Philadelphia: Birthplace of the American Revolutions

My poorly shot panorama of the day’s speakers and organizers

On Sunday, January 15, 2017, the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and one day before the national day of recognition that honors him, writers and readers across the United States gathered in the spirit of Writers Resist, a movement born out of the need to protect democracy and the spirit of justice following the 2016 election.

I’m from Philadelphia, born and raised (cue obligatory recitation of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air). It stands to reason that I’m biased in favor of my hometown’s importance, but truly no city encapsulates America like Philly. We are the nation’s first capital, the birthplace of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the finish line of the Underground Railroad, a key battleground in the war for LGBTQ+ rights, a haven for writers and artists of all stripes. The America I love and seek to protect would not exist without Philadelphia.

The Writers Resist event in Philadelphia was hosted by the National Museum of American Jewish Heritage and organized by Alicia Askenase, Nathaniel Popkin, and Stephanie Feldman, and featured readings from some of Philadelphia’s most prolific writers, reading poetry, petitions, and speeches from some of history’s bravest and most iconic speakers, some who were famous, some who simply deserve to be.

Six of the 36 readings were first given in Philadelphia, including the Resolution for Declaration of Women’s Rights, given during the centennial by the National Woman Suffrage Association, read by Lise Funderburg, and FDR’s 1936 acceptance speech for renomination, read by Lori Tharpe.

Most stirring, for me, was Lauren Grodstein’s rendition of Jameson Fitzpatrick’s 2016 poem “I Woke Up”. There are two kinds of people in the world, those who recognize that our identities, our passions, our very existences are political, and those who have yet to realize it.

In being political, one of the most important things to realize is that not all of our political perceptions are the same, and the beautiful diversity showcased on Sunday illustrated such. Men spoke women’s words, white, Black, Latinx, and Asian voices co-mingled with each other’s wisdom, disabled people offered each other solidarity, queer people and their allies spoke their truths to a crowd 300 strong.

Words, of course, will not be enough going forward. There must be action and resistance if justice is to be both won and preserved. But words are the genesis of movement. Stories are our empathy, articles are our information, media is our ability to connect. Revolutions do not happen without writers, and writers do not have a voice without readers.

Learn more about the movement at WritersResist.com and see a full list of the readings at #WritersResistPHL*

*Before Joey Sweeney opened with the Bob Dylan song “Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”, he noted that the song selection was chosen BEFORE #UrineGate broke.

2016 Wrap Up

Here I am, ten days deep into 2017, with the loose threads of last year’s reading challenge still dangling and the start date of this year’s looming (February 1, a celebration of Black authors that will run until January 31, 2018 for those itching to know).

The end of the year was brutal, for a lot of reasons. There was a little bit of personal heartbreak, but in truth the results of the election hit me like a gut punch, and cast a shadow over the remaining tendrils of 2016. I stayed awake on November 8 watching the election results pour in, tears streaming down my face while I prayed to all the deities I don’t believe in for an 11th hour turn of the tide, a Superman swooping in to save Lois Lane. But Supes never arrived, and Lex Luthor took the highest seat in the country.

For all the buffoonery surrounding Trump, it’s the elevated position of the worst of society that his presidency promises. Pence, Bannon, Sessions, all uniquely unqualified to protect the rights of American citizens, all tasked with doing exactly that. The injustice of this whole election became a crushing weight that rolled over me, my joys, my creativity, my desire to write. To whit, I haven’t written a single word since I profiled Laura Jane Grace’s memoir. What is the point of creativity, when my country has decided to yank out the rug from every civil rights gain we’ve had since our inception?

I turned to the solace of books, as I always have. I broke my fast with Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things, enjoyed the self-deprecation of Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody, meditated on the idiosyncrisies of Modern Romance with Aziz Ansari, and plowed into Carrie Fisher’s full bibliography upon the breaking news of her untimely death, and emerged, as always, feeling a little less lonely and considerably rejuvenated.

Great writing does one of two things: provides connection or provides escape. Truly great writing does both. As we trudge through the next four years, it is more important than ever that the words of anyone and everyone who will be targeted, marginalized, or silenced find an audience.

Words have power. As humans, we are fundamentally wired for story. Story is how we give form and meaning to chaos, how we empathize across all the realities that separate us. Inhabiting the stories of those we differ from is as close as we come to walking in each others’ skin. JK Rowling performed more magic with simple words than her characters ever could.

