Jessica, who teaches digital media and graphic design at a high school, found us on the web and invited us via email to a feminist party in our honor. We were much obliged and drove west from New Orleans in eager anticipation.
Weaving through the party, we pick up tidbits from more than twenty women, including two of Jessica’s older mentors. It is a tight-knight community, one that bands together in the conservative region, and has forums, radio shows, and frequent soirees. The buzz of conversation is fascinating, whether chain-smoking around the campfire, or eating cookies in the kitchen.
Two recent college graduates tell me of being called “baby-killers” in the newspaper for working at Planned Parenthood, even though their branch doesn’t even perform abortions–only one in Louisiana does. Another girl tells us about being drugged during the growing roofie problem on the LSU campus (don’t worry, her friends got to her first). An hour away from the Hollywood of the South we talk to a budding queer filmmaker. Some of the ladies are headed to Critical Sass soon, the women-friendly version of the popular bike march. A self-proclaimed “triple-threat” actress/singer/writer has just today auditioned for the Baton Rouge production of Steel Magnolias. These are accomplished and challenging women. There is a ceramics artist and teacher, a graphic designer, an attorney, a horror movie scholar, tons of PhD students, one of whom is even writing on the way the Internet and blogosphere is forging a new feminist future. Because we can’t interview everyone personally, we resort to hand-scrawled Xeroxed questionnaires (wait for the book!), which everyone fills out diligently before I yell, “Who’s ready for their mugshot?”
Tonight, we learn many things. That Baton Rouge has the most bad-ass feminist posse, full of dynamic women who hold their own amidst a dearth of feminism in Louisiana. That while singing “Me and Bobby McGee” on karaoke, you should be prepared for the “na-na-na”s. That just a little blog could create a huge feast including sesame kale, garlic pizza, three bean soup, and home baked focaccia. Talk about Southern hospitality (oh and thanks for letting me pass out on your couch…)