I spoke to Brut media about the harmful use of the racial slur “Gypsy” and “gypped.” I see the word used so often in writing, media, brands, and few people know that it refers to the Romani people, and reinforces negatives stereotypes about us like nomadism, curses, thievery, and promiscuity. Many Americans believe that the word Gypsy actually means thief, nomad, curse-thrower, or ‘slut,’ and this erases Romani identity at a crucial time while we are fighting for our rights, and associates the real Romani people with theses stereotypes. I am proud of my Romani heritage and I want people to understand who we are. I’ve written many articles on other aspects of Romani culture, which you can find on my Writing page. If you know someone who uses this word, even if they think they are using it in a positive way, you might like to gently and lovingly educate them on the power of language and the history of this slur. Thanks for watching!
I was delighted to review a book I love, Witches, Sluts, Feminists by Kristen J. Sollée, for BUST.com. Here’s an excerpt:
As a Romani woman from a long, matrilineal line of healers and magic workers, how could I fail to be intrigued by Kristen J. Sollée’s book, Witches, Sluts, Feminists. It’s a scintillating, wry, and accessibly academic overview of the witch archetype in relation to the European and American witch hunts, and to the festival of misogyny in current American politics. Sollée, a professor of Gender Studies at The New School, teaches a popular class on the same topic. In the book, Sollée explores the deadly interplay of women’s financial and social autonomy, and sometimes sexual liberation, during the inquisition and the days of colonial America. Today, though sex and power can still be damning for women, they can also be quite a combination for activism and protest art.
In my review, I discuss the ways in which my own experience with witchcraft relates to Sollée’s work, and the ways in which she acknowledges that so much of modern Paganism is often unapologetically appropriative, and what can be done to initiate that healing. I should explain that my first line,”A Romani woman from a long, matrilineal line of healers and magic workers….” refers to the very ordinary magic of herbalism, energy work, and prayer that many Roma practice. My grandmother claims the title witch because it is understood by outsiders, and I do too. And while I am an English professor, writer, and editor, I also work the family trades, fortune telling and dancing, still practiced by some Roma. Like all Roma, I am not one thing. Romani people aren’t inherently magical, and most would be reluctant to claim the words “magic” and “witch” the way my family does, because these practices are not out of the ordinary. They are everyday healing, and I think that’s what Sollée is saying in her book too. The witch/slut archetype are very human, and that humanity is extraordinary in its tradition, practicality, and power.
For the full review on http://www.bust.com, follow this link: http://bust.com/books/193139-witches-sluts-feminists-kristen-sollee-review.html
“A daily reminder that the wage gap is real.” We know that women, statistically, only make 79 cents to a man’s dollar, and that percentage drops if you’re a mother, transwoman, and/or a woman of color. This 79% work clock is part of a fantastically clever campaign to make this inequality more salient. What would it be like if, at the 79% mark of our workdays, we just walked out? Keep this beauty on your desk. Remind everyone that the gender wage gap must end.
TheEnd of the Tour (dir. James Ponsoldt, 2015) tells the story of writer David Lipsky’s unpublished Rolling Stone interview with David Foster Wallace, in which Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg), an emerging writer of some acclaim, follows Wallace (Jason Segal) on a five-day book tour, pitching questions the whole way along the road of junk food, hotels, and indie bookshops packed with fans. The screenplay, by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Donald Margulies, is based on Lipsky’s memoir Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace. When first meeting Wallace in The End of the Tour, he is strikingly wry, reclusive, and aloof, which could be mistaken for the personality of a writer too full of his own genius to be close to the world. But soon Lipsky and the audience see that Wallace’s distance is the product of anxiety, his cutting quips…
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I’ve been honored to have three poems about childhood sexual trauma appear in Luna Luna Magazine, a favorite ezine of mine (and sister publication to Quail Bell Magazine). These poems are the first to be published from a series on trauma that I’ve been working on for many years. I’m putting together the manuscript alongside the novel I’m working on about Coco, a half-Romani (Gypsy) dancer and fortune teller at a Parisian circus who becomes a Nazi hunter. Coincidentally, the novel will contain a few poems. I’m so motivated to finish both projects within the next year. A large part of that is due to the warm reception that these poems have gotten– I couldn’t be more grateful or more touched. Many thanks. And a big thank you to Lisa A. Flowers, founder of Vulgar Marsala Press and author of diotomhero, who solicited me. I also got a lot of good advice about writing trauma poetry from Erin Belieu, Florida State University professor and co-founder of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, and I so appreciate her help and encouragement. Check out Erin’s latest book Slant Six, and its starred review in Publisher’s Weekly.
