10 Songs for the (Fat-Positive) Feminist Revolution

Summer’s almost here—wait, what, how is that possible??—and poet/author Anna Coumou has your feminist playlist needs covered. Here are her top 10 body-pos jams for the coming season. Or, hell, for this season too. For later or for right this very minute, whichev. 🏖️🌹🌊 🍃

(This post originally appeared on Anna’s blog on Medium.com and is posted with her permission!)

Some days, you need a soundtrack to go along with Chad’s… opinion. If today is that day, give these fresh songs a listen. You deserve to feel supported when you tell the boy to figure it out and get his intersectional shit together. You also deserve to feel supported all of the other time — whenever you need them, these jams are for you.

  1. Doja Cat — Juicy

Doja Cat is the sharp, catchy, effortlessly self-loving artist you haven’t yet heard of. This song opens with the line “I keep it juicy juicy / I eat that lunch / I keep that booty booty / I keep it plump” and delivers those good “let’s just stay whole” vibes throughout. Sing-along meets self-affirming mantra.

2. CYN — Alright

This is a gentle reminder that you have the absolute right to like, live. In this clean, boppy, soft song, CYN celebrates the victory of existing. “We didn’t crack under the pressure / we made it OK / we came here from some nowhere and we came here to play / no need to talk about it think about it / it’s all meant to be.” I wish I could quote the whole thing . This song is packed with self-affirming language so needed at those times when the hardest thing to do is to simply take up your space.

3. Lizzo — Juice

If you’re not already listening to Lizzo’s album “Cuz I Love You” on repeat, please get on with it? It is the sound of unapologetic self-lovin’ and acceptance your spring and summer — actually, your year — is thirsting for. Juice is a special treat, giving us that “No I’m not a snack at all / look, baby, I’m the whole damn meal” feeling — and everyone deserves to feel like that.

4. BANKS — Weaker Girl

BANKS’s sounds are smooth, like an understated, calm rage. Her lines are cuttingly accurate and the beat is immediately bop-worthy: “Tell ’em you were mad about the way I grew strong / I think you need a weaker girl / ’cause I’ma need a bad motherfucker like me.” So inspiring. If Weaker Girl hits the spot, you might wanna give Brain a listen, too. Instant classics like “I can see you struggling / boy, don’t hurt your brain” and “Always trying to calculate / trying to look smart but not too smart / to threaten anything they say” will be served.

5. Teamarrr — One Job

Ever feel, like, uh, a little disappointed by men? This one’s for when you’re fresh out of patience. “No, no, no bullshit, babe” is just the tip of the iceberg of truth Teamarrr tells in this story — and if you have time to watch the video, there’s a delightful moment where she actually catches a man’s tears in her teacup. I know you’ve thought about it; Teamarrr delivers.

6. Ariana Grande — MONOPOLY

By Ariana’s standards, this one kinda flew under the radar (a lowly 22M on Youtube) but the song is this magical, raw-ish, makes-you-wanna-call-your-friends-and-talk-financial-strategy jam (that’s a real feeling, right?). The lines are just hot slices of truth-telling: “I been on a roll where you been / real protective of my soul where you been.” And, more importantly: “Bad vibes get off of me / outta here with that fuckery / treat my goals like property.” I’d have a bite.

7. Maria Mena — I Always Liked That

If I say “underrated Scandinavian pop princess,” would you say, “yes, please?” Maria Mena has openly struggled with eating for most of her life, and she channels her insights around body image and positivity into some very necessary music. “And I always liked that about me / that I know what I am fighting for / and for this I’ll go to war.” She ends with “What if I’ve always been / good enough in my skin?” So glad you asked. If I Always Liked That hits the spot, also give Fragile a listen (“I’ve been walking around all day, laughing / think I’d be better off without you here”) and especially All This Time (“All this time you have had it in you / just sometimes need a push”).

8. Sigrid — Don’t Kill My Vibe

Let’s stay in Norway for one more moment and listen to this sharp, kinda-yelling-but-in-a-good-way, near-edgy song from Sigrid. “You shut me down, you like the control / you speak to me like I’m a child.” There’s an experience we’ve all had before. “Try to hold it down, I know the answer / I can shake it off and you feel threatened by me.” It’s the kind of upbeat pop that makes feeling good about yourself feel incredibly cool.

9. Daughter — No Care

“I don’t care, I don’t care anymore”. With drums. It’s a feeling.

10. Florence + The Machine — Hunger

Engage with this strong song at your own risk — Florence opens with the unmistakable: “At seventeen, I started to starve myself / I thought that love was a kind of emptiness.” But the epic, string-forward song feels like the chant of a choir of hearts on their way to healing.“Don’t let it get you down / you’re the best thing I’ve seen” and “How could anything bad ever happen to you? / you make a fool of death with your beauty / and for a moment, I forget to worry”. The truth may hurt a little here, but Florence sure makes it sound hopeful.

There’s Hope: The Collapse of the Patriarchy is coming

This quote is superimposed over the pinched face of Kavanaugh: "Right now, we are watching one white cisgender man fall apart on national television from the rage, terror, and fear he is experiencing over the loss of his entitlement, privilege, and lifetime free pass from accountability for his actions. This is a microcosm of how all the intertwined systems and people that maintain systemic misogyny and patriarchy are reacting to losing their power. We are going to win, but they are not going to let go without a fight."

The patriarchy is experiencing some necessary and overdue structural stress.

That’s what I keep telling myself right now as we stare down the inevitable Kavanaugh nomination like a nightmare version of a John Hughes movie starring fragile, angry, endangered dinosaur-men.

GIF depicts Molly Ringwald's character from 16 Candles saying "I can't believe this."

It may look as though all is lost. I get it. Another rapist is probably going to be appointed for life to one of the highest and most influential positions in our nation after displaying countless reasons why he is a terrible choice. Even aside from the allegations, his tantrums do not demonstrate the the kind of temperament one would hope to see in a supreme court justice, as Senator Hirono drew out during the hearing.

But also? I think Kavanaugh and all the other warbling, sputtering, ancient white men with their emotional disregulation and loud, partisan conspiracy-theorizing are actually heralding the death knell of the patriarchy. They showed us, didn’t they, who they really are and what they value. And none of us can unsee it. Even if they weren’t embarrassed (and they should have been), they’ve peeled off the bandage to reveal the festering ass-boil beneath.

It may take a while for the whole thing to collapse, true, but this fissure in the foundation is very visible now and it grows with every tantrum in Washington. It will hopefully send billions of little baby fissures that will take root in all the systems that support the patriarchy.  Don’t worry: The whole thing is rotten and beset. Maybe it won’t happen in my lifetime, but it’s going to happen.

These old dinosaurs are looking at their own extinction and they are terrified. Even if right now they have the power to put another rapist in the supreme court, it’s just the last rattles and chokes of a dying thing. For the rest of us, it should be exhilarating.

Dying things can be reappropriated. Dying things feed creatures. Dead trees become nurse logs. Dead things birth new ecosystems, new life. I guess the question is what we plan to grow in their place.

Dear Men: You’re Up

food man person eating

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.com

Dear men,

I came to a coffee shop today to try to get some work done but all around me are clusters of women neglecting their laptops and piles of paper, instead raging and talking about Kavanaugh’s hearing and potential nomination. The conversation is everywhere–like a cloud of angry bees.

