The reasons a person who chooses to get or not an abortion or use or not use birth control are varied. For many the choice is not even there. The legislation may currently there in some cases but the opportunity is not. Although abortions are currently legal, there are still a multitude of reasons an individual does not have access to the procedure. There many be women who wish they could be on birth control but can’t.Read More
Rebecca (Schwab) Cuthbert is a writer and animal shelter volunteer living in Western New York. Her work has been published in Brevity, Slipstream, Treehouse Magazine, and elsewhere.Read More
BY CESCA WATERFIELD
Those who speak loudest against feminism usually offer an opinion festering in ignorance and oozing misinformation. Feminism does not demand special rights. Feminism demands equal political, economic, and social rights.
1. You and I need feminism because women still earn 79 cents for each dollar men earn, even taking into account education level, even when they’re in the same job, and across industries. In pink collar jobs traditionally dominated by women, women earn less than men. In jobs traditionally held by men, women earn less there too. That is a pay gap of 21 percent. Considering that women are more likely to be single parents, it’s clear that implications of such a pay gap are exponentially harmful to society and especially to the poor and working classes. Equal employment opportunities are meaningless if women can’t fairly earn for their labor. The pay gap is an injustice that hits women in daily, practical, hand-to-mouth ways, and because of the pay gap, you and I need feminism.
2. In Britain in 1918, women were granted the right to vote, but many stipulations were placed on them to ensure that women voters never outnumbered male voters. In that country, it took a decade longer for equitable voting rights. In the U.S., women were granted the vote in 1920. Currently, women comprise more than half the population, and in all demographics, women vote at higher rates than men. We need feminism because in spite of these facts, women still hold fewer than 20 percent of seats in Congress. Not surprisingly, then …
3. We need feminism because women’s bodies are still legislated and controlled. From long before the force-feeding of suffragettes; to the ease with which we pass judgment on or confront a pregnant woman drinking coffee or smoking a cigarette; to 2012 when Virginia Republican leaders sought a law that required a “transvaginal” ultrasound in abortion procedures; to Donald Trump’s avowal to “punish” women seeking abortion; to sweeping closures of health clinics in wide swaths of the country that already rank as the poorest and least educated, women do not have bodily autonomy, or equitable access to reasonable health care. President-elect Trump plans to appoint activist judges to the Supreme Court, and said last year, “I’m pro-life, the judges will be pro-life.” This plan defies the Constitutionally endowed “right to privacy” protected by the 14th Amendment on which Roe v. Wade was decided 44 years ago. It also invokes a strategy that conservatives have long decried as wrong, that of appointing judges who will bring their politics to the bench instead of interpreting the Constitution with traditional intent and public value. Growing obstacles to reasonable care impact all women, but most perniciously, the poor and working classes. And it follows …
4. You and I need feminism because the frequency of assault and murder of women in this nation alone does not elicit an equivocal movement to address it. In the United States since 9/11, more women have been murdered by domestic partners than all the Americans who were killed on 9/11, and Afghanistan and Iraq combined. That statistic has been analyzed, accounted for, and shown as statistically sound. Where is the outrage? There is more controversy over a football player who chooses to sit during the national anthem than there is interest in why the cultural trend of the murder of female American citizens is acceptable. Moreover, when women are assaulted, they are often blamed. In sexual assault, it often results in “slut shaming.” Anecdotal evidence: In 2005, when the man from whom I briefly rented a room in Richmond murdered a teen girl and dumped her body in rural Virginia, people approached me repeatedly to ask, “Why was she there with him? What was wrong with her?” In related news …
5. We still need feminism because our culture places the onus of blame on women who are attacked, raped, catcalled, etc., instead of brokering discussions about such ingrained aggression and the objectification inherent in these behaviors. Indifference to these behaviors exists on a continuum of violent acts and we need feminism. Need evidence? Here are a few examples.
6. We need feminism because Female Genital Mutilation is practiced in 29 countries. More than 200,000 million women now living in 30 countries have survived FGM, which is the barbaric act of cutting off a girl’s external genitals. It has no health benefits to her, it has numerous dangers, it complicates childbirth, and it is done solely to control her sexuality. Specifically, it is done to deny her any sexual pleasure in her life. It is practiced on girls as young as five months old.
7. We need feminism because heterosexual male pleasure is still presented pervasively across media as “universal sexuality.” Mainstream film ratings can receive a higher explicit rating simply for a scene that depicts a woman taking “excessive pleasure” in sex. Women are generally placed in an impossible role that demands she enjoy this limited and exclusionary “universal sexuality,” but not too much, lest she be shamed outright and in pernicious and insidious judgment. We need feminism to empower women to create their own sexual identity and make their own discoveries.
8. We need feminism because more than 120 countries have not passed laws against spousal rape. As of 2014, the most recent data I found, eight states in the U.S. offer exemptions in certain cases of spousal rape.
