Title: Nasty Women
Author: Laura Lam, Ren Aldridge, Nadine Aisha Jassat, Sasha De Buyl-Pisco, Elise Hines, Alice Tarbuck, Jonatha Kottler, Chitra Ramaswamy, Christina Neuwirth, Belle Owen, Zeba Talkhani, Katie Muriel, Joelle A. Owusu, Kaite Welsh, Claire L. Heuchan, Jen McGregor, Mel Reeve, Sim Bajwa, Becca Inglis, Rowan C. Clarke, Kristy Diaz
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Publisher: 404 Ink
Released: March 8th, 2017
Trigger Warnings: Sexual assault, rape, abuse in various forms, racism, sexism
Representation: Person/s of colour, Fat, Feminist, LGBTQIAP+
Synopsis*: With intolerance and inequality increasingly normalised by the day, it’s more important than ever for women to share their experiences. We must hold the truth to account in the midst of sensationalism and international political turmoil. Nasty Women is a collection of essays, interviews and accounts on what it is to be a woman in the 21st century.
People, politics, pressure, punk – From working class experience to racial divides in Trump’s America, being a child of immigrants, to sexual assault, Brexit, pregnancy, contraception, identity, family, finding a voice online, role models and more, Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!, Zeba Talkhani, Chitra Ramaswamy are just a few of the incredible women who share their experience here.
Keep telling your stories, and tell them loud.
I am a Nasty Woman
Tell your stories and tell them LOUD.
Content Warning: This review talks about a book that tackles subjects like sexual assault, rape, abuse in various forms, racism, sexism among other possible triggering content. If reading about any of this may cause you harm please do not continue reading this review and it may be wise to skip reading Nasty Women as well.
Nasty Women is a collection of essays and personal accounts from a diverse group of 22 women speaking about their experiences in the 21st century.
Sparked by Trump’s presidency, this collection is hard-hitting, harrowing and so very important. It comes from a feminism-centred viewpoint but will have none of your white-washed cis feminism.
Nasty Women gives voice to those that are often unheard, though more often, ignored. It holds every single person accountable for the actions and inactions that led to Donald Trump leading the free world.
There is an essay for everyone to find themselves in, and even putting that aside, I believe it is something everyone should read no matter your gender, race, religion, social or political standing.
I was going to rate each essay but I’ve learned that when it comes to collections like this, its best to not do that.
Each essay and account is a piece of its author’s heart, how can you put a star rating on that?
They were all written beautifully and I can’t fault a single one of them, just that some of them I related to more than others, and those I didn’t see myself in as much were no less important than those I did because they still taught me something profoundly important.
I will go into a quick breakdown for each one though, in hopes that anyone reading this will see a sliver of themselves that will urge them to pick up this book.
│Independence Day│Katie Muriel│
I would be lying if I said that it doesn’t hurt when members of my family espouse political beliefs that ultimately disparage the existence of others, but I try my best to keep the peace. Sometimes, however, peace has to take a holiday. Sometimes, there are battles to be fought.
In Independence Day Katie Muriel not only talks about the crushing feelings many of us had when we heard that Trump had been elected president, but she also talks about the heartache that comes from that election opening the floodgates of bigoted opinions, and finding that those opinions have been lying in wait just under the surface in your own family.
Katie talks about her fight to keep the peace in her biracial family and when to stand up and fight like when her white aunt called her ‘spic’.
It’s heartbreaking while also, sadly, being 100% relatable. We all have at least one problematic family member we either never talk to, or limit our interaction with because we know that they do not respect you or groups of people as the human beings we are.
I, unfortunately, have several I have either cut out completely, keep at an arm’s length or do my best to educate whenever I can (it’s not easy being a queer feminist with Christian extended family members).
Sometimes, when you face discrimination within your own family, you’ve got to pick your battles just for your own mental health, but sometimes, you have to stand up and fight.
Anyone that thinks I’m Puerto Rican trash is free to do so as long as they also note one final thing: I am goddamn spictacular.
│Why I’m No Longer a Punk Rock ‘Cool Girl’│Kristy Diaz│
‘Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they?
She’s a cool girl.’
‘Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool GIrl. Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to this girl.’
