About six weeks ago I returned home from a long day of thesis work to find Stacey Richter’s Twin Study in my mailbox. It was my very first review copy, and its receipt made me feel like I am a real publisher, a feeling I don’t have often due to the surreality of printing work on the web. You can look for a review of Twin Study in a future issue of Fringe.
I am only four stories into the collection, and savoring every quirky phrase. But one phrase gave me pause, and it wasn’t Richter’s. Time’s blurb on the back reads:
“Richter brings a wacky imagination to the gender wars…one of the more outlandishly imaginative minds in contemporary fiction.”
Gender wars? It seems to me that Richter is capturing a certain reality of the world women live in, and I think that “gender wars” belittles her theme. It reminds me of one of the Guerilla Girls’ action posters, Advantages of Being a Woman Artist, “Being reassured that whatever art you make it will be labeled feminine.” But perhaps I’m being unfair. I’m sure Time has commended Cormac McCarthy and John Updike for contributing to the gender wars as well.
So far this is an... more »more »
Well in my case, it’s not so easy. This wedding has two brides, and I just wasn’t sure how to work it. Does my sister get her own bachelorette party? After all, this is the one day where the bride can be a little bit naughty with the blessing of her future spouse, so wouldn’t it ruin the mood for me to invite my sister’s future spouse to her bachelorette? But then again, doesn’t my future sister-in-law deserve to be a little naughty, too?
Since I was stumped, I went to the number one authority on gay weddings and commitment ceremonies, TwoBrides.com, and to the TwoBrides’ sister site GayWeddings.com. I checked the Family and Friends area and even located an area where I could submit my own question.
Just a few hours after I hit send, I got an email from Kathryn Hamm, whose straight mom founded the TwoBrides and TwoGrooms sites in 2000 to provide “mother-approved shopping sites for same sex weddings.” Kathryn sent me a long, enthusiastic message, but the moral of the story was this:
“Get a little crazy with both brides in tow!”
So that’s what I’m... more »more »
Last night Fringe, Quick Fiction, Redivider, and Black Ocean held a reading in Boston at Grub Street. The reading, hosted by Redivider, was the second in a series of seasonal readings put on by the Boston-based journals and presses.
The reading’s theme was “Spring Fever” and all four readers delivered. Elisa Gabbert went first, reading some fine love poetry on behalf of Redivider — her “Poem to KR” was a particular favorite. Next came Sarah Sweeney (work forthcoming in the August Fringe), who read several poems about Carolina, including a hilarious quadruple sonnet about lotto tickets and peach schnapps. After a short break, Megan Bedford read her short short out of the new issue of Quick Fiction, followed up by a nonfiction piece on teenagers mating in spring. Peter Jay Shippy, whose work is forthcoming in the first issue of Black Ocean’s new journal Handsome, closed out the evening with a particularly hilarious pastiche of poetry, CSI, Jackson Pollock, and country town-meeting.
Each reader was also forced to read a Shakespeare sonnet that had been Mad-libbed by the audience.
Beer, wine, soda, and those delightful marinated olives that Adam Pieroni of Quick Fiction makes were consumed, and we all went home sated with culture.
Stay tuned for the summer... more »more »
I hereby dub French President Nicolas Sarkozy Fringe Feminist of the Month. I learned of Mr. Sarkozy from this Washington Post article.
A conservative party member, Sarkozy defeated Socialist female Segolene Royal, who was blasted for her moralizing by french feminists according to this Free Republic article.
So why am I dubbing her male competitor feminist of the month? Sarkozy has risen above tokenism by choosing seven women to be among the members of his cabinet. For that alone he deserves the title.more »
In this Advice Goddess blog, Amy Alkon discusses a piece by Christina Hoff Sommers from the Weekly Standard. The Sommers piece beats the old horse, stating that American feminists have blinders on when it comes to helping out women in foreign countries. As the article points out and Alkon foregrounds, it is tempting for American feminists to draw sweeping and inaccurate parallels between the oppression of women in America and the oppression of women in other countries. For example, Eve Ensler compares optional vaginoplasties to female genital mutilation.
My take on this is that yes, American feminists often do have blinders on when it comes to international feminism, but also that engaging in international feminism is more ideologically complicated than it seems for two reasons:
1. Many non-American cultures feel (justly) threatened by globalization. Feminism is often equated with western/white culture. Therefore, adopting feminism can be perceived as abandoning one’s own culture. Many women chose to cling to the old (and often misogynist) ways because it is more important to them to preserve their culture than to gain freedom.