I don’t know what’s going to happen today with the vote (though I think we all suspect), but I do know women and survivors of sexual assault need you to step up either way.

Not sure what you can do? Here are some ideas:

1. Engage with the rape apologists in your social media circles and in the circles of the women you know. Do this so we don’t have to. If you yourself are not a survivor, do not peace out or block someone because you are frustrated or upset. Right now is when you push through with unrelenting reason, stamina, and determination.

2. Don’t tag us in those conversations or DM us with your YOU’RE NOT GOING TO BELIEVE WHAT THIS RAPE APOLOGIST SAID stories. Ask if it’s OK to talk about it before you start unloading, or maybe just let us have a break. I guarantee you this is all we are talking about when you’re not around (and also sometimes when you are, if we think it’s safe) and we are exhausted and completely depleted. This is not a time to ask us to debate about our lived experiences (it never is, actually) or to stay calm in the face of rape apologists. Let us tap out. Let us block. It is time for you to the heavy lifting.

3. Say something. Check in. Even if it’s just something like “This week has been so intense. I’ve been thinking about you.” How many of you have actually done this? From where I’m sitting, it’s zero. It’s women who are (still, always, forever) doing the work (and it is work, even if it’s for our survival) of taking care of each other. Not only are we managing our own trauma, but we instinctively know to check in on each other and support others through their trauma. We have been socialized to do this. Now is the time for you to learn to make emotional support a new and consistent behavior you perform.

4. Remember that words are good and all, but they are not enough. We will always believe what you do over what you say. You might secretly think you respect and care for women but it doesn’t really matter if you don’t examine your behavior and ensure it reflects how you claim to feel. You’ve been hardwired NOT to do this, so you’re going to need to go out of your way here. And while you’re at it, ask your friends what they’re doing (not just saying) to support women this week and what their plan is after that too.

5. When you see misogyny and rape apologists, POINT AND NAME THEM. Part of the problem is how these things become normalized through silence (this is part of a process called exnomination, by the way). Kimberlé Crenshaw taught us that before we can solve a problem, we must see it and name it. We all want to see a lot more pointing and naming.

6. Rape doesn’t happen out of the blue; teach your sons–whether they are 1 or 18–about consent and bodily autonomy. See this article I wrote with tips another time a rapist got away with bullshit at the expense of a woman (of all women) and was patted on the head by an agent of the state.

7. My sons are not hormonally hardwired to rape, dominate, or choke down their emotions and neither are anyone else’s. Show other boys and men in your life what they’re worth and what they can become. Show them your vulnerability. Cry in front of them. Ask them how they’re feeling. Help them see healthy versions of masculinity.

8. Stop cutely attributing rough/aggressive behavior to sex/gender as if the aggression and emotional ham-handedness of boys and men cannot be helped. Stop having such low expectations of boys and men and of yourselves. Stop tolerating those low expectations when they are embraced by others. These are socialized behaviors that will become default programming if you don’t interrupt the process.

9. If they are old enough, talk to your sons about what is happening right now. Be clear that it’s not OK. Historicize/contextualize it for them so they know this is not the first time it’s happened and tell them why. Tell them to talk to their friends about it. Tell them IT IS NOT TRUE what all the old white republican dinosaurs are saying: that rape is not a youthful blunder that we should laugh off. Tell them it’s NOT RIGHT to appoint rapists as heads of states or to give them life appointments to the highest court in the nation.

10. Acknowledge the double standard in we saw during the hearing: That many men can enter a hearing on the national stage, become emotionally unhinged, rant about conspiracies, and evade direct lines of questioning; were a woman to do even a fraction of the same, she would be called hysterical, shrill, unfit for office. This becomes even more important when (if? maybe?) Kavanaugh is appointed anyway.

11. White men, this one goes out to you: Acknowledge race. Don’t forget that Bill Cosby isn’t the only serial rapist who should face justice. Notice and wonder why 17-year-old white boys are just immature kids while 17-year-old Black boys are seen as dangerous grown men. Talk about that with your sons, too.

12. GO TO THERAPY. Be honest about your own misogyny because it’s inside all of you. It’s not your fault you were socialized this way and no one asked you if you wanted to opt in, but it happened anyway. You can change but you have to do the work and you should be doing this for yourself and with the other men in your life. Don’t ask your wives and girlfriends and women pals to midwife you through this or make it easy for you. Look at yourself and look at the men around you. The patriarchy has not served you; the wage bump doesn’t cancel out the damage that’s been done to you. This does not make you the victim right now or the first in line at triage care (same with Kavanaugh); it just means the damage done to you will continue to damage you and others if you do not address it–yes, even if you love women and have good intentions. Deal with your feelings. Learn to experience and name a broad spectrum of emotions (especially the “soft” ones) and for the love of Todd, monitor your anger.

Please do these things right now. Know that this week the women in your life are working really hard. On top of the safety work we are always doing because it is necessary to survive rape culture, we are also holding each other up. We are tapped.

Look, if nothing else and you live with a woman, text her right now to tell her you’re making/buying dinner tonight. Then do the dishes, take out the trash, and offer to put the kids to bed.

It’s the least you can do.


A Hellish Rebuke of the “Entrenched Self-Delusion” of Whiteness in the Wake of Charleena Lyles’ Murder


Image depicts a woman with fair skin and blonde hair looking indignant. There is steam coming out of her ears.

Less than a week ago, Seattle police shot and killed pregnant, 30-year-old Charleena Lyles in front of three of her children.

Making matters worse, the Seattle Times published heinous headlines describing Lyles simply as a “knife-wielding woman” (they later apologized), and SPD referred to Lyles in a Tweet as a “suspect” (she called them for help). SPD also later posted a video of Sergeant Sean Whitcomb playing a first-person-shooter (!!) video game called Destiny while he casually answered questions about the shooting. (Update: SPD decided to end the livestream following public reactions.)

Image depicts a Tweet made by the Seattle PD that shows an image of Sergeant Sean Whitcomb playing a first-person shooter video game. Above the image reads: "#FUZZFEED206: What we know so far about the ongoing investigation into Sunday's officer involved shooting." Below the image reads: "FUZZFEED #24 Charleena Lyles. Sergeant Sean Whitcomb, AKA VesperBat, provides a summary of the ongoing Seattle Police investigation into the June 18th officer involved shooting incident w..."

Image depicts a Tweet made by the Seattle PD that shows an image of Sergeant Sean Whitcomb playing a first-person shooter video game. Above the image reads: “#FUZZFEED206: What we know so far about the ongoing investigation into Sunday’s officer involved shooting.” Below the image reads: “FUZZFEED #24 Charleena Lyles. Sergeant Sean Whitcomb, AKA VesperBat, provides a summary of the ongoing Seattle Police investigation into the June 18th officer involved shooting incident w…”

The crude, tone-deaf mishandling of the events that unfolded in the aftermath of Lyles’ completely avoidable murder has been a continuation of the initial act of violence, especially for those in the immediate community. Unfortunately, institutions like SPD and the Times aren’t the only ones jockeying for control of the master narrative; white folks everywhere–even and especially “good, liberal” ones here in Seattle–have contributed by chiming in on social media conversations to insist that this shooting (and the countless others leading up to now) wasn’t about race.

