Tell Your Stories & Tell Them Loudly: #NastyWomen

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Nasty Women 
Heather McDaid & Laura Jones, editors
404 Ink, 2017

This collection of essays by women tackling “the rule of a racist, misogynistic demagogue” is superb in orienting readers to the need for intersectional protest in both public and private spheres. But it isn’t simply or merely a stance against the forty-fifth president (although it most certainly is that), but a collection staking out a hard and fast, defiant articulation against rape culture, against institutionalized sexism, against bigotry, and exclusionary liberalism. This isn’t just about forty-five, but also Brexit’s cultural racism, and the hard right-wing turn taken in the US and Europe.

The essay collection was spawned out of one of the dismissive, contemptuous, and misogynist jab at former US Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton by her rival for the Presidency this last election. Editors Heather McDaid  and Laura Jones in the wake of results of the election decided to draw together as many committed, vocal, and intelligent women as they could to voice not mere opposition but launch a counterattack. Their crowd-funding campaign exceeded its target, and the collection voicing the issues confronting all women–labor, race, gender, sexual assault, immigration, and contraception–was born.

The talent assembled by these editors is astounding for each essay is deeply intimate yet universal in their impact. Here we see essays fiercely intent on re-orientating not just national conversations but international ones seemingly devoted to lazy, hateful thinking. When Sim Bajwa writes observing the type of angry white man who brought us the results of the US presidential election as well as Brexit, we all know not just the type but our own guilt in allowing them to dictate the conversation:

“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.”

The guilt we all share is perhaps best expressed in Kate Muriel’s contribution Independence Day where she identifies the naivety so many of us allowed to overtake us, 

“It was a naive part of me that saw Trump do and say such horrible things, witness him demonstrate his complete lack of capability and worthiness to lead, and though that even the most reprehensible people in my country would, at the last second, understand that to allow this would not ‘Make America Great Again.’ It would merely reveal the nasty, rotting heart of what America has become, what I daresay it has always been since it built a throne on stolen land and tried to crown itself kind of the world.”

 

Here is how we get to Joelle Owusu’s stunning essay The Dark Girl’s Enlightenment where she seems to channel the bone weary rage seen in so many black women on and off line,

“So, where am I now in 2017? I have just turned twenty-three, but I am tired–now exhausted of policing myself, my emotions and my looks just to make strangers around me comfortable. I have come to realize that my Blackness is a blessing and my sense of womanhood is also a blessing. But in spite of all this, I am Black before I am a person and I am Black before I am a woman. I tried for so long to put my Blackness and womanhood on the same level, but I know that they are both marginalised and not equal.”

Here is the crux of feminism and race, the point that makes intersectionality so vital because “without all women being included in the wide and varied spectrum, the fight for equality is useless.” Owusu isn’t staking out a position out of the blue. The demand that feminism be intersectional or else merely exist as a complicit liberalism empowering the kind of misogyny, misogynoir, racism, and rabid nationalism possible is the fight of the 21st century. It is especially the fight of Millennial women like Owusu and the others in this collection. In fact, this is the book I want to slap across the face of every Baby Boomer and quisling members of my own generation who fall into lazy and stupid deprecation of the Millennial generation. 

Nasty Women is one of the most balanced, comprehensive essay anthologies available. It articulates in bold language the stances that must be taken to oppose and overcome the casual racism and sexism now so boldly leering at us all, infecting our understanding of how to relate to one another. Yet, Nasty Women isn’t just about protest, about resistance. It is also, in nearly every essay in the collection, a call and blueprint for the future in which we want to live. This collection of essays is generative and aspirational, not just angry, cutting, and powerful. 

 

**

The Nasty Women

Ren+Aldridge+Petrol+Girls+(keira-aneephotography)

Ren Aldridge is an artist, musician and writer. She fronts feminist hardcore punk band Petrol Girls who released their debut album Talk of Violence in November 2016. Ren completed her BA Fine Art at Goldsmiths in 2013 where she was Women’s Officer on the Students Union. All of Ren’s creative output involves words and symbols, from large scale text sculptures to textile poems; lyric writing to zines. Being involved in feminist and other forms of activism has inspired her increasingly to write. www.renaldridge.co.uk www.petrolgirls.bandcamp.com

Sim+Bajwa

Sim Bajwa is a sales assistant/admin assistant/writer living in Edinburgh. She graduated from Edinburgh Napier with an MA in Creative Writing in 2016. Her work has previously been featured in Fictionvale Magazine and Helios Quarterly, and she is currently working on her first fantasy novel. Her favourite things are nail polish, chocolate, and cats.

