My friend Emily Prince designed and embroidered it for me. I wanted an album cover that depicted real, touchable, substantial materials & handiwork (partly because of the album title, with its references to mending, and its excerption from the album’s central song—”Sadie”—which is full of sewing-related lyrics). It was actually a sort of distressing thing, initially, because I wanted to include everything significant and beautiful to me, and I didn’t know how that could be done. Emily and I started by itemising some objects which have accrued symbolic, nostalgic strength for us over the years (like narwhales, owls, hot air balloons, skeletons). We decided that she’d embroider these, and have them inhabit little fields of calico and burlap, the edges of which could touch and intersect, to give a sense of dense, almost airless amalgamation…because I think those symbols are at their most powerful when they brush up against each other. I’ve always been sort of obsessed by the alchemy of closeness, of cramming things together, compacting myth denser and denser.
Then we started collecting real objects… teeth, feathers, buttons, bones, acorns, a dead butterfly, leaves, coins, that sort of thing. And Emily attached them all to her tapestry. The photo went right in the center, with a macaroni frame, so it looked sort of like something a third-grader would make as a Mother’s Day gift, and sort of like a shrine for a dead person.” —Joanna Newsom on the cover of her album, The Milk-Eyed Mender
Rumors of the Feminist Card began circulating in the late 1800s and early 1900s during the rise of the women’s suffrage movement. Women who identified with the sociopolitically unpopular notion that women were equal to men would mysteriously receive a small card, by post, with the word FEMINIST, printed on one side in black ink, the other side blank. These cards were considered dangerous, and the consequences, should a woman be found with her FEMINIST card, were grave, so many women hid their feminist cards in the hems of their skirts or near their G-spots where they knew their husbands would never find them. When questioned about their cards, these women denied such existence vehemently, a practice that continues until today.
The FEMINIST cards were useful for allowing feminists to find like-minded women in a time when few women could publicly share their seemingly heretical ideas about equality. In church or other such male-approved gatherings, women would surreptitiously hold their FEMINIST card in a gloved left hand, and look around to see if other women were presenting their cards as such. After, these women would congregate in each other’s parlors to discuss freedom, voting, getting rid of corsets, and the latest skin treatments under the guise of sewing circles and “charity” work.
Once women received the right to vote, rather than become part of the mainstream, card carrying feminists became even more secretive. Women in the public eye would openly declare, to anyone who would listen, “I am not a card carrying feminist,” even though such was rarely the case. The more vehement the disavowals, it was often discovered, the more ardent the feminist.
In the 1970s, FEMINIST cards began appearing at women’s homes with much more frequency and before long, nearly one in three women had a FEMINIST card hidden somewhere in her home or on her person. Today, women holding these cards still congregate wherever and whenever, exchanging bold ideas about the future of women. When they are together, they proudly admit they are card carrying feminists.
In a field
I am the absence
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.
When I walk
I part the air
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body’s been.
We all have reasons
to keep things whole.
01/17 - Ani Difranco, Which Side Are You On (song: Which Side Are You On)
01/24 - Laura Gibson, La Grande (song: La Grande)
01/24 - Ingrid Michaelson, Human Again
01/27 - John K Samson, Provincial
02/07 - Sharon Van Etten, Tramp (song: Serpents)
02/07 - Jenny Owen Youngs, An Unwavering Band Of Light
02/13 - The Rosie Taylor Project, Twin Beds
02/14 - Rosie Thomas, With Love (song: Where Was I)
02/14 - Peter Broderick, http://itstartshear.com
02/27 - Fanfarlo, Rooms Filled With Light (song: Replicate)
02/28 - Anais Mitchell, Young Man In America
02/28 - Memoryhouse, The Slideshow Effect
03/05 - Bowerbirds, The Clearing (song: In the Yard)
03/05 - Dry The River, Shallow Bed
04/02 - Seeker Lover Keeper, Seeker Lover Keeper
04/09 - Sea of Bees, Orangefarben (song: Broke)
04/09 - Lisa Gatewood, Midway
04/13 - FM Radio, Out of the Blue
04/17 - Horse Feathers, Cynic’s New Year (song: Fit Against the Country)
04/23 - Tom Williams and the Boat, Teenage Blood (song: My Bones)
04/24 - Joe Pug, The Great Despiser
04/24 - Sarah Jaffe, Body Wins
05/01 - Hurray For The Riff Raff, Look Out Mama
05/15 - Beach House, Bloom
05/16 - Chelsey Scott, The Faithful
05/21 - Admiral Fallow, Tree Bursts in Snow (song: Beetle in the Box)
05/28 - Polly Paulusma, Leaves From The Family Tree
05/29 - Regina Spektor, What We Saw From The Cheap Seats
05/29 - Sun Kil Moon, Among The Leaves (song: Sunshine in Chicago)
06/05 - Gregory and the Hawk, Come, Now
06/11 - The Tallest Man on Earth, There’s No Leaving Now (song: 1904)
06/11 - Skinny Lister, Forge & Flagon
06/26 - Cory Chisel, Old Believers
09/04 - Jens Lekman, I Know What Love Isn’t
09/04 - Stars, The North
09/10 - Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra, Theatre is Evil
09/11 - Cat Power, Sun
09/11 - Sea Wolf, Old World Romance
09/11 - The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter
09/18 - Wilderness of Manitoba, Island of Echoes
09/24 - Mumford and Sons, Babel
09/24 - Lucy Rose, Like I Used To
10/02 - Dark Dark Dark, Who Needs Who
10/12 - The Mountain Goats, Transcendental Youth
10/15 - Bat For Lashes, The Haunted Man
“This is a song I sing, that I want you to have in your heart when the day comes that you see a person whose lips, when they first met yours, filled you with a joy that you had not known before that day. When the day comes that the same lips fill you with the revulsion you would reserve for an open grave, I want you to know this song. You may not want to sing it, you may not want to remember it. But I have sadistic tendencies! And I want you to remember me on that day, cause I’ve been right down there with you.”
