Emperor of Jade, Princess Liễu when i choose feminism Hạnh, i am frequently questioned by many people about my she protected nature and all choice children of the Highlands my answer is that i aspire to a world without gender as Poh Nagar, the Lady of the Realm of Champa, discrimination she ruled over the waves and and i will tell my children to keep this way taught farming to the people until there are no more inequalities as Neang Khmau, the Black Virgin of the Khmers, between woman and man. she protected the dignity of all women and at present, all prostitutes, beer-bar, and karaoke girls.
Art by: Gabrielle Howell
Training Heroines Mary Grahame Hunter
“Ladies, you really think you have it so good just because you can vote?” That’s my social justice teacher, And she doesn’t say ‘and gentlemen’ because there are none here. Our student body dresses in blue plaid and saddle shoes And it never wears trousers or tie-pins. I tell people about this and they ask how I can stand it. How can I stand no one glaring at me for getting the answer right in trigonometry when they got it wrong? How can I stand no one telling me that stage flat is too heavy for me to lift before I even try? How I can I stand no one writing off my lunch table tirades as ‘hormones’; How can I stand no one laughing off my indignation about another sexual innuendo from a teacher who really needs to stop? How can I stand being fully aware that I am not an object, that makeup is for myself and my worth has nothing to do with if I’ve shaved my legs? How can I stand being treated as a person by default? In our time at this school we have been made privy to a very subtle secret And it is that we are good and smart and powerful And that those who tell us we aren’t are lying. And when we continue our journey as the heroines of our own stories And the antagonists tell us we can’t Wear that say that do that think that be that, We will spit in their eye and tell them Sorry. Never got the message.
India: A Dangerous Place To Be a Woman Nalini Priyadarshni I shan’t be tied down prone for eternity For love or fear Smattering of Vermillion on your brow Or handful of soil from Kalighat Drunk on blood yet asking for more Breathlessness maybe but not baying My heart slay no goat Was it mishap of birth or maze of samsara Maybe I lost you at the corner where Hung over Bo-tree mislaid its shadow Sunyata saris flap lightly in Sepia world of my tragic dreams Lit up by pyres I clutch at rosary beads and chant Hoping to make sense of tantra in play Cries of witch-hunt grow louder You hang back in shadows Watching twilight spill its gold Ignoring your mud splattered feet Cesspool of rancid manhood surrounds you Your indifference is nauseating Amber of your last cigarette Does not stand a chance on wet pavement
Art by: Ramona Gomez
Starting/Growing/Reviving That Feminist Club Echo Zen Perhaps you’re stuck in university hell, but lucky enough to attend a university that promotes radical, un-American values such as women deserving of rights, or students having to access to emergency contraception to protect their health and futures. If however you attend a uni where authorities believe rape’s not really rape unless your assailant climaxes... well, you may have a bit of work to do, if your goal is to jumpstart, grow or revive the feminist scene on campus. Of course, barring an infusion of $6.5 US million in mansplaining seed money directed into the feminist club you’re working to revamp, there are no silver bullets to make your job easier. You may find yourself up till 0200 in the morning, typing project proposals or emails explaining to key professors or students how their goals intersect with yours and why they should work with you. None of us are experts, and anyone claiming to be one is either stupid or a brilliant heir to Rosser Reeves. But between the author and colleagues who’ve volunteered insights for this blog post, we have about 10 years’ experience in campus advocacy. Some of us still do consulting in this sector, long after graduating. So whilst the work might be hard, there are things we know you can do to raise the odds of payoff in the end. Again, not experts, but the consensus among us is the following principles will make the path to ultimate feminist domination – or just making your club relevant again – a clearer, more robust one. 1. Make your goals exciting... all of them. We’ll be straight-up. If your org’s goals don’t inspire, you’ll have trouble with attracting support – via student members, advising professors or outside funding sources. Maybe your goal is simply to create a space where students can come together to discuss what feminism means to their daily lives every week. That’s noble, and helpful to solidarity. Still, if you want to expand its reach and ability to effect change, your club needs to bring something more inspiring into people’s lives. Warm, fuzzy feelings can only do so much to attract membership, or build capacity or bring lobbying power to the table. When you’re thinking goals, distinguish between short- and long-term ones. All robust orgs have both – something people can see in the short-term to know they’re doing good, whilst seeing how it’s building up to something in the long-term. For this to happen, goals must be tangible, measurable. This is the basis of strategy, i.e. how short-term objectives contribute to long-term direction. Creating “a feminist discussion space on campus” would be a short-term goal, obviously. Whether it’s a good goal depends on if they tie into the long-term. If the long-term goal is to improve health education in local schools, discussion spaces might not be worth the overhead. Of maybe they’re worth it, but would be more efficiently implemented through Facebook or Disqus. It depends on your club.
