Feminism

Woman Problems

Woman Problems

One moment, walking. The next—am I real?

When my son was almost 4 months old, I was walking down the street with him strapped to my chest. He was big—nineteen pounds—and alert. I was walking slowly, in loping, elephantine strides, trying to take as long as possible, and to walk as securely as possible. It had taken me a long time to get this confident—if that’s what you could call it—walking with him, but the thread of fear still lived in me. I was still anxious. Then, all of a sudden, I couldn’t tell if I was real or not. That was how rapidly it happened, and this is what it was like. One moment, walking. The next—am I real?

Enter the Pussyhat

Enter the Pussyhat

On the Women’s March, Disrupt J20, and #IWillGoOut

How much did I have in common with my fellow marchers? Maybe not much. The demands I did see were good—No DAPL, a $15 minimum wage, clean water for Flint, an end to private prisons and mass incarceration, affordable health care, reproductive rights, and so on—but there were too few of them, lost in the sea of vulvas. Still, never in my life have I seen so many women gathered under any political pretext. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t move me.

What Women Used Before They Could Use the Law

What Women Used Before They Could Use the Law

Or, an incomplete inventory of methods and means to abortion—undertaken with varying levels of success and the ever-present possibility of death—in America before the passage of Roe v. Wade

Hands (made into fists, then used to strike the stomach repeatedly)
Heavy weights (lifted repeatedly or applied to the stomach)
Herbs (picked or purchased, then swallowed or forced through the cervix and into the uterus)

I Voted for All of Them

I Voted for All of Them

I thought I would watch the results and drink champagne with women I love, and then we’d wake up the next day and begin our dutiful critique.

I watched my Facebook feed fill with friends dedicating their votes to their mothers and grandmothers and daughters. Despite my disillusionment, I began to feel sentimental.

Kiddie Porn

Kiddie Porn

In the sexual counterrevolution, Ginsberg was the antiporn Gettysburg — the battle that turned the tide.

Once in a while, my parents allow some critically authorized highbrow “erotic” periodical like Eros or Evergreen to breach our doorway. But they draw the line at Playboy, in spite of its long, left-leaning pieces by and about important men like Vladimir Nabokov and James Baldwin. Mom and Dad aren’t prudes, they’re snobs. They consider comics, Mad magazine—even mysteries—degraded forms of literature. What would they think of Man to Man? I don’t have to ask.

Where the Boys Are

Where the Boys Are

When we look at Bernie Sanders, what do we see?

I Still Love Hillary Clinton. I Still Don’t Want to Vote for Her. My own profile in political emotion, all but impossible in the eyes of the Clinton campaign, is not a march toward reason but a deepening of continued convolution. It’s not just that, having enthusiastically cast my first ballot for Bill Clinton in my second-grade class mock election in 1992, I have a lifelong affinity bordering on Camelot-style adoration for both Clintons. It’s also that, having hit puberty at exactly the right time to learn everything I know about sex from news coverage of the Starr report, their collective role in my constitution as a sexual subject is second perhaps only to that other pair of baby boomers who gave birth to me. Hillary’s incredible pathos, her depths of ambition, the abuse she has borne, her inability to keep her feelings off her face—all the supposedly unlikeable personal qualities that Hillary-lovers love about Hillary, I love too. I challenge you to watch her Oscar lifetime achievement award-ish montage from the 2008 Democratic National Convention—the one where she talks about writing to NASA to find out how a girl can become a lady astronaut—and not cry. I could look at her all day, would love to crack open a campaign-trail Bud together (she is supposedly very funny in person), if I were in therapy right now I’m sure it would not take long to concur that I still want her to fuck me. Yet for all the reasons of policy and ideology that leftists who don’t want to vote for Hillary don’t want to vote for Hillary, I don’t want to vote for her either. I will grant that in its details, this profile may be idiosyncratic. But in its general contours, I don’t think what I am saying is unrepresentative so much as, within our current discourse, simply unrepresentable.