Kristy Diaz uses her essay to tackle the problem with the non-existent ‘Cool Girl‘ in punk rock. It’s reminiscent of the ‘Not Like Other Girls‘ and ‘One of the Boys‘ caricatures found throughout western culture.
None of these girls truly exist. Take it from someone who considered herself to be all of these as a teenager. Ya girl had some serious internalized sexism to deal with.
Diaz spends time talking about the ‘Cool Girl‘ and how sexism and internalised sexism play such huge rolls in these parts, as well and helping giving advice on how to overcome this version of yourself you’ve created to impress and fit in with people because it can be extraordinarily unhealthy to try and live up to these expectations.
It’s okay to be uncool. Forget the notion of cool, and forget the notion of cool as defined by anyone else other than yourself. One of the most liberating things I’ve unlearned is looking for the approval of men.
│Black Feminism Online: Claiming Digital Space│Claire L. Heuchan│
Often, the stranger then tries to calculate a combination of words that will get me to reveal why I’m simultaneously Black and British without making them sounding racist. And every time they fail, for one simple reason: it is racist. The idea that Black must mean Other is fundamentally racist in its logic.
Heuchan talks about growing up in Scotland as a Black woman pre-internet and to be here when the internet made everything accessible so long as you have a connection.
She also talks about how hard it is to have your voice heard in a community that would rather pretend that you are an exception and so do not deserve to be heard and how the internet has made it possible to not take no for an answer.
Black women have had to carve their own spaces to voice their opinions and experiences while the rest of the world would rather forget they exist, or worse, try and remove them from the picture permanently. It’s long overdue that those in power make room for them.
I think that Black girls here are treated as anomalies – because there are relatively few of us, white people act like we’re lone exceptions. If our presence is a simple one-off, the Black women and girls don’t need to be recognised as a group. We are dismissed as a collective unit. And if we are atomised, considered a discrepancy rather than a pattern in our own right, our place in Scottish society remains unacknowledged. Black women are made invisible here – not always, but often enough that it is hard to see ourselves reflected in Scottish community.
│Lament: Living with the Consequences of Contraception│Jen McGregor│
The option I really preferred was sterilisation, which wasn’t available to me and wouldn’t become available until I reached my 30s. I was quite annoyed about this. I knew I didn’t want children, and I reasoned that if I was old enough to become a parent then I was old enough to choose not to become one.
Lament hit extremely close to home as someone who does not want to have kids and wants the chance taken away entirely.
McGregor talks about how much she wanted sterilization but was never taken seriously, a story that is far too familiar with women’s health. How she did her research and decided to have the Depo injections until her fight for sterilization was one. How long a journey women’s health has to go, McGregor’s bone deterioration from the Depo highlighting how hard it is to be a woman who does not want to have children in even the most medically and gender equality advanced places in this world.
I know that I do not want kids, and I know that I have a hard and exhausting battle in front of me to fight for my right to that choice. Every contraception has a list of possible side effects and it takes a lot of trial and error to find the right one for your body, and even then it’s not 100% certain you won’t get pregnant. For many people, none of these contraceptions are viable options because of the cost or the side effects.
For me, the pill isn’t an option because my chronic illness causes me to have a bad memory and I can’t depend on it to remember to take it every day at the same time. I’ve tried the implant and though it seemed amazing at first, it quickly became clear that it did not work well with my hormones, and especially my chronic illness, leaving me in pain so excruciating I couldn’t stand to be touched, I couldn’t stand at all. I wanted to cease existing just to make the pain stop.
Stories like McGregor need to be heard in hopes that something will finally be done when it comes to women’s sexual health, that we will be taken seriously, our choices respected, and that a more viable option for contraception can be found.
I didn’t realise, back when I embarked on this journey at the age of 18, just how far contraception and women’s health still have to go. I learned that one the hard way. Whether that’s the result of institutional sexism in the medical profession or simply a matter of where we are in the timeline of medical developments may be debatable, but the fact remains that there are plenty of women out there in my situation, with messy and uncontrollable bodies and situations, for whom ‘woman’ feels more like a diagnosis than a sex category.
│These Shadows, These Ghosts│Laura Lam│
Sometimes, growing up, I felt like the Baxter women were cursed. They were put in difficult situations, and my grandmother especially could have lived such a different life had she received less cruelty and more care. In a flat re-telling, these women could have been cast as villains. The newspaper articles about my grandmother around the trial certainly did – they called her a ‘red-headed devil’ and a ‘murderess’.
