“Every woman knows the word slut has power. Whether you love it or hate it, the word “slut” is an evocation of a gender double standard used to control women and no woman alive hasn’t thought about what it means to be labeled in this way. In some cultures, where honor killings take place, it is a matter of life or death.If you’re a “good” woman, don’t kid yourself. It means you’ve spent your life and will continue to spend your life calibrating your appearance, speech and behaviour so that you are not a slut. By not acknowledging how the word is used you are embracing its power over you and other girls and women. And you will pass that corrupt and misguided abuse of power on to your daughters and mine. That’s because you know, deep down, that at any point that word can be used against you. Every woman is a slut waiting to happen. Women who abhor the word, find it vulgar, and fear it, the ones who slut-shame others, gain a little bit of power by participating in a system that denigrates them.Other women, and their male allies, reject the power of the word and the social structures that perpetuate its harm. These women and men know it for what it is - a word used to control women and their bodies, and it is useless as a weapon against them.”
To my daughter I will say,
'when the men come, set yourself on fire'.
-Warsan Shire, “In Love and In War”
Hey y’all! More work from the graphic novel project (which will likely get done when I’m 40).
This is a future (graphic) book-by-a-woman that I can’t wait to read. I know it’ll happen for Dianna— I had no idea she was such a talented graphic artist! I have had the most inspiring, artistic, intelligent students, whose journeys and contributions are going to be (are already) powerful. Diana came up to me at Mid-Summer Mardi Gras a few weeks ago and said the nicest things about my creative writing class, which was really sweet of her. But I think I have even more awe for my students, their experiences, their lives, and their art.
The 2014 Longlist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction was announced today, and it’s a very disappointing and stodgy list . Roz Chast is on there (yay!) but it says something about one of the most prestigious literary awards in America that the judges chose NINE books by men and one…
In the age of “leaning in” and “having it all,” the superwoman model for female living persists with a vengeance. Feminism is supposed to be a refuge from all that perfection-seeking, but even there, it’s easy to feel bested, lured by things that are bad for women but great for entertainment: Cue your guilty dancing every time “Blurred Lines” comes on the radio.
In her new essay collection, Bad Feminist, out August 5, author Roxane Gay wrestles with this conundrum. “When I drive to work, I listen to thuggish rap at a very loud volume, even though the lyrics are degrading to women and offend me to my core,” she writes. “I am mortified by my music choices.”
Gay—literature professor, novelist, prolificTwitterer, and blogger who imparts life wisdom couched in cooking advice—is best known for her deeply personal essays about everything from politics to pop culture. Most of the writings in this collection have been published at various outlets, including at The Rumpus, where Gay is essays editor.
Bad Feminist reads like an autobiography, segueing from elements of Gay’s life—her Nebraska upbringing, her Haitian-American family, her cooking—into smart critiques of everything from reproductive rights to the Sweet Valley High andTwilight books. It’s a mix of the somber and the hilarious; Gay aptly quotes both Judith Butler and the Ying Yang Twins. “I am flawed and human,” Gay writes. “I am messy.” And capital-F feminism could do with a little more messiness.
I caught up with Gay a few weeks after the release of her latest novel, An Untamed State, as she prepped for back-to-back summer book tours, to discuss her survival tactics for social awkwardness, her Scrabble obsession, and why she never shows her writing to her parents.