Tag Archives: Chicklitz

EVERYONE PLUG YOUR EARS > Feminism!

18 Jul

He said:

that girl has a chip on her shoulder–

a goddamn brick on her shoulder.

She’s a with-holder, she roll

like a boulder,

a freight train,

a bed stain .

It’s like she got caught in the rain

or acid. We can see she’s rancid.

She’s unchecked.

She’s a list. She’s in a mother fucking tryst

with power. She’ll devour

your metaphysical, your reciprocal

heart beat. She’ll start beatin’

you at your own game, has been

for too long—you mad bro? You

gonna slap a hoe? Get a hold on.

Yeah get a grip. She’s not a bitch.

She’s a mother fucking

feminist.

PHEW: You mad, bro?

Well, you shouldn’t be. As a feminist woman I’m not trying to usurp your power. I’m not trying to say I’m better than you. I don’t want your pants. Keep em. I hate Levi’s. But, what I do want is equality. I want recognition if I work equally as hard for a job I am just as qualified for. I’m not asking you to slam doors in my face, rather than hold them open and trample my dignity. I’m asking you to hold open a door for yourself, for your dude friends, for the crazy cat aunt we’ve all got. And, while you’re busy doing that. I’ll hold the door for your brother, you dad, your mother. I’ll walk your grandma across the street. I see feminism as equal opportunity kindness. I see it as feet free of the ratty slippers called gender. I see it as asking questions. I see it as engendering more questions. I see it as exploration. I don’t see it as defamation.

I don’t want to de-masculinize you. So stop crying about it on the internet.

The other day, I was at a bar with my friend, Zorn, and our other friend’s mom. The stomping grounds were quiet, so we birthed bloody into the night a raging debate about gender. Only, it took us a while to realize we were on the same side. Zorn—a pretty unique dude, rat prince, runaway, the wiser the better—was trying to explain that mine and Bea’s (the mom) examples of “anti-feminist” behaviors were essentialist and conversely anti-masculine. Initially, I didn’t understand. I was all bent out of shape because I dig that boy and I thought he was trying to tell me that my experiences weren’t legitimate. Also: he’s a fighter, yeller, etc. We had to slow down and learn the rules of listening—all of us. Eventually, once I realized what Z-baby was trying to say, I broke it down like this:

Bea and I both have worked jobs in which we were approached as men typically approach attractive women. IE: Heya baybay…lookin good in that uniform. etc. Yet, when we began to out perform the dudes/demonstrate our personalities—both of us being quite silly, fun-loving, yet take charge ladies—they denigrated us. They maybe called us bitches. And, they made us feel as though unless we are capable of acting like beautiful objects rather than real, hard-working people, then we weren’t fit to be women.

Can you see how Zorn would have interpreted that? He’s right in saying that our sample of men was small, that we might have made it sound as though all men are bad/denigrate women. But, here’s how I rationalize mine and Bea’s experience:

We live in a house. And, in the house, there are some things ok for women to do, and some things ok for men to do. Because we’ve been living in the house so long, it’s a little engrained in us to just naturally do these things. That’s called gender. While some people are perfectly okay performing the tasks assigned to them, others don’t understand the house. Others don’t see the reason for the house. There’s such a beautiful sky out tonight. When women (and men) cross the gender line, no one knows how to react to them. Women doing what was traditionally men’s work have to be framed by men in the only way they have ever learned to interact with women. Thus they are often sexualized. But if they can’t dig that, men don’t know what to do—especially if the woman does the job better. In this way, women (and men crossing lines) get compartmentalized and labeled bitches (or fags.)

So, how do we change that?

The fact of the matter is, a lot of people don’t care. Even women. It’s easier to make something from a box. To use a stencil. It’s less time consuming.

But, for those with qualms, those made uneasy in the shadowy recesses of the house, I suggest certainty. I mean, if you’re off put by gender expectations, then you have to seriously commit to living your life outside the box. Make yourself an example. I’m not saying you can’t be a mama. I’m not saying you can’t be the toughest, hairiest, Paul Bunyonesque dude ever. It’s more about support. Don’t laugh at jokes about women, or sexy queers, or racism. Be prepared to address supervisors who are not acting appropriately. Be prepared to start a million small fires.