Year in Review: 2015

Year in Review: 2015

When the Federal Reserve raised interest rates in December for the first time since the onset of the financial crisis, the feeling around the decision was one of somber, even funereal, inevitability. It was hard not to think of the mayor of Amity, assured of the water’s safety, reluctantly leading his citizens back down to the beach. Incidentally, Jaws was released in 1975, the last year that real wages rose. We all know the water isn’t safe, but an economy organized like Amity’s has no choice but to act like it is.

In Praise of Vulgar Feminism

In Praise of Vulgar Feminism

On Kim Gordon and Courtney Love

Faced with a choice between the bassist of Sonic Youth and the nihilist nymphet Lana Del Rey and her army of Twitter defenders, the highbrow music fan knows whose side she’s on. And it’s not as if Gordon is wrong about Del Rey, whose embrace of American rock and roll myths, shot through with a cartoonish sense of female desire, really is infantile. The appeal of Kim Gordon is completely different.

Those Like Us

Those Like Us

On Elena Ferrante

I confess that this anecdote and its contents — the theory of the “symbolic mother,” the concept of a “female symbolic,” the school of difference feminism (unfashionable in egalitarian America), and écriture féminine in the French tradition — made no sense to me until I read Ferrante. Not that it’s so crystalline now: a convenient difficulty of difference feminism, for anyone asked to explain it, is its insistence on being inexplicable in legible (“male”) terms. But Ferrante’s novels animate these ideas with a generous clarity.

A Love Note to Our Folks

A Love Note to Our Folks

Alicia Garza on the Organizing of #BlackLivesMatter

When protests erupted across the United States late last year, after grand juries failed to indict the police officers who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner, a friend who works for a prominent media outlet wrote to me wondering “if it’s all just the internet organizing itself.” The nationwide marches and freeway blockades seemed spontaneous, after all, with the Twitter hashtag #BlackLivesMatter being widely used to publicize gathering spots and share images of the demonstrations.

Solitary Confinement

Solitary Confinement

Feminism folded itself into the wings of history; Solanas refused to budge.

Solanas’s legacy is hard to qualify. She has been alternately reviled and adored, and ultimately beatified, by radical feminists; anxiously decried by mainstream liberal feminists; and dismissed by everyone else. Though SCUM has been published in several editions over the years with prefaces by figures including Michelle Tea, Vivian Gornick, and Avital Ronell, Solanas’s life and work have remained largely unexamined, functioning more as a cautionary tale than anything else.

The Ultimate Humiliation

The Ultimate Humiliation

Elliot Rodger, American Kid

On Facebook, he liked Starbucks, Armani, tourism, sunsets. He was obsessed with The Secret. Then the lottery. He thought a beautiful blond woman was the prize he deserved for being such a good boy—as if, at the county fair, he could shoot enough ducks to win a girlfriend. He was so committed to exceptionalism that he applied it all only to him. He once used the phrase “less white than me.” Less white. In fact, the more I read, the shakier all the causality felt and the more common, at core, his interpretation of “believing in himself” seemed, until I just couldn’t get over a line on the fifth page, age 5, when his family moved to Cali from England: “I now considered myself,” he writes, “an American kid.”

Sleez Sisters

Sleez Sisters

On Times Square

The film is a mess. It denounces gentrification, consumerism, television, psychiatry, censorship, cops, dads, and squares, and though its flailing critiques and silly romanticism befit a teen movie, they give away the film’s agenda to cash in on all things rebellious. It doesn’t even make sense, socially or geographically, to set a punk movie in Times Square.

Free Cecily!

Free Cecily!

A gazette revival

On Monday, May 5, Occupy Wall Street protester Cecily McMillan was found guilty of assaulting NYPD Officer Grantley Bovell at the OWS anniversary protest on March 17, 2012. She now faces two to seven years in prison, with the possibility of probation. To tell McMillan’s story and assess its consequences, a group of editors revived the Occupy! gazette in anticipation of her May 19 sentencing. Our hope is to enter into evidence what the court ignored.

