A comic by Madelyn Owens
Tuesday was a tough day.
MADDD GRRRL will be participating in the Words & Guitars Festival this weekend at Bushwick Public House! Join us for live music on Friday Night ($10 at the door) or for a zine and art festival on Saturday at 2pm (FREE!) We'll be hawking new comics and fun vag-centric swag. Come say hi and support Brooklyn's Feminist DIY scene! Stay for MORE MUSIC starting at 8pm ($10 at the door). All proceeds go to the Willie May Rock Camp for girls!
In honor of Pope Francis' NYC visit, I'd like to join the chorus of writers and thinkers commenting on his softer touch, his progressive agenda, his cute one-liners. I give him props for acknowledging climate change, for pushing Europe to solve the migrant crisis, for being adorable on twitter. But I'd also like to point out that, to be frank, he hasn't done SHIT to elevate women's position in the church.
I was raised Catholic. It wasn't an extremely devout household, but it was Catholic enough that I hoped to either die or get married young so that I wouldn't be tempted to sin (as I had the prescience to realize would like, totally happen if I made it to my college years unwed). It was in a CCD class (Catholic version of Sunday School) at age 11 that I was first introduced to the idea that women are 'complementary' but not equal to men. It was also the first time I felt the sting of the patriarchy, which sparked the fire of a feminist heart (see Vagilantes Issue 01).
This idea of women as "complementary" to men is not just the opinion of a misguided catechism teacher, it is deeply ingrained in Catholic doctrine. Women cannot receive the Holy Orders to become ordained priests. While women hold many of the non-ordained positions within the church, not to mention comprise the vast majority of congregants, they are barred from having any position of real power or even a voice in the bureaucracy of the Vatican. This is a big problem.
Pope Francis has expressed compassion toward women who have had abortions (as long as you confess and atone, of course). He has called off the witch hunt against the American nuns who fought for social justice, and he's streamlined the annulment process which can benefit victims of spousal abuse. These are all nice things to do and say, but they aren't really radical or progressive. I'm not deluded enough to expect the Vatican to start supporting the right to choose or encouraging the use of birth control (even though 98% of Catholic women reported using it in some form). I left the church because I realize that it is fundamentally incongruous with my personal beliefs. However, I don't think it's too much to ask that some of the most devout followers of the faith have a shot at obtaining power and respect within the church hierarchy. But, as Pope Francis stated this year, "“As far as women’s ordination is concerned, the Church has spoken and said, ‘No. That door is closed.” Its a callous and lazy conclusion from a man who has otherwise presented himself as a humanitarian and a thinker.
The best Catholic (and human being) I've ever known was my late Grandmother. This is a woman who walked to church to hear mass almost every morning. She was pregnant for almost her entire adulthood, and ended up raising nine children. She was also compassionate, generous, kind, humble, and embodied the "poverty of spirit" that is central to the best parts of Catholic teaching. She devoted her life, her soul, and her body to the faith, as many Catholic women do, yet she was a second-class citizen within the church.
New York Magazine published an excellent essay by Lisa Miller this week about this blind spot in the Pontiff's 'revolution'. "[Pope Francis] reflects the traditional Catholic view, always trotted out in defense of its entrenched sexism, that women are simply different from men, complementary but not any less valuable or special in the eyes of God. Follow this argument to its end and find that it’s women’s fertility, and their place at the center of the home, that accounts for their specialness — and perhaps also their unsuitability as church leaders."
In other words, its the same view expressed by that misguided Catechism teacher that pushed me out of the church to begin with.
I live in the liberal, progressive bubble of New York City. Normally, I'm protected from targeted attacks on women, at least at a local level. This week, however, two local news items caught my eye and pissed me off.