That’s how you burn a house to the ground.

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Baby Boomers & Hipsters: It’s How You Face the Music that Counts; or Maybe Hipster isn’t the Right Word.

5 Jul

Heya, quirky sweethearts.

Most of you reading this fall into that age gap where you remember Harriet the Spy and probably read Ramona books growing up. And, it might seem silly, but I want to start off this post asking you to fish through your memories, sift through your parent’s stories, your grandparent’s stories, and tell me what consumerism looked like from the baby boomer perspective and forward. I mean, post WWII folks consumed more butter than Paula Deen, they bought new furniture, new clothes, cars, houses, etc. Being young meant making a path for yourself in the world, a highway scattered with the flora and fauna of Fridgidaire and Ford.

take take take, eh?

And now, when faced with their past decisions, the baby boomers have begun to question their legacy. Forbes magazine conducted a poll back in 2009 asking the boomers what they believed their legacy to be—and just under half responded, “Ushering in an era of consumerism and self-indulgence.” However, the author of the article makes sure to point out the disparity in the era of the boomers. While other decades were united by massive events such as WWII and the Depression, boomers were divided by “Incendiary topics including the Vietnam War, civil rights, women’s liberation, sexual freedom and drugs.”

 

It’s also important to note the spread of media at this point in time. Look at the way marketing advanced and TV audiences became the prime targets of ads promoting consumerism. In putting all these things together, I wonder if this generation’s stratification and social climbing was a side effect of rampant acknowledgement and fear of differences coupled with television’s ingenuity. Do you see how purchasing the same goods as the people you respect makes you respectable—read, one of them? Then you can see how consumerism became a way in which people climbed social ladders both allying themselves with those they desired to represent and distancing themselves from the those  they disliked.

Now, my plan in this essay isn’t necessarily to hate on the hungry dreams of my grandparents. Rather, I’m making a verbal Venn diagram between them and myself. I’ve come to realize that I want to understand individual motivation and how that translates into social change or even large scale lifestyle movements. I mean, the Forbes article goes on further to explain the poll by breaking its pool down into demographics. This complicates the idea of most boomers being obsessed with commercial behavior and upward movement. The author points out that women and people of color tended to respond by choosing the more positive legacy option: “Helping to bring lasting change in social and cultural values and ending a war.”

seriously? I can only imagine being a woman in the 60’s and seeing this. Incendiary is right.

This probably seems like a convoluted break-down of an easy topic. But, I wanted to work through it because I’ve become interested in the lifestyle of the modern hipster, who falls into such a category, and what they are doing for the world. It’s not as unrelated as it seems.

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I gave myself a pregnancy scare gray hair today

25 Jun

Of course I’m not pregant–being a gay lady, those events are usually pretty well planned. But, I have been reading about the abortion debates as this article popped up on my Tumblr feed and made me feel like this:

If you didn’t read the article, here’s a quick synopsis:

Two female, democratic lawmakers were banned from speaking on the house floor for remarks they made a day prior.

The lawmakers, Rep. Lisa Brown (West Bloomfield) and Rep. Barb Byrum (Onondaga) of Michigan, were silenced after using appropriate medical terms—vagina, and vasectomy (GASP!)—during their turns on the floor. In a heated dialogue regarding an anti-abortion bill, Brown remarked, “I’m flattered you’re all so concerned about my vagina, but no means no.” While Byrum’s comments were not as incendiary, she spoke out of turn after being continually ignored. Her outburst was described as a “temper tantrum” by Ari Adler, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Jase Bolger (R-Marshall). Which reminds me acutely of an instance in one of my classes in which I rebutted a man’s argument that women are less valuable workers, “Because they take maternity leaves.” As my hand shot into the air, he had the nerve to say (and loudly), “And now the claws come out!” He pigeonholed me in a way that I despise. Would a man have claws? Would a man throw a temper tantrum?