— John Darnielle
the sun came up above the strange white plain.
blood red flowers all wet with rain
and the spirit wasn’t really willing anymore, but the flesh was very very strong.
and i’ve got very little money left, and i’ve got no sense,
but I’ll have none of your god damned impudence.
the sun came up above the new white fields,
everything was new again.
pure power, stripped of meaning, sky burning, spring cleaning.
daisies on the hillside like cancer on the skin.
pretty little yellow eyes that flutter in the wind,
I’d be grateful my children aren’t here here to see this,
if you’d ever seen fit to give me children.
and my defenses may be working with a skeleton crew,
but I’ll be skinned alive before I’ll take this from you.
the sun came up above the ocean out west,
all the colors of the rainbow.
stand up straight, you can see the house leaning.
day breaking, spring cleaning.
Is “vagina” suitable for use
in a sonnet? I don’t suppose so.
A famous poet told me, “Vagina’s ugly.”
Meaning, of course, the sound of it. In poems.
Meanwhile, he inserts his penis frequently
into his verse, calling it, seriously, “My
Penis.” It is short, I know, and dignified.
I mean of course the sound of it. In poems.
This whole thing is unfortunate, but petty,
like my hangup concerning English Dept. memos
headed “Mr./Mrs./Miss”–only a fishbone
in the throat of the revolution–
a waste of brains–to be concerned about
this minor issue of my cunt’s good name.
If you are ever on a game-show and asked the following:
What Is The Best Way To Compliment A Woman?
a) “I fancy your sister.”
b) “You smell like a new car.”
c) “You don’t sweat a lot for a fat lass.”
d) “You look like you’ve lost weight.”
you better respond with a gigantic fuck you and storm the fuck out, I swear to god.
Excuse me while I throw this down, I’m old and cranky and tired of hearing the idiocy repeated by people who ought to know better.
Real women do not have curves. Real women do not look like just one thing.
Real women have curves, and not. They are tall, and not. They are brown-skinned, and olive-skinned, and not. They have small breasts, and big ones, and no breasts whatsoever.
Real women start their lives as baby girls. And as baby boys. And as babies of indeterminate biological sex whose bodies terrify their doctors and families into making all kinds of very sudden decisions.
Real women have big hands and small hands and long elegant fingers and short stubby fingers and manicures and broken nails with dirt under them.
Real women have armpit hair and leg hair and pubic hair and facial hair and chest hair and sexy moustaches and full, luxuriant beards. Real women have none of these things, spontaneously or as the result of intentional change. Real women are bald as eggs, by chance and by choice and by chemo. Real women have hair so long they can sit on it. Real women wear wigs and weaves and extensions and kufi and do-rags and hairnets and hijab and headscarves and hats and yarmulkes and textured rubber swim caps with the plastic flowers on the sides.
Real women wear high heels and skirts. Or not.
Real women are feminine and smell good and they are masculine and smell good and they are androgynous and smell good, except when they don’t smell so good, but that can be changed if desired because real women change stuff when they want to.
Real women have ovaries. Unless they don’t, and sometimes they don’t because they were born that way and sometimes they don’t because they had to have their ovaries removed. Real women have uteruses, unless they don’t, see above. Real women have vaginas and clitorises and XX sex chromosomes and high estrogen levels, they ovulate and menstruate and can get pregnant and have babies. Except sometimes not, for a rather spectacular array of reasons both spontaneous and induced.
Real women are fat. And thin. And both, and neither, and otherwise. Doesn’t make them any less real.
There is a phrase I wish I could engrave upon the hearts of every single person, everywhere in the world, and it is this sentence which comes from the genius lips of the grand and eloquent Mr. Glenn Marla:
There is no wrong way to have a body.
I’m going to say it again because it’s important: There is no wrong way to have a body.
And if your moral compass points in any way, shape, or form to equality, you need to get this through your thick skull and stop with the “real women are like such-and-so” crap.
You are not the authority on what “real” human beings are, and who qualifies as “real” and on what basis. All human beings are real.
Yes, I know you’re tired of feeling disenfranchised. It is a tiresome and loathsome thing to be and to feel. But the tit-for-tat disenfranchisement of others is not going to solve that problem. Solidarity has to start somewhere and it might as well be with you and me.