Feminism

The Pink

The Pink

Happy new vagina

I suppose what I’m saying is not that the desire for a universal is politically defensible but, more simply, that the desire for a universal is synonymous with having a politics at all. In a punishing twist, feminism has become both the preferred name for this desire and the very politics which must not claim it. Indeed, the minimal definition of a feminist might be a person who, affirming that women will never constitute a political class, privately hopes it might happen anyway.

Meeting Needs

Meeting Needs

If movements’ labor produces change in society, who then produces the movement?

Political meetings rely upon social reproductive labor: washing dishes, caring for children, feeding participants. But the meeting itself also presents a reproductive challenge: how do participants sit, in what sequence do they speak, how do they address one another? The stakes of these questions are high, and can ultimately sustain or destroy us. These sorts of high stakes are why Silvia Federici lifts up movements that “place at the center of their political project the restructuring of reproduction as the crucial terrain for the transformation of social relations.” The work of reproducing movements is not only that of sharing the invisible labor that makes a meeting possible; it is also about attending to the ritual practices of meetings themselves, like speaking and listening, that foster and maintain relations of activism. This is the work of meeting needs.

The Prison House of Language

The Prison House of Language

On Rachel Kushner and Sergio De La Pava

The women in the novel are subjected to sexual violence so regularly that it is treated as if it is just another part of their punitive program. For many of them, this sexual violence is not unique to their time in jail. Kushner wisely demonstrates throughout the novel that patriarchy and its parallel oppressive structures are not phenomena specific to incarceration; they groom these characters from birth to feel comfortable in the rigidly authoritative structures of prisons. “I had been a waitress at IHOP right after I graduated high school,” Romy says. “I was waitress 43, and the cooks would call, Forty-three! Your order is up! Which, as I only saw later, had been preparing me for here.” With wrenching flashbacks to Romy’s youth that bare the bruises of innocence forcibly taken, Kushner shows us Romy navigating and bucking authority throughout her life, in her predatory friendships, in her work as a stripper, and in her experiences with men. By the time she ends up in prison, like the rest of the women around her, she hardly has the capacity to question or resist authority.

Everybody Knows

Everybody Knows

“He’s the nicest person!!!”

If you went to an American high school with an average parental tax bracket in the “comfortable” range, there’s a good chance you know Bryant Grober. Bry: cute and popular, on the teams it was cool to be on, kind of a dick around his friends but perfectly cordial when you were lab partners. Somewhere in your yearbook, there’s a picture of him. It’s a close-up reproduced large, because the yearbook editors wanted everyone to appreciate Bry’s amazing eyes. Chris, with his equally amazing but soul-freezing eyes, might seem a more unheimlich figure. Both boys were rapists, not just the one who had the brio to announce it so insouciantly.

A Trained Pigeon

A Trained Pigeon

Are these dark times, or are they unconscionably stupid times?

And most bizarre, I think—the moment I will not be able to forget, so utterly sincere and consistent and emotional did it seem, the emotional peak of his long, rambling statement—was when Kavanaugh told us the single thing he loves doing most in the world. Not the law (though this is the job he’s interviewing for). Not parenting (though he is a sentimentalist of kids and parents, or perhaps of himself-as-a-kid-and-parent). It was coaching youth athletics. “I love coaching more than anything I’ve ever done in my whole life.” Then a pause, and the explosion. “But thanks to what some of you on this side of the committee have unleashed, I may never be able to coach again.”

The Rising of the Women

The Rising of the Women

On the #WomenDisobey Action at the Capitol, the largest women's civil disobedience action in US history

Direct action works as a catalyst: It sets things in motion, in ways you can’t predict. Before the Capitol police had even finished gathering up the space blankets and processing the hundreds of arrestees, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who came down from her office to greet the protesters while the action was underway, issued a statement calling for the abolition of ICE.

Anything Else Would Not Be Good Enough

Anything Else Would Not Be Good Enough

The referendum victory in Ireland

At Dublin Castle, several of those politicians took the stage to rapturous cheers. Crowds filled the courtyard of the building to celebrate and observe, as they had at the announcement of the referendum on marriage equality three years previous. Some of the politicians on stage had only had their moments of conversion weeks or months before, and yet were ready to take the applause as if it was they who had given up their time and energy to pound pavements and tell stories of women’s experience for years and decades. “I was warned about this, that it will only be politicians’ names in the history books, and there is only so much room on the stage at Dublin Castle,” Kavanagh said. “It’s something you have to adjust to. As grassroots activists, we know that we won’t get the credit we deserve and we have to just live with that. It’s why it’s all the more important that we take care of each other afterwards.”

A Pile of Kleenex

A Pile of Kleenex

"You know, everything that we’ve been doing together actually is the plot of ‘Goodbye, Columbus.’ "

But it turns out that I love those books. They have that same quality of being unrepentant. And the idea that you can write a novel that very clearly, unabashedly, unrepentantly has autobiographical elements, a novel that says, “What, fuck you, who even cares? This is what a novel is, and you can like it or you can get off the bus”—I appreciated that.

That Longing for a Holy Completeness

That Longing for a Holy Completeness

You didn’t make a choice to go in that direction. Life—nature—pulled your strings.

Last night, I had a really intense dream telling me that my (future) baby had begun his descent to the earth: I saw that it had been given a soul or had chosen a soul and was still very high up and far away, and that this process had begun seven months ago—I mean that seven months ago it had connected to my heart, as if a baby is born first, far in advance, in the mother’s heart. The vision was about to end when I desperately rushed to whatever oracle was making it clear, and asked if it was not too late to choose the path along which having this baby was possible. I was reassured that it was not.

Two Stops

Two Stops

You identify as hairless?

I still wanted to know that the articles were being published, and in large quantities, but reading stories of abuse and humiliation, like the big Bill Cosby exposé from a few years back, was as stupefying as a hangover. I didn’t feel empowered; I only felt more hopeless. I wanted to watch the patriarchy go up in flames, but I wasn’t excited about what was being pitched to replace it. If we got all of it out in the open, what would we have left? My fear was that guilt would destroy the classics and there’d be no one left to fuck. All movies would be as low-budget and puritanical as the stuff they play on Lifetime, all of New York would look like a Target ad, every book or article would be a cathartic tell-all, and I’d be sexually frustrated but too ashamed to hook up with assholes, or even to watch porn.