Keeping Something Beneath the Surface

Words by Fikriyyah George Photos by Jillian Haney

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

Haikus for an Ex

By Anonymous Commentors on + facebook MG01_009

“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!

Welsh Mythology

By Virginia Smith MG01_005

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.”


500 Words on Pubic Hair

Words by Kelly MurphyImage by Zoraida Palencia


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.

That’s crazy.

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.


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.


Mad Women 01: The Original Mobwife

By Kate Mooney

Who's Mad?  Karen from Goodfellas, 1990. bigshot

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."

-------------- Kate examines what "mad women" have meant throughout history and media. She also writes funny things for The Hairpin, The New York Observer, and others, check her out: @yatinbrooklyn


By MadelynBreaking Glass (Brian Gibson, 1980)

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


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


Words + Image by Zoraida Palencia Z_03_72dpi

I never worried about my body as a kid. It was just a body that let me jump puddles, conquer imaginary monsters and run as fast as I could into my adventures. Now as an adult, I worry about this body. Everyone can see it, in all its curvaceous soft glory! Am I suppose to be thin to be happy?  Or thin to attract all the suitors of the world? I'm tired of worrying about it so much.
My body isn't so hideous. I don't want to hide it. However, I feel like this and I fight it everyday. So, I draw these figures to show myself that all bodies are attractive. In it's current form, I can still jump, conquer and run. I'm a maddd grrrl because I'm tired of body shame.
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