September 26th, 2008 | Travels and Appearances, Uncategorized

fire tree

I’m home in Vermont after a three-day jaunt to the midwest, and look what happened while I was gone! The woods are aflame.

I carted State By State on my trip with me, which added a strange new dimension to the always strange experience of being hyperlinked across the country from airport to airport. I read Dave Eggers’ essay on Illinois en route to Chicago. And Susan Choi’s on Indiana as I flew over the soybean grid to Indianapolis. Tony Horwitz’s grisly Virginia as I hopped back north to Cleveland, and then Andrea Lee’s haunting Pennsylvania as I flew into the dusk on a gentle parabola back to Vermont over Lakes Erie, Ontario, and Champlain.

All of the essays I’ve read so far are wildly different–some intimate and personal (Indiana, Pennsylvania), some sprawling and historical (Alabama, California, Virginia), some microsopically particular (Arkansas), some grandiloquently general (Illinois), but similar themes are touched on in almost all the pieces: the loss of the natural landscape to sprawl, the decimation of the native people who lived here, the forces of conservatism and provincialism, and the author’s own unsentimental yet slightly mystical love for each particular place.

It’s a good book to be reading right now when I’m in such a pitch of despair over the future of the republic—an excellent antidote to Palin-dronian cynicism.

Look, here are a couple oddities from my trip. This is the front porch of the Women’s Center at De Pauw University. Jeanette Johnson-Licon, the director, hand-lettered the whole deck in silver Sharpie in an allusion to a scene in my memoir Fun Home.

I think porch

And check this out! Did you know they have segregated drinking fountains at the Indianapolis airport?
separate drinking fountains

Being a paper fetishist, I’ve often admired these giant paper airplanes in the escalator-well of the Cleveland airport, but I never have my camera handy. They’re made from sheet metal painted to look like newspaper, lined notebook paper, and a page from a yellow legal pad.

giant cleveland paper airplanes

I have to say, appalling and terrifying as this country can be, and suspicious as I am of that slippery slope between patriotism and nationalism, at the moment I’m feeling a strange tenderness for these united states.

PS. Hey, bookmark this! My buddy Phranc’s starting her own daily variety show, Phranc Talk! Here’s the first episode, on YouTube. Or you can also get to it via her Facebook page.

68 Responses to “fire!”

  1. melish says:

    i feel as if i’ve been relegated to the children’s drinking fountain. oh wait, what’s that, i have?


  2. Rose says:

    Jeannette Johnson-Licon is so, so, so awesome and that porch is totally characteristic of her. It’s always encouraging to me now that I’m away from my alma mater when good things like you visiting happen at DePauw.

  3. Ginjoint says:

    If you lean back when looking at that beautiful picture of the woods, it’s…oddly erotic, in a Georgia O’Keefe sort of way, IF you know what I mean, AND I think you do. Matter of fact, now that I really look at it, there’s a pine tree toward the top that’s in exactly the right spot, IF you know what…O.K., I’ll stop now. (Wait! One more! – perhaps you missed Holly more than you realized? Ah, the unconscious always seems to show itself somehow, hm?)

    The drinking fountains! Gah! Why couldn’t they have just had two fountains at different heights, without the labeling? The thinking that went behind that is bizarre.

    Jeanette could’ve saved herself a lot of writing by using the “I think” symbol, but of course that wouldn’t have been nearly as cool. I love that porch. Next time you visit, maybe get a picture of you lying down on it, surrounded by the words. Alright, off to my crap job now.

  4. Kate L says:

    I think that the “Men” and “Women” signs are for entrances to rest rooms. When I was a child, and my family was visiting relatives in Texas, I did see “White” and “Colored” drinking fountains in a Texas coutny courthouse. And they meant it. I used the “Colored” fountain, then complained to my father and mother that the water wasn’t colored at all. An elderly black man listening to all this was very amused.

  5. John Z says:

    I’ve been reading the book as well, and I have to say some of my favorites are Maine (Heidi Julavits), Arizona (Lydia Millet), and Alabama (George Packer). Perhaps the only one I couldn’t get through was New Jersey (Anthony Bourdain), and I’m a Jersyite myself. Maybe it was the unrelenting landmark-dropping.

    But yes, give all 50 a shot. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Ready2Agitate says:

    “the loss of the natural landscape to sprawl, the decimation of the native people who lived here, the forces of conservatism and provincialism….”

