Supersonic: Third Wave Feminism and the Importance of the “Hard Femme”-Cee (via Geekquality)

A final, fantastic Geekquality cross-posting written by Moxie Munroe. Thanks again to everyone over at our cherished sister blog for their thoughtful contributions and ongoing inspiration. We love you! Keep up the empowering, nourishing work. ~Mer

It’s a widely accepted idea that music, like fashion, social movements, and menstruation, runs in cycles. Sometimes this theory runs less true than others, but right now I think it’s pretty applicable. Because right now, in the year of our Lord 2012, three things are making a huge media comeback: feminism, babydoll dresses, and female [presenting] emcees. This is important on several different levels, one being that the rise of the female emcee in 2012, and the performance styles they’ve adopted, gives us the chance to have some real conversations about race, class, and presentation in the role of third wave feminism.

You might say, “But Moxie, this is a blog for geeks by geeks! What does this have to do with my geek culture?” And I might answer, “Well, you beautiful newborn baby, geek culture is fringe culture, just like this is fringe culture. Music geeks are geeks too, and music geeks encompass a wider berth than just Flaming Lips fans, so get over it – hip-hop geeks need some shine too, and the issues we’re dealing with here are the same issues we deal with when we talk about representation of women of color in media in general, including comics, so double get over it, zip your lips and listen up, sporty.” And you might say, “Moxie, that’s mean!” And I might say “I don’t care!” So let’s continue.

Third wave feminism, is Now feminism; it’s pop feminism; some people might identify it as “girl power” Spice Girls feminism. It’s important, because this particular wave allows us to focus on things like sexual progressiveness and agency as it exists within the feminist sphere. A lot of the criticisms surrounding third wave feminism (and feminism in general) focus on the perceived and actual exclusion of race, class, and gender presentation in discourse. Several of the up and coming femcees in 2012 serve to challenge many of the practical aspects of both the standard patriarchy and the perceived paradigm of the feminist ideal. I’d say a lot of this is because most femcees exist in a racial/sexual no-man’s land, where subversiveness is almost necessary to survival.


Azealia Banks in GQ Magazine.

The first wave of femcees seems to have come around sometime in the 80s and early 90s with folks like Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Salt N Pepa, and TLC; with tracks like “Ladies First” and “None Of Your Business” lending a particularly feminist voice to the hip-hop game. As hot as these songs (and artists) were, none of them became banner anthems of the feminist movement, falling behind artists like Bikini Kill and other darlings of the Riot Grrl movement. Recently though, vintage fem-penned hip-hop has been getting more play in feminist circles, due in large part to this generation’s penchant for nostalgia, and also the rise of social media’s role in social movements, allowing more voices of color to come to the forefront of the conversation. Social media has aided in the diversity of the music scene as well, allowing more underground artists to be heard by a wide range of demographics.

But let’s get back to the future. Today’s crop of female emcees seems to be as influenced by the socially conscious hip-hop of the 80s and 90s as it is the more raw sexually charged female hip-hop of the early 00s, when artists like Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown ruled the school. The explicit lyrics of that form of the genre tended to turn off a lot of feminists who dismissed it as both heteronormative and degrading.

A Radical Gabfest With Laurie Penny


Author and independent journalist Laurie Penny, aka Penny Red. Photo © Montalbetti + Campbell.

Sharp, exuberant, funny, passionate, and radically progressive, Laurie Penny (aka Penny Red) has a lot to say, and she isn’t afraid to say it… no matter what. In early 2011, at the age of twenty-three, this English writer skyrocketed into the press with her on-the-ground, heart-in-mouth coverage of the UK student protests. Later that same year, her shrewd reportage of the NYC-based Occupy protests garnered her an even larger readership around the blogosphere, on Twitter, and via various mainstream media outlets.

Since then, Penny’s been a columnist for The New Statesman and has written several articles for The Guardian and The Evening Standard. Her first two books, Meat Market: Female Flesh Under Capitalism, and Penny Red: Notes from the New Age of Dissent, were both published in 2011 by Zero Press. Currently, she and our good chum Molly Crabapple are collaborating on an ebook project called Discordia for Random House. Penny’s also spearheading a super secret video series that will “aim to challenge contemporary debate culture” by implementing a time-honored salon format. More information on that coming soon.