Lam’s These Shadows, These Ghosts follows the extraordinary lives of the Baxter Women, Lam’s mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Lam highlights how sexism and mental illness has scarred her family throughout generations and how easy it is to paint women who refuse to succumb to their circumstances are often painted as villains of their own stories.
I related so much to all of it as a woman from a huge family made up of predominately women, who have been painted as villains and have faced hardships, trauma, and mental illness and have come out the other side both strong and damaged.
Paranoid Schizophrenia can often skip generations, and usually manifests when someone is in their teens or thirties. As a teen, that anxiety niggled at me, and I wondered if I’d hallucinate, seeing my own versions of kangaroomen and zookeepers. Instead, I navigated various other mental health issues – severe anxiety, and eating disorder, and depression.
I also felt Lam’s discussion of Paranoid Schizophrenia as it runs in my family also. It can be crushing to have that possibility hanging over your head.
Lam states that she plans on writing a book with her mother dedicated to the women who came before her and I want to get my hands on it as soon as possible!
Women can change their own narrative. We can cry out, speak loudly, hold our chin up. Yes, we might be called names. We might be pushed back. But we’ll still cry out and make ourselves heard.
│The Nastiness of Survival│Mel Reeve│
My existence as a survivor is inconvenient at best and a constant act of defiance at worst because I reject the two choices I am given by society; the ‘perfect survivor’ and the ‘bad survivor’. Neither choice is real although it is instilled in us from an early age that they are, but it is useful to apply these labels as a way to describe this dichotomy. The term ‘victim’ is not one I apply to myself, as many other survivors of sexual assault do not. We see ourselves and choose to describe ourselves as survivors.
In the Nastiness of Survival Reeve talks about the caricatures of the ‘perfect’ or ‘good survivor’ and the ‘bad survivor’ when it comes to sexual assault and rape. That these are deeply harmful and need to be thrown away.
Reeve talks about how society likes to pretend that rapists are monsters that hide in dark alleys and are strangers, are bad and evil, they are not people you are friends with, they are not family members or people in positions of power.
When in fact these are exactly who rapists are. Most survivors know their rapists. A lot of the time survivors do not even know they are raped until much later, because of the preconceived notion that the people who you love, who are your friends or boyfriend blind you to the fact that this person is taking advantage of you, that what they have done is not okay.
Reeves talks about how she is a considered a ‘bad survivor’ and how that does not make her experience any less valid and true, that we need to be rid of these labels and preconceived notions of what rape is, who rapists are, and what rape survivors look and act like.
That is why I am proudly and vocally a nasty woman; tired of making excuses, of letting politeness stop me from defending myself, I lost too much when I was silent, nice and accommodating and I met someone who chose to take advantage of that.
│Against Stereotypes: Working Class Girls and Working Class Art│Laura Waddell│
It is hard, and it is harder for those without additional means to fall back upon. Sometimes it is hard to just find the extra energy on top of other labour and financial stress.
Waddell breaks down sexism and creativity/art in the working class community. She speaks about how hard it is to accomplish anything as a working-class woman.
Waddell’s words spoke to me and her writing style was lyrical and magical.
I distinctly remember chemical-cherry scented, opaque red rip gloss, dispensed from a rollerball in a glass tube, and the feel of applying it, round and round. It was vulgarly thick and shiny, with all the subtlety of neon, and to me it was perfect. Nothing has better fitted the word ‘gloopy’; it say on top of my petted teenage lips like a coat of bulky varnish, as sticky as sweet and sour sauce, and as cloying.
It threw me right back to my childhood and teen years, cherishing lip glosses exactly like her chemical-cherry one (mine was watermelon and tasted better than the fruit… yes I did eat it, and it was delicious).
Coming from a working-class family, I saw myself in Waddell’s words and felt like scream ‘Yes, your damn right it’s hard!’ whenever she spoke about the difficulty of being both working class and creative.
How many artists and writers have we never known, how many songs never sung, locked out by societal inequality? How many contributions by women have never been seen? How poorer are we all for that? In a strange and shifting global political climate, when clouds of austerity and xenophobia threaten to regress the tide of access to arts and literature, it is more important than ever before to keep rowing, hard as it may be, singing our own and varied songs, pushing against the stream.