    (sniff!) ๐Ÿ™

    That porch is phenomenal, though. The “paper” airplanes – who knew? The gorgeous deciduous trees. This was really fun to read – thanks for sharing yr trip with us, AB! The pitch of despair over the state of the republic… funny I’m feeling oddly hopeful these days – as even the more conservative newspapers slam McCain for his antics this week (“suspending my campaign” – feh!)

    Like how yr mind works, Ginjoint! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. Bookbird says:

    One picture to blow your mind (I love that artificial-looking orangey-pink color maple trees sometimes get, like someone scribbled over them with a highlighter), then open the post and there’s three more, all different, all stunning!

    The patience it took to write that all over the porch, and how right it is! A command, a suggestion, a reminder, an affirmation…

    The water fountains…didn’t anybody LOOK after they put up the bathroom signs? …wait…maybe they did… I wonder how long they’ll stay that way?

    I’ll be going through Cleveland Airport for the first time later this year, and I’ll be looking for those paper airplanes…

    I’m prepping to teach a survey course on “Modern American History,” reading about the late 19th century at the moment. It’s rather depressing how we seem to have circled right back, throwing away a hundred years of effort. Just have to do it all again…

  8. The Cat Pimp says:

    I get this as an RSS feed to livejournal and just about spewed my coffee when I saw the header. I thought you’d had a house fire. Don’t freak me out like that!

    BTW – I miss the autumn foliage. In autumn. We get ours in December.

  9. 'Ff'lo says:

    Now I’ve got to leaf through Fun Home and find the referenced scene! Sorry not to have it pop to mind right off.

    The Cleveland airport pic would make fine desktop wallpaper. Any objection if I use it thus?

  10. JoVE says:

    Palin-dronian cynicism: perfect description

  11. Ellen O. says:

    I was very touched by your piece in State by State, Alison. (Loved your observations on the wood stoves!) Reading yourself story, I felt sad that I don’t experience that kind of connection with Colorado, where I’ve lived for 25 years now.

    But, as Benjamin Kunkel says in his essay about Colorado, “None of Colorado’s borders… corresponds to any natural fact [such as rivers or mountains], so that, even more than other states, Colorado has to secure its existence mostly in the mind.”

    And my mind is a rambling, unsettled place.

    I wonder if Vermont’s small size and lower population helps create a sense of unity, much like that of awesome New Zealand.

  12. Andrew B says:

    Alison, shouting fire in a crowded blog. Honestly. I, too, was wondering what had burned down while you were gone.

    Terry Castle wrote a piece for the London Review of Books last year in which she commented that one O’Keefe flower painting makes her think of someone farting in her face. No, really, she did. Even if you don’t like that attitude to O’Keefe, you should take a look at that article. (For the record, Castle comes to have a higher opinion of O’Keefe. The article’s not mostly about O’Keefe. It’s about Castle and her mother. There’s only the one line about farting during sex — which is the one I remembered, which probably tells you something about my level of emotional and intellectual development, but never mind.)

    Your picture of the signs over the water fountains is a nice illustration of how framing something a particular way can completely change its meaning. I also thought for a moment that some nutcase really had decided they needed to separate the women’s fountain from the men’s. Some leftover Phyllis Schlafly recalling the rhetoric of the ERA ratification fight.

    You know, that slow down cowboy message is really getting annoying. I hope whatever’s causing it will be fixed in the new version of the blog.

  13. Oh my freakin’ god. Have you seen this?

  14. I have to do something to distract myself from my disappearing Washington Mutual IRA.

  15. My mom actually clipped that Terry Castle article for me! I was developing quite a crush on her (Terry Castle, not my mom) until a friend pointed out her nasty side in this article she wrote about Patricia Highsmith. Even though I share TC’s love of Patricia Highsmith, and even though Patricia Highsmith would probably share TC’s self-loathing snarkiness about other lesbians, there’s just no excuse for this.

  16. Alex K says:

    WaMu were remarkably unhelpful at top levels (although branch staff were grand) on my one occasion to deal with them. I hope their bonuses are clawed back from them.

    Sorry about your JPMorgan IRA, though.

    I flew from Newark to Cleveland a few days ago and idly tried to pick out Beech Creek. Confabulation. Any of those green wriggles in the landscape could have been your mountain, your brook.

    And regarding Sarah: There’s nothing wrong, surely, with a lady wanting to look her best. And to get the highest price for what she has to offer.