 

Sasha de Buyl-Pisco is a writer and illustrator based in Edinburgh. From Belgium by way of an extended stint in Ireland, she writes short stories and makes comics. You can find her on Twitter at @sashadebuyl and keep up to date with her work on http://www.sashadebuylpisco.com

laura-jane-grace-sinead-grainger

Laura Jane Grace is the singer and songwriter behind the band, Against Me! 

404ink-logo-2

Rowan C. Clarke studied political sciences and human rights in France and Italy before moving to the UK. She now works in publishing and lives in Scotland with her wife, pets and overfilled bookshelves.

kristy-diaz

Kristy Diaz (@diazzzz) is a communications professional and music writer based in Leicester, via the USA. She is a contributor at Track 7 and Upset Magazine, as well as a number of DIY zines. She graduated with a BA in Arts Management in 2008 and has been a passionate supporter of independent music for many years as a DJ, label co-founder and fan. Her interests include intersectional feminism and left-wing politics, supporting the Leicester Riders basketball team, and hanging out with her cat.

Claire+Heuchan

Claire L. Heuchan writes as the award-winning blog Sister Outrider, covering themes such as intersectional feminism, race in the feminist movement, and Black feminist praxis. She is a freelance writer and feminist workshop facilitator – sharing ideas is her passion. In her spare time Claire volunteers for Glasgow Women’s Library and is a member of the Scottish Queer International Film Festival committee. 

Aside from writing, activism, and getting salty on Twitter
(@ClaireShrugged), Claire researches Black feminists’ use of digital media in activism. Claire is a PhD candidate at the University of Stirling, where she attained her MLitt in Gender Studies.

Elise_Hines

Elise Hines is a 20-year veteran of the world of Information Technology, an accomplished Technical Communicator, and, at times, a concert photographer. She’s a native of New York City and currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Becca+Inglis

Becca Inglis wants to be the girl with the most cake. She is an Edinburgh-based writer who regularly reviews theatre and poetry for TV Bomb, with a special focus on women writers and artists. She has previously been published in the Dangerous Women Project and blogged for Hollaback!, Linguisticator, and Lunar Poetry. Becca has branched out into other female musicians since discovering Hole ten years ago, but Courtney Love is still the reason that she bleaches her hair.

Nadine+Aisha

Nadine Aisha Jassat is the author of Still, a poetry pamphlet exploring women’s stories and women’s survival, and the editor of Rise, an anthology of women’s writing from YWCA Scotland – The Young Women’s Movement. She has performed solo shows at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Just Festival, and was the first Writer in Residence for The Young Women’s Movement. Nadine works in the movement to end gender-based violence, and has worked with young people to create theatre exploring sexual violence. She delivers feministcreative writing workshops and is currently focusing on creative participation with young women of colour exploring sexism, racism and Islamophobia. 

Jona+Kottler+

Jonatha Kottler is from Albuquerque, NM where she was a lecturer in the Honors College at The University of New Mexico. She moved with her husband, son, and three very well-traveled cats from the USA to Amsterdam before falling head over heels in love with Edinburgh. She is a happy member of Edinburgh’s Write Like A Grrrl community and runs a reading and writing group for the local charity ECAS. She read a piece at Story Shop at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August 2016 and recently contributed to the Dangerous Women Project. She is currently completing her first novel.

Laura+Lam

Laura Lam was born in the late eighties and raised near San Francisco, California, by two former Haight-Ashbury hippies. After studying literature and creative writing at university, she relocated to Scotland to be with her husband. Her first book, Pantomime, the first book in the Micah Grey series, was released in 2013, which was a Scottish Book Trust Teen Book of the Month, won the Bisexual Book Award, was listed a Top Ten Title for the American Library Association List, and was nominated for several other awards. The sequel, Shadowplay, followed in 2014, as well as several the Vestigial Tales, self-published short stories and novellas set in the same world. The third book in the series, Masquerade, will follow in 2017. Her latest book is False Hearts, a near-future thriller released in June 2016 by Tor/Macmillan. She is still hiding from sunshine in Scotland and writing more stories.

Jen+McGregor

Jen McGregor is an Edinburgh-based writer and director. She works mostly in theatre with occasional forays into fiction, poetry and other forms of writing. She blogs about mental health, arts politics and whatever else catches her attention at jenmcgregor.com.

Her recent work includes #SonsOfGod: Vox, a futuristic adaptation of Coriolanus that is currently touring Italy, Volante, a play about an 18th century rope dancer currently in development with Fronteiras Theatre Lab, and Unfinished Demon Play, which was written with guidance from Rob Drummond under Playwrights’ Studio Scotland’s mentoring scheme. 

When she’s not chained to the keyboard, Jen can be found playing computer games, feeding squirrels in the Botanics or chasing her cat around in the forlorn hope that he’ll someday love her back. She is married to fellow 404 Ink contributor Mark Bolsover.