And so, without facetiously attributing my time and talent to that of all the amazing women who opened my eyes to the world around me this past year, my promise to myself is that I will continue with my words. I will protest, I will talk back, I will yell until my voice disintegrates in the air, and I will write until my fingers bleed.

October and LGBTQ History

           

         

       

October, by dint of the plethora of pumpkin and apple treats available, lush fall foliage, and, of course, Halloween, a nationwide Comic-con, has been my favorite month since I was a weird little kid who took being called “witch” as a compliment. Twenty years later and nothing has changed, but October holds great importance for me and for women in general. It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Month, both of which have made innumerable efforts in helping individuals and families heal.

October also holds the distinction of being the time of year that honors LGBTQIA+ history. We have our parades in June, we flaunt our flags and celebrate our milestones, but October is a time to reflect on the history that makes our celebration possible.

Throughout this past year I’ve read some extraordinary words from lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer women. Some I would’ve read anyway, some I discovered during this project, but all of them are voices we wouldn’t have without the efforts of civil rights leaders and pioneers who came before.

Jenny Lawson is a Texas-based writer whose daily life and musings provided enough fodder for not one, but two, bestselling memoirs. She’s created an online community for the support and care of people living with mental illness, and has learned (and taught others) how to laugh at life’s absurdities. Her book Furiously Happy was reviewed on June 14. Learn more about her at The Bloggess.

Noelle Stevenson is a writer, artist, and cartoonist who got her start as a fan artist. She created the cover art for Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, and is the co-creator of Lumberjanes. Her graphic novel Nimona was reviewed on June 29. Learn more about her at Gingerhaze.

Janet Mock is a writer and TV personality from Honolulu. She also worked as a contributing editor for Marie Claire magazine and is a noted transgender rights activist who was name-checked on the Emmy-nominated webseries Her Story, which she also helped crowdfund. Her memoir Redefining Realness was reviewed on March 9. Learn more about her at JanetMock.com.

Molly Crabapple is a world-traveling journalist and artist who has covered the trials in Guatanamo Bay, Occupy Wall Street, and scenes from the Syrian War. She has contributed to VICE magazine and founded Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, with installations in MoMA. Her memoir Drawing Blood was reviewed on May 5. Learn more about her at The Art of Molly Crabapple.

Malinda Lo is a noted YA novelist who has won awards for her work in expanding diversity among novels and authors for young adult works and her journalist contributions for AfterEllen.com. She attended Wellesley and has graduate degrees from Harvard and Stanford. Her novel Ash was reviewed on April 26. Learn more about her at MalindaLo.com.

Alison Bechdel is a noted cartoonist who is best known for her webcomic Dykes to Watch Out For. She’s also the creator of the ubiquitous Bechdel Test, used to gauge the nature of an individual film’s female roles. She grew up in her family’s funeral home in rural Pennsylvania. Her graphic memoir Fun Home was reviewed on July 7. Learn more about her at Dykes to Watch Out For.

Jennifer Finney Boylan is a novelist and college professor who has been featured on multiple platforms as a transgender rights activist. She is a contributing writer for Medium.com and serves on GLAAD’s national board of directors. Her memoir She’s Not There was reviewed on July 5. Learn more about her at There from Here.

Amanda Palmer is a performance artist and musician from Boston. She was half of the indie groups The Dresden Dolls and Evelyn Evelyn, as well as an established solo act. She’s a noted feminist and activist who lives in the artist’s collective the Cloud Club and who was recruited for a TED talk. Her memoir The Art of Asking was reviewed on June 24. Learn more about her at Amanda Palmer.

Sara Benincasa is an essayist and humorist. She is a former teacher with an MA in secondary education who has also worked as a radio/TV/web personality. She has brought national attention to the experiences of people living with mental illness. Her essay collection Real Artists Have Day Jobs was reviewed on August 26. Learn more about her at Sara Benincasa.

Kitty Shields is a recent MFA graduate from Philadelphia. She is a celebrated designer, artist, short story writer, and bookbinder. She’s currently at work on her first novel. Her short story “The Great Hunger” was reviewed on July 18. Learn more about her at KittyShields.com.

