Saturday, October 20, 2007

Seattle, Day 2: COLLEEN

Colleen: 23, graduate of U. of Chicago, sorority sister, art major, the first in her immediate family to move out of the Midwest. Considers herself a "personal feminist," but feels detached from feminist political activism.

"[Being in a sorority] is the most feminist, girl-power thing I've ever done...My sorority sisters knew more about my art than my professors did. I felt like they could understand better."

Discussion Questions:
Question 1
Question 2

Friday, October 19, 2007

Seattle, Day 1: GINA AND BANJI

Gina (left): twentysomething musician, one-half of Team Gina (a queer hip hop duo), originally from DC, old friend of Emma's from her Riot Grrrl days, feminist.

"Seattle is so nice and calm. You don't get bothered and cat-called on the street like you do in New York. That's what made me a feminist in the first place—getting angry that this happened to me every day...the gay scene in Seattle is tamer too...the girls are cute, non-aggressive, fashion-y."

Banji (right and below): one of Gina's friends, Seattle native.

"I consider myself a pyramidist, not a feminist. Feminism is thinking too small, that we should start at the top of the problem rather than being concerned with an isolated part of civilization. I'm not a feminist, I'm a person."

Discussion Questions:
Question 1
Question 2

Seattle, Day 1: CARLA

Carla DeSantis: founder and editor of ROCKRGRL magazine, women-in-rock advocate, longtime feminist, on a first-name basis with many of Emma's Riot Grrrl idols.

Whether the country is ready to embrace a rebellious, punky, feminist musician:

“I am skeptical. Britney doesn’t even write her own music. That’s not a role model, that’s Barbie...But there’s always something new—and I hope that women will have a place in rock that’s not just in a sexy picture licking the neck of a guitar.”

Discussion questions:
Question 1
Question 2

en route, wyoming

Grand Tetons

Drive to Yellowstone

Old Faithful

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

en route

nebraska ........................................................................................nona outside of cheyenne

east wyoming

Sunday, October 14, 2007


The famous Flint arch

The Flint women I met yesterday were BAD-ASS. There was Melodee (in the photo, below and left), a 27-year-old born and bred in Flint, coming from a long line of auto workers (“At Thanksgiving, my family thanks God and the union!”). There was Krystal (below and right), mid-twenties, who had just come back from traveling in Venezuela alone, much to the shock of the other women travelers she met along the way (most of whom had boyfriends in tow). And Crystal, 25, a woman born in Chicago but living in Flint for a while, has a master’s in public admin, working at Umich-Flint, and supporting her partner while he earns his Bachelor degree. Each are living their lives in defiance of rules, embracing the sheer desperation of Flint and wanting to make it different. Melodee is perfectly happy being completely broke in Flint as long as she can change the way people are thinking. Crystal (in the photo, below), coming from Chicago, sees the city as a place she can make an impact in, rather than be an insignificant speck in some bigger city.

All three answered yes to whether they were feminists, no questions asked. And to them, feminism wasn’t an academic concept, it was a political one, an obvious choice. Melodee called herself a “born-again feminist”—a word that turned her off when she was little, because her mom would stand up for herself in public, which was "totally embarrassing...I thought, 'If that's a feminist, I don't want to be one.' " But one day, she claimed the word as her own when she realized in 7th grade science class that girls were just as smart as boys. She's been down with the word "feminist" ever since.


Discussion Questions:
Question 1
Question 2