Remember that song “Hot Topic” by Le Tigre? I sure do. The first time I heard it was in Chapel Hill, North Carolina at the Cat’s Cradle. I was just about to finish my undergraduate degree. Kathleen Hanna was jumping up and down and shouting out the names of women who have been of the utmost influence in her life. Behind her, JD Samson and Johanna Fateman were rocking out and adding names of their own. It was one of the last shows I saw before I left North Carolina and moved back to Canada, and I think of it often. Hearing Le Tigre give shout-outs to women was revelatory for me. Here were women celebrating other women. Here was a joyful and empowering naming of names, a series of affirmations and citations bound together with a refrain of “Don’t stop! Please don’t stop! I can’t live if you stop!”
I have had “Hot Topic” on my mind a great deal for a few reasons in the last few weeks. First, it is nearing the one-year anniversary of the founding of Canadian Women in the Literary Arts. A cause for both reflection and celebration, the nearing anniversary has come with several mentions in the news. In some cases, those mentions are positive. In other cases, they come with an undercurrent of dismissal towards CWILA’s mandate. I find myself thinking through the reasons for these multifaceted reactions to the crucial volunteer work being done by CWILA members.
I also think of “Hot Topic” and the importance of giving shout-outs and solidarity to women who speak out in public forums. Sina Queyras aka Lemon Hound is currently fundraising for a prize for the best piece of critical writing by a woman. Recently, Lemon Hound published Zoe Whittall’s poem “Unequal To Me,” a poem that calls attention to the ways in which men review women’s book. It went viral. That same week Jon Paul Fiorentino wrote a piece for the Huffington Post on sexism and silence in the Canadian literary scene. I am still thinking through my response to the reason Fiorentino needed to write the post, but what I do know is that solidarity matters, and being vocally supportive in public matters. So much.
So here is the beginning of my shout-outs. In the spirit of Le Tigre I offer the beginning of a list of women who have been and continue to be formative in my life. This is just a start, I’ve limited myself to people I have seen, spoken with, or whose texts I have read in the last month, otherwise I would never finish the list:
Sina Queyras, Gillian Jerome, Jade Ferguson, Heather Zwicker, Susan Bennett, Carrie Dawson, Smaro Kamboureli, Laura Moss, Afua Cooper, Marina Young, Shelley Young, El Jones, Tanis McDonald, Aritha van Herk, Emily Ballantyne, Anne Carson, rita wong, Marie Clements, TL Cowan, Nicole Brossard, Erin Moure, Marjorie Stone, Larissa Lai, Tasha Hubbard, Vanessa Lent, Natalie Walschots, Martha Radice, Christl Verduyn, Peggy Phelan, Toni Morrison, Susan Brown, Claire Campbell, Kaarina Mikalson and a million more. As Kathleen Hanna says: don’t stop! Please don’t stop!
3 thoughts on “Hot Topic: Solidarity and Shout-outs”
Fantastic list, Erin! I second Tanis McDonald. Her Canadian Women Writer's course is still one of the best courses I have ever taken. I'd also like to add first, a few other former profs, before a list of authors/theorists. The list of former profs: Linda Burnett, Maria DiCenzo, Viviana Comensoli, Linda Warley, Carol Acton, Katherine Acheson, and Heather Smyth. All of these women taught courses from which I learned a great deal. My horizons were expanded in often unexpected ways. And some of them provided equally unexpected mentorship. I also want to shout out to Kirsty Best, who never ceases to amaze me. Working with her is always wonderful and synergistic.
I'll limit myself along the same parameters as Erin, as per texts read:
Julia Kristeva, Cathy Caruth, Vera Hodgson, Margaret Culkin Banning, Nella Last, Margaretta Jolly, Liz Stanley, Erika Gottlieb, Eve Kosofsky-Sedgewick, Chandra Mohanty, Erin Moure, Marlene NorbeSe Philip, Magda King, Dena Rosenbloom, Mary Beth Williams, Barbara E. Watkins, Sarah Gertrude Millin, Madeleine Henrey, Julie Rak, Marlene Kadar, Jeanne Perault, Susanna Egan, Sidonie Smith, Julia Watson, Judith Butler, Alison Landsberg, Mona Domosh,Joni Seager, Liz Ševčenko, and Diana Taylor.
Several times over!
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