“Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance and Revolution in Trump’s America” is a collection of 23 essays designed to explain, inspire and unite. The editors will be in conversation with writer Ijeoma Oluo.
Everything was fine until the returns came in.
Samhita Mukhopadhyay, an editorial director for the online news and culture site Mic, had crafted a thoughtful essay about what the election of Hillary Clinton meant to feminism.
Now, she had to tear it up and start over — and write about the issue of “identity politics” and the role of sexism in Clinton’s loss.
Town Hall talk
Samhita Mukhopadhyay and Kate Harding, the editors of “Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance and Revolution in Trump’s America,” will appear with writer Ijeoma Oluo at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10, at Seattle First Baptist Church, 1111 Harvard Ave., Seattle; $5 (strangertickets.com)
It was the same for Kate Harding, an author who had been assigned by The Guardian to write a feminist response to the election. Instead, she “sobbed for two hours,” and at 5 a.m., filed a piece about the underlying issues that motivated people — especially women — to support Donald Trump.
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(To wit: “My country hates women, which is bad enough, and pretends it doesn’t, which is worse.”)
In the days after, the two writers — first introduced at a gathering sponsored by Jezebel — connected, compared wounds and decided to invite other female writers to muse on Trump’s election from their perspectives as feminists, immigrants, transgender, people of color, queer or disabled.
The result is “Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance and Revolution in Trump’s America,” a collection of 23 essays designed to explain, inspire and unite.
Mukhopadhyay and Harding will bring their book to Seattle at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 10 at Seattle First Baptist Church for a conversation with Seattle-based writer Ijeoma Oluo. The event is produced by Town Hall and supported by Elliott Bay Book Company.
“Kate and I were catching up about our grief, and we knew there were probably so many women writers who had essays that would never see the light of day,” Mukhopadhyay said recently. “This project was born from that.”
They didn’t put out an open call but made a short list of writers they hoped to get — limiting the number so they could pay a fair rate. Once word spread, the pitches came hard and fast. But not everyone was accepted.
“We were very mindful about the diversity of voices and the different perspectives,” Mukhopadhyay said. “We wanted the emotional responses, but also the international impact, and the feelings of someone on the campaign.”
So there is an essay by “Wild” author Cheryl Strayed, who poured her grieving heart out over Clinton’s loss, and another by Jill Filipovic about how Trump’s policies affect a young woman in West Africa.
Katha Pollitt wrote about the state of reproductive rights with Trump in the White House.
And Sarah Hollenbeck wrote about how Trump’s attack on a disabled reporter felt to someone who is also handicapped.
Mukhopadhyay remembered crying at the end of Filipovic’s essay, “Advice to Grace in Ghana: Trump, the Global Gag Rule, and the Terror of Misinformation.”
“It brought home the depths and the impact that the presidency was going to have not only here, but so far abroad.”
Harding still thinks about “How to Build a Movement,” by Alicia Garza, one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“She speaks with the authority of someone on the radical Left who says we need to get over some of the bull that has divided us,” Harding said. “The left needs to take a look at how we treat each other.”
That theme continued in Carina Chocano’s “We Have a Heroine Problem.” The essay chronicled her experiences defending Hillary Clinton to members of the left — specifically, male supporters of Bernie Sanders who couldn’t bear that a woman wanted to be in charge.
“I was so focused on the right that I missed the oncoming truck from the left,” Chocano wrote, describing email exchanges with male colleagues. “… My run-ins with Bernie Bros were more painful and frustrating than any encounter with a Trump voter ever was, because they felt like the rug being pulled out from under; like sabotage.”
Native American attorney and playwright Mary Kathryn Nagle penned “Nasty Native Women,” which touched upon the tenuous history of Native Americans and American presidents.
“No matter who lives in the White House,” she wrote, “since the dawn of the United States, our survival — as Native women — has depended on our ability to counter the dehumanization of our people and rehumanize ourselves in a United States that says we should no longer exist.”
Harding understands that the essays may not resonate with everyone.
“But if you identify as a feminist and you’re horrified with our current political reality,” she said, “something will speak to you.”
It was important not only that the collection offered diverse views, but that the pieces were well-written, she said.
“I didn’t want to put out an anthology like, ‘Here, eat your vegetables.’ I wanted it to be a beautiful book, too.”
The essay collection took just six months to put together, and the two editors feel they are just getting started with “Nasty Women” possibilities.
The two just launched a podcast called “Feminasty” on iTunes, which will allow them to talk to more women about what’s going on in Washington and how it affects their lives.
And there is talk of creating a website where more essays can be posted.
Every day, it seems, something happens that lends itself to a feminist woman’s words: Saudi women being allowed to drive for the first time. The rise of far-right Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama. The controversy over NFL players kneeling.
“It just never stops,” Harding said.
That doesn’t always feel like a good thing in the day-to-day.
But Mukhopadhyay and Harding are determined to turn them into strong words and even stronger actions.