I suppose I should suck it up and become a writer after all.

So let’s say one had reason for a midsummer day’s trip to the library, because one had a couple of items on hold and one just finished another wonderful novel by the fabulous Marion Zimmer Bradley, and one is craving more fantasy.  Why did is that woman no longer alive, btw???  Amazing female fantasy writers who re-envision foundational mythologies should be immortal.

Digression aside, said individual, upon perusal of the fantasy/sci fi section of her local library, finds that not only are a mere 1/10 of the books in this already small section written by women, but NEARLY ALL of those 10% are something along the line of paranormal detective romances.  Yuck.  (no offense to those that like this genre; to each their own).  So our brave lover of literature to do?

1. She-hulk SMASH!

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2. Become the writer she’s always wanted to be and create the things she wants to read.  Not that there aren’t fantastic current and past female fantasy/sci fi writers out there, but the ratio is still HORRIBLE.

So lady friends and other wonderful, chronically underrepresented people: be critical of our culture and then CREATE THE WORLD YOU WANT TO SEE.

On Being a Modern Woman.

The United States is by far not the worst place to be a woman in the modern era.  We can do things like vote, marry and divorce who we want (even another woman in some states now – good job Minnesota!), and work any number of jobs.  However, it’s not the best place to be a woman either.  We still face constant mixed messaging about our bodies and our minds from companies like Dove.  We still risk victim blaming when we are harassed, molested, and raped.  And we are still not taken seriously in the realm of ‘real art’ by many critics.

But there is hope.  As a young-ish woman in the United States I am inspired by publications like Rookie, a website and now yearbook created solely by teenage women.  I am encouraged by the fact that one of my favorite neighborhood bookstores posted their 2012 bestseller list and 13 out of 20 of the books listed were written by women.  And I am delighted by the fact that the neighborhood I work for is continuing to draw women entrepreneurs to set up shop.

I am sure that the rest of my 20s (and likely my entire life) will be filled with rants and critical conversations about being a modern woman, particularly in a world where many declare that feminism is unnecessary.  We will form salon and book groups, make meals and drink wine together, and question everything.  And then write about it.  Or paint.  Or sing.  Because if being a modern woman means anything, it is expressing your own individual experience of woman-ness as generations of kick-ass feminists, from the suffragists to the riotgrrls, have done before us.

Womanifesto: A Spring Return to Speaking My Piece

It’s been far too many months since I’ve written, and there is no excuse for that, other than I have had far too much to say and far too few words to say it with.  But it’s never too late, yes?  I shall begin my valiant return to blogging with a recounting of my recently written Womanifesto, inspired by Cunt by Inga Muscio.

Lauren Meredith’s Womanifesto

I am a creature of passion, a being who rejoices in connection, emotion, growth.

I refuse to be told that I feel too strongly about something.  Contrary to our cultural belief, I believe that bottling up, walling off, or otherwise denying your emotions is for the tragically emotionally stunted.  I will cry and rage when I hear or read about rape/racism/torture/any other kind of violence because I AM A HUMAN BEING.  I will support others in their responsive emotions too, and together, TOGETHER, we will figure out what to do next.

I am a creature of desire, desire for wind and waves, for multitudes of orgasms, for safety, for companionship.  Desire to constantly grow in and with change, acknowledging both my personal past and my shared human history while always, always, always looking forward toward a future of POSSIBILITY for more justice, more love, more openness.

I am a creature of the earth and the sky.  I want and need to live from my intuition, to sink my hands and feet and sometimes whole body into the gloriously sweet smelling and fertile earth.  I am connected to the trees, the ferns, the rocks of the river, and the birds, and I live more lives through them.

I am a creature who is learning to love her body, apart and away and in spite of the gaze and expectations of others.  I am learning that I am strong and flexible, that I can create with both my mind and my hands, that I can be voluptuous and sensual because IT FEELS GOOD, NOT because anyone else wants me to be.  I will adorn myself as I please.

I am a creature who demands respect, vulnerability, openness, and creativity, and is glad to give all of these things in abundance.  Moreover, I DESERVE THESE THINGS, and so does every other compassionate being.  I am worthy of love and care, and will accept no less.