The first is an outcry against the topless, painted ladies of Times Square, who pose for pictures with sweaty adolescents and then shake them down for tips. It began with an editorial in The Daily News admonishing Bill DeBlasio to put a stop to the topless panhandlers... not surprising coming from The Daily News. But then the Mayor responded saying that the women were "Wrong, it's just wrong." and vowed to get them out of Times Square. This seems like a good time to mention that it is perfectly legal for a woman to go topless in New York City. I'm not saying that shaking down tourists for cash is an awesome thing to do, but given the wide array of characters (costumed and otherwise) doing the exact same thing in the exact same place... this smells a lot like policing the female body.
So, that's terrible.
THEN the State of New York announced a new initiative to crack down on panhandlers who hit the streets with their children in tow. Anyone who's waited for the A train at 14th street knows that this targets a disproportionately female population. The task force claims that these women are not homeless and are using their kids to scam pedestrians. Again, I am not saying that sponging for change with your child is a great way to make a buck, but if there is no signs of abuse or neglect, and no laws are being violated, I don't see why this necessitates a task force. I would argue that this unfairly targets low-income women who do not have access to affordable childcare, in a country where mothers are arrested for leaving their children unattended while they go to work.
In response to this bullshit, I would like to suggest a few alternative "scammers" for the City and State to consider cracking down on instead:
- Buskers who only sing the first verse of "Imagine" over and over again.
- Fake Monks in Nikes who try to sell you bracelets for their "temples"
- The "Are you Catholic?" people that come out around Lent.
- All clipboard people.
- Men who ask for "hugs and smiles" in addition to money
- The Dooms Day people who have lined the Times Square subway station with posters about how YOU personally are going to hell.
- Aggressive 2-drink-minimum comedy club promoters
- Subway Preachers
- Brokers who charge you $3000 to send 2 emails and open a door.
- Showtime kids who are not actually impressive (the impressive ones can stay)
- "Do you like hip hop?" guys
- Anyone who brings an amplifier onto a train
- People who play games on their phones with the sound on
- Donald Trump
Just to name a few.
OH HEY OLD FRIENDS!
MadddGrrrl's been missing in action for far too long. I'm sorry. A combination of life, work, getting-better-at-drawing, and Netflix has kept me away from updating the blog. But look at this pretty new website!
I've also done some soul searching about what MG is all about. I'm sitting on some beautiful words and art from a broad range of contributors that is just waiting to be released in a MG02. I did a deep dive into the world of Vagliantes and came up with some new friends and a more legible style in Issue 02: Crotch Shot! (now with 90% less typos and 100% more crotch!) And I realized that I'm never going to be a person who can update a blog all the time.
BUT DON'T WORRY. MG isn't going anywhere, in fact, it's coming to a mail box near you! I've set up a nifty little shop where you can pick up all of our printed concerns. They're really cheap and you'll get something in the mail that is fun and pink and not a bill! Check it out!
MADDDGRRRL 02 will be released this fall, like, October-ish. We are still accepting contributions through September 1st. If you think you'd like to contribute email firstname.lastname@example.org, let's chat! It will be worth the wait!
THAT'S IT FOR NOW! Thanks for sticking with me!
My former roommate dropped by for a long overdue girl’s chat. She looked the same, but she had something new. She was wearing a hajib. She was always Muslim, even when she lived with me, but her hair had run free then. In living to the Koran’s edicts more stringently she explained that her hair was only to be seen by other women and her husband.
I was intrigued. With all this dating we do, premarital sex, however frowned upon it might be by bible thumpers, is pretty common place. Not only that, but we’re waiting longer and longer to get married. For those of us who want to get married what could our future husbands do that hasn’t already been done by a man who was once in his shoes? We have sex, cook, go to the movies, go on vacations together, and meet the parents of our significant others but we don’t have a ring on it.
Days later I got new glasses that finally had some style to them. Feeling myself I wore a favorite camisole from H&M past. Too fancy to wear for everyday occasions I can count the number of times I’ve worn it on my fingers despite having owned it for five plus years. But this was a special day, one where I wanted to look extra cute.