  17. I don’t know what the deal is with the slow down cowboy message. I never get it. And look at me!

    I’ll try to figure it out–the guy who maintains my blog hasn’t been available much lately.

  18. Alex, years ago I was flying from Minnesota to NYC. I gazed out the window at one point, and was astonished to find myself looking directly down at my home town. It was instantly recognizable—the round hill called the “Bake Oven,” the long wall of Bald Eagle Mountain, the ribbon of Route 150, and the wide concrete dam with its attendant man-made lake pooling across the valley.

  19. I guess we were right on a flight corridor. As a kid I would lie in our backyard watching contrails being constantly drawn across the sky and erased. Where were all those planes going? Who was in them?

  20. Ellen O. says:

    I think your IRA is safe for the moment. It’s the WaMu shareholders who are losing out. I always liked WaMu’s playful language on their ATMs.

    I keep very little cash around and now think I should. Would the economy collapse if I pulled $500 from my Credit Union savings account?

  21. Ian says:

    What I like is Paulson’s complete independence from the industry he’s regulating. Absolutely no conflict of interest in having previously worked for Goldman Sachs, Wall St investment bank. Is it really true that the bailout bill contains a bar on judicial or congressional oversight of the funds? A $1 trillion blank check to Wall St to get them out of the shit that they got themselves (and us) into.

    By the way, I think I like the photo of Sarah “I can see Russia from my house!” Palin in her US flag bikini holding an assault rifle photo the most. Or maybe that’s a photoshop job.

    As a non-USAnian, can anyone explain to me how those people in Washington have ANY credibility left at all?

  22. The Cat Pimp says:

    The Palin in a bikini shot is a photoshop.

    As for credibility, Washington has none.

    What we do have is a guy who says he wants change and a guy who says he is a maverick. They are pretending to not have the stench of 8 years of Dubya on them. Its a smart move for both of them, quite honestly. I was impressed at how the RNC convinced Dubya to not show up in person. They’d have gone down 10% if he did.

  23. Bre says:

    I’ve read 11 on the men’s list and 17 on the women’s list. I credit most of that to English classes in years past and my constant anxiety as to whether or not I’m well-read.

  24. Ginjoint says:

    Ellen – yes, the woodstoves! I love those names! The stoves reminded me of how I’m looking forward to autumn, and once again wearing Lands’ End solid, warm, soft, cotton, boring clothes. My favorite.

    Ew, that video of Palin! Yes, this is who might possibly represent us on the world’s stage. May God have mercy on our souls.

    The drinking fountains – well, duh, OF COURSE the signs refer to the bathrooms. I, uh, realized that right away. *cough* O.K., I thought they did different height fountains because women do tend to be shorter than men. I still thought it was stupid.

    Speaking of which (stupid), Alison, I read that Terry Castle article, and…I’m not getting it. What’s got you riled up, I mean. I think it’s the snarky (O.K., mean) asides she does towards the Amazon collective and lesbians in the ’70s. If that’s not it, could you clue me in a little? I feel like an idiot here. Perhaps I’m more forgiving of snark when it comes from one of our own. And I have to admit, I really liked “as demented as survivors of the Donner party.” I’m sorry. I’m SORRY! Oh, fuck, I’m typing this and I’m still laughing at that line. Just in general, not aimed at the collective. I said I’m sorry.

  25. bronislava says:

    wow, that Terry Castle article (the 2nd one, that alison linked to) really is harsh! far out brussel sprout.

  26. Ginjoint says:

    I feel like Mary Tyler Moore laughing at the clown’s funeral.

  27. yeah, GJ, that’s what i found unforgivable. I don’t know, i don’t mean to get all sanctimonious, but humor at the expense of the less powerful (the original Amazon collective vs. Jeff Bezos) is a cheap shot in my book.

  28. Ginjoint says:

    Of course that’s unforgivable. Bullies set me off like nothing else. FWIW, one of the things about third-wave feminists that chaps my ass (not that Castle’s third-wave, but anyway) is when they mock the second wave. But I just didn’t feel it here the way you did. I hope you don’t think I’m an ass. Maybe it’s the 3 glasses of wine I’ve had. Maybe it was the word “demented”, which I’ve not heard in a while and is making me laugh. Blast the damn vino!

