Welcome to the Feminism and Mental Health Issue!

Dear Readers,

Feminism is an essential aspect to many realms of women’s mental health–validating the taxing experiences of all women (and all others who are oppressed by patriarchy), pushing back against the the assumptions that women are ruled by their emotions, encouraging the pursuit of fulfilling lives, and in countless other ways.

Our January issue features discussions of diverse intersections of mental health and feminism, including interviews with health-care providers in various fields, portraits of what mental health looked like in other historical eras, and art inspired by a feminist search for inner peace.

Our first submission is a discussion of mental health care with a feminist-identified social worker in California, who uses her feminism to assist families through challenging times in their lives.

We then move on to discuss mental-health maintenance when common resources aren’t available. Maria Vallejo-Nguyen provides a portrait of historic patriot Manuela Saenz and how she maintained her sanity during years of exile and being considered outside of what it meant to be a woman. Vallejo’s portrait shows the strategies her subject used to survive such a trying time.

Editor Tiffany Williams submitted a personal journal entry. She also evokes raw emotion in a poem that reflects on her past in a effort to move towards self-acceptance and growth.

Carly Fox addresses what spirituality can bring to both feminism and mental health through her discussion of Pema Chodron’s work on working through self-hatred and jealousy both personally and inter-personally.

Taylor Russell  discusses the treatment of eating disorders.

Guest contributor Jessica Williams writes a piece about why medicine is important and how it has the power to heal.

Finally, Carly Fox provides a list of national mental-health resources as well as a list of book recommendations.

Please enjoy the stories, art, and resources included in this issue. We hope they inspire you to find the ways in which feminism contributes to your own emotional well-being and that of everyone in your lives.

As always, we welcome your thoughts, comments, and submissions.

Sincerely,

Tiffany, Emilie, and Carly

Helpful and Relevant Books

Dear Readers,

These books have been tremendously helpful in my own journey of working through depression and anxiety and creating a life filled with more self-love and inner peace. I hope you find them useful.

In love and feminism,

Carly

The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times by Pema Chodron

The Mindful Way Through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness  by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer

Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow by Elizabeth Lesser

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown

All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks

We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting for: Inner Light in a Time of Darkness by Alice Walker

Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth: New Poems by Alice Walker

Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life by Byron Katie

Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

The Gift by Hafiz

Declaring Radical Self-Love and Authenticity: Andrea Gibson, Nicole Reynolds, and Mary Lambert in NYC

By Carly Fox

A ubiquitous name in the spoken-word movement and the first winner of the Women’s World Poetry Slam, Andrea Gibson performed at the Best Buy Theater in NYC on October 15, 2013. 2340772100_9eff0b0fa9_bSinger/Songwriters Nicole Reynolds and Mary Lambert opened for Gibson to a crowded room of more than 200 visibly queer and adoring fans. Through fearless prose, heart-wrenching honesty, and unapologetic presence, the three powerful voices interwove themes of queer politics, sexuality, gender, body image, sexual violence, and love and loss into her performance. Echoing the heart of feminism, that the personal is always political, Gibson, Reynolds, and Lambert also highlighted the fundamental importance of practicing radical self-love and authenticity as a means to reject sexism, racism, and homophobia.

Musician and poet Mary Lambert opened the show with a striking sense of honesty and emotional intensity. Lambert, who has been described in The New York Times as a “rarity”, is the powerful female voice accompanying hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis in the gay rights and marriage equality anthem “Same Love,” which has sold over two million copies in the US alone.

Mary Lambert performs " Same Love" with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis at the 2013 VMA.

Mary Lambert performs ” Same Love” with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis at the 2013 VMA.

Lambert’s poems and songs covered a wide range of political and deeply personal territory, using her sophisticated voice to address issues of rape, self-harm, and homophobia.

Perhaps most poignant and moving was Lambert’s reading of her poem “Body Love,” in which she describes with unparalleled images and metaphors the epidemic of body shame and self-hatred among young girls and women.

Lambert’s poem begins with the line:

“I know girls who wonder if they’re disaster and sexy enough to fit in.

I know girls who are fleeing bombs from the mosques of their skin, playing Russian roulette with death. It’s never easy to accept that our bodies are fallible and flawed. But when do we draw the line? When the knife hits the skin isn’t it the same thing as purging because we’re so obsessed with death?”

Most striking about this performance was the profound honesty Lambert brought to the arena. Indeed, the crackling and bittersweet pain in her voice suggested that this was not just an abstract story for Lambert, but a deeply personal testament of overcoming self-rejection and embracing self-love.