Why do we feel so compelled to do this? What is at stake in making sure the official story of Lyles’ murder is about the knife or her mental health profile or whatever other red herring–anything but race?

Let’s start with some background. We know that police have proven themselves quite capable of disarming weapon-wielding white folks. In fact, SPD disarmed a man brandishing knives downtown as recently as March of this year–just three months before Lyles’ death. Last month in Portland, a man waving bloody knives while yelling racist slurs after having stabbed several people on a train was taken alive by police. Meanwhile, last week SPD shot and killed Tommy Le, who was wielding (wait for it) a pen

Nikkita Oliver, a local organizer and mayoral candidate, asks:

“Why is it white people struggling with mental health leave police encounters alive with assistance but black and brown peoples struggling with mental health are routinely executed? Why is it that white ‘suspects’ who have committed acts of violence are routinely apprehended alive but so many unarmed black and brown peoples have been killed?”

Tests like Harvard’s Implicit Assessment Tests (take this now and often if you haven’t already!) show us that implicit bias is alive and well and probably plays a pretty big role in the discrepancy Oliver describes. The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reports:

“[A]bout 70 percent of those who took a version of the test that measures racial attitudes have an unconscious, or implicit, preference for white people compared to blacks. This contrasts with figures generally under 20 percent for self report, or survey, measures of race bias.”

Very simply, how racist we think we are is not the same thing as how racist we actually are. In the words of Anthony Greenwald, one of the test’s creators, “[w]hen you are unaware of attitudes or stereotypes, they can unintentionally affect your behavior.” Every single white person in this country has been soaking in cultural programming that conditions us and primes us to have these biases. 

Here’s the deal: If we aren’t aware of our biases, if we aren’t deliberately working to deprogram ourselves, we walk around in the world doing unintentional and very real harm. Heck, we do harm even when we are working actively on deprogramming. The problem is, this harm is amplified when we bring our unexamined implicit bias with us into places like classrooms, courtrooms, and police forces. (Let Jerry Kang tell you all about it in this video.) The good news is we can at least reduce the harm we do by being more self-critical and self-aware.

The bad news is that it’s pretty uncomfortable (spoiler: we’ll survive). Most people–especially those of us with privilege–are made pretty uneasy by the idea that we don’t really know ourselves, which is why many of us work so hard to avoid self-knowledge. It turns out ignorance is at the heart of privilege, and it’s an awfully cruel luxury. The survival of people of color often depends on how well they know white folks and meanwhile we think our survival depends on avoiding discomfort.

Ijeoma Oluo gives the idea of survival and self-knowledge a searing, nuanced treatment in her February 2017 article, “White People: I Don’t Want You to Understand Me Better, I Want You to Understand Yourselves:”

“Your survival has never depended on your knowledge of white culture. In fact, it’s required your ignorance. The dominant culture does not have to see itself to survive because culture will shift to fit its needs. This shift is cheaper and easier when you don’t look too closely at how it’s being accomplished — if you never ask who is picking up the check. And no, you hardly see us at all — even if you love us. You can’t; we don’t exist as whole people in most of the places that you have been getting your information from.

“And as much as I’d like you to see me — as much as I’d like systemic racism to simply be a problem of different groups not seeing each other — I need you to see yourself, really see yourself, first. This is the top priority.”

So in our ignorance, we white people basically walk around releasing a constant stream of toxins at people of color, and most of us don’t even realize it.

That’s partially because we know we aren’t supposed to be racists: We know racists are bad people; we know we are not bad people, so we know we cannot possibly be racist. (See John Metta’s “I, Racist” for further unpacking of this idea.) If someone asked us to self-report if we were racist, most of us would respond with an emphatic no. This is what Oluo calls “entrenched self-delusion.”

Except we white people can’t just decide our way out of participating in and holding up white supremacy. Social conditioning and implicit bias prevent that; this is what some folks mean when they say that all white people are racist (we are). Regardless of our own self-image as non-racist people, we can and do still commit racist acts. Like, a lot.

And so here we are: Confronting the inherent racism in Charleena Lyles’ murder at the hands of police opens the door to the possibility that the rest of us probably hold similar biases. Charleena Lyles’ murder is what happens when you take centuries of implicit bias created by white supremacist conditioning and put it in body armor and give it weapons, impunity (Washington State has the most dangerous and regressive use-of-force laws in the country), and the option to choose not to carry non-lethal tools like tasers.

I’m not telling you anything new. As Oluo observes:

“People of color have been begging you to see what you are doing and why. We’ve been begging you to see what you came from and the true legacy you have inherited. We’ve begged you to see your boot on our necks as long as it’s been there.”

If we want real, lasting change, we must start by listening to people of color and believing them when they tell us what they’ve been acutely aware of all along: Yes, it’s about race. Yes, our programming kills them. Yes, our programming props up oppressive systems. Systems, after all, are designed by and made up of people with biases. Our systems kill.

It’s up to us to raze those systems to the ground.

There are a lot of ways to go about that, but one way is to begin by setting fire to our own conditioning. I hate to break it to you, but it’s going to be a slow burn and it needs to be a fire that never goes out. We will never be able to put down our torches and feel satisfied that the whole house has been burnt to ash because new rooms will always appear as the house continuously tries to rebuild itself.

We must look inward. Be vigilant. Believe Black women and femmes when they tell us that Charleena Lyles’ murder was about anti-blackness and the militarization/institutionalization of our shared implicit bias/cultural programming. When we argue, we do more harm. When we resist and deny and insist, we perpetuate the structural violence of racism.

We “good,” progressive, leftist white people in Seattle probably have more invested in the idea that we are not racist than the average US American, and that makes us and our “entrenched self-delusion” more dangerous than we could ever know. 


Image is a screenshot of a tweet from Ashley Black (@ashleyn1cole) and reads, "Casual racists become the juries that set murdering racists free. Don't abide casual racists. Challenge them. Ruin THanksgiving. Do something."

Image is a screenshot of a tweet from Ashley Black (@ashleyn1cole) and reads, “Casual racists become the juries that set murdering racists free. Don’t abide casual racists. Challenge them. Ruin Thanksgiving. Do something.”


[Please donate to Charleena Lyles’ Family’s Gofundme and respect the wishes of the family and Sand Point residents.]





A Brief History of Argentine “Death Flights,” Their Renewed Glorification on College Campuses, and the Urgent Need for Historical Literacy

Between 1974 and 1983, Argentina’s military Junta took over the government for an extended period of state terrorism. During that time, there were death squads assembled and dispatched by the right-wing Junta; these death squads–also known as the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance (Triple A, but not the kind most US Americans are used to calling for a roadside assist) hunted, disappeared, tortured, stole babies from, and experimented on those believed to be leftist dissidents: students, teachers, journalists, trade unionists, writers, artists, actors, and political organizers.

Of course, anyone could turn in their neighbor and sometimes they disappeared people (look at what happened to language–did you know a person could be disappeared?) who had nothing to do with anything, just to maintain their fear-based control.

This period of time was called La Guerra Sucia–the Dirty War. Estimates vary wildly in terms of how many people were ultimately disappeared during those years, but scholars think the range is somewhere between 13,000 and 30,000.  It is almost impossible to quantify, since so many people were simply never seen again and official channels deliberately obfuscated and destroyed any paper trail. They were, as they say, “extrajudicial” killings.