Tig Notaro is a stand-up comedian, radio host, writer and actress from Mississippi. She won a Grammy for her performance that detailed her experiences with chronic illness that coincided with the loss of her mother. She recently released an Amazon series based on her life. Her memoir I’m Just a Person was reviewed on September 14. Learn more about her at TigNation.

Laura Jane Grace is a musician and lead singer of punk group Against Me! She’s also a noted trans activist and blogger for Noisey who made headlines for burning her birth certificate in North Carolina to protest the discriminatory HB2 law. She was also the hostess of the Emmy-nominated webseries True Trans. Her memoir TRANNY is due November 15. Learn more about her at Mandatory Happiness.

 

The Recital by Kyle V. Hiller

Available for purchase here.

Witchcraft, whether the clear dichotomy between Glinda and the named-by-another-author-a-century-later Elphaba, the rich spectacle of Harry Potter, or the cheesy lightness of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, has been one of fantasy fiction’s primary go-to’s to illustrate not only female power, but how it is perceived by society (Both the “good witch” and the “bad witch” are outranked by a fraudulent balloon man, the most impressive witch of her generation is the sidekick to the famous main character, and the pretty, bubbly blonde is somehow a social outcast).

Small surprise then, that the dawn of witchcraft in the life of a previously perceived “muggle” girl, so often coincides with puberty. For all I love YA, I would never relive my teenage years. Teens have the bodies of adults and are pressured to have their same wisdom, but are constantly told to occupy the same roles they held as children. It’s just like witches–all the power, minus the free will.

Kyle Hiller writes a stunning first person narrative of a girl caught in the worlds of young adolescence and witchcraft, with incredible insight. In The Recital, Edith Solstice is an ordinary girl, with a father who is revealed to be less and less extraordinary through her eyes as the story unfolds. She’s a middle child living a life so typical of Philadelphia Catholic girlhood I could’ve been reading about my own family. Hiller nails how even in a city as large and diverse as Philly, neighborhoods function, for both good and ill, as small towns. Edith is sheltered and occasionally innocently insensitive, and her problems are the problems of typical kids: an unrequited crush, a dramatic falling out between her parents, the gawkiness of being torn between childish needs and adult desires. And she’s a witch.

Edith has two mentors on her path to mastering magic: her best friend Lenore, and Lenore’s mother, Miss Karen. The crux of the conflict in Edith’s story is both magical and mundane–she hurt a classmate with her powers during an argument, and seeks to make amends. It’s a telling theme for the story–we are responsible for cleaning up our own messes, even the ones we didn’t intend to make. Edith relays a microaggression she once showed this classmate early on, by the end of the novel recognizing it as such and owing up to the fact that she was a bully, whether or not she intended to be.

There are many intriguing subplots to The Recital: what qualifies as “good”, what grief does to our mindset, especially when left unprocessed, the agony of first romance, the double agony of a first romance being a recognition of one’s own queerness. There’s a sequel hook, perhaps even a series hook, towards the end, and I am eager to delve deeper into Edith’s powers.

‘Orange is the New Black’ Season 4

I took a break from reading and writing (and sleeping and eating and wearing clothes that aren’t sweatpants) so I could binge-watch Orange is the New Black, which, to be fair, was only 13 hours. The rest of the time was needed to process my emotional reaction to the sucker punch of a season. 

I’m a bad bookworm. I’ve never read Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman, the memoir upon which the show is based. But since it’s a show based on a woman’s memoir, run by a woman, staffed by women writers, and starring one of the most diverse groups of women ever (young women! old women! middle-aged women! fat women! butch women! Black women! Latinx women! queer women playing queer characters! a trans* woman playing a trans* character!) this seemed an appropriate place to highlight the feminist ups and downs of the season.

Spoilers ahead.

So many spoilers.

Seriously with the spoilers.

Stop reading.

Apart from the first season, which focused on author expy Piper Chapman navigating a minimum security federal prison as a wealthy, well-educated, white (oh yes that’s important) woman who got busted on a decade-old minor drug trafficking charge, Orange is the New Black has spent each season peeling back the layers of social structures through the microcosm of prison life.

The prison is segregated by race, even when it comes to bunk assignments. For the most part, the inmates get along, until outside forces (prison privatization and overcrowding) stoke the latent fires of “us vs. them” mentalities to a boiling point. When Piper starts a prison business, mostly out of boredom, the inmates she employs are almost to a one destitute, desperate, and without options once their sentences are filled. So when the Latinx crew starts a rival business (selling used panties, for the record), Piper uses her privilege (white, pretty, upper class) to muscle in on their territory, an incident that escalates into a full-on race war.