“Love your body the way your mother loved your baby feet.” - Mary Lambert

“Love your body the way your mother loved your baby feet.” – Mary Lambert

By the end of the poem Lambert exclaims “The time has come for us to reclaim our bodies.” “Try this”, she urges the listener, “Take your hands over your bumpy love body naked. And remember the first time you touched someone with the sole purpose of learning all of them.”

Indeed Lambert’s trenchant prose are a powerful reminder to reject the lies of sexism and patriarchy.

“Love your body the way your mother loved your baby feet. And brother arm wrapping shoulders and remember this is important to our worth more than who you fuck. You are worth more than a waist line.”

In her online bio Lambert admits she is good at “two things: crying and singing.”

True to this statement, Lambert ended her set with a soft giggle and unassuming bow, telling the audience “Thanks for letting me cry at you.”

Philadelphia based singer and songwriter Nicole Reynolds, who works on organic farms raising sheep and growing her own food through the WWOOF program (Willing Workers On Organic Farms), followed Lambert with songs about her childhood, farming, the art of storytelling, and the chaotic feeling of falling in love for the first time. In an interview with the Pittsburg CityPaper, Reynolds says “I’m just honest on stage. I think for people to start opening their minds — and they’re starting to — it just takes a whole lot of people being honest.” Indeed the honesty of Reynold’s performance was striking.  Whether humorous, sad or melancholy, Reynold’s songs were filled with an uncanny sense of authenticity.

Introducing her song “Like the Ocean,” Reynold’s explained that it was about her childhood, adolescence, sexuality, being raised Catholic, and how she came through it.

The song’s opening phrases highlight much of the fear and homophobia that young queer adolescents often face.

“When I was a girl they told me in this world some things fit and some things don’t. A man and a woman, a man and a woman that’s what he wrote. This we know. A priest looked at me with his big blue eyes. He told me my love was the devil in disguise. My mother couldn’t look at me. Her eyes turned blank.”

By the end of the song, however, Reynold’s deeply moving lyrics underscore her reclaimed sense of self love and openness.

"I love who I love who I love like the ocean.” Nicole Reynolds

“I love who I love who I love like the ocean.” Nicole Reynolds

“I think what I think and I say what I see. I cut my own hair and I am who I be. I love who I love who I love like the ocean.”

 Andrea Gibson, followed Reynolds and Lambert with more provocative reflections on authenticity, love, and the need to look honestly at personal shame. Gibson’s poems addressed issues of white privilege, racism, homophobia, and recent public tragedies like the death of Tyler Clementi and the Trayvon Martin shooting.

Before reading her poem about Trayvon Martin, Gibson described the personal and collective grief his death caused, and the anger and helplessness she felt on July 13, 2013, the day George Zimmerman was found not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin.

In her poem “July 13, 2013” Gibson laments “I don’t know what makes us human more than our crimes. That just breaks my heart.”

“I am small as a kid being pushed inside a locker. Good god I want to be big. Big enough to stop editing the ugly out of my bio. To empty every bullet from the chamber of my heart to fill it with the hoodie of a boy. What poem will walk him home? What radio tower of light, what redemption will dull the blade, melt it down to mirror. Give us back to god. Unhaunt the house of the mother choosing the color of the casket.”

Other poems addressed issues deeply personal to Gibson. In “An Insider’s Guide on How to be Sick”, a poem about having Lyme disease, Gibson explores her own sense of shame and fear. “Nothing has brought up shame as much as living with Lyme disease” she explained candidly to the audience. Admitting that it had taken her over a year and a half to find the courage to perform the poem in public, Gibson credited the transgender and human rights activist Leslie Feinberg as a powerful inspiration. Feinberg, who Gibson called one of her biggest “activist heroes”, writes openly about her personal experience of having Lyme disease on her blog TransgenderWarrior.

Highlighting the vivid reality of living with a disease, in “An Insider’s Guide on How to be Sick,” Gibson explains:

“Every fever is a love note to remind you there are better things to be than cool. Fuck cool. Fuck every pair of skinny jeans. From the month your muscles started atrophying to a size two.”

Gibson ends her poem with a powerful reminder that one could choose to embrace challenges as teachers. “Everything is a lesson” she says.“Lesson number one through infinity: You will never have a greater opportunity to learn to love your enemy than when your enemy is your own red blood. Truce is a word made of velvet. Wear it everywhere you go.”