Alder also commented saying that the women were not being silenced for anything regarding gender but rather for their “behavior.” Byrum can’t help feeling otherwise. In a quote pulled from the Huffington post she says, “There have been physical altercations between at least two men on the House floor, and I don’t recall any of them every being banned from speaking. It’s just unacceptable to silence women when we’re talking about women’s reproductive rights.”

Here’s where it might be appropriate to say:

Even Libba Bray (childhood idol and author of A Great and Terrible Beauty) cast her net in 140 characters, saying, “OMG, y’all! I was, like, gonna do some shit today, but then I remembered I have a VAGINA, so I’d better stay home. Bummer. #WombWithoutAView

I think this whole #WombWithoutAView should be trending. I mean, look at the visibility of women who get abortions, key words: who aren’t defamed by conservative press. But on the flip side, after reading a powerful essay by Aubrey Hirsch on the Rumpus, I wonder about the whole visibility thing. I mean, the feminist portion of the pro-choice movement is pushing for women’s right to control their own bodies. To be seen as individuals with power as to the legislation of their most private selves. It seems that in order to have these things, we must put those private selves on display. We have to use words like vagina in order to express our frustration. When our words are limited, it’s even more difficult to explain how and why we feel what we feel, to legitimize those feelings.

Hirsch talks about being a pioneer in the world of pregnancy, describes how her baby will have her last name, how she doesn’t feel the need to wear a wedding band. But, these actions come with an invasion of privacy.

“At my first doctor’s appointment, the student doctor asking me questions looks at my naked left hand, asks, “Was this planned?” I want to ask him if that’s medically relevant, but the power-imbalance of the doctor’s office robs me of my capability for snark. I answer him, but I can’t help thinking I have given him something I did not need to give away.”

In the same way, women speaking for pro-choice accolades often share their private experiences in order to garner support. In doing this, I feel like we fight the battle in a manner that encourages conversation rather than stifles. We do not need a liaison to ban someone from speaking. And, I feel like this is because we have filled our cause with private truths: moments like Hirsch’s doctor’s visit, Byrum’s perseverance, and Brown’s wit. It is rad that these women are using privacy to fight for privacy. They expose themselves in order to one day have the privacy and confidence in their decisions that men have. As Hirsch said in the closing of her essay,

“If this baby is a girl, I am hopeful that things will be different when it’s her turn. That she will read this essay in thirty years and laugh and say, “Mom, you were so crazy.” Because she will feel so in control of her life, her choices, her body, that she won’t be able to imagine a time when any small modicum of control had to be flexed, hoarded, treasured.”

I AM WHISPERING

14 Jun

What is there about negative space that knocks me to the ground? See, what I mean here is: there are about 300 pages of negative space here, on this blog, because we have not been writing. Dear god. Who thought that was a good idea? Or–did we just get lazy? How many of us tried to pretend like this wasn’t important, like our voices weren’t a big deal? Well they are. We chickz, all chickz, are a big deal. Hello, my name is Elysia Smith, and I’m a goddamned, genuine big-fucking-deal.

This is what happened while I was away.

I became a badass (har har)

I cut all my hair off. It’s short, like so much so, I don’t even brush it. Yowza.

Ashley, Ryan, Spencer, and I no longer live together. GASP! It wasn’t like that. They all gradumacated and well, I’m still here–chuggin away at this bottle (I mean, “degree”)

I have decided to attend graduate school when I graduate. Sound’s plausible right? I’m looking at UNO, Brown, UMASS, and The University of Virginia-Charlottesville.

I moved in with my twin sister and her miniature pig. EW. (JK. She’s not so bad)

I attended Bonna-fucking-roo. EE GADS.

waiting in line

 

I fell in love with these musicians: LP, tUnE-yArDs, The Devil Makes Three, Diane Cluck, and Alabama Shakes.

I have published 0 things of merit. I will get on that ASAP.

I contributed to this blog on Renaissance Animal and Human definitions.