│Go Home│Sim Bajwa│
I wonder how small your world must be, White Guy in Costa, how lacking in empathy and understanding, to see a community of people finding home in one another, and only see that they are not like you. To only focus on the fact that they’re foreign, they don’t speak English, they dress differently, they have different cultural norms, so they should not be here. To ignore the boldness and bravery that it must take to start a new life thousands of miles from everything familiar.
Sim Bajwa talks about being a British woman from an immigrant family and what is expected of POC in order to be considered worthy to be in a country they were born in.
Bajwa speaks about overhearing white guys try and intellectualize their racism which is so very common that it hurts my heart, and puts a fire in my belly. Do not use your faux-intelligence to hide behind bigoted beliefs, or use ‘logic’ to explain how your racism is okay, and even the better option then, you know, not being racist.
I live in Australia, heralded as a multi-cultural country, one that has racism pumping through its veins. You need only look at our version of Donald Trump, Pauline Hanson, to see racism is still alive and well here.
I’ve heard people do exactly what the white guy in Bajwa’s essay did. I’ve heard it from my family, friends, my parent’s friends. It took me until my early 20s to realise these people were not smart at all and were in fact so stupid they were unaware of their stupidity. These are the hardest people to argue with and yet it is still important to hold them accountable for their words.
Bajwa highlights a huge problem in western culture towards people considered ‘Other’ and it needs to be challenged and stopped. Immigrants have every right to be here than anyone born here. Human beings have a right to seek out the best situations for themselves like every other fucker with a large bank account in a suit.
They want our things – our food, our labour, our money – but they don’t want us.
│Love in a Time of Melancholia│Becca Inglis│
A distinct anxiety surrounds celebrity role models. We paint them as gods amongst us, a blueprint for how we behave, and when they show human error they are hurriedly cast out.
Inglis takes us through Courtney Love’s history of mental illness and the sexism she has faced in the media. Courtney has a bad reputation in the music industry and I think it is largely undeserved if deserved at all. We see this kind of treatment of women time and time again, look at Winona Ryder. That woman is a fucking angel and yet she spent most of her life ostracized from her career for stealing while men still get to walk around with rape and sexual assault accusations lining their wallets.
Another huge topic Inglis tackles in Love in a Time of Melancholia is that of the celebrity role model. Often you have to fit certain archaic rules and guidelines to be considered a ‘good’ role model and honestly, it’s all bullshit. On top of all that, parents often make the mistake of blaming celebrities for the bad behaviour in their children (See: Miley Cyrus) when really the celebrities shouldn’t be the ones raising their kids, that’s literally the parent’s job.
I really enjoyed reading this one, it reflected a lot of my beliefs when it comes to role models and the labels of good and bad anything.
Sometimes the role model you need is not an example to aspire to, but someone who reflects back the parts of yourself that society deems unfit.
│Choices│Rowan C. Clarke│
My mother wanted to have the best family, yet she wasn’t interested in the family she had.
Choices by Rowan C. Clarke was another one to hit me hard. She talks about her mother who is so focused on having the perfect family, she overlooks the one she has. Clarke’s mother is a stark glimpse at abuse often overlooked as such because it doesn’t include physical violence and especially when the perpetrator is a woman.
Growing up with a negligent father, it was hard knowing I was never going to be good enough for his idea of the ‘good’ daughter he had in his head, while he made no attempts at being a father in any sense of the word.
I lived 15 years of my life in a house with a stranger and ever since I have been the villain. I should have been the bigger person and forgiven his misgivings, I should have tried harder, I shouldn’t have demanded the most basic prerequisites of being a father like feed or clothe your kids. I will always be the bad guy in his eyes and it took me years to be okay with that, to revel in it, even.
On top of that, I walked myself right into another abusive household because society and past experience had only ever warned me of abusive men and not women, friends, even.
Clarke tackles the labels of ‘good’ and ‘bad/evil’. And I’m so glad she did, as well as numerous other authors in this collection.
Good and bad is subjective. What society views as good and bad is all based on human beings’ arbitrary views on morality, using it to arm themselves against anyone they view as different and Other.