In a culture which constantly bombards young girls and women with messages of shame, self-rejection, and not-enoughness, Andrea Gibson, Nicole Reynolds, and Mary Lambert remind us to speak our own stories, and embrace ourselves and others with compassion, love, and honesty. Indeed their words stand as powerful testaments that radical self-love and unabashed honesty is perhaps one of the most profoundly political acts in which we can engage.

When Will We Be Feminists?

 When Compassion is a Value

When Progresspicasso-woman-in-blue-nov-23-2009

Is Measured

By

How Much Truth

We Dare

To Know, To Speak

When Pushing a Wheel-Chair is Worth More Than Your Stocks

When Peace is More Than a Logo on Some T-shirt the Gap is Selling

When Patriotism is Pacifism

When We Stop Believing in Borders

When We Stop Building Walls

When Courage is Not a Gun

When War is Not an Option

When Man is No Longer Defined by NOT Woman

When Beauty is No Longer Measured in 2’s and 4’s

When We Can Stand Naked Without Sucking in Our Guts

When We Stop Applying Perfume

To Cover up the Scent

Of  What They  so Presumptuously Call “Feminine Oder”

And Instead,

Let Pussy Smell Like Pussy

When Our Bumper Stickers Read Not, “God Bless America,” but

God Bless the Orphan in Gaza

God Bless the Widow in Afghanistan

God Bless the 15 year Old Boy in Yemen Who’s Learning to Shoot a Missile

God Bless the Woman in the Congo Who’s Been Raped More Times than She Can Count

God Bless US All

When We Remember That the Man We Call God

Came From the Vagina of a Poor Palestinian Woman

When a Black –

Muslim –

STONE

BUTCH

Who’s Taken a Punch

Who Knows the Meaning of the Word Dyke

Who Prays to an Indigenous God

Who Took the First Bite of the Apple and Enjoyed It

Who Remembers Stone Wall – And the Hard Fist from the Cop

Who Was Burned at the Stake

Who Was an American before Columbus

Who Marched in Birmingham, in South Africa, in India, in Palestine

Who Was There, at the Bottom of the Ship, Crossing the Atlantic

Who Sat in the Back

Who Drank from the Other Water Fountain

Who Jumped from the Windows at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory

Who Gave Birth to Jefferson’s Negro Baby

Who’s Been Down and Out, and Then Some.

Who’s Cried

Who’s Fought

Who’s Lost

Whose Father was Hagar

Whose Mother was Jezebel

Whose Name is Not Remembered

And Whose Story is Never Told

When

This

STONE

BUTCH

Is

Elected

President

Then

Then We Will Be Feminists.

Welcome to ART as a form of ACTIVISM Issue!

Dear Readers,

Welcome to our Art as a Form of Activism Issue!

Our November issue is dedicated to poets, filmmakers, writers, visual artists, and feminists who utilize art as a means to inspire and empower. From the classroom, to the streets, or behind a camera lens, words and themes of self- empowerment, feminism, and activism are being spread to individuals around the world.  We wanted to highlight those who are devoted activists and artists.

This month features:

  • A piece by Re/Visionist co-editor Tiffany Williams that looks at two black women independent filmmakers and how they allow black women subjects occupy space in film.
  • A poem titled ” Beauty Rest” by Alicia Cobb
  • A review of a recent poetry reading by Mary Oliver from co-editor Emilie Egger
  • A paper excerpt about themes of prostitution in early-1920s films by Emilie Egger
  • An analysis of Mary Magdalene in medieval art by women’s-history student Kaitlyn Kohr.
  • A review of a recent spoken word performance by Andrea Gibson from web-editor Carly Fox
  • A poem by Carly Fox titled ” When Will We Be Feminists?”

Sincerely,

Emilie Egger and Tiffany Williams, Re/Visionist co-editors

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Welcome to the THANK A FEMINIST Issue!

Dear Readers,

Welcome to our Thank a Feminist Issue!

We are happy to introduce a new editorial year of Re/Visionist! The editors wanted to begin the 2013-2014 academic year on a note of gratitude, so we decided to devote our entire Sept./Oct. issue to thanking the feminist inspirations in our lives.

The inspirational people/ideas/icons included in this issue are from both the past and present; some we know well, some we admire from afar. Some are self-identified feminists, others would not use that label. In a world hostile to feminism and queerness, what matters more than what our inspiration looks like is finding it in ways both expected and unexpected.