This is my life.  I will live in riotous abandon and abundance.

Geek Interlude- Pokeballs and CONvergence

We now break for our regularly scheduled programming of poetry and sustainability for a moment of geekery.

If I didn’t already adore Pokemon, I would after discovering this. –>

Everything about Pokemon is just…delightful.  Adorable creatures?  Check.  Powers based on elements?  Check.  Easily accessible culture and game for children and nerdy adults alike with innumerable permutation (cards, video games, board game, etc)?  Check.

I got into Pokemon waaaay late in the game.  When I was in my early 20s to be precise.  But Pokemon love evolved into playing D&D, and the rest is history.

The other important geekery in my life at present: I registered for CONvergence.  The theme is Wonder Women.  Tamora Pierce, one of my absolute favorite fantasy writers of my young adult life, will be there.  I am taking any and all ideas for awesome costumes as well as friends who want to join me for this extravaganza 🙂

Quirky ladies, or what inspired my young self.

Maybe it’s my year of reading books written by non-SWM, or maybe it’s just the people I’m connecting with these days, but in the last few months several mentions of some of my favorite girls/women, fictional and not, have cropped up, and with it a realization of how much these strong females have shaped the Lauren you know and love.

To start from the beginning, I was absolutely obsessed with Pippi Longstocking as a child.

I wanted her boots.  I wished my hair did that sweet sticky-outy braids thing.  But most importantly, I wanted to have her sorts of adventures.  Going over Niagra Falls in a barrel.  Walking up a wall using magical glue from a homeless man in an attic.  Parading around town with her horse and monkey while tossing candy and ice cream to local orphans.  Kicking **s and taking names any time the bad guys tried to take over Villa Villa Coola.  Pippi was my idol, the adventurous soul my elementary school self longed to become while playing Boxcar Children under the spruce tree in the backyard.  My inspiration from Pippi’s spunk and sass were matched by the academic prowess of another young literary character: Harriet the Spy.

Harriet didn’t take anything from anyone.  She had the dirt on all the neighbors, and built a world for herself where her parents could not.

Where Pippi was a dirty tomboy of the world, Harriet was cool and collected, an intellectual powerhouse to intrigue my young brain.  I was so enthused by Harriet’s secret notebook of observations that I began one of my own, much to the amusement of my present day self upon discovering that my first ‘observation’ was that SALAMI IS AWESOME!!!  Regardless of the mundane nature of my observations, Harriet the Spy encouraged me to write.  And write I have, to this very day, in a myriad of forms.

Not all of my inspiration from young female literary characters ended as I aged.  The Anne of Green Gables series (at least, up until Anne has children when she becomes little more than a housewife and the story must move to her daughters)  is one of my favorites to date, and I revisit the original book almost yearly.

Anne’s zest for life, creativity, wonder, and penchant for making amusement out of trouble were incessantly refreshing, especially once I realized that Montgomery was writing the series over 100 years ago.  One of my dreams is to do an Anne of Green Gables tour at Prince Edward Island, and hopefully I’ll find a kindred spirit while I’m at it.

Upon reaching high school I began realizing that real women could be amazing and inspirational as well.  Strong women in the real world did cool things!  I could too!  Julia Butterfly Hill was one of my first discoveries, and so holds a special place in my heart.

Julia lived in a redwood for two years as part of a campaign to protect these magnificent, ancient trees.  I gobbled up her autobiography (I couldn’t resist reading even when my heroines were real rather than fictional) and scoured her website, soaking up Julia’s musings on anti-consumerism and activism.  Much of my early vehement earth activism came from the ideas and actions of Julia Butterfly Hill.

Since adolescence I have found many many more amazing women to inspire and invigorate me.  I’ve even become friends with quite a few 🙂  The foundation of me, however, was in these ladies, these wonderful women and girls who lived and thought and wrote and talked outside of the box, allowing me to dream of and eventually start creating the world I truly wanted to live in.

A feminist manifesto.