Being able to be myself was like being able to exhale for the first time after holding my breath for years. It’s only when you taste freedom that you can see how tight your bonds were.
│‘Touch Me Again and I will Fucking Kill You’: Cultural Resistance to Gendered Violence in the Punk Rock Community│Ren Aldridge│
It made me think about the way that I couldn’t understand some of the other things that happened to me as sexual assault because of the way that I perceived the men who did it as ‘good’ people. It’s as though this idea of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ people raises the stakes so that there isn’t any room for meaningful accountability; you’re either good and innocent or bad and guilty.
Aldridge tackles gendered violence and what happens when you the person who assaults you is someone you deemed as ‘good’.
It raises the questions about what to do when the person who assaults you is your friend, someone you trusted, and how to hold them accountable for their actions regardless of all of this.
Aldridge takes the blame so often placed on the shoulders of survivors and moves it where it belongs – on the shoulders of those who commit assault.
This is a whole community problem. The last group of people whose responsibility is it to solve is survivors. None of this was our fault.
│On Naming│Nadine Aisha Jassat│
For me to ask you to correctly pronounce my name is a political act; by doing so I am refusing to accept a lesser version, refusing to compromise on the notion that I and my identity matter. For mispronunciation is Othering; it exists in a context of us feeling that we have to bend, change, shape or erase ourselves to fit in. The wilful mispronunciation of mine and other’s names, the attempt to not even try because it looks too ‘difficult’, too long (ultimately and often unsaid too foreign), is an act of Othering which exists in and reinforces a wider context of racism and white supremacy.
On Naming reminded me that I still have a lot to do when it comes to my own acts of racism, unaware of them or not.
Jassat talks about the importance of working hard to make sure you correctly pronounce names of those around you, no matter how hard you think it is and how much you can’t be bothered.
It feeling unnatural on your tongue does not give you pass to rename someone and a person demanding you call them by their actual name isn’t an attack on you personally unless you’ve purposefully mispronounced their name.
It’s not gonna kill you to double check how to make your mouth say someones name the correct way, but refusing to do so does harm and contribute to racism. So just fucking try harder.
I look at my signature and sigh, enjoy the full sight of it next to the name of my organisation making clear who I am, what I do, and what I stand for. I feel a certainty that I will not accept anything less going ahead. People need to know who they are dealing with.
│Laura Jane Grace: Naming, Speaking Out and the Subversion of Art
In Conversation│Sasha De Buyl-Pisco│
‘I just try to speak for myself and I try to give that forewarning too. All I can really do is speak for myself and my experiences.’
I really loved Grace’s stance on not speaking for everyone, that she only speaks for herself as a trans woman and not forever trans woman.
She tackles taking back words used to hurt people like you in the past, reclaiming them as your own, and therefore taking away their power.
She talks about her experience in taking her pain and experience and putting it into her art to help her process and to help others understand or so people like her feel less alone.
‘I guess the hop is [that] there’s power in numbers and that if everyone’s speaking out then it [will be] harder to silence everything.’
│Adventures of a Half-Black Yank in America│Elise Hines│
As a black woman in the Dirty South, can someone please explain to me how America was great, when it was great, and when it stopped being great?
I loved that Hines highlighted the whole ‘Make America Great Again’ slogging and how fucking stupid it is. People like to romanticise the past, and often put blinders on when it comes to the reality of history. Nothing has shone a light on this problem more than Trump and his supporters.
Adventures of a Half-Black Yank in America also tackles the problem with white privilege in feminism and, especially, racism.
How white women who have refused to recognise our privilege have harmed our causes when we could have been making them stronger by including Black Women and other WOC. That we had a part to play in Trump’s election and its time we own up to that and put in the work to change.
Situational feminism and the inability of white (surprisingly liberal) feminists to recognise their privilege, admit their fragility, and even see their unwillingness to address the issues of women of colour and women in the LGBTQ community are at the heart of the problems of marginalised women today. Every white woman who touched my hair without my permission, every attack in the photo pit, every targets backpack search, they are products of the situational feminists who enabled Trump and have put America on this path. So, let me ask you again, who are the real nasty women?