  29. Jana C.H. says:

    Third wave feminism? When did that start? I figure that to count as a new independent wave we would need a good fifty years of serious regression before a new feminist movement could be called a third wave. There has been some backsliding, but no real hiatus of feminism. Today’s young feminists, much as they might hate the idea, are second- and third-generation Second Wavers. We’re all– young, old, and middle-aged– part of something that’s been going on since the Sixties.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Elizabeth Cady Stanton: A womanโ€™s discontent increases in exact proportion to her development.

  30. Pam I says:

    Castle: “Even now, 30 years on, Highsmith’s bold denouement makes one want to squeak like a lost baby whale joyfully rejoining its pod.” Does that cancel out the spiterfulness? No, just makes me wonder why she lets the spite slip through.

  31. Ginjoint says:

    Jana, that is a very good point, and I think you’re correct. Maybe I’m not reading enough, but I do check in with the feminist blogs pretty much daily, and they all speak of this “third wave”. So I took it at face value instead of giving it even a little of my own thought. How lazy. I have noticed that many of the most popular feminist blogs are written by younger women – if anyone knows of any written by middle-aged or older women, I’d love a nod in their direction. Speaking of nodding, I have a frickin’ headache.

  32. Ellen O. says:

    Here’s a link to the trailer for the 35-minute film, State by State.

    And yes, Alison is in the trailer!

    The film is being shown at various bookstores, libraries, and small theaters around the country. Here’s a link for places and show times.

  33. Ready2Agitate says:

    Great thought for the day, Jana – thanks!

  34. Andrew B says:

    Jana, I have had a similar thought for some time. The first wave of (American) feminism lasted from ca 1850-ca 1920. Then the second wave started up a little before 1970. It’s ridiculous on its face to think the second wave ended around 1990 and we’re already into a third. I think “third wave feminism” is a combination of women trying to correct some of the mistakes of the second wave (often badly needed, but not comprising a whole new movement) with a hidden backlash agenda of burying the second wave. “Yes, second wave feminism was very important, but that’s all over now. What women need to do now is make choices.” Where “making choices” means being a consumer, and being isolated from other women and men who might form a coherent, politically powerful movement.

    Alison, thank you for pointing out the Slate piece. I have to agree that mocking people for having been pushed around by a bully is the bottom of the barrel, as is mocking them for being fat. What’s kind of sad is that Castle seems to feel such a need to prove she’s not one of THEM. Much of what she’s saying is true and worth saying (I think). But she doesn’t trust her own thoughts to stand on their merits.

  35. rebecca wire says:

    Wow! Jeanette! We were friends when I was in college! It’s been a decade since I last saw her – thanks for running the reunion bulletin board, Alison.

    I’ve been enjoying state by state. It’s a little long on effete hipsterism in places (Vegan Woody Allen’s trip to South Dakota, oy) but overall a nice mix. I dig the two graphic entries, plus the essays for Iowa and N Dakota and Susan Orleans on Ohio, of all the ones I’ve read so far.

    happy saturday everyone.

  36. Ginjoint says:


    Of course I’d be hurt if someone called me demented. As penance for my idiocy, I cleaned out the curbs in front of my building, which were clogged with mud and urban effluvia after we had 6 inches of rain a couple weeks ago. We’re a corner building, so the curb went on and on. I won’t tell you what I saw.

  37. Kate L says:

    Back in the late 70’s, lesbians on my campus would write themselves notes on the metal inner walls of the science library elevator. No internet back then! And,on my first trip to San Francisco years later, I saw all the women with short hair, flannel shirts, jeans and hiking boots and thought, “Wow, there are a LOT of women geologists here in San Francisco!”. It was like being home for the first time! Oh, A.B. – whenever I see something like that Sarah Palin beauty pagent video I think, “Gosh, what a tragic waste of someone who could have been a perfectly good lesbian!”

  38. NLC says:

    For any interested parties:

    “All Thing Considered”, announced that they were doing a piece on “State By State” on today’s (Sun’s) show.

  39. R2A says:

    I thought “Third Wave Feminism” distinguished itself from 60s/70s/80s feminism by being explicitly inclusive of the experiences of women of color and poor women — a reaction to the overwhelming whiteness of earlier feminism.

    So, I gandered over to Wikipedia for this article, which nods in Jana’s and Andrew’s directions, as well as my assumption:

  40. Anna in Albuquerque says:

    Nice shoes, Alison. What brand are they?

  41. Rosie says:

    Haha… Did anyone else notice that Palin still walks like she did in the swimsuit contest?