9. We need feminism because child marriage is still practiced in many countries. Even in countries that outlaw child marriage in their civic code, when the state recognizes Sharia law, it overrides civic law, and those nations comprise the world’s top five practitioners of child marriage. Child brides are not likely to receive education and they are at greater risk of partner violence and sexual abuse. The leading cause worldwide of deaths of girls 15-19 is pregnancy complications and childbirth. Child brides are at greater risk of contracting HIV. In sub-saharan Africa, girls ages 15 - 19 are 2 to 6 times more likely to contract HIV than boys their age.
10. We need feminism because in several countries, including but not limited to Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Iran, Pakistan, and Colombia, acid attacks are on the rise resulting in a woman’s permanent disfigurement, usually for “crimes” like going to college or seeking divorce. We need feminism because female infanticide is still practiced in some countries worldwide because of the “low status” of females, and it results in millions of fewer girls than males. (You must have a strong constitution to view these images. If you have a strong constitution, Google “breast ironing,” “honor killing,” “dowry death,” and more.).
11. This is only a partial list. We need feminism because women’s rights are human rights. Anyone who professes to caring about human rights should have clear understanding of the need for feminism, regardless of whether he has a sister, wife, daughter, etc. to relate the cause to him. Women are human.
Cesca Waterfield is a third-year candidate in the MFA/MA program at McNeese State University. She is a vocalist and songwriter with two EPs and one full length recording available on iTunes. Her graphic memoir, “The First Time She Strayed” is forthcoming in the spring of 2017 from Vulgar Marsala Press. She loves classical ballet and the Radical Brownies.
What does quirky mean, really? Who gets this label, and why? And what are the real consequences?Read More
BY LISA MARIE BASILE
Or just shoot them 10 bucks and get another cocktail.
As editor of Luna Luna Magazine, and as a writer / editor for national and indie magazines, I - like many of you - got my start in literary magazines. I won't sugar-coat it: there are a lot of smarmy, egotistical white male dudebros at the top who want to keep brands old and dusty and free from new voices. We need to fight that power. I am glad VIDA was around to pave the way.
In many journals, especially top tier ones, women - women of color, especially - are published at a frighteningly lower rate. I wish I could say "times are changing" with absolute certainty, but we've got a way to go. VIDA is absolutely at the forefront of that by creating a necessary dialogue in order to elevate parity in literary art and create spaces for diverse voice. Obviously this needs to be applauded. And like Luna Luna, they're all volunteer. They're not sitting on mounds of money.
I think back to a time when, in college, a classroom professor suggested that the women in the class were writing in a "typically feminine" sort of way. As if colors and sounds were particularly womanly. Maybe they are? But the inference was that it was too girly, almost silly, like a young girl scribbling into her diary, unlike the apparently (?) more "real" poetry her male counterparts were writing. It wasn't easy to say that his implications were unfair or pandering or reductionist, or – at worst – sexist.
Those amorphous, slightly off-settling situations happen all the time and need to be defended against. The same is true for racial politics. We should be publishing diverse voices, not squandering opportunity or declining rejections or making it so that women and people of color aren't submitting at all. Nope. Support equality.
Check out the exclusive cover reveal of Lucky Bastard Press' HYSTERIA anthology + enter to win a copy & bonus swag.
BY LISA MARIE BASILE
As both editor of Luna Luna and a contributor to Hysteria (an anthology of writing by female and nonbinary writers about their biology and anatomy and experiences with the body) I thought doing a reveal of their cover would be a great way to create a dialogue about this amazing collection of works. When E. Kristen Anderson presented the idea, I thought Luna Luna would be the perfect home for this.
Want your own free copy? Here's how!
1. Tweet or post a link to their fundraiser (or just write a super cute supportive tweet/post about the book).
2. Leave a comment below (with the link to your social post) + your email (so we can contact you!)
3. We'll pick a comment at random and send you the anthology, along with E. Kristin Anderson's gorgeous Lana Del Rey-inspired poetry collection (I've read it, blurbed it and adore it).
LMB: Who is the team behind Hysteria?
EKA: Allie Marini and Brennan DeFrisco gave me the platform to do this anthology when they green-lighted the project at Lucky Bastard, but it’s basically been me and the contributing authors. Allie and Brennan definitely helped with soliciting some fine voices I hadn’t heard of, and have been a great support, so I don’t want to be like, oh, hey, this was all me. But in a lot of ways it was. And it’s been both intense and rewarding.
I think what Hysteria does so well is take a topic that is hard to write about successfully and inclusively (the body and notions of femininity, in many cases) and make it subversive; it's envelope-pushing. What sort of bodies did you want to include here?
It kind of started with me writing erasure/found poetry from tampon packaging. I’m not even kidding. And Allie and I got to talking about a tampon/period anthology and we expanded the idea out to other body-related themes. We went from there.
I certainly did want to push the envelope. But what I found interesting is that some poets that I thought would submit told me (before later submitting and being selected for the anthology) thought their work wouldn’t be edgy enough. And my answer to everyone asking “would my work be suited for HYSTERIA?” was “there are many ways to experience the female body/being female.”
So I wanted lots of bodies. Including nonbinary and trans bodies, which was a little harder because I know that many of these writers have been excluded from this type of project. We went looking, and we found some amazing work.
Tell me a little bit about what spoke to you when selecting content?