│Foraging and Feminism: Hedge-Witchcraft in the 21st Century│Alice Tarbuck│
It feels quite a lot like magic that I can write this at all, in fact. Gathering herbs and plants for medicines, sharing them with friends, writing about it, all requires a huge amount of freedom, autonomy and education. After all, for a considerable period of Scotland’s history, gathering herbs for medicine or magic, as a woman, could be a serious offence.
Tarbuck talks about the magic of foraging and how such an ancient act can play a part in feminism.
She talks about the villainization of witchcraft, herbal medicine and magic, which are all twined with female history and the important parts they played in empowering women and forming communities.
Tarbuck calls for these small but strong acts to be brought back in fashion, she wishes for women in today’s society to find comfort and strength in them like she has.
There is beauty and bounty around us, if we look for it, and perhaps that is all the magic we need. Or perhaps, what we need is real magic, whether that comes in the form of resistance and community or the form of blackthorn charms and skullcap tinctures, and howling up at the moon.
│Fat in Every Language│Jonatha Kottler│
Here’s a fact: fat people know they are fat. We live it every day. Whether it has a physical cause like a prescription drug that saves your life, but makes you gain weight; or an emotional or psychological one; or is even simply a deliberate choice, we know we are fat. And if we ever forget it for a moment, there is a whole world to remind us. And you can say it aside, or in your own language ‘dikke vrouw’ (big fat lady), or just think it while looking at us in disgust, but we always know that you know it, too.
I have been fat for most of my life. I am currently fat. I know you can’t tell in my photos across social media. They’re old photos, I hate photos now. I know I shouldn’t but it’s hard to overcome society’s beliefs that I should be hidden away. I know I do need to lose weight but it is not so that I can be skinny, and love my appearance.
I’ve been skinny, I still hated a lot of things about my body, losing weight won’t change that. I have to lose weight for my health. I have a chronic illness that is made worse by the weight. It puts too much pressure on my joints and muscles, it makes the chronic pain worse.
I am working on loving myself though. I want to learn to love this body no matter what it looks like, because although it has failed me on countless occasions, what it is capable of doing is still extraordinary.
Fat in Every Language takes you through Kottler’s journey of being a fat woman all over the world and how no matter the country, this world is made to make us feel like shit about ourselves, no matter the reason for a weight and it’s fucking awful.
Here are more fun facts: I have friends. I am loved by an excellent partner (who also finds me sexy). I have a terrific kid. My cats like that I am cosy to sit on. I cannot define my own value by the amount of space I take up at a given moment. I cannot speak to myself in that language anymore.
I’ve been told, sometimes explicitly, that this fundamental experience is too niche, too risky, too bog-standard, that women are only interested in in their pregnancies until the baby comes along, that motherhood eclipses everything, that pregnancy can never be more than a prologue, that there is no market for this sort of thing, and so on.
Afterbirth pokes fun at the lack of conversations surrounding both the beautiful and ugly sides of pregnancy, that women often suffer in silence while men try and cook up bizarre metaphors for what is going in with our bodies in order to avoid talking about the thing that literally brought them into existence.
Look I don’t want kids, the whole process both grosses me out and leaves me an wide-eyed awe. The female body is magical, pregnancy is magical. I don’t want it though ahah.
I loved Ramaswamy’s frank discussions of everything that comes with harbouring and growing a human being in your body. That shit is not easy, and sexism only makes it harder.
Metaphors can be wonderful, but they can also be absurd, reductive, and they can obscure the truth.
│Hard Dumplings for Visitors│Christina Neuwirth│
Nothing lasts forever.
I will never again have a mother or grandmother. They have died and for the rest of my life they will be dead.
Hard Dumplings for Visitors takes us through the journey of Neuwirth’s grief of losing both her mother and grandmother in such a short time frame. It is heartbreaking and honest.
Neuwirth wrapped her grief with her families culture and made for an important read.
Things change. Except this: these two people aren’t coming back.
│Resisting by Existing: Carving Out Accessible Spaces│Belle Owen│
The anger and offence towards being excluded from something that was so important to me, a scene that touted itself as a space for everyone, was so easily dismissed as having a ‘chip in my shoulder’ or an entitlement to more that everyone else, more than I deserved.
This world is made to make things harder for people with disabilities and Belle Owen is not fucking having it anymore.
