MEDITATIONS ON CRUSTACEANS
After waiting nearly eight hours to actually eat the main course, the editors of the KLEAN satiated themselves and let the vino flow.
Before we begin... A brief message from Helen America:
You should know who Beth Ditto is, but if you don’t: she used to front the gossip, one of the great rock bands of the last decade; she’s a fashion icon; she has a massive, bone-shaking voice; in her words, she’s a “fat, feminist lesbian from Arkansas.” As one magazine cover once put it, Beth Ditto might save your soul.
Women in Physical Spaces
A ROUNDTABLE CONVERSATION
MM: It’s funny because I feel like we live in an age where everything is accessible and everyone is more connected than ever yet people are becoming more socially anxious! The number of times where I hear people say that they hate talking on the phone or that they stare at their phones to avoid eye contact with people is too many to count-myself included. Social media started out as this amazing vehicle to connect with people from all around the world-and to an extent it still is-but it has largely been co-opted as another marketing tool.
I often wonder how I’m supposed to brand myself on social media. Should I be posting food pictures, ironic memes, #goals pictures, inspo, etc? I tend to not take many photos of myself but I’ve been feeling compelled to take more in order to get the word out about the magazine. Then I spiral into deconstructing how people who don’t know me well view me on the internet. Should I just create an online persona of myself? Honestly sounds easier to maintain.
Beyond that the more accessible we have all become via our phones the more I have noticed that people resist being reachable or resist actually showing up for plans.
HA: It’s like the stakes are both higher and lower.
MM: I feel like the accessibility component of technology is making people anxious and actually crave to be alone more. My hope is to use the Klean’s online site as a digital meeting place of sorts to alert people to other women that they can connect with in the real world. I eventually want to start hosting Klean events where we can meet up with people that read our content as well as get to know the women that we feature. Now more than ever it’s so important to build communities online and offline. Women need to band together to support one another and. You either fight for all or you fight for none.
HA: The incredible thing about social media really is how it’s made coming together — even in a virtual community — more important and vital.
SF: When I was 7, my mom took me out of school to march on the Washington Mall in DC for the March for Women’s Lives. It was my introduction to the meaning of the word “feminist,” and it was incredible. I saw thousands of women marching alongside me shouting chants, waving signs, holding hands, and actively showing up to fight for something they believed in. I didn’t yet understand the socio political nuances of the issues I was marching for, but at the time, my purpose seemed simple: I’m here, all these other women are here, and we matter. There was something incredibly powerful about standing among fellow feminists, using my body to take up space, contributing to a physical statement. I hope a lot of young girls who experienced the 2017 Women’s March across the country came to understand feminism and activism in a similarly physical way.
MM: I felt the same feeling this past year when I went to the Women's March in DC. I had just released the videos from my Title IX video series. The sign that I was holding quoted one of the women from the project who said, "Rape Made Me Radical." I had publicly discussed, or I suppose "come out", online and to friends and family. There was something so powerful about standing up and declaring something so personal in a space filled with an endless stream of women. I remember feeling the eyes of all of these other women on my sign and I could tell that it was meaningful to them. One women, slightly older and in her 60s, came up to me and very quickly said "Me too." It was such a brief but intense moment for me and this was way before the #MeToo movement took off post-Weinstein.
SF: The difference between 2004 and now - well one of them, at least - is the role that social media plays in the landscape of modern social and political activism. Social media can be used for some really good, important work. It allows people who live oceans apart to connect over similar interests and shared experiences, whether it’s cake decorating or political activism. That common space on the internet is incredibly valuable, and makes it possible for people to come together in ways we’ve never been able to before.
While this accessibility has countless benefits, it’s easy to forget that clicking the “follow” button on a feminist instagram account, for example, does not a feminist make.
MM: I completely agree! It's almost like the internet and Instagram specifically are becoming tools to homogenize women but in small niche ways. While there's something for everyone online, it is also a tool for diminishing communication and separating communities that need to be in dialogue with one another.
SF: Social media quickly gives way to the now-ubiquitous “slacktivist” mindset, in which being an “ally” for a cause may seem simple as posting an #allied status. Although social media can raise awareness about important issues, it’s only the first step; it needs to be the catalyst for real-world action, not the action in and of itself. I can put a filter on my profile picture, but I have to make sure that I also educate myself about where to donate, which congress members to call and write to, and what to read in order to continue the work that my #activist posts are meant to support.
HA: I’ve become more aware of my social media presence in the last year-ish. I actually started using Instagram the month that it launched, but until about late 2015/early 2016 I was uninterested in the social aspect of the app - I was still just thinking of it as a tool to turn my photos black and white! To be honest, now that the Klean is starting to take shape I’ve become more nervous about the fact that I probably should be making more of an effort with social media.
MM: This is my current dilemma! Now that I'm participating more in social media I'm worried if I don't post about a particular current event that people will see that as not caring. What if I was simply too busy that day to write or post something? Once you start on social media it sucks you in and starts demanding more and more from you.
HA: I rarely post about world issues or politics because I’d rather just quietly donate my time or money to a cause than a post that serves more to show others that I’m a good person. Social media, not matter what approach you take, is performative and calculated and I find it easier to avoid it than cultivate or work cleverly within those confines. But I’m a wuss, in that aspect.
Which is why I think that our focus on the dinner party, in getting time together in person, is so important. It’s re-humanizing.
MM: Yes! Coming together over food, wine, and conversation is so incredibly healing to me. For me dinner parties are the places where I feel the most comfortable and open to other people. I want to foster that space and get women to connect in person.
HA: The other aspect of women in physical spaces is, of course, women in physical spaces in the real world, outside of our phones. We’re experiencing a moment where women are taking up space in ways that are being recognized more so than in the past - the Weinstein/sexual harassment floodgates have opened and they were opened by women. Women who take up space in general are insulted and mocked - sometimes people treat us like dogs walking on their hind legs, like, oh my god, this is so unusual! What a novelty!
MM: Let us toast to taking up space! No apologies!
This content has been edited and condensed for your attention span.
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