In light of the election, I took it upon myself to ensure that this past weekend was chock full of riot grrrl activism -- complete with a gathering of harmonious female opposition carrying out a dash of friendly neighborhood misandry under the cover of darkness. WHAT IN THE HELL AM I TALKING ABOUT? Well, let me compose myself and I’ll tell you.
This weekend, my friends from NYC and I gathered in a pretty staunchly conservative, quiet northern Virginia suburb for a birthday celebration. What ensued was nervous chatter about this election that highlighted our surmounting anxiety over our civil rights in this country. We are young, we have ovaries, and we are worried.
But let’s rewind a little. My weekend of activism actually began prior to any sort of celebration or boozed-induced vandalism. I had taken my best friend (check out her amazingness; chick is going to be FAMOUS) to vote absentee at her local library where the tension in the air was tangible. Imagine two punk-y looking chicks with silver hair and Doc Martens rolling up to a library crawling with Romney “Believe in America” signs and banners. A hundred eyes locked with ours. We may as well have had papier-mâché uterus hats on.
As if this didn’t freak us out enough, two Republican poll volunteers began pestering my friend and I as we quietly focused on filling out our absentee form.
“Do you know what the state amendments listed here mean?” “Do you know what’s at stake?” “If you know what the amendments are, WHAT ARE THEY?” I mean HELLO, AGEISM. Of course we know. And even if we didn’t, what right did she have to issue a passive aggressive and awkwardly public pop quiz? Was she trying to scare us out of staying in this 2-hour line filled with well-to-do white dudes and pearl-twirling housewives? Cue our eye rolls.
We politely asked them to leave us in peace with a somewhat indignant, “Thanks, but we don’t want your flier, it offends us,” tacked on for good measure.
On our drive home, we began to take count of the signs. Endless rows of pretty boxes on the hillside with “Believe” signs. I started getting that nauseous feeling at the base of my stomach, and it was threatening to crawl its way up.
Now, a quick clarification is due because I genuinely want people to understand where I’m coming from. I wasn’t nauseous because I feel any sort of hatred or ill will towards those who support these candidates, but because I (like so many others) genuinely fear for the sisters, mothers, friends and loved ones whose lives will be at stake if they win. I know it’s late to advocate for equal rights at this point; minds all across the nation are made up about their preferred candidate. But I do hope that I made some people think twice this weekend. Here’s where the activism comes in.
After a night of handmade sweet potato gnocchi and too much Rosé, my friends and I began to scheme. In an awkward re-imagination of conversation snippets, we said things like: “There are just so many signs.” “Don’t they know what Romney supporters have said about rape?” “Are they just voting based on strict party affiliation or do they genuinely not want equal rights for women and the LGBTIQ community?” And so, out came the construction paper, glitter confetti and colored markers.
We taped these onto some of the signs, hoping that perhaps something would click with the individual that had to take them down the next morning. We didn’t spray paint or permanently deface anything because expressing hate or blind anger wasn’t our intention. In fact, our signs were downright cute and irrefutably catchy.
We just wanted people to realize that we are young, we are women, and we care about our bodies and our rights. And we won’t give up. Plus, we felt so damn brazen when we hastily plastered these babies onto people's front lawn signs.
When we came back home in our cheery euphoria, we talked and dozed and reveled in our respective activism-induced highs.
With all of us curled on an area rug, surrounded by paper scraps and sparkles, I was struck by just how proud I am to call myself a feminist. All of us, from different backgrounds and lifestyles, feel compelled to continually and publicly advocate for our equal rights, which includes rights for women who vary in race, sexual orientation and gender identity. We have voices that won’t be silenced, in spite of whoever takes office, and that is a valuable, valuable thing.
SO MY WEEKEND ROCKED, even if, as I type this, I’m shaking in my boots a little bit. I just need to take deep breaths, put on some crazy makeup, and jam out to my “Feminism 101” playlist. What songs are on there, you ask? Why, I’ll share them gladly.
1. Gold Dust Woman -- Fleetwood Mac (Honestly, I’m not totally sure what this song is about. Hell, even Stevie doesn’t really know what it’s about. But it sounds gutsy and up in arms. I love it. Also remind me to show you my late birthday present: a Stevie Nicks portrait in ethereal watercolor.).=
2. Pretty On The Inside -- Hole (OBVIOUSLY. Like, obviously).
3. Get Off the Internet -- Le Tigre (Kathleen Hanna, you goddess).
4. My Generation -- Patti Smith (Patti Smith, you patron saint of womanhood).
6. Seether -- Veruca Salt (So sassy, you guys!).
7. New Radio -- Bikini Kill (Grrr!)
8. Man-Sized -- PJ Harvey (I’m in love with this woman).
9. Limp -- Fiona Apple (This one might be triggering, but it’s a favorite).
10. Doll Parts -- Hole (How many times a day do I bellow: “I AM. DOLL PARTS”? A lot of times. Sorry, neighbors).
And just for kicks, here’s me in front of a handmade sign that we DID NOT post. I still love it to pieces.