As I left my apartment I felt fine, but as I got further to my destination a peculiar feeling crept up on me- I felt naked. The camisole had spaghetti straps, my semi short skirt, between my knees and thighs was not making things better. It was probably because my tattoo was exposed for the first time in a long time.
Somehow over the years I developed an affinity to covering it up. I revel in my standard book nerd appearance. The tattoo, of Egyptian imagery, makes me feel not so standard like there’s more to my bookish look than meets the eye. The beauty of it is that few people see it.
Keeping my tattoo hidden for the most part is a way of keeping a part of myself from others.
These are the days of overexposure, any celebrity with nude pics or a sex tape or embarrassed YouTube sensation can tell you that. So now more than ever I understand where my former roommate, now one of my best friends can wear the hajib and not feel trapped as many a modern women in her daisy dukes come back to life and chiffon shirt over a bra might think.
It’s a way of keeping something sacred in an overexposed world
“You’re a fucking cunt.” “No one wants you. Too ugly.” “You’re a cumbucket.”
You said, “stop reading Virginia Woolf- it’s sad.” I thought, “you’re the worst.”
Why didn’t your mom teach you to soap your bottom It smelled so so bad
You were my soulmate For that night I could ignore Your awful tattoos.
I’m moving away He likes Patagonia You can’t afford it
Left at the altar No wait, a falafel joint Still love falafel
You hurt me real bad But not nearly as bad as I hurt your best friend
You do not like cats We were never meant to be At least there’s Star Trek
When finally I Thought the texts had stopped, you sent A death threat tweet. Damn.
Finally came back, afraid, to see a doctor. You won’t come with me.
Amputated love Go now please dissolve from me Better luck next time
We played hide and seek At the bar all summer long Why didn’t you call?
I said, “he’s a creep.” “Woody Allen is perfect.” “This isn’t working.”
Valentines Day soon Remember heart shaped pizza? Think it still tastes good?
Add your haiku in the comments!
Each time my grandmother bore at home her 13 children, her legs spread wide, bruised and bloodied in the narrow bed, her back burning with labor for twenty-two years, my tiny Welsh grandfather played his fiddle as a birth announcement in the cool dark of the family parlor, behind crisp lace curtains hiding their gray mill town.
Charlotte, our Aunt Dot, told us that tale, their oldest girl, whose stories marred the arc of sweet Smith myths formed for family consumption, tales to delight along side my father’s five year sucking at Nannie’s mustard nipple, as she rocked and swayed him to “The Highwayman,” riding that ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor. Or how five Smith boys, a team, shot baskets in the kitchen, until Nannie, tired of weaving among them to punch down her dough, would swat them all and send them away with a “piece,” a hunk of bread slathered with jam.
“Sister Janet died of leukemia or pneumonia or we don’t know what at age 21,” the old version goes. Like Nannie’s other still births , Janet refused to live, to join the loving stories, the family verse.
Dot, in her thin house dress and soiled scuffs, her sofa littered with old candy wrappers, her kitchen sink amok, a woman of the 50’s working both “inside and outside the home” at the drugstore to make Christmas for her twins, sixty years later retold Janet’s ending.
Janet the fianceed beauty, the family’s pride, died with her legs spread and bloodied, the fetus hacked from her womb, like a pink, new bud from the family tree. Not a Smith at all, perhaps, but Rhiannon, the Welsh queen, mother of Pryderi, stolen at birth, whose name means simply “loss.”
Pubes are a touchy subject. Mostly because they’ve developed this stigma where no one seems to want to touch them. Not since e.e. cummings’ “shocking fuzz of your electric fur” reference in “i like my body” can I recall a publicly embraced glorification of female pubic hair (but please correct me if I’m wrong). Sure, Vogue loves a thick eyebrow for the androgynous edge it lends. Let your leg hair linger all winter long? You go, girl, chant all the women in the locker room. Yet stepping onto the beach with even a smattering of bikini line stubble is still unacceptable.