One of the many activist/identity hats I wear (and am presently trying to own more confidently) is feminist.  I still find it difficult to call myself a feminist out loud without qualifying it, saying I’m not the angry/man-hating/crazy type, just someone who believes in diversity and equality.  In spite of several waves of amazing women changing the world as we know it, calling one’s self a feminist still carries a LOT of baggage.  So I am proud to share with you today the manifesto written by proud feminist women,  shared by a fellow woman bicyclist on Mpls Bike Love.

“FEMME SHARKS DON’T EAT OUR OWN.

FEMME SHARKS LIKE TO EAT THOUGH

FEMME SHARKS RECOGNIZE THAT FEMMES COME IN ALL KINDS OF SIZES AND EACH KIND IS LUSCIOUS.

WE WORK TOWARDS LOVING OUR CURVY, FAT, SKINNY, SUPERSIZE, THICK, DISABLED, BLACK AND BROWN FINE-ASS BODIES EVERY DAY.

WE REALIZE THAT LOVING OURSELVES IN A RACIST/SEXIST/HOMO/TRANSPHOBIC/ABLIST/CLASSIST SYSTEM IS AN EVERY DAY ACT OF WAR AGAINST THAT SYSTEM.

FEMME SHARKS DON’T THINK ANOREXIA IS CUTE. WE THINK EATING A BIG-ASS MEAL IS SEXY.

WE SAY SCREW “HEIGHT WEIGHT PROPORTIONATE PLEASE” IN CRAIGSLIST WOMEN SEEKING WOMEN ADS AND IN LIFE.

WE HAVE BIG MOUTHS AND WE KNOW HOW TO USE THEM.
DON’T FUCK WITH US!

ASK US IF WE WANT TO FUCK THOUGH !

FEMME SHARKS WILL RECLAIM THE POWER AND DIGNITY OF FEMALENESS BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY WE’RE GIRLS BLOWN UP, TURNED INSIDE OUT AND REMIXED.

FEMME SHARKS ARE OVER WHITE QUEERS OBLIVIOUSNESS TO QUEER OF COLOR, TWO SPIRIT AND TRANS OF COLOR LIVES.

WE KNOW THAT WE ARE A CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE

WE’RE OVER WHITE FEMMES AND BUTCHES WHO THINK THAT FEMME ONLY COMES IN THE COLOR OF BARBIE.

WE’RE OVER BUTCHES AND BOYS AND OTHER FEMMES TELLING US WHAT WE NEED TO DO, WEAR OR BE IN ORDER TO BE “REALLY FEMME.”

FEMME SHARKS RECOGNIZE THAT FEMMES, BUTCHES, GENDERQUEER AND TRANS PEOPLE HAVE BEEN IN COMMUNITIES OF COLOR SINCE FOREVER.

THAT BEFORE COLONIZATION WE WERE SEEN AS SACRED AND WE WERE SOME OF THE FIRST FOLKS MOST VIOLENTLY ATTACKED WHEN OUR LANDS WERE INVADED AND COLONIZED.

FEMME SHARKS WON’T REST UNTIL WE RECLAIM OUR POSITIONS AS BELOVED FAMILY WITHIN OUR COMMUNITIES.

FEMME SHARKS AREN’T JUST DIME PIECES AND TROPHY WIVES. FUCK THAT!

WE MIGHT BE YOUR GIRL, BUT WE’RE OUR OWN FEMMES.

WE RECOGNIZE THAT FEMMES ARE LEADERS OF OUR COMMUNITIES.

WE HOLD IT DOWN, CALM YOUR TEARS, ORGANIZE THE RALLY, VISIT YOU IN JAIL, GET CHILDCARE HOOKED UP, LOAN YOU TWENTY DOLLARS.

FEMMES ARE WELDERS, AFTER SCHOOL TEACHERS, ABORTION CLINIC WORKERS, STRIPPERS, WRITERS, FACTORY WORKERS, MOMS, REVOLUTIONARIES DEDICATED TO TAKING THE SYSTEM THE HELL DOWN SO WE CAN BE FREE!