It was no use, either, trying to find loved ones’ bodies: sometimes their charred remains were poured into the pavement of busy city sidewalks, and sometimes their bodies–still very much alive at the time–were dumped into the sea on what the Junta would call vuelos de la muerte, or “death flights.” From Wikipedia:

Victims were sometimes made to dance for joy in celebration of the freedom that they were told awaited them. In an earlier interview, in 1996, Scilingo said, “They were played lively music and made to dance for joy, because they were going to be transferred to the south. […] After that, they were told they had to be vaccinated due to the transfer, and they were injected with Pentothal. And shortly after, they became really drowsy, and from there we loaded them onto trucks and headed off for the airfield.”[3] Scilingo said that the Argentine Navy was “still hiding what happened during the dirty war”.[4]

I am telling you this because yesterday a colleague posted this image to his Facebook page. He saw it on the University of Washington’s campus and knew at once that it was a reference to Argentine death flights.


Image header reads “ANTI-COMMUNIST ACTION JOIN THE FIGHT!” and shows a black ring festooned with the words “ANTI-COMMUNIST ACTION” surrounding an image of a helicopter throwing a person into the sky, on top of a waving flag. Below, the text reads: “We are a group of dedicated freedom fighters united against the growing threat from communists [sic] agitators and other violent left wing radicals on college campuses. We will [be silent?] no longer. Now the right fights back! Follow us on Twitter: @UW_AntiCo. Or email us at: [ripped paper].”

It would have been easy to miss, had my colleague not pointed it out, and had I not spent years in graduate school studying authoritarian regimes in Latin America’s Southern Cone.  The refrain that echoed from those days across Latin America was nunca más, never again. And yet, here we are, looking at a right-wing flier depicting the glorification of death flights, death squads, and right-wing terrorism.

You might have missed it if you never studied a certain branch of Latin American history, so here’s what you need to know:

Adolfo Scilingo, a former Navy officer responsible for the deaths of at least 30 desaparecidos during death flights, said he was told that the flights were considered “a form of communion” and “a supreme act we did for the country” (Fietlowitz 196). He said the ecclesiastic authorities “assured him that this was a Christian, basically nonviolent form of death” (to be thrown from the plane into the sea, what the clergy called “flying”) and that “if anyone had problems with this he could be assigned elsewhere” (195-6).

He added that the doctors aboard the planes would “move back to the cabin so as not to violate their Hippocratic oath” after administering the second dose of sodium pentothal. The prisoners were told they were getting “vaccinations” and were being flown to “rehabilitation camps.”

Scilingo claimed that once the prisoners were further sedated, the officers undressed them, and then two officers would drag one prisoner to the open door and “push him out into the sky.” He claims to have been haunted for the rest of his life by the sounds of the captives’ shackles and the piles of empty clothes that remained after all the “cargo” had been chucked into the sea.

After each of the flights, Scilingo claimed that he drank himself to sleep and then went to confession, where he was absolved immediately.

Marguerite Feitlowitz, author of A Lexicon of Terror, recounts Scilingo’s story, which was told for the first time on 2 March 1995 on the popular Argentine television show Hora Clave:

“It was a Christian form of death,” the priest assured [Scilingo] and, bastardizing a parable from Matthew 13:24, explained that subversives were the weeds sown by the enemy among the wheat. The tares had to be burned, so that the wheat could be gathered into the barn. “And that,” says Scilingo, “is how we were taught to save Western, Christian civilization from the Red terror” (197).

You can read all about it in this New York Times article from 1995.

My point is: We walk around nowadays in a perpetual state of scrolling-induced ephemera where we are neither here nor there, but only in some persistent present. We are no longer–if we ever were–adept at carrying history in our hearts, especially if that history belongs to a people other than our own.

“Never again” is meaningless if everything is always happening for the first time and if our historical amnesia allows right-wing, anti-communist groups to plaster our college campuses with images of “communists” being flung into the ocean, drugged on lies and Sodium Pentothol.

Three pieces of advice that I’m currently giving myself:

  • Learn the history of your people.  If you are just now waking up to the call to resist fascism, consider all the varied groups of persistent resisters that came before you. They are your people. Look at what compelled them to do what they did and how history unfolded.
  • Cast a wide net. Your people (see above) might not live where you do. Finding your people and learning their history might mean looking across an ocean or a geopolitical boundary.
  • Anti-Fa Fridays! Learn the symbols and coded language associated with Nazis and other right-wing terrorist groups; get out in your neighborhood and look for graffiti and fliers that depict them, then remove them or cover them up. You can do this alone or with friends! It’s a great community-building/neighborhood-bonding exercise. Yay, Anti-Fa Fridays! (Or, you know, whatever you want to call it… but, uh, that’s pretty catchy, right.) Carry tools in your bag if you want to do it on the fly (like this 70-year-old German woman).
  • Hold institutions accountable for hosting fliers like these.  For starters, you can email Ana Marie Cauce, UW’s current president, at pres@uw.edu.

I have to wonder how it is that UW’s administration is fine with these hateful fliers. They certainly create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, even if they accomplish it in dog-whistled images of people being flung from helicopters, which is why there is now an urgent need to be historically literate. Without that historical literacy, it is impossible to hold institutions accountable.

I share my colleague’s thoughts today as I hammer out an email to President Cauce. He shared this when he posted the image:

I wonder how our Latin American students, staff, and faculty who lived through that time feel when they see this.

I hope you wonder, too.

A Brief Memo to Other White Women on Our White Supremacist Programming


Source: Robin DiAngelo’s definition on an image by The Love Life of an Asian Guy

Dear Fellow White Women,

I want to tell you a story.

Today my friend D, a Black woman, made a Facebook post about a white woman–a total stranger–approaching her at the farmers market and hugging her without her consent. My friend couched that experience as a race-based aggression. Many other black women chimed in to say they experience the same thing on the regular.

As Maisha Johnson says, “The objectification of Black bodies has been part of US culture since slavery, and it’s still going strong as one of our everyday struggles.”

In spite of this, a white woman–let’s call her Jenny–commented at length to argue that the violation had nothing to do with race at all and she, too, had been touched without consent. This is what I told her and am sharing with D’s permission:

I think we all agree that touching other people without an invitation is a violation.

What makes it totally different here is the power differential. The consequences for a white person touching a Black person are NOT the same as a Black person touching a white person. The consequences for a Black woman doing that to a white woman could be injury or death, as D already explained. The same is not true in reverse.

It is precisely BECAUSE of white supremacy that you don’t see the issue here. You don’t see the power difference because you don’t have to. D sees it because it is the material reality of her life every day. The fish, as they say, is the last to notice the water. That’s the nature of privilege.

It is precisely because of white supremacy, too, that white women feel entitled to touch black women; this is true even if it is unconscious. We can’t look at this ahistorically, as the entire foundation of interactions between white and Black women had to do with power and ownership. That doesn’t all just fall away because it’s 2017 in the farmers market.

When we tell women of color that their experience wasn’t about race, we are at the height of our ignorance and privilege. We are showing how little we have to consider issues of power and race in our daily lives because it just doesn’t apply to us. If D says it was about race, if she says she was violated, the best and only reaction is to believe her. When we question and argue, we engage in gaslighting and that (like touching women of color without their consent) is a power play and a show of white supremacy–again, whether intentional or not.