And, I’m sure many other things I have left out by choice or by accident. But, the point is, I’ve been learning and growing and leaning into the sun. Who hasn’t been? Let’s talk about Bonnaroo: my goodness. It was my little brother’s graduation present from Dad and I. I have never smelled so bad in my entire life. I met so many rad people and listened to music until sunrise. I slept in a tent. I slept in a car. I got rained on and listened to PHISH. I ate a Crif Dog. Or two. I wrote a poem every day dedicated to the day previous on stolen materials from around the festival. It was the coolest.

So, this is just my re-introductory post. It’s an easy thing. But, I will be posting each week and encouraging the others to hop back on this bus. I hope you all are well or whatever.

 

 

Oh My. I’m Doing This Again…with trepidation

2 Dec

You are so mad at us. You are so mad you want to eat knives and show us your bleeding belly and say, this..this is what you made me do, you damned Chickz. You are so sad you want to chew the hair off our head and swallow it so we will always be with you. forever. You are so happy right now you want to write an epic poem and then make 25 copies, one for each of your best friends.

You are happy now because we are coming back.

Or maybe, I’m projecting. Maybe, I am happy.

Yes. That’s it, dear readers. I am so happy to be here talking, even for a few moments. Even for a breath.

Don’t worry:

Blog Commenting as explained by Mean Girls.

12 Jul

The reality is always this: we are pretentious.

It is that inherent thing we are always talking about, the “I just know I am cut from different cloth—maybe paisley or something. But anyhow, my star is like the brightest and I know I’m going to hand the world something fabulous.”

image

I mean, would we be writing, if we didn’t think we had something worthwhile to say? The ambiguity of being a writer doesn’t last. You are no more amorphous than a cherry pie.  And, I suppose the point I am trying to get at is Have you ever noticed how writers approach commenting on blogs?

I was on a writing blog the other day scrolling through some articles and comments, etc. And I was reminded of something I learned in French class.

In France, if you are going to correct someone you begin by apologizing. You use the full and formal title of the person addressed and then you say, “Excuse me, I’m so very sorry but you are incorrect. Civilly and humbly yours, X.”

When a writer comments on a blog with some sort of dispute, they tend to butter up the other writer first. Then, they commence correction. Next, they thank the first writer for being so articulate as to allow them to spot all the holes in their argument, only they do this in a manner that makes those outside the know feel as if the exchange could be nothing shy of civil.

[Here is an example I stole from an unspecified forum]

LANCELOT: “when some asshole publisher and asshole writer decides to take this only thing I concede to holding complete control over and decides I’m wrong and changes it without my say-so, I’m going to fucking flip out.”

WILLHELM: “So, if an editor uses his will and desires to alter my work, especially in a such a seemingly rare and odd way, I can’t imagine myself getting upset over such an issue. Again, I just mean this as what your thoughtful response brought up in my head.”

GENNIVIVE: “I have to default to Willhelm on this. It seems strange to me that one would think of writing as something they can have complete control over. I mean, I suppose you do have complete control over the words you put on the page, but you have no control whatsoever about how a reader is going to receive those words.”

LANCELOT: “Well that’s what I mean, Gennivive. The only thing I have complete control over in this entire fucking miserable world are “the words put on the page.” That control does not extend to a reader’s interpretation. I’m fine with that. I advocate that.

Thanks for the thoughtful response, Willhelm!”

Do you understand what I mean, reader?

Does this help:

I suppose I’m just curious if anyone else has noticed. Is there a specific etiquette one should follow as a blog commenter?

THIS has some suggestions for commenting. What do y’all think?

Writing and the Internet: A Love Affair

10 May

Shit got real in 1995. That’s when it all started. In the then, very brief history of the internet, online literary magazines were an idea yet to be conceived. Writers were still sending to print journals, and don’t forget the SASE—self addressed, stamped envelope (and who ever heard of stamps!?). Then, from the foam of some cybernetic sea, CrossConnect was born! The first online literary magazine, the first rebel, the first mover/shaker.