I mean I don’t really know what else to say about this essay because Owen says everything I have to say on the topic. So just read it…
Prejudice lies at the heart of segregation. My greatest act for change is not retiring to the spaces designated to me by society or, worse yet, retreating or resigning when there are none. I refuse to accept that something that liberates me should also limit me in ways that able-bodies society perpetuates.
│The Difficulty in Being Good│Zeba Talkhani│
‘It’s not personal/don’t take it personally I disagree. It is very personal to my sense of identity, being constantly put on the spot to explain obscure and damaging cultural traditions in eastern countries, being asked to prove my loyalties and to express my gratefulness for an opportunity to make a living in their country.
Again we have an essay tackling the labels of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and again it was done beautifully.
It is laughable that we have ways to be ‘good’ immigrants, ‘good’ POC but yet we struggle to hold people who spew racism accountable.
Talkhani highlights the problematic belief that POC owes us anything by engaging us with our ‘logical’ conversations on racism.
If you wanna know what POC think about racism do your own bloody research. Seek out the voices who have spoken about this time and time again, stop expecting POC to give their emotional labour to you.
Literally everything I’ve learned about racism I’ve learned from looking for it myself, searching the internet for people who have spoken about the things I have questions about.
Listening to the POC in my circles of the internet, picking up books like this one. It’s really not that hard, and even if it is, it doesn’t mean it’s any less important.
The questions don’t bother me as much as the sense of entitlement that accompany them. As though I owe this white, educated, middle-class man a response because he chose to engage me in a conversation about my religion. ‘Look how open I’m being,’ his entitlement says to me. ‘Aren’t you grateful for this chance to prove your worth to me?’ it asks. If I play along, I’m a good immigrant. If I don’t engage, I’m refusing to integrate, I’m being a nasty woman.
│The Rest is Drag: One Lebian’s Journey Through Butch and Femme and Back Again│Katie Welsh│
It’s like I’m constantly trying to find my default setting, the one where I get dressed in the morning and don’t realise part way through the day that I’ve come out in the wrong costumes, Superman when I should be Clark Kent.
Welsh speaks about her fight with her style in her essay, highlighting how much society plays a part in how we try and define ourselves through means of fashion.
Welshes tries to teach us that it’s okay to not know your style, that you don’t have to sit in a certain box to wear a dress or suspenders, that you can wear both.
But that being confused and unsure about all of this, still wanting a style that fits you, is okay.
I get to decide if I announce my queerness from a distance – there are days it can be seen from space, especially when I get that half Windsor knot right – or if I want to keep lurking under the surface like the Loch Ness Monster in a pretty dress, ready at any minute to disturb the tranquil surface nad subvert your expectations.
│The Dark Girl’s Enlightenment│Joelle A. Owusu│
‘Not everything is about race.’
‘Not everything is sexist.’
Perhaps not. But enough of it is for it to be an ongoing problem that we simply cannot sweep under the carpet anymore.
Owusu’s essay The Dark Girl’s Enlightenment takes not prisoners but does hold white women accountable for their racism and often refuse to use their privilege to assist WOC or to even acknowledge WOC at all.
It’s a reminder to us all that white women still play a part in the oppression of Black Women, that our hands are far from clean and that we need to work harder to acknowledge and change that.
It was the privilege check many need, myself included. It’s another important voice that needs to be heard, and we need to make sure it isn’t hidden or ignored.
WOC are an integral part of feminism and should be treated accordingly instead of ignored or spoken over. If you can’t accept that as a white woman you hold privilege then you are part of the problem that we are trying to fight.
It’s great that you are privileged enough to never have to deal with both issues, so you can just speak it out of existence and deny misogynoir.
Nasty Women is a needed piece of literature in feminism, importantly for those who think of their feminism as intersectional because as a human being, you can still get it wrong, no matter how well-intentioned and I’m so very glad I picked it up.
The world is a dangerous place right now, but not as dangerous as a nasty woman with a pen in her hand and a story to tell. These voices telling our truths cannot be shaken and they certainly will not be drowned out anymore.
Why Fear us when you can join us?
*Taken from Goodreads.
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Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review.
Have you read Nasty Women?
Are you acquainted with any of the writers?
What was your reaction to the Trump election? (I cried in the toilet)