D’s analysis of what happened is built not only on her lived experience as a Black woman but also on history. I wonder if you might get curious about your resistance to taking D’s word for what happened and trusting her analysis of it. What do you think that’s about? I’d argue that your unwillingness to believe her probably says a lot more about you and white supremacy than it says about her or the event itself.

Jenny wrote back almost immediately with a wall of text, admonishing me and D for “making everything about race,” and she said we all had a “skewed reality,” that “all that stuff is behind us.”  It was almost like hysterical jabbering, as if perhaps if she could keep talking and writing she wouldn’t have to confront or interrupt her own white supremacist programming. This, too, is an effect of programming.

Fellow white women, when lots of people make an effort to educate us? That’s a thing we should be grateful for. When we feel like resisting, we have an obligation to get curious: why are we resistant?  What feels dangerous about accepting the truths that are being offered?  What does it say about us when we can’t accept the experiences of people of color and their classification of those experiences as racial violence?  Why do we feel compelled to hang on tightly to this particular piece of our white supremacist programming? What are we afraid to lose?

I’ve been schooled and returned to my lane by women of color and white women alike and sometimes I’ve handled it less gracefully than others. I understand the desire to put our pants back on (because our white asses are hanging out for sure), but that’s not the answer.  Don’t be like Jenny, who totally deleted our entire exchange and vanished; leave the embarrassing shit out there for everyone to read. Stick around and learn something. Endure the humiliation, because it’s a tiny thing, relative to the entire U.S. history of colonialism, conquest, slavery, and violation.

Here are some protips:

  • Stop talking. When we jabber about how we, too, experience pain in response to a woman of color describing violence she has experienced, we are centering ourselves. Do not pull a “me, too!” This is white supremacist programming. Instead, ask yourself, “Why am I talking right now?” Listen, acknowledge, and learn.
  • Be grateful and endure the embarrassment. When someone reveals our white supremacist programming and it feels humiliating and we want to get defensive, hide, or lash out: don’t. We ought to be grateful to be given the chance to detect a piece of the toxicwhite supremacist programming inside ourselves when it would otherwise remain invisible to us. Collecting this data gives us the chance do less harm going forward and that is part of the work. Instead of walls of text, we can simply say, “Thank you. I hadn’t thought of it that way and I appreciate what you’re saying here. I’ll change my behavior going forward.”
  • Don’t delete that shit. When we want to delete our embarrassment, we must not. Deleting is another show of white supremacist programming–it’s power and control, based in terror and shame. We need to grit our teeth, endure, and leave it out there because: 1. Deleting the exchange robs other people of the chance to learn from our mistakes. 2. It’s a form of silencing and rhetorical violence. 3. Deleting erases the labor that people put into educating us. 4. It’s some tiresome white fragility.

See, there is a reason we ought to say white supremacy and not racism; it is a more specific and accurate description of the race-based system of power that is embedded in the history of this country. Calling it white supremacy and white supremacist programming reveals this history in an accurate and specific way. It does a better job of getting at the programming white women experience.

Still arguing with me and refusing to accept my friend D’s classification of her experience as a race-based violation, Jenny wrote, “I believe that there is a skewed sense here that unintentionally or intentionally touching someone whether black or white could get someone hurt. Those days are behind us.”

If multiple black women have told us that this is part of their lived experience and it can be traced back to the origin story of this nation, then we have an obligation to honor the gift of their sharing by listening with the grain (rather than against, always ready to deny and argue and re-classify). We ought to be grateful for any and all efforts to help us dismantle another piece of our chronic white supremacist programming.

If I found out I had a terrible tumor (let’s call it White Supremacy) growing inside me and it had been there my whole life but I never noticed because it had always just been there and a doctor asked me if I wanted to try to cut it out of me little by little for the rest of my life, I would know that it would hurt. But I would want to do it.

Don’t you?

On Not Being an Attention ATM for Men: Internet Edition


Until last night, I was Facebook friends with this guy who I’d met once at a party about a year ago. He’d been messaging me regularly for the past few weeks to tell me about the novel he’s writing and to ask for my opinion on various lexical things, because he knows I’m an editor. He had also posted some lite-mansplainey/devil’s-advocatey trash on my Facewall a couple times, and I’d responded with gently annoyed comments like “come on, man,” which once got him to delete a comment. But he still kept doing it. Almost every day.

The phenomenon certainly wasn’t new, but it was new from this guy, and I’ve been puzzled on what to do because I don’t know this cat at all and I was worried he’d hulk out on me–yanno, like aggressive people reliably do when you tell them to back off. The clues were there. Been chewing on it. And also stalling, TBH.

Last night, he Facemessaged me, wanting to know my opinion on the word cacophony. I made up a total lie about how my BOYFRIEND and I were just talking about words with the suffix -phony, which I should have known wouldn’t work and isn’t the high road anyhow. It didn’t work. He kept on talking about the word cacophony. Wrong move, self.

So, I said what I should have said first, which is “I dunno, man, I’m not your editor.” He told me he had decided to use it, and I didn’t reply, and he added that he only asks me because “you have superb taste.” Then:

Wait, that’s not true–I met him twice. Once at the party and once about a month ago, when I was waiting for a friend outside of a cafe and he Facemessaged me to ask if I was standing outside of Caffe Vita because it sure looked like me, while not telling me where HE was that he could see me from (terrifying!), and then I went into the cafe with my friend when he arrived and the guy was in there and told me about his novel. Oh. Just like on the Internet, then.

Anyway. I told this guy to fuck off and blocked him, not before he had the chance to tell me to get over myself. Then I went over to the exquisite I Will Fight This Man group on Facebook and posted the screen cap above, and everyone yelled with me and it made me feel better.


But on the real, two things got dredged up here that I think not everyone knows, so here’s a couple PSAs, on the house:

1. Unless you are super hyper best friends for life, do not send pro-level people your editing/writing questions if you don’t plan to pay them for their advice. Aforementioned, this is what I do for a living. It happens that my day was a 13-car pile-up of unpaid labor for job headhunters who probably won’t even make me an offer for my trouble because they’ve got me competing against 38 other people, and I’m already resentful about that. But even if it weren’t, I still don’t wanna spend my free time volunteering on someone’s project, especially if I don’t even really know him. Actually, don’t do this in general if you’re not strictly BFFs with someone–don’t do it to lawyers, don’t do it construction workers. Knock that shit off. Okay, cool.

b. There is a burden that I and other women, I am sure, carry inre. Internet dudes who we don’t know very well who message us all damn day that is REALLY FRUSTRATING and also A FUCKING TRICK, and I never speak up about it to them because of exactly this reason. God, It’s such a complete rip-off trick. Because these guys may not say anything officially untoward to you, but you can smell the intention on them, via the weird flowery compliments and TMI-about-their-lives bits and mostly just the constant contact. As my smart friend Genevieve Jenner said, “It’s that thing where you see them test you with a comment… they are trying to see how much they can get away with. And if you don’t say anything or you change the subject, they will either keep pressing or play it off as a joke.”

And that’s how you know your only option is to tell them straight-up to stop, because they’re not interested in taking hints. And THAT’s how you know you’re gonna get called a bitch who’s full of herself by this kind of dude. (Or I guess you can stop replying and then get called a bitch that way.) It’s 100% no different from skeezers who harass ladies on the street.