    Alison, about your trees… I just read “The Female Man” by Joanna Russ, and although I actually thought most of the prose was clunky and pretentious (!), there was this one very beautiful bit that stuck in my mind:

    “Waking up in a Vermont autumn morning, inside the glass cab, while all around us the maples and sugar maples wheel slowly out of the fog. Only this part of the world can produce such color. We whispered at a walking pace through wet fires…”

  42. Jana C.H. says:

    R2A– I’d say that by including more women of color, the second generation Second-Wavers have succeeded at something that the first generation knew was necessary but did not themselves accomplish. I call that the expansion of the Second Wave.

    The younger feminists are taking things forward, and when they become middle-aged and old, newer feminists will continue to take it forward. They, too, will try to distinguish themselves from their dull, stodgy mothers who didn’t go far enough by giving themselves a new name, but we’ll still recognize them as our political daughters and granddaughters.

    At least I HOPE they won’t revert to anti-feminism and give us another fifty-year hiatus before the Third Wave. If we’re lucky, feminism will continue to make things better for women, and we won’t need a Third Wave.

    Jana C.H.
    Saith Fridtjof Nansen: Fram!

  43. Ian says:

    I’m typing a paper for a professor on globalisation and he uses a quote from Antonio Gramsci (dead white male, but what can you do? It’s sociology), but the quote seems apposite to second/third wave feminism as well: โ€œ… the old is dying but the new has not yet been fully bornโ€ (Gramsci, 1971: 106).

    I thought it expressed well the transition between phases of a social movement. Of course, you could argue that second-wave feminism isn’t dead or even dying and that there’s no such thing as third-wave feminism. I don’t know – that quote just encapsulates how I feel about everything at the moment – the old world of the 20th century that we knew and loved (despite its faults) just seems to be disappearing and I have no idea what new world is being made right now.

  44. Aunt Soozie says:

    Ellen O. Yes, without a doubt… please don’t pull that $500. out of your credit union or we’ll all be f*#%ed. Wait, maybe we already… just hang tight and breathe… you don’t really need that $500…. do you?? Thanks for that states link.
    In reference to Sarah Palin? in the words of our beloved first lady Nancy Reagan, “Just Say NO!”
    For a moment there, when Alison was talking about our country I thought I was hearing a bit of Mo… and then when she was appalled by that article and kind of incensed. (is that how you spell that? or did I just say you were incense-d … as in, someone burned incense nearby and it made you smell all stinky and earth motherish? Well, either way, that would be annoying, I think.) Mainly, I just wanted to caution Alison that if she doesn’t write DTWOF ever again her characters may start to rebel and creep out of her brain into her daily life when she least expects it. All of them. Three faces of Alison or something like that….

  45. little gator says:

    *sigh* I haven’t been to the Brattle since forvere and I;’m only about 3/4 hour away.

    I can
    t be there thought, bor at Portsmouth. I’ll just stay home reciting Bogart-film dialogue to myself.

  46. Ready2Agitate says:

    The Brattle has a wonderful poster of Aimee & Jaguar in the women’s bathroom (righthand) stall (as well as Qiu Jou and others).

    “For a moment there… I thought I was hearing a bit of Moโ€ฆ”
    Me, too. Totally. Yup.

    @Aunt Soozie, yes they are spelled the same – the aromatic gum or other substance that produces a sweet (if you will) odor when burned; and the verb to infuriate, or inflame with wrath (thank you,

    @Jana – more great food for thought – thx. (and hear hear!)

  47. Alex the Bold says:

    Oh, Alison. The woods burn. They burn for you.

  48. Ready2Agitate says:

    How I’ll miss that reading at the Brattle tonight. Please share all the details! The sun is setting… Shana tova y’all!

  49. jessica max stein says:

    OMG my crush on Phranc is reactivated! Thanks!

  50. Hey! I’m in Cambridge. The State By State event at the Brattle Theatre tonight was a lot of fun. Look!IMG_1245

    This crafty lurker revealed herself to me there, and said it was okay to put her mug shot on the blog. I won’t tell you her name, though.

  51. Feminista says:

    Why,she looks like a young Sydney,complete with a striped shirt a la Mo.

  52. Ellen O. says:

    I just saw the State by State film at my local bookstore. Alison, it was thrilling to view you on the big screen. (Okay, the medium-sized screen; it *was* in a bookstore.) Among so many egos in the film, you were thoughtful, polished, and human. Very refreshing.