I’ve been keen to interview Laurie Penny for ages. Earlier this weekend, we finally got around to talking, and talking… AND TALKING, via Gchat (she at her mum’s house in the woods somewhere in England, me at my folks’ place in the chaparral somewhere in California). In fact, we didn’t shut up for several hours. What follows is the lion’s share of that conversation, minus our occasional indecipherable segues into bat country. (Well, most of them, anyway.)

Good readers, let it be known that this transcript is quite long, so we’ve broken it up into sub-headed sections in the hopes of keeping your eyeballs from bleeding. Laurie, thanks again! Always happy to put a kettle on for you here at Coilhouse. Can’t wait to see what you and your “savage red pen of justice” get up to next!

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Mer: You’re not afraid to lead with deeply personal experiences. It’s fair to say that your approach often triggers some very polarizing reactions, both positive/appreciative, and negative/dismissive.  I’ve been wanting to ask you for a long time: how do you balance your openness and vulnerability with the inevitable need for thick skin and tough armor. How do you stay balanced? What’s your “safe space”, figuratively speaking?

Laurie:  Well, I do get a lot of attacks – people tell me I get more and more frightening trolling even than the usual barrage of hate and intimidation and slut-shaming that any woman raising her voice above a whisper on the internet has come to expect. It’s hard, sometimes. I’ve had very dark moments with it, and I don’t know how I would have coped without my friends. I’ve always been a sensitive person. I’ve had to develop a thicker skin, but at the same time I don’t want a tough hide. I think that’s a dangerous thing for a writer, particularly now. You can get to the stage where all criticism, even the legitimate, useful kind, just bounces off you, and you ossify into a little cocoon of your own prejudices. I’ve been very close to kicking it all in several times, particularly last spring, when I had some personal threats against my family on top of the rest of it, and I was also burned out from overwork. I started wondering if the toll it was all taking was worth it, the stress and exhaustion and panic attacks. When I get very low, which happens sometimes, I often think that I’d give up and shut up like these scumbags want if I didn’t hate the idea of letting them win. But spite alone is no way to work or write if you believe in doing your own small bit to change the world.

Mer: No, it’s not.

Laurie: Part of all this is particular to the British press, too. The culture of political debate in this country is toxic right now. Has been for years. And geographically as well as figuratively, it’s a very small island. Also, it’s just that some people really hate it when young women talk about things that aren’t shoes. Not that shoes aren’t important, too! In their own way.

The Enduring Power of the NYC Vogue Ball Scene and "Paris Is Burning"

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A quick heads up: NPR just posted “The Music and Meaning of Paris Is Burning“, an article by Julianne Escobedo Shepherd that discusses Jennie Livingston‘s classic 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning and the legendary scene and songs that it celebrates.

In addition to providing an overview of both the documentary and vogue ball culture (both past and present) the NPR feature includes testimonies from Big Freedia, Light Asylum, Zebra Katz, Del Marquis, and many others. A quick, great read. It’s also exciting to discover that the documentary –which has been, for decades, fairly difficult to track down a decent copy of– is now readily available on iTunes and Netflix Streaming.

The realm of Paris Is Burning: resonant and radiant as it ever was.

Aubrey Learner's Insect Sensuality

Artist Aubrey Learner‘s recent series of watercolor, graphite and ink drawings pair larvae and lace, scissors and satin, pollen and pins. As J. Schnabel of Blood Milk writes on Tumblr, “these drawings … make me want to bury my hands in dark soil. i’m especially interested in the tension of the sensual things we want against our body, the ribbons, the chamise, & the grotesque, yet intensely beautiful inclusion of the dark beetles & winged cicadas that make up these garments.”

BTC: Reformed Whores


Photo by Kristin Doennelly

NYC-based southern belles Marie Cecile Anderson and Katy Frame have a musical comedy duo called Reformed Whores. As such, they “sing about everything from venereal diseases to drunk dialing with sweet harmonies and old-timey flair.”

“I’m a Slut” is their shame name-repurposing, smile-until-it-hurts rebuttal to Rush Limbaugh, Santorum, and their ilk. YAAAAAAAAY, SLUTS!

Ed Sanders: Fuck You, A Magazine of the Arts (1962-1965)


“Fuck You” Opening Party is tomorrow (Thursday, February 16th) from 6pm-9pm. Exhibition closes Thursday, March 8th. Boo-Hooray is open every day from 11am-6pm.