Diversity of topic and voice was really important to me. I wanted—like I mentioned above—lots of experiences to be represented. There was a point at which I think I posted on my original call “no more period poems, we’ve got that covered!” But it wasn’t just about topic. It was also about style. There’s some experimental work in HYSTERIA that I don’t know I would have read or picked up if I were shopping in a bookstore, but that I’m glad showed up in my inbox because it spoke to me within the context of this project.
And diversity of cultural background was important to me, too. And by cultural background I mean race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity. I really wanted pieces about wearing a hijab. About bat mitzvahs. About non-hetero sex. I hope I did a good job with this. I hope I found authors and pieces that people enjoy and relate to and learn from.
What do you think the anthology speaks to in the climate we're in right now – as women, as creatives?
You know, every day it feels like there’s something else going down that I want to throw this book at. Women being told their dreadlocks are unprofessional. Women’s tough questions being written off as the result of PMS. (Looking at you, Trump.) Bills being passed that could undo years of work for women’s rights. People trying to tell me, personally, that “hysterical” is just a colloquialism and not a gendered hate word. Folks thinking that just because we’ve achieved parity in one little bubble of the lit world that sexism is over for all of lit. The VIDA counts for big magazines (hello, the Atlantic) and smaller magazines. Songs on the radio. Things I overhear kids say to each other when I write at the Starbucks that’s next to the middle school.
So often we think, well, it’s just a joke. It’s just one guy. It’s just one magazine. It’s just a handful of nut-jobs. It’s just the radical right, and their minds can’t be changed. But! But. Sexism is so ingrained in us that even you and I do sexist things every day without thinking of it. I think I’ve referred to a woman I didn’t like as a bitch even this week.
I hope HYSTERIA gives us a place to talk about uncomfortable subjects, to start and continue conversations with ourselves, our daughters, our peers—but I also hope it’s a place to find comfort and community. Maybe the patriarchy isn’t listening. But maybe we can rally anyway.
I was particularly thrilled to write for this anthology. I am alongside some amazing writers and also emerging ones. How did you vote for pieces? Was this about making a space for all voices, new and established?
I read and selected the submissions myself. Aside from the solicitation—which I did ahead of time, before sending out the call—I just wanted to make sure we had everything covered. I didn’t care if folks were famous or brand new, just that the work was good. And I’m super fortunate that we did get some big names for the anthology. People who said yes when we reached out and asked. But I’m also super fortunate to have new voices with new things to say. Because that’s what community is about and I think that, in a way, that’s what HYSTERIA is about, too.
What are the plans for the anthology?
I’m hoping to set up a launch party here in Austin, TX when the book is ready. I think it will be a good time, and hopefully, as many contributors as possible can come and read. We’ll definitely be sending out review copies and doing our best to entice booksellers and librarians. We want this book in as many hands as possible. It’s a beautiful book if I don’t say so myself.
How will donations help?
The funds from the Indiegogo campaign are going to help us pay some of the up-front costs (like hiring our cover artist, Jodie Wynne, and the Adobe Cloud account we had to open to manage the many, many contracts for the individual authors) as well as printing. But the biggest reason we wanted to do an Indiegogo was so that we could pay our authors better. So if you can help us out with that, that would be amazing. Should we exceed our goal, any extra funds will go toward a launch and/or future anthology projects at Lucky Bastard Press.
Tell us what it's like to work with Lucky Bastard Press.
Lucky Bastard was founded by Allie Marini and Brennan DeFrisco and somehow I tricked them into letting me do an anthology with them. They really gave me free reign, which was scary but also really thrilling. I’m now on board with LB as a full editor, but at the time it was just, here, EKA, make a book. So I did. And I’m really excited that it’s with a press that is all about the underdogs and the long-shots. Isn’t that how many of us feel, as artists, especially as women? Lucky Bastard is here to champion the weirdos. And, in this case, it’s the hysterical weirdos that we want to show the world.
The writer list, as provided by
Lucky Bastard Press:
E. Kristin Anderson
Lisa Marie Basile
Dena Rash Guzman
Erika T. Wurth
Kelli Russel Agodon
Francesca Lia Block
Erin Elizabeth Smith
Heather Kirn Lanier
Jane Eaton Hamilton
Sally Rosen Kindred
Karen Paul Holmes
Emily Rose Cole
Mary Lou Buschi
Sarah Frances Moran
Julie "Jules" Jacob
Ariana D. Den Bleyker
Jeannine Hall Gailey
Randon Billings Noble
Sarah J. Sloat
Sarah B. Boyle
Jennifer K. Sweene
Judith Ortiz Cofer
Shannon Elizabeth Hardwick
Amy Katherine Cannon
Nicci Mechler & Hilda Weaver
Jessica Rae Bergamino
Jessica L. Walsh
Lisa Eve Cheby
Katelyn L. Radtke
Sometimes I think about it, though. Sex, not love. I imagine scenarios as graphically as possible in order to see how much I can stand. It’s like a test. When I feel the bile coming up into my throat, that’s when I stop. It usually doesn’t take very long. I stare at the grass, or a garbage can, or anything really normal and asexual, to get those sick images of calloused thumbs and everyday disfigurements out of my head.Read More