Thursday, October 18, 2007

Jackson Hole, WY: SHELBY

We drive thirteen hours, from the ochre plains of Nebraska to the blue mountains of Wyoming nearing Jackson Hole. We enter a Tim Burton-esque pine-tree winter wonderland, where the sideways snow hitting our windshield reminds us of the screensaver where stars ambush your face. We finally arrive on Shelby’s doorstep at 11 pm stupid-tired and ready for a Swedish massage.

Shelby grew up here, and has been living at her mom’s since she graduated from U. of Chicago in June. Tomorrow she is moving to San Diego without a job or a plan. Her overeducated friends from college are already climbing the ranks in their entry-level jobs, but she has no desire to rush into the rat race. Her relaxed attitude comes from from her slower-paced hometown, and the monetary benefits of living in what she calls “the Beverly Hills of Wyoming.” Shelby notes “I can buy leather furniture later, right now I don’t give a fuck.” We smile at each other knowingly. Having time to explore and not falling victim to post-grad pressures is what motivated us to take this trip in the first place. To us, feminism is hopelessly intertwined with figuring out who you are and what you truly want.

The discussion turns to Wyoming, “the equality state,” the first state to grant women’s suffrage. Meanwhile, Shelby says the macho Wyoming cowboy myth often rings true, men who “drive trucks, shoot guns, and marry women for the cooking,” and who label women “feminazis” simply if they speak their mind.

Nonethless, Shelby has long considered herself a feminist, which to her means being sexually empowered. Her first feminist hero was Veronica Franco, the 16th century Venetian courtesan and poet who used her powers of seduction to do the forbidden--become literate. Shelby acknowledges that while women have always used their sexual power to advance, there is fine line between empowering and degrading. In fact, she cites obsession with appearance, demeaning over-promiscuity, and the general toxicity of girl culture to be her number one concern as a feminist.

--Emma and Nona

Discussion Questions:
Question 1
Question 2
Question 3


Courtny said...

Gorgeous pictures.

As I said in my last comment, if you happen to come to New Jersey, you're welcome to crash in Princeton with me.

My email:

Roxie said...

Same as what Courtny said, Except, I'm in Atlanta.

Roxie said...

Deborah Siegel said...

Wow--gorgeous pix of Shelby, my favorite WY feminista. I knew her when she was 3, and she was a pistol even then. So glad ya'll hooked up. I imagine it was quite the party... Did you meet Michelle, Shelby's mom? Cuz she kicks ass too.

Feminist in the City said...

Hello fellow feminists! I just started my own feminist blog and came across yours while I was on I think what you are both doing is amazing! I can only imagine the adventure you have embarked on and the book you will write! If you come to the NY area (which I am sure you will) you are more than welcome to stay with my family on long island! I work for the Center for Reproductive Rights and volunteer for Vday so I know lots of people who would appreciate the work that you do as much as I do. Also, on top of being a feminsit, I'm also a writer and recent college graduate like you both so if I can do anything to help with this project - write, interview, edit, whatever - I would love to lend a helping hand! Good luck and be sure to check out my own blog at

GIRLdrive said...

sisterhood has not died. holy shit.

Courtney D said...

hey emma,

i bet you have loads of girls in chicago, but if you have room for anymore, i'm working with a few after school programs on the west side (lawndale and one of the last subsidized housing complexes in west-town) and our girls/women (elementary school through college or up, depending on who you'd wanna talk to) would probably love to be involved. could be another perspective if you don't have many low-income women or people who haven't been to college, etc, on your list yet.

anyway, just an idea. gimme a call if you're interested. i'm excited to see how your trip goes!

drive safe,


Anonymous said...

This is an excellent blog and idea. I'm really enjoying it.

M said...

wow nones, well fuckin put

Anonymous said...

please don't believe for a second that western women can't be feminists, and that western men can't support that. some of the most equality-minded heterosexual couples I know are rancher families in wyoming and montana. in order to be successful on a ranch (or farm) it needs to be a team, and the women in my family (third generation ranchers) do more than just the cooking!!!! it sticks in my feminist craw to hear or read folks suggesting otherwise. maybe in jackson hole, where the 'cowboys' tend to be 'all hat and no cattle,' but certainly not out in the real west. thank you.

GIRLdrive said...

to anonymous:

yes, i'm glad to hear you say that. since the start of this blog there have been feminists coming out of the woodwork from every city and town everywhere. it makes us feel a little better about the future, although also reinforces the urgency to reach women who are not yet aware of these enclaves.


GIRLdrive said...

to the new jersey and atlanta girls:

we are unfortunately skipping those places on this trip, but when we get more money and time we will of course hit you up!!