It’s been true for a while now, but I’m making it official: Girldrive, as an ongoing presence in the blogosphere, is dead. I will no longer be posting updates, takes on the news, or Your 2 Cents. As much as I have loved maintaining this site for the last four years, I need to concentrate on my new-ish job as associate editor of GOOD (yay!) and other projects and pieces that I have in the wings.
But this doesn’t mean that Girldrive the project, or the concept or the spirit or the voice, is dead. The comforting (and scary) thing about the Internet is that it lasts forever. There are hundreds of women in these archives who embody the curiosity and motivation that drove Emma and me to go on Girldrive in the first place. There are important projects, declarations, and stories. These will always be here for all to search.
Thanks to every single person who spoke to us around the country and through the computer, who spread the word, who bought our book, and who decided to get off their asses and hit the road.
Girldrive readers know I usually don’t go the wonk route…I’m usually much more interested in “regular” people and their stories. But I’ve been dying to write about the recent slew of female and minority Republicans making headway in GOP politics by separating the personal from the political. And I FINALLY did it, in the American Prospect. Check out my latest.
As you may know, I’ve been toiling for years on an anthology of my mother Ellen Willis’s music criticism. My mom was a radical feminist icon, but right around the time she was founding Redstockings and organizing consciousness-raising sessions, she was busy being the first pop music critic for the New Yorker. At a time when CREEM and Rolling Stone were low-budget underground zines, my mom was writing about rock n roll for a readership of half a million.
In other words: She not only kicked open the door for women in the field–she helped invent it.
Last night, I was having dinner with a friend, and we were discussing the many many bills that have recently been chipping away at abortion rights. There are the recent House bills–which, unlike a lot of abortion-rights-bending, would be federal law. The “forcible rape” language was taken out due to some public ridicule by our man Jon Stewart, but HR3 would still codify the Hyde Amendment and fuck over subsidized clinics. And HR358 would allow pregnant women to die if an emergency abortion would harm the fetus. (Yeah, I know. So very “pro-life.”) There’s the recently proposed bill in South Dakota that puts abortion providers–and pregnant women–in danger. Not to mention efforts to restrict access to abortion in Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Florida just in the last year.
It’s all very depressing, we agreed. But lately it seems the only way to fight back is to empty your wallet. Give $25 here, $12 there, go to this $40 fundraiser, get a bus to DC and take off a day of work to go to this event. Even if I did have that kind of money, it still feels so defeatist to be funding (or defending) a revolution piecemeal. And all those 60s activists didn’t need a penny to just get their asses to local rallies and organizations in their area.
Well, I wake up this morning and what do I see: there’s a real, life PROTEST in New York City planned to fight against all these measures on Saturday, February 26. As Vanessa from Feministing succintly said today: Enough of this anti-choice bullshit.
Foley Square, Across from the Court House in Lower Manhattan
New York City
Both online activism and microdonations are important, but it can’t be the only way we fight. We need to be visible. We need to be angry in front of TV cameras, radio mics, and flip-phones. If Egypt, Tunisia, Iran, and all the rest taught us anything, it’s that the old cliche still holds water: The people (physically) united shall never be defeated.
Sadly, I will be flying to Chicago that day to move my stuff back to New York, which will prove to be about the 800th time I move this year. (Hopefully this will be the last time for a while!) But for New Yorkers who will be there: please, please do me a favor and get your (literal) ass out there next Saturday. And for non-New Yorkers, which yes I realize there are many, kindly follow suit and plan something similar in your area.
UPDATE: There are also planned rallies in L.A., Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Alaska, D.C., the U.K., and Pakistan. So maybe I can go after all!
Like I promised, I’ve been bringing themes of gender, sexuality, and politics to my temp job as contributing producer of WNYC’s Soundcheck. That’s what I always claim a feminist is, anyway–a person who infuses whatever they do (in my case media) with a feminist lens. Check em out:
On the neo-burlesque scene in New York City:
…and on burlesque’s patron saint, Gypsy Rose Lee:
On the Queen of Rockabilly, Wanda Jackson:
On what makes a “gay-friendly” musician:
I didn’t produce this Soundcheck Smackdown on the White Stripes, and it doesn’t has much to do with feminism–except the fact that BUST editor Emily Rems drops knowledge:
Well hello there. Please excuse the long hiatus…I’ve been traveling the country for allkinds ofreasons (which is what a Girldriver does best, so yall shouldn’t be that mad!).
