Feministing Reads: What We (Re)Read During Tough Times

It’s been a tough ten days, tougher for some than for others.

I’ve swung from crying to numbness, from anger that feels helpful and focused and productive to frozenness, and back all over again. I’ve snapped at humans I love, and have wanted nothing more than to retreat into their arms, or to take them into mine. And I’ve felt frustrated with folks who feel the need to remind us incessantly that perhaps it won’t be that bad. I get the desire to avoid panic and to feel like all’s not lost, but compulsory optimism right now feels fantastical, irresponsible, and, frankly, unethical. We can resist hopelessness and stagnation without giving up grief, despair, and an aim to mobilize around the fact that this is, and is going to be, Really Bad.

Every month the Feministing team talks about the new stuff we’re reading. This month, we’re sharing instead the poems, essays, and other texts that we turn to to help us bear on. Please consider sharing yours in the comments.

Barbara: I have started every day since the day after the election by reading Audre Lorde’s “A Litany for Survival.” In times like these, when the fear is overwhelming and the violence is debilitating, I have to remind myself, “It is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive.”

Sam: I’m so grateful right now (and always) for Jamaica Kincaid’s At the Bottom of the River – the stories are odd, impressionistic, stunning beyond what most prose even dares aspire to, and short enough to dip back into when nothing else feels possible. They have no direct bearing on the challenges of this moment, besides the basic struggle to stay present with oneself and one’s world: “I entered a room, I felt my skin shiver, then dissolve, I lighted a candle, I saw something move, I recognized the shadow to be my own hand, I felt myself to be one thing…”

Ava: In need of historical memory and a plan for action, I am reading The Origins of Totalitarianism and Are Prisons Obsolete?

Mahroh: Honestly, there’s nothing I’ve been turning to right now.

Dana: In this moment, reading feels simultaneously like such excess and luxury and also like the only thing that can possibly keep me steady, grounded. I’ve been revisiting Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and Muñoz’s Cruising Utopia.

Senti: Audre Lorde’s “A Woman Speaks” is always a poignant reminder to me of our strength. Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarainha’s “femmes are filmstars” is a gorgeous ode to femme power and the dream of a femme future. Let it inspire you.

Header image credit: me.

New Haven, CT

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and the co-founder of Know Your IX, the national youth-led organization working to end gender violence in schools. She's testified before Congress on Title IX policy and legislative reform, and her writing has appeared in a number of outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. She's also a student at Yale Law School, and you can find her on Twitter at @danabolger.

Dana Bolger is a Senior Editor at Feministing and a student at Yale Law School.

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