FEMMES ARE LEADERS IN TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS/ DEFENDING OUR QUEER AND TRANS OF COLOR COMMUNITIES.

WE USED OUR STILETTOS AS WEAPONS AT STONEWALL

WE WERE THE TRANSWOMEN WHO FOUGHT BACK AT THE COMPTON CAFETERIA

WE’RE THE GIRLS WHO STARE DOWN ASSHOLES STARING AT OUR LOVERS AND FRIENDS ON THE SUBWAY.

WE WALK EACH OTHER HOME

ACT CRAZY ON THE BUS TO GET ASSHOLES TO MOVE AWAY AND KNOW HOW TO BREAK SOMEONE’S LEGS

WE SHARE WHAT WE KNOW.

FEMME SHARKS STAND UP FOR THE NEW JERSEY FOUR AND EVERY OTHER QUEER AND TRANS PERSON OF COLOR IN THE PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX FOR DEFENDING OUR LIVES.

WE BELIEVE IN SELF-DEFENSE AND SELF-DETERMINATION.

WE BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE A RIGHT TO DEFEND OURSELVES AND OUR COMMUNITIES AGAINST ANY KIND OF ATTACK-FROM ASSHOLES ON THE STREET TO RACIST WHITE CLUB OWNERS WHO WANT THREE PIECES OF ID TO FOLKS WHO INSIST THAT WE’RE STRAIGHT, TO PEOPLE WHO TAKE OUR LAND.

WE REMEMBER OUR DEAD- SAKIA GUNN, GWEN ARAUJO, AND MANY OTHER QUEER AND TRANS POC WHO DIED BECAUSE OF RACIST, HOMO/TRANSPHOBIC VIOLENCE. NOT AS A POLITICAL STATEMENT BUT AS WOMEN WE LOVED IN REAL LIFE WOMEN WHO COULD’VE BEEN US OR OUR LOVES.

WE ARE NOT GOING TO BE LEFT OUT OF “THE STRUGGLE” NOT THIS TIME

WE’RE NOT JUST A PRETTY FACE.

FEMMES GODDAMN WELL KNOW HOW TO STRAP IT ON, CHANGE THE OIL IN THE CAR AND PUT UP SHELVES.

WE CAN DO ANY GODDAMN THING WE WANT!

THAT’S WHY WE’RE FEMME SHARKS!

FEMME IS NOT THE SAME THING AS BEING OUR MOMS

FEMMES ARE BEAUTIFUL AND STRONG WHEN WE BOTTOM AND WE’RE HOT AS HELL WHEN WE TOP OUR BOTTOMING AND TOPPING ARE BOTH GIFTS TO BE MET WITH RESPECT.

WHEN WE TAKE OUR LOVERS FIST ALL THE WAY INSIDE; ASK FOR WHAT WE WANT; BE THE BEST DIRTY GIRL; OR MAKE OUR LOVERS FLIP; WE’RE A FUCKING MIRACLE.

IN THE WORDS OF JILL SCOTT, “YOU GOTTA DO RIGHT BY ME. IT’S MANDATORY, BABY.”

FEMME SHARKS SHOP AT ROSS, FOXY LADY, VALUE VILLAGE, THE H&M $5 RACK, TORRID AND THE DOLLAR STORE , AND KNOW HOW TO SHOPLIFT

WE CONCOCT BRILLIANT STRATEGIES TO LOOK FINE ON TEN DOLLARS OR LESS.

WE’RE ONLY “INVISIBLE” IF YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO LOOK FOR US.

WE TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER RECOGNIZE THAT FEMMES ARE EACH OTHERS’ WEALTH

HOS BEFORE BROS, ALWAYS!

FEMME SOLIDARITY AND LOVE FOR EACH OTHER IS A REVOLUTIONARY FORCE

WE BELIEVE IN GIRLS LOVING GIRLS, RESPECTING EACH OTHER’S BRILLIANCE

NOT FIGHTING OVER BOIS OR BUTCHES

NOT TRYING TO BE THE ALPHA FEMME

WE’RE ANTI-DRAMA

BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF COMMUNITIES THAT HEAL HURT, APOLOGIZE, LISTEN TO EACH OTHER AND MAKE THINGS RIGHT.