Some students at one of our campuses recently formed an org with the goal of “improving rape prevention awareness”. By itself this goal was intangible – how to measure awareness? So they operationalised it by deciding they’d measure how many Greeks could pass an anonymous test, given after a revamped rape prevention workshop required of all Greek orgs. Of course they needed to first design this revamped workshop and get the university to implement it, and then they needed people who could operationalise measures – whoops, this wouldn’t be possible if the club were comprised mostly of gender studies majors. Fortunately they had medical students and psych majors onboard already, to take care of all that. That brings us to our next point, if you’re to recruit the best people... 2. Do what no other organisation can do. Your org has tangible, concrete goals. Why should folks help you with those goals? Is there an org doing such work already? Don’t reinvent that wheel if you can avoid it! At one campus we almost launched a pro-choice student group, but nixed it after determining campus Democrats were already doing good work in that area. Of course if another org is doing your intended work badly (or is run by closet rapists), that may be a good reason to reinvent their wheel ASAP. But otherwise complement what others do, instead of repeating it. To put it simply, offer something other orgs cannot – something exciting enough that people will join up, or at least support or fund you. Claiming you’ll “promote campus feminism” might be enough for the admin approving your club’s official status, but you’ll need something bigger to convince people they should risk their GPA for some club. At day’s end, they need to be able to see what the results of their work might be. It comes down to having concrete goals, not fuzzy platitudes – in other words, an implementable vision. Sometimes the vision is unimaginable to others without the same background, to where they can’t visualise it themselves. “Sounds like pie in the sky”, they say. Happens all the time outside feminist advocacy – you want project funding for a mobile app or ad campaign, but they can’t see how the idea will work because nobody’s done it in this/that context before. That’s when you’ll need concrete examples of your tangible goals. 3. Prepare to prove your ideas will work. When the concept for “Portal” – one of the few games with a female hero – was first bandied about, nobody knew what the developers were talking about. They had to point to their proof of concept, “Narbacular Drop”, to prove teleportation games could work. And you may have to do lots of legwork on initial concepts you can show to potential members or supporters, to prove your org’s goals are feasible. These concepts may end up being your lifeline, to be trotted out when others have questions or doubts about what you’re doing. Recently one of our campus clubs approached a medical student group with a pitch for online sex education for dorm residents, via interactive video. Needless to say, nobody understood what the hell anyone was talking about, until someone mocked up a demonstration of how the system could work. As soon as the med students saw this was a serious idea that could ensure the group’s relevance for the next 5 years at least, they were sold. But how did the club come up with the idea? It wasn’t so much that the club was comprised of geniuses, but that they knew where to look for genius, or something close it.
4. Expose yourself to “crazy” ideas, regardless of origins. In the above case, the club didn’t just recruit the best people from outside gender studies – including engineering friends who didn’t know much feminism but wanted to do something exciting. Club leaders also cultivated relationships with diverse organisations, such as art collectives and marketing societies. These networks exposed them to innovative ideas in those fields as soon as they came up, so they could start thinking up ways to adapt them to feminist contexts. From the art collective they learned of new design trends, which they promptly applied to their own social media, and from the technologists they absorbed best practices around using mobiles to influence millennials, adapting them to promote reproductive justice. There’s diversity in members, and there’s diversity in ideas. You can’t staff an org with just women’s studies majors – it’s intellectually incestuous, and doomed to eventual irrelevance through siloing. Yet even if your club is comprised of smart people, you still have to network outside your area of expertise. Groups often believe their ideas are better than everyone else’s, which manifests itself through “not invented here” syndrome. But realistically your group doesn’t have the best ideas, and won’t find them until it looks beyond itself to see what others are doing, and how their innovations can be adapted in pursuit feminist goals. This brings us to our last point. 5. Leverage those innovations to stay relevant into the future. With one sexual health org we advise, many of their innovations in social media are a result of their close collaboration with a student group that has nothing to do with social media. This group is an arts troupe that tours high schools, teaching about HIV/AIDS and positive attitudes through dance, music and skits on everything from body image to homophobia. Whilst assisting the group with evaluating their messaging effectiveness via quantitative methods, the health org also discerned which messages were best delivered through new social media channels – knowledge that now forms the foundation of their upcoming project. Exposure to new ideas is vital to anticipating how to innovate your org, to stay relevant to the future. If you must prioritise one of these points over all others, this might the most important. How you leverage those new ideas is up to your org to determine. No one size of strategy fits all. Remember this: 1) Excite others. 2) Be unique. 3) Prove yourselves. 4) Learn new things. 5) Predict the future. With these points in mind, you may be more powerful than Obi-Wan Kenobi, or Chell from “Portal”. Good luck out in the field!