    I’ve been introduced to new writers through the book and the film version. Even more, it’s got me thinking about what it means, in this transient time, to be a member/resident/child of any given state.

  53. Eliza Triumphans says:

    I was at the Brattle Theater event last night (I was the one who asked the last question, about whether the book was a patriotic project). You were great, Alison!

    You mentioned independent stationery stores and how there are few left. If you are still in Cambridge, I wanted to PASSIONATELY recommend to you Bob Slate Stationery, which has three locations, all in Cambridge: one on Mass Ave in Harvard Square, one on Church St in Harvard Square, and one in Porter Square. You can buy the proverbial single envelope, along with forgotten, unglamorous accessories of the typewriter age like blue pencils and punched-hole reinforcers, but also browse a huge selection of pens and art materials, admire gorgeous notebooks from France and Spain, and pick up the best birthday cards.

    So in short, that’s, you = awesome; Bob Slate = awesome.

  54. Ginjoint says:

    Wait, Ellen, there’s a film? I completely missed this! Out of the loop once again. I am really enjoying State By State; last night I read Alabama, among others, which gave a great history on the state’s liberal past. When I’m done, I think I’ll loan it to my 94-year-old grandmother. Talking with her is always a history lesson – I’m interested in her take on the essays.

    The book reminds me that at the time of the first WPA series, there was so much more regionalism in the U.S. Now, homogenization is crawling across the country, wiping out local flavor. I wonder how we’ll look in fifty years.

    And to the secret poster in the photo above – c’mon, ‘fess up, cutie pie! It’s not so scary!

  55. little gator says:

    punched-hole reinforcers* aren’t so hard to find at big stores, but now they mostly come in assorted bright colors.

    Or as the gators call them “paper *ssh*les”

  56. freyakat says:


    I live in New York, which is where I was last night. (In other words that is not a picture of me.)

    HOWEVER, pardon me: “‘fess up, cutie pie!”? I don’t think so. I thought we worked in the whatever-number-it-is-wave of the women’s liberation/lesbian-feminist movement to make it pretty unlikely that someone on a blog like this one would say this patronizing shit.

    Sorry, but this really pisses me off.

  57. NLC says:

    Um, I certainly would never presume to speak for Ginjoint, but rather than “patronizing” I just assumed her “‘fess up … it’s not that scary” was simply in reference to her own appearance in the comments for the last article.

  58. Ellen O. says:

    For what it is worth, that line– fess up, cutie pie!– sounded like playful, friendly flirting to me. I guess it depends on the tone your imagination injects into it.

  59. Boyles says:

    Gaaahhhhhhhhh I am a Cambridge-Dwelling, Brattle-LOVING, Bechdel-Super-Fan who somehow COMPLETELY missed that this event was taking place!!!!!

    Ok I just have to explain to the universe (via this blog)that this turn of events is NO. FAIR.

    And now I will attempt to move on…

  60. Public Health Vet says:

    I agree with Ellen O. I’m a third generation feminist (wait, what wave does that make me? ๐Ÿ™‚ ) and I wouldn’t think twice if another woman said “fess up, cutie pie” to me as long as she wasn’t my co-worker. But I would be annoyed if someone else started policing others’ comments rather than letting me handle them myself… which I could do, even if I wanted my photo to remain anonymous.

  61. DeLandDeLakes says:

    I’m 26, which I guess would make me part of the “third wave.” But damn, I look back and I am way jealous of the second-wavers in a lot of ways. I’m in the generation of chastity pledges and Bust and Bitch magazine, which seem to have nothing better to do but blither about fashion and video games while Roe vs. Wade gets slowly killed….what I wouldn’t give to have “Free abortion on demand” be part of the feminist agenda again, and to generally get back to the attitude that sex is fun and positive.

  62. DeLandDeLakes says:

    Oh, and Freyakat, chill the hell out. Affectionate diminutives are not hate speech, and they sure as hell aren’t going anywhere, as long as the American South still exists. Save your battles.

  63. Ginjoint says:

    Wow. I guess I should chime in here. Thanks to those above who explained my tone, which as they noted, was meant to be both playful and a nod to my picture (decloaking, if you will) in Alison’s last post. I was under the impression that we were friends here who could gently tease and, Goddess help us all, use diminutives with each other. Also, I know how nice it felt to me to have others say sweet things about how I looked (given the year I’ve had), and I really wanted her to feel the same thing. If I offended the woman in the photograph, I sincerely apologize. That is as far as my apology will go.