2. Given the above situation, what is a western feminist to do? Let’s say I want to free a community of women from the burka.... more »more »
I’m not sure when it first hit me: the moment my professor announced that she agreed that Muslim women in the UK should have to remove their veils, or later, when she looked directly at me and told me that postmodernism doesn’t exist—that my American education had essentially mislead me down a path of ignorance. Wait, no—maybe it was Tony Blair’s speech on the need to assimilate if you want to live in Britain. Ah, who can keep count… Regardless, it’s been hard to ignore the fact that perceptions on race and nationalism here in the UK are not nearly as advanced as many would like to believe.
As an American living abroad, I expect to become the effigy at times of all things evil. Bush has managed in the last six years to not only reduce the value of our dollar, but to create a stereotype of Americans that is deeply disturbing. And, to be honest, the anti-Americanism I’ve experienced thus far living in Scotland has not been too bad. They’re subtle things, like the gentleman that heard me speaking to a friend the other day and pointed, courteously enough, saying: “You—back home.” What I don’t expect is to see it in academia.... more »more »
Not familiar with Eurovision? Oh-ho-ho…well. Each year, all members of the European Union have an opportunity to submit one song, sung by the group of their choosing, into the Eurovision challenge. The groups perform live and are voted on by country. Last night, Finland (last year’s winner) hosted the contest from lovely Helsinki. Replete with a live Princess Barbie doll hostess who was more interested in being in the center of the camera than interviewing her guests, and a back-scratching voting system that rivals US Congress, I have to honestly say that this was one of the most entertaining events I have been privy to watch in a dog’s age.
Some of the more amusing and original acts included:
…Ukraine’s Boy-Scouts-in-tinfoil-by-way-of-Sun-Ra performance;
…the blatant advertising of British Airways by the UK (come on–dancing flight attendants?!? No, I don’t want to come fly with you. Please, stop asking me.);
…Turkey’s pop and belly dancers–watch out Justin Timberlake, Turkey’s got your number;
…1980’s Marilyn Manson clones from Sweden (which, frankly, I found very, very scary.... more »
For the last two years or so, I have been watching Xena: Warrior Princess with my fellow Fringe-editor Sarah. It all started for me when I had my first detached retina in August 2005. I was low on energy and had a dilated pupil for almost three weeks, so it felt good to watch the comforting first season in the dim light of my apartment. After that, I was hooked, scoring the remaining seasons off eBay.
When I learned that Sarah also loved Xena, it was a revelation. I am a geek for Xena, and it’s rare to encounter others who share the mania. We love Xena for its strong women characters, positive portrayal of lesbians (there’s a fun drinking game where you quaff for lesbian innuendo), and most of all for its feminist pastiche of myths and screwball plots. Did you know that Xena…
… invented CPR? And inspired Hippocrates to write the famous oath?
…tempted Lucifer from heaven?
…has returned from the dead three times?
…was besties with Cleopatra and Helen of Troy?
…was a Valkyrie? made Grendel and Grendel’s mother?
…was responsible for David’s victory over Goliath?
…helped an enfeebled Ulysses draw his bow?
…has three doppelgangers?
…can perform a field tracheotomy in about one minute?
The list goes on and on…
One year... more »more »
Isn’t it just common courtesy to offer your seat on public transportation to a pregnant woman who has just stepped on? I recently started taking the T to work again (for those of you who aren’t from Boston, that’s the subway), and boy did it make me angry when not one, but two pregnant women had to stand, attempt to hold on to the bar, juggle a briefcase, and try to protect their precious bellies from the jostling of the busy rush hour T traffic. I was standing, too, or I would have gladly given up my seat for them. But it amazes and disgusts me that so many commuters “pretend” not to notice (nose in a book, furiously texting on their PDA, or sitting with their eyes closed) when a pregnant woman gets on.
I swear I almost ripped a man’s head off this morning when he didn’t offer an obviously pregnant woman his spot. I gave him the evil eye and shook my head disdainfully at him, but he didn’t seem to notice that, either.
Is this view anti-feminist? Some men would say so. Afterall, why should they give up their spot for a woman? Isn’t it first come, first served... more »more »
Ever watch a flight attendant giving the safety spiel before takeoff and wonder what s/he’s really thinking? Well, now you can find out–or at least get a good idea.
Betty’s a flight attendant who puts together a fabulous little podcast about flying the friendly skies. She’s upbeat and frank, and great at capturing the strange, irresistible, sometimes gross details of the job (like the mysterious “water” that dripped on a couple of passengers for an entire flight. Only after they’d landed did the flight attendants realize that someone had put their two pet ferrets in the overhead bin.).