The othering of the hairy groin has gone so far that pubic hair has its own category on most porn sites. It’s a “fetish,” grouped with golden showers and sex in Smurf costumes. With this association comes the perception that au naturale ladies are unclean, perverse, and masculine without the cache. You guys, think about this. We (the universal “we,” not just men or women) are championing the notion that by shaving, plucking, or ripping the hair off of the most sensitive part of the body, a woman is revealing her sex appeal, or at the very least, she’s doing what’s necessary to make her body presentable in public.
I’d like to take a moment here to write a quick note on health risks. We all know and ignore the prospect of ingrown hairs and permanent scarring that come with any hair removal technique. Whatever. But according to a March 2013 article in The Huffington Post, doctors blame the standard bikini wax for increased risk of skin infections and STIs, including HPV and HIV. Hiding under that baby smooth surface are microscopic torn follicle roots that allow infection to spread more easily during contact. I’m not trying to be alarmist here, I just want to keep my girls informed.
Isn’t feminism about freedom of choice? We’ve made so many strides in taking back what’s ours. We’re committed to controlling our own bank accounts, wombs, career paths, orgasms. Female pubic hair is not inherently gross, but we’ve let culture determine that’s there’s something lurking in those wiry little wisps that makes girls a little less girlish.
Post-shave, I don’t feel more attractive. I don’t feel more prepared to face the day, the boy, the pool, or the booty shorts. I feel itchy. We in Western society have the power to reverse this widespread and fairly recent disapproval of the full bush. Fifteenth century British custom including wearing pubic hair wigs to seduce suitors. Nineteenth century Victorian society saw a fad in which men would wear a lock of their lover’s hair in their hats as a token of affection.
It will not disrupt your cunnilingus and it won’t devalue your Agent Provocateur G-string.
I’m not sure that this is a rant. This is more of plea. Please, men and women and everyone in between, stop the war on the hair down there. It’s time to just not give a shit.
We are MAD. Really fucking mad.
Its 2014 and the cops are still telling us how to dress when we walk the streets of our own neighborhoods. Politicians are doing everything they can to take away the rights that our foremothers fought so hard for. Shit bags on the news are quick to remind us that we are just “stupid sluts” anytime we dare to express our opinion. On top of all this, prominent women are publicly declaring that they don’t identify as feminists, and the ones that do are told that they are not the “right kind” of feminist.
Behind nearly every movie, every TV show, every newspaper column, every fucking Presidential address there is a man’s voice telling us what to do, how to act, where to go and where not to. But mostly they are telling us to just shut the fuck UP.
WE SAY NO. IT’S TIME TO SCREAM.
Our anger is VALID. Our anger is JUSTIFIED. Our anger is NECESSARY. No one is going to invite us to the conversation, so we are forcing our way in. She who yells the loudest wins the war, so we are going to grab the fucking microphone and scream until we are HEARD.
MADDD GRRRL is here to be your megaphone. We rally around the “angry feminist” trope because sometimes that’s the only kind of feminist we can be. We are fighting against the dominant voice of the patriarchy. We’re spamming their newsfeed. We’re throwing elbows. We are taking over their board rooms, and we’re taping over their sexist advertisements. We are taking the torch from the suffragettes, the freedom fighters, the speakers, the writers and the riot grrrls who came before us, and we are going to finish the job.
These "pages" hold the passion, talent, and rage of women (and, ok, some boys) who have something to say and deserve to be heard. Read it, enjoy it, share it, and join us.
XO MADDD GRRRL
By Kate Mooney
Karen is the quintessential pissed off mob wife, with a nails-on-the-chalkboard screech that’s nearly laughable in its melodrama, if she didn’t so desperately mean it. Her rage gets her nowhere, inextricably bound up in her lust for Henry and the thrills of the lifestyle. Her anger is a cry for love that, falling short, settles for submission.
