Posts Written by Sam

citizen

Feministing Reads: Claudia Rankine’s Citizen

On the night of the grand jury’s failure to indict Darren Wilson for the murder of Michael Brown and again the night after, marching the length of Manhattan with a few thousand others, trying and failing to find some place sufficient to accommodate our anger or our grief, our newly or long-broken hearts, our need to feel responsive or responded to, a line from Claudia Rankine’s Citizen floated on the surface of my full skull: “To your mind, feelings are what create a person, something unwilling, something wild vandalizing whatever the skull holds. Those sensations form a someone.”

Feministing Readz: Land of Love and Drowning

If I were to derive a formula for character development from Land of Love and Drowning, I’d return to watch Eeona rework a central myth in sleep: “She dreamed about a school of women walking out of the ocean. Then she dreamed it again. And again. Until in the dream she was finally one of the women.” Decide what your freest self looks like; conjure it into being; inhabit it as long as it holds. The next morning she wakes, makes her way to sea, and nearly drowns. Abandon and repeat as needed.

The adjectives so far affixed by reviewers to Tiphanie Yanique’s debut novel hold, and bear repeating: “epic,” “ambitious,” and “lush” all recur deservedly. Land follows ...

If I were to derive a formula for character development from Land of Love and Drowning, I’d return to watch Eeona rework a central myth in sleep: “She dreamed about a school of women ...

Not Oprah’s Book Club: The Essential Ellen Willis

I owe so much, as a writer and feminist, to Ellen Willis. And given how much of her work has remained uncollected or gone out of print, I suspect that we collectively owe her much more than has yet been accounted for. This month’s publication of The Essential Ellen Willis will, I hope, urge the accounting. Edited by her daughter, journalist Nona Willis Aronowitz, this sprawling book surveys four decades of the cultural critic’s writing, beginning with the emergence of radical feminism in the late 1960s and continuing to the near present. (Willis died in 2006.)  [Ed note: this was at a time when "radical feminism" was more broadly defined and did not mean anti-sex worker and ...

I owe so much, as a writer and feminist, to Ellen Willis. And given how much of her work has remained uncollected or gone out of print, I suspect that we collectively owe her much more ...

Not Oprah’s Book Club: October

An exemplary homecoming: Mercia and her partner Craig venture to a river to watch salmon fight their way upstream after a summer at sea. The regularity of this cycle—birth, exile, return, year after year, generation after generation—does not diminish its drama. The scale of the salmon’s struggle impresses itself upon Mercia. “Clever, yes, but how repellent, Mercia thought, the endless repetition, not only the biological imperative to reproduce, but the need to return to origins…. Did they remember the reverse journey, the carefree, dizzying tumble downstream through the rapids?”

This is no casual question for Mercia, given her own ambivalent engagement in the hard work of remembering. Though born and raised in rural South Africa under apartheid, she has lived ...

An exemplary homecoming: Mercia and her partner Craig venture to a river to watch salmon fight their way upstream after a summer at sea. The regularity of this cycle—birth, exile, return, year after year, generation after ...

Not Oprah’s Book Club: Sex Workers Unite: A History of the Movement from Stonewall to SlutWalk

We have told the story of the last half-century so many ways, and we are not done telling it. Much feminist work has been devoted to decentering dominant histories in order to cultivate what Adrienne Rich called “the precious resource of knowing where we come from: the valor and the waverings, the visions and defeats of those who went before us.” Given the direct and enabling role that Official History plays in today’s many scenes of violence—for example, the starring role of the History in Which Obama Ended Racism in the ongoing drama of the prison industrial complex—retelling a familiar story from a previously silenced perspective can itself be a vital form of activism.

The imperative, as the ...

We have told the story of the last half-century so many ways, and we are not done telling it. Much feminist work has been devoted to decentering dominant histories in order to cultivate what Adrienne Rich ...

Not Oprah’s Book Club: Out of Time: The Pleasures and the Perils of Ageing

At conferences, colloquia, open meetings, we’ve seen them: older, intent, perhaps a bit disappointed, perhaps exhausted from years of movement work of which we are not aware because we do not ask, but often eager, often a bit giddy, it seems, to be there, as if granted unexpected permission.  These, our feminist forebears, perhaps even expressing their gratitude for the intergenerational dialog that’s happened this evening—hear the implied finally. Or maybe they have been our teachers, our editors, or even (lucky us) our employers; too rarely are they our peers, our collaborators, our friends.

Wherever we meet them, as young feminists we don’t often do a good enough job of thanking them, of appreciating their work openly and earnestly without ...

At conferences, colloquia, open meetings, we’ve seen them: older, intent, perhaps a bit disappointed, perhaps exhausted from years of movement work of which we are not aware because we do not ask, but often eager, often ...