There’s a gallery space down on Canal St. in NYC called Boo-Hooray; it’s a splendid place dedicated to 20th/21st century counterculture ephemera, photography, and book arts. Tomorrow evening (Thursday, Feb 16th) is the opening night for their most recent exhibition: a comprehensive collection of publications from Ed Sanders’ legendary Fuck You Press, including a complete run of Fuck You, A Magazine of the Arts.

Ed Sanders‘ an unofficial patron saint of the 20th century underground who has often been referred to as “the bridge between the Beat and Hippie Generations”.  More specifically, he’s a poet, singer, activist, author, and publisher. Any way you cut ‘n’ paste it, this man broke the mold and the mimeograph!

Boo-Hooray’s exhibition of fabulous Fuck You-ness will commemorate the publication of Sanders’ characteristically feisty, funny memoir, Fug You: An Informal History of the Peace Eye Bookstore, the Fuck You Press, the Fugs, and Counterculture in the Lower East Side (Da Capo Press).

Sanders shares a bit of history about his publication:

“In February of 1962 I was sitting in Stanley’s Bar at 12th and B with some friends from the Catholic Worker. We’d just seen Jonas Mekas’s movie Guns of the Trees, and I announced I was going to publish a poetry journal called Fuck You, A Magazine of the Arts. There was a certain tone of skepticism among my rather inebriated friends, but the next day I began typing stencils, and had an issue out within a week. I bought a small mimeograph machine, and installed it in my pad on East 11th, hand-cranking and collating 500 copies, which I gave away free wherever I wandered. (…)

Fuck You was part of what they called the Mimeograph Revolution, and my vision was to reach out to the “Best Minds” of my generation with a message of Gandhian pacifism, great sharing, social change, the expansion of personal freedom (including the legalization of marijuana), and the then-stirring messages of sexual liberation.

I published Fuck You, A Magazine of the Arts from 1962 through 1965, for a total of thirteen issues. In addition, I formed a mimeograph press which issued a flood of broadsides and manifestoes during those years, including Burroughs’s Roosevelt After Inauguration, Carol Bergé’s Vancouver Report, Auden’s Platonic Blow, The Marijuana Review, and a bootleg collection of the final Cantos of Ezra Pound.

Other contributors to Fuck You included Allen Ginsberg, Andy Warhol, Julian Beck, Ray Bremser, Lenore Kandel, Charles Olson, Tuli Kupferberg, Joel Oppenheimer, Peter Orlovsky, Philip Whalen, Herbert Huncke, Frank O’Hara, Leroi Jones, Diane DiPrima, Gary Snyder, Robert Kelly, Judith Malina, Carl Solomon, Gregory Corso, Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley, Michael McClure, Ted Berrigan, Joe Brainard, Gilbert Sorrentino, and countless others.

It was a ‘zine “dedicated to free expression, defying taboo subjects, celebrating sexual liberation and the use of psychedelics years before the Summer of Love. Sanders and his collaborators bridged the Beats of the Fifties and the counterculture of the late Sixties, and helped define many of the differences between the two—the latter building on the breakthroughs initiated by the former.”

The Fuck You opening party is happening Thursday, February 16th – 6pm-9pm. Sanders will be reading from/signing copies of his book. Exhibition closes Thursday, March 8th. Boo-Hooray is open every day from 11am-6pm.

New Yorkers! Don’t miss this! (And by all means, report back in comments.)

(Hat tip to William Gibson.)

“Knocked The Bottom Out of Me”? Knock it off, PETA.

Oh, PETA…


(via SigKate)

Can’t you folks create any campaigns that don’t hinge on some form of insipid, othering, sexist objectification? It shouldn’t be that difficult, considering your stated aims. Here’s an idea: rather than euthanizing a vast majority of your rescues, how about hiring ‘em to come up with some new marketing and promotional material for ya? Argh… I’m halfway serious. It’s entirely possible that a golden retriever could provide something more palatable than the dehumanizing dreck you keep churning out like, well, sausage.

Seattle Stranger commenter CrankyBacon puts it well: “This isn’t a sex-positive vs. prude situation. Women can be engaged in policy issues, make coherent arguments, be persuasive, protest, etc. They have more to offer than standing naked outside a butcher shop, or pretending to give a blow job to a cucumber and titty fuck a carrot.” Female activists have more to offer than going nude to titillate for the cause. Women can aid your agenda in ways that don’t require them to be depicted as battered, pantsless-in-public, grocery-buying/fanny-flaunting fuckholes for ubersexed males. (Sure, naked men sometimes feature in your campaigns, but not nearly as often, and never presented in a remotely similar context.)