Orange is the New Black is better when it’s subtle. A minor plot point involves established character, Black Cindy, who recently converted to Judaism, struggling to maintain control over her space when her new bunkmate, Alison, a devout Muslim, arrives and immediately asserts her right to take up space in her new, grim, home. The two women engage in both direct confrontation and escalating pranks to assert dominance, with true escalation averted at the last minute when they discover how much they have in common.

Contrast with the over the top speech given by one of the white supremacists, who claims she doesn’t read and launches into a detailed description of how reading encourages empathy and expresses multiple points of view, an argument too articulate and reasonable to come from a real life skinhead.

OitNB‘s ambitions frequently exceed its abilities, and in such cases the point being made has the subtlety of a sledgehammer. In this season alone, the show tackles the problems of corporate profit taking the hard line over inmate safety, abuses of power, white privilege, the core difference between systemic and personal racism, the “luxury” of menstruation, and the failure of the mental health system all in thirteen hours.

Some of the better done storylines involve Judy King, a fictional domestic doyenne in the vein of Martha Stewart and Paula Deen. A celebrity, she is given special treatment without asking, such as a private bunk while the remaining women are stuffed four deep, or the power to reassign prison staff on a whim. These privileges are extended to her without so much as a request on her part, but how does Judy, who could change the prison dynamic with a phone call, use that gift? To get soft sheets and a roll in the hay. She dispenses little pellets of generosity among her fellows–a seltzer machine, some legal assistance, public displays of favor–but not once does it occur to her that she should use her power to affect change.

While Judy spends privilege like a right, Sophia Burset, who was sent to solitary at the end of season three after she was the target of a transphobic hate crime, needs the combined machinations of herself, her wife, two fellow inmates, a former prison corporate bigwig turned whistleblower, and the morally conflicted warden just to be returned to the general population. Black, trans, and a face among many, her rights are treated like privileges she hasn’t yet earned.

Meanwhile, the old guard are changed for a crew of combat veterans that was almost to a man, surely dishonorably discharged (never established except through my own head canon), and they use their authority to enact petty power plays against the inmates for perceived slights and minor infractions, with heavy doses of racial profiling, that by season’s end has amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

When the inmates engage in peaceful protest to get the captain of the guard, the cruelest and most calculating of the bunch, deposed, Suzanne (Crazy Eyes), an inmate who has long needed psychiatric treatment, whose crimes in backstory are due to her lack of understanding and supervision, becomes overwhelmed by the escalating tension when a timid guard tries to redirect her to her room, and turns violent. When her friend Poussey tries to intervene, the guard, an ill-trained novice cowed by his superiors, becomes panicked and distracted, an incident that ends with him inadvertently crushing the tiny Poussey to death.

Poussey, a fan favorite, was the brightest, cutest, most moral character in the span of the show. One of few characters with a somewhat bright future–she had a supportive father, a highly stamped passport, and was well-educated–Poussey spent the season falling in love and securing a job from the aforementioned Judy King, which made her death hit all the harder.

In real life, Poussey’s death echoed those of Eric Garner (suffocated by an LEO while saying she couldn’t breathe) and Sandra Bland (a black woman who died in custody and has her name and dignity sacrificed in the interest of protecting the prison’s legal interests). It’s a chilling moment, not only for the implications but because the fans have spent four years falling in love with Poussey–her friendship with fellow inmate Taystee provided much of the show’s heart and comic relief, and she was as beloved in-universe as out.

Of course, this is the point. Sandra Bland and Eric Garner were not news headlines, at least, not until they died. They were people with friends, families, hobbies, bad habits, quirks, even favorite tv shows, identities that have since been subsumed by the media, where everyone weighs in except the people who matter. And, like Poussey, the tragedy of their deaths is compounded by the fact that the responsible parties will not be held accountable, because they were individuals victimized by unjust power structures. 

Unless, of course, we who do hold privilege do something about it.

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

Money Plot Points in Fiction

I’ve noticed a trend in some of the fiction I’ve been reading in the past few months, specifically The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, Shelter by Jung Yun, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, and my current read Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff, (see here to purchase) where a major arching plot or subplot concerns money: specifically, the absence of money.