WE BELIEVE IN BUILDING OUR QTPOC COMMUNITIES
STRONG FEMME SHARKS WERE THERE WHEN FRIDA KAHLO HOOKED UP WITH HER GIRLFRIENDS

WHEN JOAN NESTLE, CHRYSTOS, JEWELLE GOMEZ, ALEXIS DE VEUX, SYLVIA RIVERA, DOROTHY ALLISON, MINNIE BRUCE PRATT AND AMBER HOLLIBAUGH MADE QUEER FEMME HISTORY; WHEN ZAPATISTA WOMEN HOOKED UP; WHEN AFRICAN QUEERS RESIST EVERRY DAY; WHEN OUR GRANDMAS AND QUEER AUNTIES SNUCK OUT AT NIGHT DIDN’T GET MARRIED TIL LATE- OR AT ALL HAS A BEST GIRLFRIEND AND STOOD UP FOR HER FEMME SHARKS WERE THERE

FEMME SHARKS ARE IN THE BODIES OF COUNTLESS SEX WORKERS, NEIGHBORS AND LADIES WAITING FOR THE BUS AND IN THE LINEUP AT CENTURY 21.

AT RIIS BEACH, FUNKASIA, LOVERGIRL NYC, BUTTA, MANGO, MANHATTAN’S, DESILICIOUS.

FEMME SHARKS LIVE ON THE REZ, IN CAPETOWN, NEWARK, OAKLAND!!!!!, THE SOUTH SIDE, NEW ORLEANS, COLOMBO, JUAREZ AND BROOKLYN SUBURBIA, THE FARM, AND LITTLE SMALL TOWNS.

WE’RE IN FOSTER CARE, THE PSYCH WARD, JUVIE, AND ABOUT TO BE EVICTED.

WE ARE SURVIVORS WHO ARE MORE THAN WHAT WE SURVIVED.

WE ARE FIGURING OUT HOW TO HEAL AND HOW TO MAKE IT SO THAT NO ONE WILL HAVE TO SURVIVE SEXUAL VIOLENCE EVER AGAIN.

WE BELIEVE IN THE TOTAL DESTRUCTION OF THE SYSTEM AS WE KNOW IT TO MAKE SOMETHING MUCH MO BETTA AND WE BELIEVE IN MAKING OUR OWN WAYS TO FIGHT AND RESIST ON THE DAILY.

A FEMME SHARK IS ANY GIRL WHO IS TOUGH, HUNGRY, FIGHTS FOR HERSELF AND HER FAM AND IS WORKING ON BECOMING THE KIND OF GIRL WHO FINDS GOD IN HERSELF AND LOVES HER FIERCELY

WE’RE YOUR BEST GIRLFRIEND AND YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE

LOVE AND RAGE
THE FEMME SHARKS

*****
FEMME SHARKS ARE ON PATROL!
JOIN THE MOVEMENT!
SHARK SHARK IT UP!
FOR MORE INFORMATION, EMAIL: THEFEMMESHARKS@GMAIL.COM

Written by Founding Femme Shark Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

The Femme Sharks are an idea that was dreamed up by SBBFFF (Slutty Brown Best Femme Friends Forever) Zuleikha Mahmood and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha in March of 2008, Oakland, CA.

This work is shared under a Creative Commons license- feel free to share if you give credit where cred is due.”

Beautiful things: January edition.

Inspired by my dear friend Caleb’s recent post on haiku writing and reflecting, I’m going to rein in my verbosity and explore by haiku the beautiful things of the moment.

Birds
Wintry companions
delicate yet tenacious
burst of hope through song.

Girls to the Front
LOUDpunk voicesfound-
my kind of feminism.
Incendiary.

Sweeping
A meditative
cleaning; misguided think it’s
inefficiency.

Contemplating buying a house with Benjamin in the next couple of years
Commitment indeed
yet building community
excites my deep soul.

~Lauren