So here’s where I’m at: I don’t really want to be friends with any straight single men anymore, regardless of what their intentions are. I can’t even tell; the only safe thing is to assume that all single dudes just want to foist their expectations for attention and validation on you, and then not listen and call you names when you don’t wanna give it, because IT ALWAYS HAPPENS. Like, at this point, I don’t care if their intentions are chaste. I don’t want the problem of trying to figure that out, because it’s not my job to fucking pay attention to some rando, and I don’t want him to pay attention to me. I did not enter into this contract, where he can purchase my attention with his. It’s exhausting and magnificently rude.

Like I said, I’m writing about it here because I think lots of folks genuinely do not know this shit. E.g., I absolutely believe that the dude from my anecdote has no idea why I’m mad and just wrote me off as a conceited ho without batting a lash, then told himself that he did nothing wrong. It’s the “sorry I bothered you with my friendship” defense, and it’s lame as fuck. Sara Benincasa wrote an essay titled How to Treat a Lady on the Internet that touches on this as well, wherein she talks about maybe not bombarding women whose work/brains/style you enjoy with 18 fuckloads of online attention. Even if you’re honestly just a fan and aren’t trying to get some ass out of them.

Because guys, it’s okay to be a fan. It’s good to like things! I as well am a liker of things. But irritatingly, what goes hand-in-hand with fandom sometimes is that think many people (ahem, often straight cisgender men kinds of people) assume that they are owed something by being a fan of a lady’s, and they get rull mad when the fandom is not automatically returned by OH MY GOD SOMEONE WHO HE DOESN’T EVEN KNOW, and that’s the shit that’s not okay to do. Those are two different things. Do one but not the other one.

In closing, if you’ve been messaging a woman online all the live-long day who you’ve met few if any times in real life and she has never, ever messaged you first even one single time, regardless of your obtaining-ass-from-her goals, fucking stop. Or, as Michael put it, Internet strangers can basically just


Travels With Queerness and the Politics of Space: An Interview with Kim Sharp


Image shows a postcard with vertical, rainbow stripes in a vintage fashion.  The text reads: Travels With Queerness: In Search of America

Kim Sharp is one of my favorite queer, feminist writer friends.  She recently took a big, brave risk in doing a micro-retirement so she could work on her writing.  One of the fruits of that labor is her new project, Travels With Queerness, which explores what it means to take up space as a gender-nonconforming, feminist person on the road with their best friend, who happens to be a pit bull.  I interviewed her today to find out more about the project and what it means for space to be political.

CONTENT: This interview contains descriptions of homophobia, harassment, and hate speech.

Tasha Walston:  Hi, Kim!  Thanks for doing this interview.  What is Travels With Queerness?

Kim Sharp: Travels With Queerness is a book project that’s based off a road trip I’m going to take with my dog, Petey, this September. Think Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, but through a queer, feminist lens. I came up with the idea earlier this year when I was re-reading Travels with Charley. I wanted to take Petey on a similar trip, but I knew it would present challenges because of our identities: I’m a lesbian, and Petey is a pit bull.

I’ve mapped out a route that will take us more than 5,500 miles, through 11 states in the western US over the course of 25 days. During the trip, I’m going to post short essays detailing our experiences on my website, TravelswithQueerness.com, and via Facebook and Twitter. The book will draw everything together into a cohesive narrative.

I started thinking about all the things I’d have to do before traveling–mostly how I would present, and what I would do to stay safe. I thought about getting mace, maybe growing my hair a little or dressing a little more femme. I even thought about things as simple as taking the HRC equality sticker off my car.

And that’s when the idea of a trip transformed into a project. Changing my appearance and removing that bumper sticker would mean altering my identity. Losing that authenticity would kill so much of the project’s meaning.


Image shows a map of the Northwestern United states with a travel route drawn on in blue.  Individual stops on the route are marked numerically.

TW: So it was Steinbeck’s book that made you want to go on the journey?

KS: That and a few other things. I’m doing a sort of mid-life, micro-retirement this year, and I want to make the most of it. I want to spend more time with Petey and take him on some big adventures. He’s 11–but let’s not go there.

The other really big influence: a book my grandma gave me when I was eight. It’s this beautiful coffee table book called Natural Wonders of the World. She got it free with a subscription to Reader’s Digest. I fixated on Craters of the Moon in Idaho and Crater Lake in Oregon. I’ve never seen either.

So it all started coming together: a road trip with my dog, in search of natural wonders and the open road.

Steinbeck’s book made want to go on this trip and it made me want to politicize it.


Image shows a white pit bull on the left with a brown spot over one eye and tongue lolling. On the right is a smiling person with short, brown hair wearing sunglasses, a hoodie, and a seatbelt.

TW: Why does it matter that you’re traveling as a queer, feminist woman?  Are you doing the trip because of or in spite of your identity?

Both. Absolutely both. My plans started coming together right after the Oregon stand-offs came to an end. I couldn’t help but think of the culture in some of the places I wanted to go. Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon, and Idaho aren’t the most welcoming areas in the Northwest.

So it’s scary, right? As it would be for many women. We’re told not to travel alone and to avoid the places where we don’t feel safe–and for good reason.

If I followed that advice, though, I wouldn’t see all the places I want to see. I probably wouldn’t even leave my house. I can’t separate my fuck-it attitude from my queer, feminist identity. I shouldn’t have to. None of us should.

But here’s another thing: I’m not strongly connected to either of these communities. I’m too shy and introverted to do any sort of activism. Crowds aren’t my thing, so I don’t go to Pride or LGBT events. I’m more or less on the periphery of the LGBT community–yet I call it mine. I grapple with that a lot.

So I come back to what I am capable of and how I can contribute. I’m a writer. I believe in the power of story and I want to capture the stories that aren’t being told. Putting myself out there with this project, sharing my experiences as I seek answers to big questions, then drawing it all together in a book–that’s my contribution.

I question–constantly–who I am on this journey. Who or what am I traveling with? And it all comes back to that one day when I was at my most vulnerable, when I was threatened because I am comfortable in my skin.

TW: It would be scary for any woman to travel alone.  How do you think your queerness complicates that?

KS: One of my first girlfriends told me that lesbians in Seattle are more or less invisible. For a long time I believed that. I felt safe. That changed after I chopped off my long hair and started dressing more masculine. I’ve been harassed, and I’ve been discriminated against because of the way I present. I’m a short, fat woman with a butch-like aesthetic, and I think it’s pretty obvious I’m gay. I think about that all the time. I also think about how my experiences are nothing compared to what others in my community have experienced.

Yet, there’s something about being called “faggot” that goes far beyond the gut punch. It made me feel more connected to the LGBT community in this really weird way. It was a reminder that we’re not invisible at all. Any of us could, at some point, be a target. We are all vulnerable.

TW: Someone called you “f*ggot?”  Can you tell me about that?

KS: Sure. It started as road rage on the commute home. I honked at a guy and he started tailing me. He followed me for a couple miles and I knew it was a bad situation. He wasn’t going to back off. So I went to the safest place I could think of–somewhere where men would be outside. The guy followed me there, got out of his car, and came at me with fists raised. He was ready to lay into me.