Writing and the internet used to be this:

Now they’re more like this:

But, DON’T WORRY. They aren’t headed for this:

For a writer today, online lit journals are the shiz. They got all their ducks in a row. As a young writer, it is important to get out there, peruse the great-unknown. And, internet mags are the vehicle for that. However, that doesn’t make the process of submitting any less harrowing. Not everyone is George Saunders—by that I mean: don’t think the first time you get published, it will be in the New Yorker. Start small. Chances are, your first submission will be met with a rejection.

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Hey, hi, y’all. [andsorrykinda]

8 Mar

so.

I am staying at my lady’s house over break and we have had a few busy busy days. We leave for Louisville tomorrow to go visit Lora [another adorable chicklit who we miss]. But, the most important thing to note is that today is fucking MARDI GRAS and I AM NOT IN NEW ORLEANS. That really blows. I mean really really blows. But, I am going to make beignets tonight if it kills me! [the cooking won’t, but the amount of donuts ingested might]. Dalton and Liz [Lindsey’s roomies] are going to help us eat them. I HOPE.

Also, I should apologize. The Chicklitz are on SPRING BREAK and it’s a fun and sexy time for us. Basically I mean, we’re all traveling or catching up on much needed sleep. So, err. My post today is going to be a peice that I am working on for Slash Pines Poetry Festival.

P.S. if you like this stuff or Layne’s stuff or really any of the Chickz, cause we’re all comin’ out of the same great school, you should check this out and donate [sorry, had to use the dirty word there] if you can. Tyler Gobble, Layne Ransom, Jeremy Bauer and myself are all going to be at Slash Pines and could use your help!

THANKS.

There are Tides 

Sometime after, when all the bananas fell against a spidery kind of dark and the children walked into the sea looking for their mothers, the Man-on-the-Moon decided his fate. He had been watching as the tides scraped at the land. He’d seen the panic, the froth of water kissing the sky as it swallowed a piece of the earth.

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Forum: If’n Y’all Please. Let’s Chat.

22 Feb

I have discussed family and babies on this blog before and really, I think all these Chickz know where I’m coming from as well as many of our young female readers. Basically, I wanted to talk about the connotations to “family.” It can change so much when you are a successful professional woman (or some other “other”). How do you manipulate that line so it wraps around you and your decisions instead of dissecting your place in the world.

Why must it always be one or the other?

Here are 4 scenarios:

Family 1) Two loving parents, a mother and a father with one child. They move around a lot, still restless even though they have decided to “settle down.” Neither the mother nor the father has any living parents.

Family 2) Two loving parents, two mothers. They are both successful women, they live in a comfortable home with two children. They invite each of their extended family over for every holiday (both their parents are divorced so it can get hectic).

Family 3) One loving parent, a father, who cares deeply for his 3 daughters, his wife having died in childbirth. He is successful, but must be rather reclusive in order of complete most of his work. His daughters see him less and less as they age but know he is only working his hardest so they can have a comfortable life.

Family 4) One loving parent, a single mother, who with the help of her own mother and father raises her adopted child. She doesn’t really need the help as she is financially successful and lives comfortably, but she likes having the 4 extra hands. Together, they love the child and foster a good learning environment.

Ok: Each of these scenarios are not the standard family unit.

note the "normal family" in the background.

What do we define as a family unit? See Webster’s various definitions: here.

Now, the English language is constantly evolving, Webster even referenced the single parent family as something that is socially construed as correct. But, why is it that, even if all the above families are successful and happy and content in their early years, a child might still turn out “messed up?” Haven’t you heard that? Or even said it yourself? “Mom, you and dad really messed me up?”

being home alone didn't work out so well.

or “Why am I so messed up? It must be my parents.”
or the ever so common, “My mom and dad did _____ and ______ but I turned out ok.”

(see, they don’t say “good” the say just “ok.”) And, in this statement, they are triumphing in the face of some adversity, even though their family might love them and be wonderful. The adversity is more than likely, the fact that they were not developed in a standard family unit.

We developed this idea of family, this schema, way back when—when the space was too small to really define. And, with our language continually changing, why aren’t we changing our mindsets to match? Why do so many people in this world frown on the single parent family, the homosexual parent family, the family that is without extension? Each of these units is just as capable of loving a child and producing a secure environment in which to raise a child or multiple children.