This month features:

  • Two pieces by Re/Visionist co-editor Tiffany Williams about 20th-century artist Millicent Fredericks and activist/partner, Kamau Nkosi
  • A letter from Re/Visionist web editor Carly Fox to her brother James about his feminism
  • A collage from contributor Kate Amunrud reflecting her gratitude to her feminist icon–her mother
  • A letter from contributor Jessica Lynne about her Grandma’s unknowing plight in feminism
  • A letter from contributor Nicole McCormick where she gives thanks to Bruce Lansky for allowing her to enter new imaginary spaces
  • A poem by Blake Williams about his feminist inspiration

Sincerely,

Emilie Egger and Tiffany Williams, Re/Visionist co-editors

gratitude

As always, we welcome your suggestions and contributions. eegger(at)gm(dot)slc(dot)edu/twilliams(at)gm(dot)slc(dot)edu. 

When Construction and Feminism Meet Somewhere In Between

Dear James,

I often think of us as quite different.

When I was losing sleep about passing high-school AP exams and getting a top score on the SAT, you were writing songs on your guitar and riding your BMX bike at the skate park. I keep a collection of books —  bell hooks, Alice Walker, Cornel West, Adrienne Rich–, while you keep a collection of vinyl –Tom Waits, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, The Velvet Underground. I drink red wine. You chew tobacco.

Your appearance is the epitome of straight masculinity–your body muscled, not because you have spent a day in the gym, but because five days a week you swing hammers, dig ditches, and set housing foundations. If I did not know you and were to pass you on the street, I would most likely create a deep chasm of separateness between us.

You don’t identify as a feminist and we don’t use the same language. You aren’t familiar with words like heteronormativity, agency, intersectionality, transnationalism. You’ve never heard of Simone de Beauvoir, Sojourner Truth, Audre Lorde, or Gloria Stienem, and you don’t own any shirts exclaiming “This is What a Feminist Looks LIke.” But for me, you don’t need any of this. I already see it– your feminism– however tacit it may be, underpinning all your ordinary and audacious acts of openness, friendship, and love.

I see it when your girlfriend, a 22 year-old nurse, calls you in tears, fearful she might not succeed in her new job. You softly remind her, “Hanna, you are OK. You are amazing. Starting something new is always challenging at first.”

I see it when you show me pictures of you with your girlfriend’s gay father and his boyfriend in the Castro at San Francisco’s Pride. This is a reminder that somehow you never inherited the subtle and not-so-subtle homophobia of the 90 percent white, ‘Good Ol’ Boys’ small town of our childhood.

I see it in your accepting smile when I tell you I’ve fallen in love with a woman when the rest of our family stares with anger, shame, and indifference.

I see it when during a cross-country drive to New York you accompany me to what is likely the only gay bar in Omaha, Nebraska. We walk into a dark, music-less room, covered with pictures of bears–something I explain to you later. It’s 9 PM on a Wednesday night and the bar has only two people– the bar tender and an older man sipping a whiskey and coke.

“I’m sorry, James. Maybe we should just leave.” You grab my hand. “Come on, we’re already here.” You sit down, order two Budweisters, and say to the 20-something serving drinks, “So this is Omaha?”

I see it when in downtown Columbus, Ohio, bustling with college students dining at hip bars and expensive restaurants, you explain your theory of ‘the scene’ to me.

“It’s about three things: popularity, education, and money. Guys like me don’t have these things.”

In my ignorance, I haven’t realized that you too are looking atthe world with a critical lens, constructing yoru own narrative. “I see it all the time, Carly. Like when you say you’re going to graduate school and people respond with an excited ‘How wonderful!’ or an encouraging ‘Good for you!’ I say I work construction and people let out a hesitant ‘Ohhhh….'”

I see it when you’re helping me lift my bookshelf that will hold the books in which you are thoroughly uninterested up three flights of stairs to my apartment.

I see it in your refusal to be different than you are when we are going into Manhattan and I try to tell you that you should wear something besides your faded Vans, ripped 501 Levis and the red shirt you found at the Salvation Army with a yellow Iguana and the words “It’s rockin’ in Cancun, Mexico.” You respond, “No, this really works for me.”

Most significantly I see your love that is rooted in feminism when I confess my fear that I might not be good enough for graduate school, that perhaps it was an accident I was accepted. You simply laugh and say, “Stop believing lies, Carly.”

You remind me that as much as I try to deconstruct and distance myself from ‘the scene’ you describe, I also contribute to and benefit from my membership within it. I know it is not your intent to challenge me, to encourage a rethinking of my politics and consciousness. Yet you’ve deepened my understanding and stretched my boundaries of what it means to be and act as a feminist.

You are a constant example that feminism is much more than books, fancy words, or credentials from academic institutions. At its core it is about love and connection.

In your love you are political–a radical, a feminist.

With gratitude,

Your sister in feminism