You may know Luna Luna for their powerful feminist content, their fierce leader Lisa Marie Basile (Apocryphal), their cutting edge poetry and fiction, and their articles and features on alternative spirituality, the occult, and beautiful cultural practices from all over the world. One of my new favorite things is their Poescopes, that is, poetic horoscopes by Fox Foley-Frazier (Exodus in X Minor), curator of The Infoxicated Corner of The The Poetry Blog. P.S. I have some poems about Romani rights and mythology in the Infoxicated Corner as part of the Political Punch series.
Thank you for reading, readers. I feel fearsome and strong, and I’m writing like a demon. I was a demon for Halloween, by the way.
You don’t have to go to that party dressed as a Sexy Bed Sheet! I’ve got you covered. And even if you already have a costume in mind, it’s worth checking out this Quail Bell Magazine Halloween costume guide before you head to the shindig.
This is the story of the first time I stepped inside a caravan and spent the night, the antigypsyism that met me at the estate, how my grandmother’s family settled in Nazi Germany, and why fortune-telling is an enduring family trade. It’s all related.
Thank you so much, Quail Bell Magazine, for giving me the space, support, and energy to explore this for Roma & Traveller History Month. I love writing for you.
I tip my tiny burlesque top hat to you, Bettie Page.
Page, risen from poverty and trauma, grew up to ignite her own successful career and a sexual revolution. Charged multiple times with indecency, her battle cry, “I’m not indecent” dared to elevate women’s naked bodies, no longer impure or passive-and-possessed.
Image source: http://www.seantcollins.com
Tori Rodriguez’s fantastic article in The Atlantic, “Male fans made Bettie Page a star but female fans made her an icon” takes a good look at Page’s life, career, icon-status, and the upcoming film Bettie Reveals All. http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/01/male-fans-made-bettie-page-a-star-but-female-fans-made-her-an-icon/282794/
“…Bettie Page Reveals All, a new movie about her life, is the first film to tell her story in her own voice—in fact, she’s the narrator. Based on a series of interviews with Academy Award-nominated director Mark Mori several years before her death, the film recounts how—despite a childhood in Nashville, Tennessee rife with neglect, sexual abuse by her father, and extreme poverty—she managed to graduate at the top of her high school class, earn a college degree, and forge her own career. Page also reveals details of her struggle with paranoid schizophrenia, which included 10 years spent in a psychiatric hospital after abandoning her modeling career….” –excerpt from The Atlantic
“I’m not indecent!” frees Page from the role of victim as well– sexual abuse tells the survivor that there is something wrong with his/her body and that his/her body is solely for someone else’s pleasure, yet Page goes on to confront sex and sexuality not as an object, but as a career woman of agency and sex-positive expression.* That’s not to say she didn’t suffer. We know she did. That’s not to say that burlesque and modeling are always routes to empowerment and healing. We know they aren’t. And still, I can’t help but see Bettie Page’s career as a giant “fuck this noise” to sexual repression and the oppression of women. Her icon-presence radiates strength, even when she’s “hog-tied and gagged.” We still look to her for pin-up power-ups.
“….for many women, Page symbolizes self-confidence, unapologetic sexuality, and bold authenticity.”
“‘Bettie’s female fans often feel a deep emotional connection with her, which I think says a lot about the rigid expectations women still face,’ Mori says. ” –excerpts from The Atlantic
And so, my refrain: I tip my tiny burlesque top hat to you, Bettie Page. Live on in glory.
Image source: http://www.pinuppassion.com
*If you’re interested in sex-positive empowerment for sexual trauma survivors, you may want to check out Healing Sex: A Mind Body Approach to Healing Sexual Trauma by Staci Haines.