I am sitting in the University of Freiburg library, which is basically my second home at this point. I’m status post one very harrowing creative non-fiction workshop with Roxane Gay and all of my amazingly talented fellow writers. I’d really meant to blog more consistently throughout the past two weeks — reporting on our syllabus, the analysis & close reading of all the amazing texts we’ve been assigned, and all the terribly insistent SnapChatting I’ve been doing both about the retreat and the daytrip to Basel yesterday (my poor friends and lovers received dozens of snaps from me yesterday, lo siento).
But instead I’m slightly drunk and writing post cards to myself. My essay topic was about “sex that is not technically non-consensual” or the ways in which sex can be both consensual and traumatic, so I wasn’t kidding when I said it was harrowing. Gray areas. People talking critically (but so compassionately) about some of the more painful parts of my life. It’s something that I’ve been mulling over for a while, something that I hinted at, maybe, months ago in my first-ever paid and published piece for The Toast, A Personal History of Misogyny. This new piece was not an easy one to write, but it was, I think, a necessary one. [And I swear this isn’t me gloating here, but I am over the moon about it: RGay corroborated that, the necessary-ness of articulating gray areas, particularly when it comes to subjects like sexual assault and trauma.]
But I don’t want to write about that essay. With any luck, and with a bunch more work, that essay will be published. I’m an ambitious sort of lady, and I’ve already pitched it somewhere. On Monday I’m headed to Amsterdam, where I’ll hopefully get a tattoo but will definitely edit my essay. In the meantime I want to share a little bit about the reading Roxane gave for us today, and some of the advice that followed.
Greetings from Offenbach, where I will be spending the next couple of hours before heading to Frankfurt to head to Freiburg to take two classes with Roxane Gay (cue excited squealing). Today has felt like the absolute longest day, which is mostly just me not being used to traveling. My girlfriend is flight attendant and routinely suffers through longer days, while also working, which, ugh, fuck work.
Anyway. My original plan was to get to Offenbach having slept a restful and long sleep on my overnight flight, drop my bags off, and then flit around Frankfurt for a day in order to make the very most of my time spent in Europe. Last time I was ~abroad~ was in 2013, after all, when I went took myself to London for my first ever grown up vacation. But ha-ha-ha at the idea of sleeping on the plane. I HATE planes. I don’t mind flying but sitting still for more than an hour is the devil. I think I slept maybe twenty minutes.
Also there were a lot of children on my plane and in my vicinity. All but one of them was surprisingly well-behaved but I thumb my nose at the little punk who wouldn’t stop wailing unless his mom let him stagger like a little drunk old man up and down the aisle the whole time.
When I was in high school, I started a feminist club called F.A.T.E. The acronym makes me cringe now (“Female Advancement and Teen Empowerment” — I meant well, at least?) but anyway — one of the things we did each year was create posters for Love Your Body Day (which, if I remember correctly, was October 19th.) Still, even with the best of intentions, it took me much longer than that to really internalize the Love Your Body message. Sometimes I still struggle with it.
I started to look in the mirror, every single day, with deliberate and positive thoughts…These are my thighs, I thought, strong and brown, firmer in the summer months when I spend hours walking and running and dancing. These are my hips, wide like my grandmother gave me. “Childbearin’ hips,” as if that were not a choice but a given. This is the little pouch of my belly where my love of cupcakes and French fries resides; my skin is softest here. Here are my breasts, with stretch marks creeping across the tops of them like ivy; I’m told I have a lovely décolletage.
I wrote about Dr. Stacey Radin’s incredible puppy-rescue-turned-feminist-generating organization, Unleashed, for This Dog’s Life! I’ve been writing for TDL for a while now, but this is definitely my favorite article to date.
Unleashed’s initiative is about more than puppy rescue. As part of her research, Radin uncovered an unsettling link between animal abuse and violence against women and children…Unleashed addresses this head on by putting girls in touch with their ability to affect social change at the exact moment in their development when they need it the most. The discussion around animal rights is the invitation the girls need to talk about feminism and women’s rights.
Dr. Radin was so passionate on the phone during our interview, and her mission to empower young girls really took my breath away and got me all choked up. I’ll be visiting Biscuits & Bath this Sunday at 1pm to see the girls in action for their Leads Day, and will be back with a follow up.
Definitely take a read and revel in all the girl power and puppies, y’all.
I went to go see Avengers: Age of Ultron yesterday and while I mostly think it’s the most egregious example to date of Joss Whedon being completely in love with and pleased with Joss Whedon, you should also totally check out Jen’s awesome write-up of the movie here.
I saw Age of Ultron last night and like much of the Internet, I have Some Thoughts. But I thought that instead of doing a straight up review, this could be a Learning Moment ™ for all of us. Of course those thoughts ballooned and now this post is nearly five thousand words, so in the interest of time, I’m going to split this up. And there are massive, massive spoilers throughout for Avengers: Age of Ultron and the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.