Initially, her rage is the catalyst for their passion. Their sparks first ignite when she's yelling at him on the street after he doesn't show for their second date: "You’ve got some nerve standing me up. Nobody does that to me, who do you think you are, Frankie Valli or some kinda big shot?" Henry doesn’t hear a word she says, but her firey spirit draws him in: "I remember, she's screaming on the street, and I mean loud, but she looked good. She had these great eyes, just like Liz Taylor's."
She, in turn, is attracted to his violence: “I know there are women, like my best friends, who would have gotten out of there the minute their boyfriend handed them a gun to hide. But I didn’t. I gotta admit the truth—it turned me on,” she says. This is the woman who asks her husband, "I wanted to go shopping, can I get some money?" And when he asks how much, she air-measures a wad of bills between thumb and forefinger. After he hands her the stack, she begins unbuckling his pants.
Of course, in time, the hot and heavy turns dark and damaged. Karen’s anger devolves into madness. She’s pressing all the buzzers on Henry’s girlfriend’s building, screaming, “He’s my husband! Get your own goddamn man!” in front of her two little girls, nonetheless. She’s dangling the bag of drugs she snuck in during jail visiting hours, screeching, “Let her sneak this shit in for you. Let her do it!” And finally, she’s holding a gun to his head, seething and shaking as she demands, "Do you love her?” all the while straddling him. A little cooing and low talking, he calms her down in no time, knocking the gun out of her hands and pulling it on her.
Karen chooses to suffer as Henry’s disenfranchised wife rather than regain self-respect by leaving him, because, “Why should she (the other woman) win?” Her fury, though ineffectual, is all she has to hold on to. DeNiro's Jimmy Conway says it best, "She'll never divorce him. She'll kill him, but she won't divorce him."
The Brooklyn Academy of Music is home to some really great programming, like this past winter's "Vengence is Hers" which featured tales of badass heroines seeking revenge. This month there is a new line up of films: Punk Rock Girls. Outspoken women with insanely awesome haircuts scream singing over crunchy guitars about sticking it to the man? Be still my heart, this series was made for Maddd Grrrls!
A few of us went last night to the opening screening of Breaking Glass, a high-impact, low-budget British "rock opera" from 1980 that depicts London's post-punk scene. The heroine, played by the intense, ever-vivid Hazel O'Connor, garners attention for her progressive political lyrics, and has to fight the man (in the form of managers, police, agents, and mansplainey bassists) to retain control over her work. O'Connor wrote and performed the entire soundtrack, which sounds kind of like a demented version of early Blondie... and its catchy as hell.
There's plenty of awesome movies playing at BAM through June 1st. I propose a meet up for the screening of Times Square, next Wednesday.
----------- BAM Rose Cinemas 30 Lafayette Ave. Brooklyn, NY www.bam.org
Playlist by Ilana Kaplan When it comes to music, I'm all over the map. However, 2014 seems to be the re-launch of the girl-power movement. I'm all about this comeback — though it never should have dissipated in the first place.
This playlist is a culmination of lady musicians who kick ass by making tunes you can get angry with, cry to, or feel empowered by whenever you need a mood boost. If you want to say "fuck the world" while kicking and screaming, Meg Myers or Fiona Apple will do the trick. If you're feeling like you need a good cry, Lykke Li and Cat Power are where the tears will stream. If you're looking to feel like the confident YOU that you know you are, there's nothing like some Garbage or Robyn to make you feel like you own the world.
So, whether you're in the mood to throw things or get your girl-power on, this playlist will make sure your needs are met in all areas.
[spotify id="spotify:user:125148036:playlist:714RjYfnq3BMkRYmYSqlyk" width="795" height="875" /]
-------------------- What gets your fists pumping and your booty shaking? Share a playlist with Maddd Grrrl, email email@example.com
Words + Image by Zoraida Palencia