The problem with these narratives, all of which are gorgeously written if nothing else, is that the characters are all incredibly well-off, well-educated, and well-poised to subsume the perceived loss of income or investments. The “adjustments” the wealthy characters will have to make involve moving into smaller houses, sending their children to public schools/universities, and generally downgrading their lifestyles from extravagant to merely comfortable.

From a narrative standpoint, the tension created from loss of cash is routinely cheapened by the resolution. Wealthy friends offer stable jobs, wealthy relatives wipe out debts, an inheritance is diminished but still substantive. In terms of craft, it hews a little too close to deus ex machina.

In terms of storytelling and development, it’s hard to empathize with characters whose reduced circumstances would still be enviable to the majority of readers. In Linda Tirado’s illuminating Hand to Mouth, the true value of a dollar is examined through the lens of people who can’t afford gum as an impulse purchase, and while it’s the opposite extreme end of the spectrum of wealth, Tirado’s real-life circumstances are more relatable to readers who are almost always a couple of paychecks away from homelessness, hunger, or lack of necessities.

Money, is of course, an emblematic trope in fiction to provide conflict. It’s easily identifiable and eminently desirable. Pursuit makes monsters of saints, loss of it turns lovers into lockhorns. We can all understand the permutations of character that’s associated with money, and it’s a classic in terms of storytelling, but without high stakes it falls flat.

Part of reading is escapism, so it makes sense that these books, all bestsellers and well received by critics, never hew too close to reality to swerve into truly disheartening territory. Another part is representation, and those of us who have no wealthy benefactors to eradicate our hardships have to search to see a representation of our struggles that relates to the lives we lead.

Contrast The Turner House by Angela Flournoy, which contains many of the same conflicts as The Nest (sibling inheritance creates discord, complicated family history affects the current generation), but set amid a working class family where not only are the stakes greater (homelessness, unemployment), but represents the fifty-plus year span from the rise of an American city to the racial politics that led to its fall, and the recession that boosted its modern day renaissance. Modern authors should take note.

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

Available for purchase here.

Part of the reason I include How to Be a Woman on my list despite having read it years ago is horribly mundane: it was what I happened to be reading when I started this project back in September. But there’s another reason: Moran is all I aspire to be.

Feminism sometimes has the reputation of being dour and humorless (hint: if you believe feminists can’t take a joke, I invite you to examine if the problem, perhaps, is that you are simply not funny). Moran is a one-woman force against that stereotype. Every word of her memoir/instructional guide is the kind of funny that makes LOL a truism instead of a tired non-response. Even abortion, a woefully unfunny topic even for its most vociferous supporters, manages to garner a few chuckles in Moran’s trademark British working-class sensibility.

One of my favorite themes in the narrative is Moran’s general positivity towards other women. She’s not advocating that everyone see things her way, she’s celebrating her way and inviting others to do the same. She gives women permission to laugh at the absurdity of the standards imposed on us, from body hair to weight to our own pleasure. She advocates for erotica that’s actually erotic and suggests everyone mind their business when other people’s eating habits come up.

Moran manages to do the seemingly impossible: be astronomically likable without cutting back her bite, a skill both men and women would do well to learn. Luckily, she has a book for just that.

The Things I Miss

Over Easter weekend I was a wreck. It started on Friday when I drove all over creation looking for culinary lavender buds so I could make this cake courtesy of Red Cottage Chronicles, and yes, it ultimately turned out to be very, very worth it. Saturday I spent the day cleaning and bemoaning the fact that I live like such a slob it’s necessary to deep clean when I have company over. Sunday, of course, was Easter, so I slow cooked a ham, roasted a chicken, and made two kinds of potatoes.

What I did not do this weekend, however, was dye Easter eggs. I didn’t watch the story of Peter Cottontail, or leave flour pawprints on the rug to mark where the Easter Bunny hid his eggs. I haven’t done those things since my youngest sister grew out of her belief, so it’s probably been about 15 years. Christmas and Easter are especially tied to the magic of pretend, and without kids around, they just aren’t as fun. I’m blissfully childfree and intend to remain so, so my childless holidays will remain so for the foreseeable future. I miss the creation of illusion even more than I miss being young enough to buy in.