The background music is occasionally a tiny bit repetitive–but other than that, the show is well-made and entertaining, and it gives you that satisfying feeling of having just heard a good bit of gossip.
For those of you who like it analog, this new book by Kathleen Barry talks about the history of the profession from its ambiguous beginnings to the present. For more info on Femininity in Flight, and an interview with the author and with Betty, check this episode of the Diane Rehm show.more »
By now y’all have probably heard about the nefarious plot by our Postal Service to raise rates for periodicals through a deal with Time-Warner. Here at Fringe, our thoughts usually run more to web stats than stamps. But the new rates are going to have a serious effect on our literary sisters, small print journals. This isn’t just a matter of a few cents an issue; it’s a crisis for small presses–and for the principles of free speech itself. The Postal Service is one of my favorite things about America, but right now it has me so mad I’d pontificate to a mailbox.
Some folks say we’ll soon live in an online-only literary world, but we all know they are wrong. We need the dual forces of print and online. They’re like Superwoman and Supergirl. Like Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. Like ketchup and mustard, whiskey and ginger ale, peas and honey.
I need both the leisurely, tactile pleasure of print journals and the quick fix of online journals that can deliver a hot new poem any time I want one. And I don’t think I’m alone on this one.
So what’s a gal or guy to do? Well, first, you might scrape together your spare change... more »more »
The latest Sampler arrived at my house the other day. For those of you who haven’t seen one–and it is elusive–it’s a monthly packet of small samples from indie crafters, zines, record labels, and makers of various stripes from around the country. All these little bits of stuff are collected and packaged up at Sampler Central, wrapped in tissue paper, stuffed into a Priority Mail envelope, and sent out to lucky people all over.
For about five months, I would go to the site and attempt to get a subscription, and every time I was too late. Even so, I loved the Sampler in theory. Finally, last fall, I hovered over my keyboard the minute subscriptions went on sale, and I got myself one. Every month for the past three months, a package of surprises–some great and some so-so–has arrived in my mailbox. Hooray! The good things have included: fabulous fabric swatches from Repro Depot; vintage button earrings from tomate d’epingles (I wear em all the time!); random new music. Not so hot: a preponderance of one-inch buttons. I mean, how many of those can one girl use (unless they’re Fringe pins, of course!)? But overall, I love the Sampler.
The best way to... more »
Over the weekend I flew home for the first time since the “liquid bomb” scare. I looked up the regulations on the Internet, arranged what I considered liquids in my plastic baggie, and headed to the airport.
I’ve been flying long enough to see the changes in security measures. I didn’t take of my shoes seven years ago – now I do. I used to always carry my own water bottle – no more. And I certainly always carried my $10 facial lotion, and that’s what caused me trouble this time.
“Too big,” the security agent told me of my 4 oz. bottle. “That’s a liquid?” I replied. Of course it is. She added I could go back out to the ticketing line and check my bag, then go back through the security line. I admit, I was a little angry. Okay, I threw a fit, and told her to just throw it out, and thanked her for making all the passengers on my plane more secure by getting rid of the offensive stuff.
I realize people go through this every day, and many have already made adjustments – they always check bags, risking luggage loss rather than deal with the rules, or they... more »more »
The Japanese movie Lady Snowblood (1973) meets all these criteria. The title character, who also goes by Yuki, is born to a woman in prison. As we later find out, four criminals brutally murdered the rest of Yuki’s family — her mother’s husband and her brother. In prison, Yuki’s mother aggressively slept with prison guards to beget a child who could carry out revenge.
Yuki spends her early years learning to fight, in a training sequence so kick-ass that I won’t describe it here. Later, she mild-manneredly hunts down the criminals in her pretty kimono, with her sword hidden inside a parasol.more »
I read an article that appeared in the HBC Protocols newsletter that claimed that semen is a natural antidepressant. The article referenced a study led by Gordon Gallup, that “showed that the women who were directly exposed to semen were less depressed. The researchers think this is because mood-altering hormones in semen are absorbed through the vagina. They say they have ruled out other explanations.”
The other explanations they have ruled out include use of oral contraceptives, personality, strength of relationships, and how often they had sex.
According to the study, which appeared in Archives of Sexual Behavior, women who had sex with condoms scored lower on the Beck Depression Inventory than those who didn’t. “The team also found that depressive symptoms and suicide attempts were more common among women who used condoms regularly compared with those who didn’t.”
The claim is that semen contains mood-altering hormones, including testosterone, estrogen, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinising hormone, prolactin and several different prostaglandins, which are absorbed through the vagina.