Then he saw my tits.  It shocked him. He said he thought I was a dude. Then his fists dropped. He started shouting “faggot, fucking faggot.” Over and over and over. He was inches from me. I was rendered mute. I couldn’t talk, couldn’t move.

All it took was for him to shout that word at me once and I felt worthless and dirty. But he kept throwing it at me and the more he did, the more I believed it.

TW: That must have been terrifying.

KS: Terrifying isn’t the right word. It’s been over a year and I can’t find the right word. Of course I was terrified, but while I was being threatened I was also being told that I’m worthless, because of who I am. Because I’m gay.

TW: If you’ve experienced that kind of harassment in a “liberal” city in the Northwest, do you have any particular fears or hopes about what will happen on the road?

KS: Definitely. Here’s the thing: the harassment took place in Shoreline, literally across the street from where the Seattle PD jurisdiction stops. If I’d gone one more block, this would have been reported as a hate crime. I talked with Jim Ritter, SPD’s LGBT liaison. He couldn’t take a report, but after hearing all the details he assured me it was a hate crime. I filed a report with the Shoreline PD, and guess what–they said it’s not a crime at all. So hey, if you want to engage in a car chase, physically threaten someone, verbally assault them, go to Shoreline.

It’s not just about what happens in different areas of the country, it’s about how these things are handled.

I got a lot of great support from Jim, and plan to talk with him about the trip and safety precautions and so forth. That alone fills me fear and anger–that I even have to do this, that I have to seek this kind of support.

So, yes, I have fears. That incident taught me something I didn’t think of much before: I’m a target. That changes everything.

TW: What are some places you are particularly looking forward to visiting?

KS: I’m looking forward to seeing those places I told you about–Craters of the Moon, Crater Lake, a lot of national parks. I’m also really looking forward to going to Salinas. I want to see the Steinbeck Center. I want to see Rocinante–Steinbeck’s white privilege mobile.

Mostly, I’m looking forward to seeing the places I don’t know about. I’m fascinated by small towns. I want to talk to people there–if they’ll let me. I want to know what it’s like in other places. How does geography affect how we move through our worlds?


TW: What makes Travels With Queerness a necessarily feminist project?

KS: That’s a really good question. While the travel narrative genre is slowly becoming more diverse, travelogues are still written primarily by white men. This project is an attempt to fill that gap, to explore and show our country through a different lens. It’s about intent, and it’s a feminist project because I am putting emphasis on identity–particularly my identity as a gay woman–and framing the narrative of my travels through my worldview and issues of privilege.

TW: Why should folks support your project and how can they best do that?

KS: Being out there, literally exploring spaces where we can be safe, is not going to be easy, but it’s incredibly important work. After the shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, a lot of people are questioning the notion of the safe space, if it even exists. I don’t think it does.

I’m not scouting out safe spaces; that work has been done by a lot of organizations. What I’m doing is mapping out a vast landscape and documenting what it’s like to travel in spite of a lack of guaranteed safety.

It’s a huge undertaking, and a costly one. I’m hoping people will contribute to my Kickstarter campaign to help fund what portion of the trip I’m not able to and print and production of my book.

If you’re not able to financially support the project, please share the word with others. This is just as much a marketing campaign as a fundraiser.

Like I said, this is my contribution to an important movement. Everyone who supports Travels with Queerness in whatever way they’re able is chipping in on that contribution and making this a communal journey. And how cool is that?


Image shows a white and brown dog on the left, tongue lolling, and a smiling person with short, brown hair wearing a hoodie, sunglasses, and a seatbelt.  Text reads, “Support us on Kickstarter.”

Long-Distance Doulas and Radical Self-Care: An Interview with The Doula Project’s Mick Moran


I’ve known Mick Moran for about a decade, starting back in the early 2000s when they volunteered with  me over at VaginaPagina.  Since then, Mick started working with The Doula Project in NYC. Most recently, they’ve been putting together a sort of “doula skillshare,” spreading community and radical self-care through their zine project, DIY DOULA: Self-Care for Before, During & After Your Abortion. I interviewed Mick today to find out more about the zine and The Doula Project.

Tasha Walston:  Hey, Mick.  Thanks for doing this interview.  Can you tell Hellish Rebuke readers a little bit about The Doula Project?

Mick Moran:  Sure.  The Doula Project is a volunteer-run, New York City-based 501(c)3 charitable organization that provides free compassionate care and emotional, physical, and informational support to people across the spectrum of pregnancy. Since its founding in 2007, The Doula Project doulas have supported hundreds of birth clients and over ten thousand people through abortion and fetal loss.

TW:  How long have you been involved?

MM:  I trained with the Project in January of 2014. I’d learned about the Project when I was attending the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference, and I went to a workshop called something like, “Increasing Healthcare Access for Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People Using Midwives and Doulas.” I wanted to write it up for VaginaPagina, who I was volunteering for at the time.

A few months later, I heard through a queer networking group that The Doula Project was recruiting new volunteers, so I started thinking about applying. When I started to talk to my friends about it, they were like, “Oh my god, I can’t believe I never thought of this for you before, you would be so good at that.”


An excerpt from DIY Doula: Self-Care for Before, During, and After your Abortion.  Art by Mick Moran.


TW:  What about the project really spoke to you? Was there a moment or a thing that really made you go, “Oh, I have to do this!”

MM:  It wasn’t a role I ever imagined myself doing, and I don’t think I would have ever gotten involved if it wasn’t with an organization like The Doula Project that does full-spectrum work — it’s very important to me that we support people having abortions, and that we support people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to doula care.

I’m trained as a birth doula as well, but most of my work is supporting people in clinics having first-trimester abortions. I’m also trained to support people through second-tri procedures and fetal loss, which are both things that I’d like to be more involved in.
TW:  So it was the full-spectrum, inclusive aspect of the work that really drew you?

MM:  Definitely. That and the fact that we offer support to low-income people. Most people who have access to doula support are are wealthy people who have a lot of privilege in other ways, like they’re white or they have a masters degree or whatever.

Those folks also often have better support for an event like a birth — not because low-income folks don’t have good support network, but because they may not have the money to fly family members out, or their partner may not have the kind of job that you can take off from very suddenly (or they might not be able to afford the lost wages), or they might not have childcare for their other kids. Sometimes the doula support is the only support they have available.

TW:  Does that have to do with why you decided to make a zine? Whose idea was it to create a zine, and what made you choose that format and not a website or something else

MM:  We collectively (our Leadership Circle and Board of Directors) applied for a grant with the Abortion Conversation Project for a grant with the intention of making a booklet about self-care for before, during, and after your abortion. ACP’s focus is to break down stigma surrounding abortion, so that was one of our goals.

We also wanted to talk about full-spectrum doula care, and we wanted to give our doulas an opportunity to work collectively on a project like this. The idea was to distribute printed material that folks could take home with them from the clinic, either after they’ve had doula support or if they didn’t have access to a doula, and the idea completely blew up from there.

As we explained in our IndieGoGo, it was an intentional decision: “Keeping in tradition with The Doula Project’s own radical grassroots approach, we intentionally created this guide as a zine. Zines have been a popular way to cheaply and effectively reproduce knowledge among marginalized populations and help educate and inspire without the influence of those in power. Zines are a way to create your own media when your needs are not served by mass media.”