First, a Nona update: I’m still at WNYC, doing some work for their music talk show, Soundcheck. And I don’t mind telling you I’ve already imbued a little feminism into the hour. I just produced a piece about Nicki Minaj, where I got Feministing blogger Lori Adelman in the studio to talk about whether she’s good for women in hip hop:
I’ll also be producing segments on neo-burlesque and bad-ass rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson in the next couple weeks, so look out for those, too. Finally, the anthology of my mom Ellen Willis’s rock criticism, called Out of the Vinyl Deeps, is coming out in May!
Now for a cryptic, Girldrive-related update: I’m planning another political road trip this year. It has a little bit to do with this, and it channels this and this. I promise to blog about it very soon. Promise!
I’d also like to announce that this site will take a broader focus in the coming months. To me, “Girldrive” means more than discovering feminism–it means getting out of your comfort zone, talking to people who haven’t grown up with the same values and expectations and circumstances as you. It means having heated conversations face-to-face rather than screaming at people over the internet. While doing Pop and Politics, we had extraordinarily intimate conversations with, among others, Black Tea Party candidate Allen West (who later won a seat in Congress), a Mexican-American minuteman, and someone from the Tohono O’odham nation whose homeland is split down the middle–people who are so much more complicated than their 5-word ID suggests. It’s convinced me more than ever that a good reporter treads on the turf of their subjects–sits down with them, shares a cup of coffee, and listens until they’re done.
So this year, “Girldrive” will be about discovery and the road in the broadest sense. About feminism, of course, but also about people who don’t often get to speak for themselves, or people who are going out of their way to pop the comfy bubble of their lives.
The election results are in, and we’ve been following the process every step of the way. Here are the 3 hours we put together from our journey: a documentary from our road trip to Florida, another one from Arizona, and our live show at WNYC’s The Greene Space the day after the elections.
Housing has been on this journalist’s mind lately. I just moved back to New York City after being gone for a while, and the reality of real estate here has hit me like a punch in the gut. Shiny condos that sit half empty have replaced warehouses and greasy spoons I used to know. Subsidized middle-class housing complexes have 20-year waiting lists. New Yorkers like me are priced out of their childhood neighborhoods.
Thoughts of my gentrified hometown reverberated through my head a few weeks ago when we visited Miami, a city still knee-deep in the housing crisis. This metropolitan area was one of the epicenters of the housing boom, where new constructions and sub-prime mortgages abounded a few years ago. Here we met Ruby, a Miami native whose house was at risk of foreclosure after going through a bankruptcy and several rounds of refinancing. To her, a house is everything–a place to make your mark on the world. It is a place to lay down roots and engage in a community, a place to make beautiful, to make yours. [Read more →]
When the media cover “the border,” they pit Mexico against America, Spanish against English, two increasingly melding cultures separated by a porous partition. But what happens when a border cuts straight through your own people’s land? What happens when you’re the forgotten voice in a three-way conversation–which hurts doubly, since you were there first?
The Tohono O’odham nation, one of the largest native reservations in the country, straddles the U.S.-Mexican border. Our team spent the day in Sells, Arizona, soaking in the landscape, eating short rib stew and prickly pear smoothies at the local cafe, and, before talking with Sells native Art Wilson, checking out the border. A far cry from the looming wall in Nogales, the border here is marked by some wire and posts barely taller than my chin.
Art explained that the border meant little to him as a child, that he inhabited both countries freely. “It was more like a a fence that kept the livestock from crossing over,” he said. “It was like crossing into somebody’s backyard.” He didn’t think of his world as a U.S.-Mexico duality, instead thinking of it in terms of “O’ohdam and white.”
After our conversation with Art, he generously shared a private moment with us–a ceremony in the middle of the desert memorializing the anniversary of his mother’s death. Here, we had a rare breath of calm amid our frenetic schedule, an hour enveloped in a prehistoric landscape that stood in stark relief against the cacophony of New York City.
These are the moments I’m glad I’m a journalist. These are the reasons to go on the road–to appreciate the vastness of our country, to force ourselves to see colliding identities, to get out of our comfort zones and glimpse into another person’s reality. Right before we got back in our cars, Farai mused, “You can never really walk in anyone’s shoes. But once in a while, you can stand where they’re standing.”
Sooo I know I haven’t been posting much, but it’s only because I’ve been busy working on this awesome multimedia project for the midterm elections (I posted on it here). And we are in dire need of a social media intern as soon as humanly possible! This is a great opportunity to work at WNYC, with cool people, on an very innovative project. Don’t worry about a formal cover letter–just send a resume and a short intro email as soon as you can to me, firstname.lastname@example.org AND Kerry Donahue, email@example.com.