In my humble opinion, those other explanations the team has “ruled out” have a lot more to do with overall happiness than how much semen in being absorbed.
Not to mention the fact that they didn’t consider homosexual sex of any kind in... more »more »
That’s right. I’m a virgin. And I’m nervous about my first time.
Disclosure: I was raised by the technologically averse. Mom and Dad didn’t get an answering machine until I went to college in ’96, which is when I got my first computer. Cable wasn’t even available at my parents’ house until after 2000. The blogosphere? What?
I can’t help but share some of the aversion – I’m afraid to chat online, because I don’t like the idea of conversing with strangers I can’t see or hear. In a blog post, your words are naked, and your naked words are your intellect on display. No hand motions to get your meaning across, no inflections. Naked. In front of the world. AND people can make comments to your “face.”
Can you blame me for being nervous?
Despite this, blogging intrigues me because of its dependence on the written word. Although methods of communication change, written words remain central to the way we express ourselves. The blog allows us not only to express, but to connect our words with others, to link to each other in a virtually tangible way – the words are like webs themselves. The addition of music, pictures, and video to our... more »more »
According to the Washington Post, Girls Gone Wild Mogul Joe Francis is having a hard time of it. First he was charged by a group of women alleging that he got them drunk and videotaped them (or more appropriately their boobs) while they were underage. He was charged for contempt in this case for becoming belligerent and yelling at the defendants, and calling Judge Richard Smoak a “judge gone wild”.
I admit that I have not parsed the “Girls Gone Wild” situation very carefully. On a gut level it disgusts me, not particularly because it is pornography, but because like much pornography, it exploits women by
a) paying them very little for their labor, which has turned out to be very lucrative for Joe
b) does not allow women to have a modicum of control over the final product
c) plays on the double standard of women’s sexual freedom — women are liberated to do stuff like this, no matter how stupid it is, but at the end of the day, they are sluts, and Joe Francis... more »
The Museum of Contemporary Art in LA is featuring an exhibit entitled “WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution.” The cover of the catalogue for the exhibition, co-published by MIT Press, features a collage by the feminist artist Martha Rosler.
The cover is a collage of photos of nude women taken from various advertisements in men’s magazines. The cover has caused quite a stir—feminists can’t seem to agree on whether the art is degrading or empowering. The women in the photos are in sensual poses, smiling, enticing the viewer. Lorraine Wild, the cover designer, noted that each of these women in a photo by herself was meant to be the object of male desire. But grouped together, the cluster of women seem to be the audience, the viewers instead of the object being viewed. Their smiles that individually express playfulness and invitation, when grouped together, signal mockery, playing with the viewer’s desire.
When I first saw the cover, I found it disturbing, and my first impulse was to shudder at the “carnage,” as a commenter on the MoCA blog described. It seemed exploitative. On second glance, it almost seemed too heavy-handed, like the artist was exploiting her own status as a feminist and using it to produce... more »more »
Kudos to the Washington Post for running a feature on feminist art in last weekend’s outlook section. I found the section to be well rounded — it focused on individual artists, like Judy Chicago, the ghettoization of feminist art, and modern female artists as well as the history of feminist art.
Of course, what section on feminist art would be complete without a new action by the Guerilla Girls? This time around, the girls point out the ABYSMAL representation of women in our nation’s art museums, and in the chat, GG Frida Kahlo points out “The Hirshhorn Collection for example is 85% male, 15% female yet the art work on exhibit right now is 95% male and 5% female. Women artists, under-represented in the collections, are being further edited out of the exhibitions. It’s even worse for artists of color. And these museums are our national museums, supported by our tax dollars. Everyone has the right to complain about it.” The stats for white artists vs. artists of color are even worse.
Want to complain? Here are the contact emails for the museums mentioned in the GG Action:more » more »
I grew up in a family with five children (I was the fourth), and we ate dinner together every night around a large square table, two to a side. Early on, my mother started the tradition of “sayings” before each meal. We’d go around the table, and each of us would quote words of wisdom from Ehrmann’s Desiderata, If by Rudyard Kipling, the Outward Bound book of quotes, or any place else we could find them.
It was always a challenge to find just the right words to say, because my mother would always ask why we’d chosen that particular quote. Of course, there were “code” quotes. If something bad happened, you’d say “Whether or not it is clear to you, the universe is unfolding as it should.” and if you were fighting with someone (but didn’t want to make a scene) you’d say “discretion is the better part of valor” or “as far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all people.” (from Desiderata).
In retrospect, I can see that my mother used this ritual as a way to understand us. We were encouraged to find new sayings and fresh interpretations of the old ones. She was teaching us how to... more »more »