The other reason it went in this direction, and how I came to head up the project, is because I had recently had a comic about being an abortion doula selected for publication in the 1 in 3 Campaign’s upcoming graphic novel about first-hand abortion experiences, “Our Stories Will Not Be Erased” — so that got everyone excited about how things could potentially look.




DURINGbest advocate

An excerpt from DIY Doula: Self-Care for Before, During, and After Your Abortion.  By Alex Pitre.

TW:  Zines have a long history in punk and political movements as a way to build community. Is that something you’re interested in doing, too–I mean, aside from getting info to individuals, which is also important?

MM:  Yes, absolutely — and I think that’s part of the way that this zine can really help break down stigma. People might be more willing to talk about their experiences with each other, or ask for support from people (we try to model how to do this in the zine), or maybe even get together to do some of these self-care practices together.

And it has definitely been community-building for our doulas, who are all volunteers who lead super busy lives — we don’t get to see each other all together as often as we’d like, so it’s been really lovely to get together to work on this project and talk about our values and what messaging we want to give to people.

It’s also been almost like a doula skillshare because we all have such different styles that we all have probably picked up different things to try as we’ve had these conversations and built this toolkit.

TW:  What is your personal history with zines? What did you bring to the project?

MM:  I have some history with zines — I’ve attended NYC’s zine fest in the past and I grew up in the Jersey punk scene — but my inspiration was more related to grassroots media. When I was in high school, I was part of a non-hierarchical youth grassroots activist organization, and there was a lot of the same handmade, DIY, cut-and-paste technique used to make flyers for protests or other events. I actually wrote my thesis on that kind of DIY media activism — using what is accessible to you, whether that’s drawing comics or collaging pictures and making four-to-a-page photocopies because that’s cheap.

The Doula Project’s media coordinator and several people on the zine committee also brought some zine background. We took a field trip to the zine fest at Barnard College for inspiration.

TW:  Did you take away any ideas from Zine Fest?

MM:  I think the biggest takeaway was that people were excited for our zine. We had some conversations about it and people were already asking if we had a flyer or something about it. It’ll be great to go back next year and be able to distribute them there.

TW:  Awesome! Who do you most hope you’ll reach with the zine? What do you hope to achieve with the project?

MM:  We really hope to reach people who don’t have access to a doula in their communities. When we first stated working on the project, we were thinking a lot about practical stuff, like the DIY heat pack. But as we talked more, we realized we wanted to try to give people doula care even if we couldn’t be there. And that meant that we needed to give them the messaging that we give people. We trust you. You know your body best. You know how to make good decisions for yourself. You are strong and you can handle this. All of that stuff.

We know that some people aren’t getting that from their partners or families or providers for whatever reason. Being a doula isn’t about *giving* someone strength, it’s about helping them find their own strength — that’s easier to do in person, but we hope that we can do that at least a little, long-distance.

TW:  I was going to ask you what is the most important thing you wanted folks to take away from the project, but it sounds like you’re already hitting on it when you talk about helping folks find their own strength. Is there anything else?

MM:  Not just strength, but comfort, and that they can trust themselves. We want people to know that there are so many different ways that people feel before, during, and after an abortion, and that it’s normal.

It’s normal to feel relief, it’s normal to feel sad, it’s normal to feel numb. It’s ok to be scared, it’s ok to make jokes. It’s ok to have so much hard stuff happening in your life that you think that being told to drink a cup of tea and take a deep breath is bullshit. We meet people where they’re at, and we’ve tried to do that on paper, too.


An excerpt from DIY Doula: Self-Care for Before, During, and After Your Abortion.  By Annelise Stabeneau.

 How can people get involved and/or help support The Doula Project and the zine?

MM:  We’re selling pre-orders of the zine on Generosity (part of IndieGoGo).

People have the option to buy one for themselves and donate one for us to give away. They can also use #DIYDoulaZine and share the campaign so we can make sure folks know about it, and if they have a relationship with any pro-choice groups, make sure they know this new resource is out there.

You can also support our work by donating directly to The Doula Project or by setting up your Amazon Smile account to donate to us.

We have a newsletter and a Facebook page if you want to keep up with our work.

TW:  Is there anything else you want folks to know?

MM:  The more pre-orders we get, the more free zines we’ll be able to give away! We’re really excited to see where we can take this.

This project received a Seed Support grant from the Abortion Conversation Project to reduce abortion stigma.  If you want to know more about the zine project, you can contact Mick at zine@doulaproject.org.  
MICK MORAN trained with The Doula Project in January of 2014 and joined the Leadership Circle as a Site Coordinator later that year. Mick has spoken at institutions such as Hunter College and NYU about topics such as media activism and reproductive justice for transgender, gender non-conforming, and intersex people. 
THE DOULA PROJECT‘s founders, Mary Mahoney and Lauren Mitchell, have a book coming out later this year detailing their commitment to supporting a pregnancy no matter the outcome—whether it results in birth, abortion, miscarriage, or adoption.  Check it out/preorder on Amazon:  The Doulas: Radical Care for Pregnant People.  

A Knuckle Sandwich?

So I guess I was under the impression that Seattle doesn’t tolerate this kind of bourgie Reddit-grade sexism:

sexist sandwich truck

If you’ve unhinged your dumb mouth to mansplain to me about how this is not sexist, you may close it again because this is sexist AF. Did you know that the phrase “Now go make me a sandwich” is so pervasive in shutting down women’s voices in online spaces that the 2012 GeekGirlCon had to have a fucking PANEL about it? That’s right, in addition to being trite and overused, it’s also super denigrating! This is a fucking problem.

(If you’re not familiar, “Now go make me a sandwich” is the rallying cry of Internet broheims whose carefully crafted walls of text have failed to change a woman’s mind about whether or not she’s a kitchen appliance. So, they panic and hit the “make me a sandwich” emergency button, whereupon all of her points are rendered invalid. Voila, her opinions are drowned out by his wit + the loud, ensuing laughter of the hallucinated audience, who is definitely watching and cares.)

sandwich panel

Then the Viking thing is just a gross cherry lodged in the asshole sundae. How now, m’ladies, I’m an unrefined man-slab who’s worked hard browsing Imgur all day! I want a sandwich, and it’s someone else’s job to provide it for me. You may address me as “your liege” when you deliver it to mine dripping jaws. This is how I think about myself! By the way, men have rights too, and have you seen the new Archer?

Like, I’m sure these dicks find a healthy cash flow when they drive their little misogyn-obile over to the Amazon campus or Chuck’s Hop Shop. Plenty of sexist shitheads in that demographic. I guess they figured no women would ever see it.

Dear men of Seattle, if you wouldn’t say this degrading catchphrase to a woman, please do not encourage these business owners who have co-opted it by buying their stupid bro-tep sandwiches. Fuck them for capitalizing on the fun Internet fad of silencing female voices. It’s not acceptable.

And to the business owners: I don’t know where you think you are. This isn’t medieval Norway, you and your clientele are not Vikings, and modern, progressive Norwegians would hang you by the balls for this stunt. You may not name your food truck this. Get out of my city with this shit.

fuck off sandwich

P.S.: Vikings didn’t wear horned helmets. Richard Wagner made that up.

P.P.S.: I’m currently researching who is responsible for this, and it turns out to be a woman, I am going to sob into the trash can for the rest of my life.