Amber Madeline Anderson don’t write history as poetry, they told me, but I can’t stop thinking of these manquila girls who move surreptitious like kittens to catch a 5 a.m. bus that carries them to a workplace like a poultry farm, no windows. they search through textile cloth in darkness for visas, do not make themselves heard. in their city, footsteps mean kidnap. history has no compassion, you told me, but a young Indian girl protected a white man shadowed by clubs, said what she collected in her arms would not disappear like Queen Elizabethan charters. you wanted me to be your Pocahantas each time you felt yourself disappearing but I did not want to be the next girl you took beneath the first floor staircase and shed tears before as you told of your father who hits you. sometimes, I wonder whether the small scar below your left eye was not the best thing that ever happened to you. history has no intention, my mother tells me, says to be smart, be careful when its dark and I walk in the city and I tell her that she can’t keep me from disappearing any more than I can keep him or her or her. I tell her there is a girl with my name taken from her bed 6 years ago and how her parents are still searching. my mother tells me she too would never stop looking. I don’t tell her that sometimes, I am the boy under the staircase or Madeleine Mcann or a manquila and that sometimes, he or she or she is me.
There Is No Wayward Palace Laura Carter I. The news brings the same oranges, peppered with political fire. I want to know if people reach past the meteoric fire of youth into the gray world where I think: I could be convicted. I wonder what all I’ve done wrong. One: The ineluctable tenderness I let recede. Two: The ineluctable tenderness I gave into, as if eschewing the light. One criminal remains unconvicted, and the world is eating his carcass in a ball of rage, throwing out stones toward an uncertain future. This happens in places where homes—domestic—are enclaves of the virtual, where the inhabitants of cities retreat into abstraction so as to avoid loneliness. I am one of these people. II. To shake through a cocoon is the same for everyone—the criminal, the non-criminal, the world in between where dust alights on a paper bag and a video camera picks up on the ash in the corner. Each of us strives for gold—well, I do, anyway. I almost eat the orange again, with a knowingness that age brings. One friend sends word of the raw, a little effigy with a spike at its center. I have trouble believing the spike will be removed, but I do my best to make a path that some can see, quietly. This makes sense. Every girl was once a tree, but in the end, the tree may be what’s left. The inessential rolls off the statue, leaving new nature. The way: two becomes one again, a spark of mystery held to, for love. III. And then when I say “we”—I don’t mean Apollinaire and me. That was Paris. This is, at least, a beginning. Remember that the water is cooler when you get off the train, like looking for a different way. It is usually the labyrinth that affords the night of work—midnight sun, polis, music spared by the connoisseur. But an ideal might stop you and cause you to find a new type of intelligence. To shake out of the broken window is the world’s first reward, and it may seem sweet, but it also brings the plaintain of sorrow along with it. Someone might eschew your knowing. As strength ends, so the day envelops the heart, made different for having found life. IV. And then to approach the light: the way an ex-lover would say “go” in a series of words, patterns, tapped out. There could be snow, then the world could almost end in ice or fire. “But it didn’t end” is the operative phrase that opens up to the sight of someone new, and there is no way, I tell the criminal, to make a place for yourself than by starting over completely. This time it’s Zimmerman. I imagine him recalcitrant yet redemptive, and he’s not entirely cold, the way one boy remembers him after death. I brush his face with my fingers and he awakens. V. I only knew I didn’t want to be the one at fault. A city is built on the rubbish the poor leave behind. A house can be an alternate sanctuary. I know the city because it is engraved on the back of my hand like a map of the world. The city is full of fear; its people hide, looking for an egress. The man once asked me for a pound, and I complied. I told him he was free to mark himself on my body. This was my first crime against nature. There were others. In the thicket of desire, I wove a path that led me back to the ordinary foliage of summer. Someone had once said the map would bloom, but there was no need to imagine this.
Art by: Sariel Friedman
Design: Sariel Friedman