I find myself now missing the men’s voices from my bookshelf. I reread Neil Gaiman’s short stories whenever I want to immerse myself in a particular brand of magic, and Smoke and Mirrors occupies a prominent place on my bookshelf, from where it’s currently taunting me. He has a new book out this spring, which I will be buying but judiciously avoiding reading until November. I skim the book reviews in Entertainment Weekly for the authors’ names so that I don’t get enchanted by a review for something I’m self-denying for most of the remainder of the year. There has been a notable shift in how I perceive the world without men’s literary voices echoing in my mind.

Not every loss is accompanied by a gain, but this one is. I’ve lost interest in what was once Must See TV–whether it’s a network, cable, or Netflix show, it can wait until morning while I lose myself in the simple pleasure of written words. Reading has become a mindful activity again, in ways it hasn’t been since I was young enough to make pages my only priority.

I’ll be posting a fresh review tomorrow. It’s been too long and I run the risk of falling behind. But if I’m not writing, I’m reading. It’s a good trade off.

Reclaimed Words

My mother hates the word cunt. Can’t stand to hear it, or see it in print, and she lectures me every time I use it. Personally,  I love it. It’s sharp, decisive, and to be honest I enjoy the reaction I get when I say it. People respond to cunt the way they don’t any other word in the English language.

As a woman, it’s my word to use. Other women have c-word privileges, which is their right to use whenever they wish, and to abstain from the same. Hearing a woman say cunt can be many things: empowering, funny, indifferent, distasteful, offensive, even ill-advised. Hearing a man say cunt when it’s in reference to a woman and not a body part is an unmitigated slur.

The internet exploded the other day when Laura Jane Grace, frontwoman of punk band Against Me! revealed the title of her upcoming memoir. It’s subtitled Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout, but the title itself is a slur against transgender people.

As a transwoman, it’s Grace’s right to reclaim the word as she wishes, even if her own community disagrees with her. Cisgender folk do not have that same right–even if we read the book. Even if we don’t mean it that way. Even if we have (a) trans friend(s). The subtitle is long enough to paper a room, so we can’t use the excuse that we’re just talking about the book. Just like men don’t have cunt privilege, we don’t have t-word privilege. Even as allies we can’t reclaim it–it has never belonged to us.

Female Nudity, Feminism, and Kim Kardashian

I don’t like Kim Kardashian. Her whole family, including her erstwhile stepmother Caitlyn, could disappear from my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. and I would be glad for the respite from the 24/7 onslaught of infotainment concerning that family. I’ve never watched a single episode of any show they’ve been a part of. So I say this not as someone slavishly devoted to the Kardashian brand, but someone tired of feminism taking on the same ugly connotations as patriarchy.

Kim Kardashian recently posted a nude selfie, and many of those who criticized her for doing so claimed to be feminists. They reduced Kardashian to her body, her sexuality, claiming, among other comments, that she was pandering to the male gaze, that she was a slut, that she was good for nothing other than sex. Because she was naked.

Millions of men, both private citizens and public figures post shirtless or close to nude selfies on social media. Sometimes, not always, they are being sexual. Never, however, is their sexuality somehow an indictment against their other qualities the way a woman’s sexuality appears to be against hers.

I don’t necessarily believe posting a nude selfie is the best way to empower yourself. I don’t think it’s necessarily a brave thing for a woman as conventionally attractive as Kardashian is to do. But I also don’t necessarily believe I have the right to police her choice in doing so.

I do necessarily believe that the mere act of being nude where others can see you is not an act that makes it acceptable for the patriarchy to view either Kim Kardashian or women in general as “sluts”, “whores”, or somehow unworthy of being taken seriously, ever, under any circumstances. And feminism cannot be about women assuming that right and calling it equality.

When we say it is unacceptable for society to code our behavior and tell us the “proper” way to be a woman, we can’t dismantle the system that perpetuates that thinking and put a different idea of “proper” womanhood in it’s place. Because that still leaves out a huge swath of actual women. And if we’re not fighting for all women, what is the point of this whole movement?

Kim Kardashian responded to her critics here. She defends her actions in posting a nude selfie, but why, in 2016, should she be defending anything at all? Why are her choices in bodily autonomy still a subject of conversation? If she were a man, this episode would have gone unnoticed.

I’m still waiting for that day to arrive. Until then, I will go bury myself in books until I feel better.