I imagine the worst backlash for the a-typical family unit is most likely the outcome of the child as some sort of damaged good. But, the children aren’t coming up with this on their own. They might be teased on the play ground, scorned by teachers or PTA mothers. They might grow up to think their family strange and uncouth and then revolt against the parents that merely secured their dreams before taking the time to focus on a child.

Really?? Really? Just hook up with one of your son's football buddies already.

Really, I just want some opinions on this. These are all my ideas on the subject (I think). So, what do you Chickz think about families? Do you look back on your own a-typical family units or those of your friends and consider them strange, consider them at fault for your own problems? Or, are you happy/content?

Readers?

Moms and dads?

Post your comments below. Let’s discuss things.

Yo, This is Elysia On the Mike

14 Dec

I figured I’d take my first post here to introduce myself a bit.

Lately, I have been spending mass amounts of time with my fellow Chicklitz and while I knew two of the girls—Layne and Ashley—from Writer’s Community, I am still getting to know the rest. Really, I’m not like following a trend or anything, but these girls simply blow up my world with their awesome creativity and genius and things like wisdom. I am stunned that they haven’t been snatched up and offered to the Gods as proof that beauty can coexist with smarts. And, I am sad that I am only now befriending these babes. But, life turns onward and we have created this social media “empire”, thanks to the talented Ashley Ford, which we intend to be our platform for not only the encouragement of brilliant female writers but the promotion of friendship.

So, I guess I’ll get to that “ME-ME-ME” business of introduction. Let’s be fair, we’re writers—on the inside, we’re all tiny, mustachioed narcissists.

Things I should probably talk about in this post: what I read, what I write, how I write, etc.

Things I would have talked about had I not made a list of priorities (see above list of priorities): my affinity for cats and New Orleans, and how I sometimes do the running man in public places.

Once, when I was little, my dad had to buy a suit for a job interview. He took me with him to Sears where I wandered off. They found me in front of a three-way mirror pretending to be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. I was talking to the Scarecrow, Tin-man, and Lion—each a panel of the mirror. This is an example of why I should not be left alone. Just kidding. This is an example of why I started writing. I used to explain it to people by saying this: “So, I have a lot of voices in my head…like the ‘not-creepy ones’, and I have to write them down or I go nuts.” That is still true, only the voices have become more like full on day dreams. I can spend an afternoon imagining a story and until I write it down, I am basically a non-functioning member of society.

While, I used to believe that I would only ever write fiction, or only ever be good at writing fiction, I learned from Sean Lovelace and Michael Meyerhofer not to limit myself. In fact, these Chicklitz have also helped me to expand my writing. Last school year, I took a class with Sean Lovelace where I discovered flash fiction. From there I began writing prose poems and from there, lineated poems. My first publication (here) was a flash piece and my second publication (here) was a prose poem/flash piece.

I have learned this year, that one of the key ingredients in good writing is good friends to read, edit, and reread your pieces. Without people like the Chicklitz, Tyler Gobble (his blog is here), my best friend: Natalie White, and my roommate when I can trap her long enough, I would never have progressed this far. Also, those same people have broadened my reading horizon.

In high school, or maybe I should say in public, I read things like For Whom the Bell Tolls, Anna Karenina and Huck Finn. While in private, I read books by Nicholas Sparks or Jodi Piccoult and even Norah Roberts (insert shame here). I never experimented with reading contemporary short fiction or poetry. In fact I was sure I wouldn’t like either.

When I came to college, I began attending Writer’s Community and was introduced to various wonderful writers. Now, my list of favorites includes but is not limited to: Jack Kerouac, Arthur Rimbaud, Amy Hempel, Dorothy Parker, George Bilgere, Tony Hoagland, Rita Dove, Toni Morrison, Marie Howe, Sylvia Plath, Vladimir Nabokov, etc.

Of course, I am always looking for new reading material so feel free to post suggestions in the comment box below. And, that sums up this post for today, now it’s back to studying for an Astronomy final. Boo.