Category Archives: The Wimmins

Tis the Season, The #metoo Season

Just about all women I know have gone about their dailies, walking down the street, talking to a colleague at a conference bar, filing some paperwork, and had an anvil fall on their heads: I am not a person. I’m a collection of parts to be used by others. I am breasts and a vagina, and sometimes also an ass.

My deepest wish for this chaotic #metoo season is that our culture finally understands the depth of trauma sexual harassment incurs. That we stop making women feel like they should, if they’re strong and good and right enough, shake it off, suck it up, and hold it in. That their violation wasn’t as bad as other women’s, so they don’t need to demand their right to bodily autonomy, nor loudly protest its abrogation. Continue reading

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Roxane Gay Believes in Love

Readers may already be familiar with Roxane Gay’s primal story: A bookish, awkward 12 year-old girl, obedient daughter of Haitian immigrants, biked with her sexy, controlling, popular boyfriend to a deserted cabin in the woods where he and his friends raped her. She hid this trauma from her family for years and protected herself by doggedly making herself huge, maintaining her size through fat camps, parental distress, and professional peregrination.

She has told and retold this story through her increasingly prominent books, both fiction and nonfiction: An Untamed State, about a Haitian-American woman kidnapped by Haitian dissidents; Bad Feminist, a collection of cultural and political criticism; short story collection Difficult Women; and, most recently Hunger, a memoir that only ostensibly addresses her trauma and its lifelong effects more directly than her other work. Continue reading

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Pay Up, Dude

People are apparently concerned about the proximity between Harvey Rapist Weinstein and Democratic donors. Dude can’t use his fundraising capacity and history (coughcoughHRCcoughcough) as any kind of credibility for anything. But. Dude can pay the F up. He can pay and pay and pay and pay. He can pay to improve economic justice. He can pay to expand health care services for women. He can pay to end gerrymandering. He can pay to elect lefty women to office.

Can he pay to get more women of color into executive and starring roles in film and TV? Without raping or attempting to rape them? Without their sexuality being any part of their professional, creative contributions to works of art? Yes. He can.

He can pay and pay and pay. And pay. He can’t pay enough. Let him pay.

Let’s also maybe jail him too. Thanks.

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Bookishness Roundup

I wrote about whether or not Jewish people feel more anxious than others (they don’t, but don’t they?) (This mommyblog post does not refer to my dissertation, which argued that anxiety = contemporary culture and gimme a cookie. For my feelings.)

I recently enjoyed The Tiger’s Wife. Obreht’s magical realist novel uses the horror of ethnic violence to rip apart all the boundaries: between nations, ethnicities, and religions, between animal and human, between life and death. As editors are legit assigning stories about potential nuclear war not even a fucking year into this administration, it’s worth thinking about the senseless dehumanization of violent tribalism. Also, while I’m no expert in Balkan culture, the novel seemed to conspicuously, uncritically, surprisingly (given its investments) marginalize its Muslim characters.

I coulda written this about how the afterword in The Handmaid’s Tale (a bunch of historibros debating whether or not the account is valid) is the most important part of the book, by reinforcing the sexism that persisted before and after the Gilead period. Gendered knowledge practices delegitimate women’s experiences and silence their voices. But also: Gilead ended. Political eras end.

This story of Kathy Acker’s last year breaks my heart.

“Surrounded by friends, she began to stop breathing, intermittently. She asked Viegener to look for the list. What list?

The list to call the animals. Kathy, we didn’t make a list. It’s the list to call the animals back home.”

 

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That R Kelly Thing

Last night I gave myself the gift of finally finishing TV’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which, despite its frustrating offness about race and its Girl with the Dragon Tattooism, entertained and evoked. Still, I was relieved to see the finale and move on to less passively torturey entertainments.

So when the R. Kelly story broke–or rather, when the latest in a multi-decades-long string of R. Kelly pedophile/abuser stories broke, I was already dwelling on assholes using religion to justify structural domination of women, people of color, and gender/sex minorities.

Continue reading

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Streetfight: Trumpocalypse Vs Gilead

I read The Handmaid’s Tale this week and anxiously calculated the chances of Atwood’s theocratic/woman-hating coup manifesting in the Donald Duck era.

Atwood’s dystopia sorts women into four classes: Wives (duh), Marthas (domestic servants), Handmaids (pregnancy surrogates for infertile Wives), and Unwomen (“gender traitors” and dissidents). But as Foucault taught us, exceptions to the (gender) rules better enforce the (gender) rules. Though she fears for her life under the brutal regime and is coerced into breaking more and more of its codes, Offred (“Of Fred”) finds herself wresting what pleasure she can out of a system that denies her autonomy, sociality, love. The book is about how much we will give up to stay human.

Thus follows a catalog of qualities our current government may or may not share with Atwood’s Gilead. Which totalitarian, repressive regime wins?

Continue reading

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