  64. Dr. Empirical says:

    It always amazes me what people will find to be offended by.

  65. Kassie says:

    I can change the subject in a very minor but fun way…just saw Mike Leigh’s new movie, “Happy Go Lucky,” and in the first scene, set in a London bookstore, you can see AB’s “Dykes to Watch Out For” paperback! I started hooting, “Look! Dykes!!” and got shushed by a disgruntled patron behind me. Anyway, if you see this film, watch for it…

  66. Ready2Agitate says:

    Aw shucks, feminists, can’t we all just get along?

    I think I get Ginjoint, and even if I don’t, am familiar enough w her politics that I wouldn’t question her calling another woman on this blog a cutie-pie.

    But I also think I get Freyakat. The comment taken out of context – e.g. said patronizingly by someone with more power – would be completely irritating! Hone that righteous indignation, sister – when aimed wisely, I like it I like it!

    OK, so, Eliza, what was the response to yr question abt State by State and patriotism?

  67. DeLandDeLakes says:

    Arguing with people you agree with- thath’ what feminiths do betht!

  68. bean says:

    1. love the tigger reference.
    2. chiming in late, and i missed some of the comments above. so i hope these comments on “3rd wave feminism” are relevant and at least a little interesting:

    my understanding is that the “third wave” movement started when Alice Walker’s daughter Rebecca Walker graduated from Princeton (about 12 years ago?), realized like so many college students that she had no job skills, and so formed the organization Third Wave, which she was the president of. She had the resources to do it. (Then came _Bitch_ and _Bust_. Et, voila, a new “movement!”)

    I heard her speak right around that time, and was really pretty offended by the presentation. (to be fair, i haven’t read her books, and probably should…)

    Having not been around at the time of the suffragists, i pretty much understood through the 80’s that my feminist theory and activism followed, historically the 2nd wave women’s movement of the 60’s and 70’s. As a women’s studies student in college, i came to realize that there was no one movement; there were MANY strains of this movement, and the women in it descended from a variety of very different movements and life experiences.

    some liberal white feminists did descend from the disgruntled housewives that Betty Friedan described, and from the ensuing CR groups, and worked for things like equal pay for equal work and getting more women into elected office.

    many liberal and radical feminists descended directly from their frustrations with the white-boy new left. they wanted men to stop being violent rapist sexist asholes and they wanted birth control and abortion.

    some of those women turned out to be lesbians. some wanted to be lesbians. lesbian movements formed from those strains as well as from the women who had been lesbians all along in their own gay/queer subcultures. there were tensions…

    some women descended directly from the civil rights and black liberation movements. in the late seventies and eighties especially, there was an explosion of writing, theory and activism among feminist women of color. This lead to activism and writing by various other groups of women of color, as well as jewish women, and to discussions and debates about what disparagingly came to be called “identity politics.”

    Of course, there were always women of color and lesbians scattered through all these different movements. But, i think that when we say “second wave feminists” the image most people get are white women, maybe former housewives, or maybe bra-burning students and/or young women with very liberal politics. (including Rebecca Walker, who honestly should know better, having had the direct experience of having for a mother a very important feminist woman of color!) I’m trying to say that there were women with very radical politics that were a very important part of the second wave movement, and many (or most?) of those women were women of color and/or lesbians.

    So, when rebecca walker came along to tell us that we needed a new movement, a third wave movement because the second wave was racist white women, was simultaneously homophobic and man-hating, and was sex-negative, and that the third wave was going to appeal to younger women and men because, well it would be more fun and more sexy, more “black and white together,” more “gay and straight together,” more “can’t we all just get along?”… well, i kinda lost it.

    i mean, i don’t want to gloss over the racist mistakes that some strains of the white feminist movements did make. we made ’em, but we’ve also been accountable for ’em, at least, some of us have tried to be. But whatever, who cared about us, when there were women like Audre Lorde in the world? I think the biggest disaster will be if the “third wave” can’t be bothered to notice the work of Audre Lorde, and Crystos, and June Jordan, and Gloria Anzaldua, etc.

    so, that’s the framework that i use to understand feminist movement. i hope it’s not too historically inaccurate or offensive or racist. i’d love to hear thoughts.