Katie+Muriel

Katie Muriel is a 20-something mixed Latinx chick, rabid intersectional feminist, writer, and future cat lady. She is also a university student with an A.A.S. degree in criminal justice who is currently working toward a Bachelors in criminology. The goal is victim advocacy, but for the moment, she is mainly focused on school and how many seasons of any given show she can feasibly marathon on Netflix in a single day. The word ‘bibliophile’ is her favorite identifier and she’s positive she’ll never have enough bookshelves. 

Christina+Neuwirth+(Credit+Manchester+Metropolitan+University+Cheshire)

Christina Neuwirth was born in Austria and now lives in Edinburgh. Her short fiction has been published in Gutter and 404 Ink. Christina has written and directed short films, performed at the Scottish International Storytelling Festival and produced and written zines. Her novella Amphibian was shortlisted for the 2016 Novella Award, and she is currently working on her first novel. 

Belle-Owen

Belle Owen has spent a large portion of her life traveling and living all over the world, recently returning home to Adelaide, Australia after 2.5 years in Toronto, where she worked in marketing and social media for a fashion designer, running an accessible brand. When she isn’t scouring the world for vegan treats, she is writing on a freelance basis about music, entertainment and accessibility issues. Belle is a strong advocate for social change and accessibility awareness, and often discusses these issues in her writing, presentations and online presence. Her work projects have been featured by Vice, Harper’s Bazaar, Fashionista.com, Notable.ca, Huffington Post and refinery 29.

Joelle+Owusu

Joelle Owusu is a Surrey-based writer who currently works in publishing. She recently graduated from the University of Aberdeen with a BSc in Petroleum Geology. As a staunch advocate for intersectional feminism, she is committed to helping others acknowledge, accept and embrace their individuality. As a way of encouraging young people (especially People of Colour) to open up about their mental health, she self-published her diary, ‘Otherness’ in October 2016.
@joelle_o.

Chitra-Ramaswamy

Chitra Ramaswamy is an award winning journalist and writer. Her first book, Expecting, a collection of nine essays for the nine months of pregnancy and birth, was published in April 2016 by Saraband. It won the Saltire First Book of the Year award and has been described as “immediately, poignantly, gripping… magnificent” by Zoe Williams, “elegant, funny, brimming with acute observations and suffused with a gentle intimacy” by Gavin Francis,  and “a glorious read” by Denise Mina. She currently writes mainly for The Guardian and lives in Edinburgh with her partner, young son, and rescue dog.

Mel+Reeve

Mel Reeve lives and works in Glasgow. She recently graduated from an MSc in Information Management & Preservation at the University of Glasgow, working first as an archivist on a project cataloguing Sue Ryder’s life, and now in Information Governance. She recently self-published ‘Salt Water’, a ‘zine of poetry and photography and continues to contribute creative writing pieces to various ‘zines and online projects. She also helps to run the Glasgow branch of Arts Sisterhood UK, who hold free and accessible art therapy classes for women. @melreeve 

 

Zeba+Talkhani

Zeba Talkhani is a writer and production editor with an interest in identity, feminism, intersectionality and social deconstruction. @zebatalk 

Alice+Tarbuck

Alice Tarbuck is a writer and researcher based in Edinburgh. She is completing a PhD on poet and visual artist Thomas A. Clark. Recent publications appear in Dangerous Women, Antiphon, Zarf and Three Drops from the Cauldron. She is part of Edinburgh writers collective content work produce form. She is on Twitter: @atarbuck 

Laura+Waddell

Laura Waddell is a graduate of the University of Glasgow with an MLitt in Modernities and works as a publishing professional. As a freelance literary publicist specialising in translation her clients have included Les Fugitives, CB Editions, and Calisi Press, and formerly, Marketing Manager of Freight Books. She is also a Board Member of PEN Scotland and creator of poetry newsletter Lunchtime Poetry. As a writer of articles, criticism, and fiction, she has been published in The Digital Critic (OR Books, 2017), the Independent, Sunday Mail, 3:AM, Gutter, Glasgow Review of Books, Bella Caledonia, Libertine, TYCI, and Parallel magazine.

 

Kaite+Welsh

Kaite Welsh is an author, critic and journalist living in Scotland. Her novel The Wages of Sin, a feminist historical crime novel set in Victorian Edinburgh, is out from Headline in June 2017. It is the first novel featuring medical student, fallen woman and amateur sleuth Sarah Gilchrist, with two further books due in 2018 and 2019. Her fiction has featured in several anthologies and she writes a regular column on LGBT issues for the Daily Telegraph as well as making frequent appearances on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. In 2014 she was shortlisted for both the Scottish New Writers Award and the Moniack Mhor Bridge Award. She has also been shortlisted for the 2010 Cheshire Prize for Fiction and the 2010 Spectrum Award for short fiction.

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