“Chicks Agree”? No, actually. Not this “chick”. Not with the persistent, lazy, women-as-meat misogyny, anyway. C’mon, PETA, don’t you owe it to human beings and animals alike to try to encourage more responsible and respectful discourse?

Compare and Contrast: Teen Girls Talking About Gender on YouTube

Two very different videos of teenage girls airing our their grievances on YouTube have gone viral in the past two days. Here they are. Compare and contrast:

On the uplifting side, we have a 13-year-old vlogger named astrorice articulating the concepts of slut shaming and rape culture. “While I am fully aware that this is a bit of an unorthodox topic for a thirteen year old virgin to be talking about, it’s an important issue to discuss, and a great topic for girls my age to know about,” writes astrorice.

As Aaron Muszalski noted on Facebook, “This is the most inspiring thing I’ve seen this year. Seriously a must-watch. An amazing young person speaking out — eloquently and forcefully — about a topic that many people much older than her still have a hard time wrapping their heads around. Or indeed, even acknowledging its existence. Major props. As unfortunate as the issue of slut shaming is, this video and its maker give me great hope for the future.”

And on the dark side, there’s this: a 14-year-old girl calling for the boycott of Girl Scouts due towards their inclusive policy towards transgendered kids: in particular, a 7-year-old transgender child who was allowed to join Girl Scouts in Colorado. Richard Metzger writes, “From what I can make of her argument, young Taylor here seems to think that high school age boys are suddenly going to want to wear drag and join the Girl Scouts so they can rape her or something? Taylor, there are far, far easier ways for teenage boys to get laid! … Do you really want to be the Rebecca Black of intolerance? For the rest of your life?” Audrey Penven adds, “Shame on her parents for sucking so hard. Shame on her community for nurturing this kind of close-mindedness.”

These children, they are our future.

Championship Masturbation

In case you weren’t sure if there was a contest for everything, Metropolis TV is here to assure you that yes, indeed there is. The above preview of their new season on masturbation spotlights Masanobu Sato who one both the 2008 and 2009 Masturbate-A-Thon, held by the Center for Sex & Culture in San Francisco. Both times he set a record, the current being 9 hours and 58 minutes, a time that sounds as impressive as it does painful.

In an especially surreal moment we get to watch Soto begin his day with a 2 hour “practice session”. There he sits, cross-legged on the floor, peacefully watching the news while his girlfriend sews, all the while casually working an artificial vagina over his turgid member. His girlfriend, for her part, sees this as a hobby, not unlike her sewing, She even helps him “train” by timing him, a decidedly different reaction than I would probably get from my girlfriend if I decided to jerk off on the couch in front of her every morning. There is also a harrowing moment in which their cat climbs on his leg to investigate, running the risk of being pulled into the thresher like vortex created by Sato’s inexorable pumping.

Things turn even weirder, though not unexpectedly, when we accompany Soto to his favorite adult video store. Here he explains his particular taste in pornography: specifically adult anime, explaining that a “real female” can be both smelly and/or dirty, whereas, conversely, the women in anime are nice and clean. Which is true, but really, it’s not something we should be saying out loud. Just let those dirty, stinky women live in ignorance. Better to suffer in silence like a gentleman than complain aloud like a man best known for stroking his dick for nearly 10 hours at a time.

Credit where credit is due, though. A lesser man than Soto would no doubt collapse around the one hour mark, exhausted, frustrated, and horribly, horribly chafed. There are worse things, I suppose, than being known as the world’s premiere practitioner of the autoerotic arts. Better to be recognized for a talent than have none at all.

Mythical Proportions: Centaur Love in Contemporary America (NSFW!)

When I initially saw Nadya’s “Hot Human-on-Centaur Action” post in drafts, I just assumed she’d beat me to the punch with this gloriously (and mysteriously) perverted silliness:


Via Douglas, with thanks. And a vague, yet all-pervading sense of awe.

How delightful to realize, no! Apparently, there’s just some redolently centauromachian vapor riding the air currents right now.

Folks, it’s officially CENTAUR WEEK on Coilhouse.

Consider yourselves warned.