Woman Problems

Woman Problems

One moment, walking. The next—am I real?

When my son was almost 4 months old, I was walking down the street with him strapped to my chest. He was big—nineteen pounds—and alert. I was walking slowly, in loping, elephantine strides, trying to take as long as possible, and to walk as securely as possible. It had taken me a long time to get this confident—if that’s what you could call it—walking with him, but the thread of fear still lived in me. I was still anxious. Then, all of a sudden, I couldn’t tell if I was real or not. That was how rapidly it happened, and this is what it was like. One moment, walking. The next—am I real?

Enter the Pussyhat

Enter the Pussyhat

On the Women’s March, Disrupt J20, and #IWillGoOut

How much did I have in common with my fellow marchers? Maybe not much. The demands I did see were good—No DAPL, a $15 minimum wage, clean water for Flint, an end to private prisons and mass incarceration, affordable health care, reproductive rights, and so on—but there were too few of them, lost in the sea of vulvas. Still, never in my life have I seen so many women gathered under any political pretext. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t move me.

What Women Used Before They Could Use the Law

What Women Used Before They Could Use the Law

Or, an incomplete inventory of methods and means to abortion—undertaken with varying levels of success and the ever-present possibility of death—in America before the passage of Roe v. Wade

Hands (made into fists, then used to strike the stomach repeatedly)
Heavy weights (lifted repeatedly or applied to the stomach)
Herbs (picked or purchased, then swallowed or forced through the cervix and into the uterus)

I Voted for All of Them

I Voted for All of Them

I thought I would watch the results and drink champagne with women I love, and then we’d wake up the next day and begin our dutiful critique.

I watched my Facebook feed fill with friends dedicating their votes to their mothers and grandmothers and daughters. Despite my disillusionment, I began to feel sentimental.

Kiddie Porn

Kiddie Porn

In the sexual counterrevolution, Ginsberg was the antiporn Gettysburg — the battle that turned the tide.

Once in a while, my parents allow some critically authorized highbrow “erotic” periodical like Eros or Evergreen to breach our doorway. But they draw the line at Playboy, in spite of its long, left-leaning pieces by and about important men like Vladimir Nabokov and James Baldwin. Mom and Dad aren’t prudes, they’re snobs. They consider comics, Mad magazine—even mysteries—degraded forms of literature. What would they think of Man to Man? I don’t have to ask.

Where the Boys Are

Where the Boys Are

When we look at Bernie Sanders, what do we see?

I Still Love Hillary Clinton. I Still Don’t Want to Vote for Her. My own profile in political emotion, all but impossible in the eyes of the Clinton campaign, is not a march toward reason but a deepening of continued convolution. It’s not just that, having enthusiastically cast my first ballot for Bill Clinton in my second-grade class mock election in 1992, I have a lifelong affinity bordering on Camelot-style adoration for both Clintons. It’s also that, having hit puberty at exactly the right time to learn everything I know about sex from news coverage of the Starr report, their collective role in my constitution as a sexual subject is second perhaps only to that other pair of baby boomers who gave birth to me. Hillary’s incredible pathos, her depths of ambition, the abuse she has borne, her inability to keep her feelings off her face—all the supposedly unlikeable personal qualities that Hillary-lovers love about Hillary, I love too. I challenge you to watch her Oscar lifetime achievement award-ish montage from the 2008 Democratic National Convention—the one where she talks about writing to NASA to find out how a girl can become a lady astronaut—and not cry. I could look at her all day, would love to crack open a campaign-trail Bud together (she is supposedly very funny in person), if I were in therapy right now I’m sure it would not take long to concur that I still want her to fuck me. Yet for all the reasons of policy and ideology that leftists who don’t want to vote for Hillary don’t want to vote for Hillary, I don’t want to vote for her either. I will grant that in its details, this profile may be idiosyncratic. But in its general contours, I don’t think what I am saying is unrepresentative so much as, within our current discourse, simply unrepresentable.