Spoiler alert: Trump won and “nasty woman” became more than just a cutesy phrase on your coffee cup. Now all women in America and abroad had to wonder how their “nastiness” was going to be targeted. Would he follow through and punish women who got abortions? Would misogynists feel emboldened, now that one of their own was elected the most powerful man in the country? Trans women scrambled to get their passports to reflect their real gender, sanctuary cities took a stand, millions donated to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood, and a Kickstarter project was announced: Nasty Women.
Nasty Women is an anthology from 404 Ink, a UK literary magazine. 1,336 backers pledged £22,156, well over it’s £6000 goal. And now that the finished project is available for purchase, and I cannot recommend it enough.
I've read a lot of feminist anthologies over the years. Unfortunately, I have to say it’s rare to find an anthology this diverse; of the ones I read it’s only beat out by such wonderful anthologies such as A Bridge Called My Back where race or other minority demographics is the entire point of the collection. Too often when feminist essays are collected in a volume, there are a few token essays by women of colour and far more rarely, a contribution from a trans woman. The editors of Nasty Women have done a great job curating these essays; most of the authors are living in the USA or the UK, but their voices are myriad and their experiences and identities are diverse.
And their voices are powerful. The women who contributed explore what it means to be a “nasty woman”; that is, a woman that patriarchal norms deem unsuitable and improper. Race, immigration status, transness, disability, weight, faith, pregnancy, punk rock and witchcraft are just some of the facets of “nastinest” explored.
It is raw, it is powerful, and it is sorely needed right now. This book captures the sense of loss so many women felt last November and December, but also the rise of the fighting spirit that saw the Women’s March hot on the heels of Trump’s inauguration, not the first nor the last of loud protests that we have seen since. This is a very peculiar time in history; no one seems to know how stable our government is right now, how long it will last or what horrible policies they can actually get through. Because of this uncertainty, I have no idea how easy this book will be to read years later. Many of the experiences related in this book will surely be relevant, but the overall political worries over Trump and Brexit, if I may be willfully hopeful and naive, may be alleviated in the months to come. But I can tell you, right now, you want to read this book.
If there’s anything I wish was included was essays from First Nation women. Their fights have been ongoing for hundreds of years, and when we thought we won at Standing Rock, it turns out it was just delayed. Their voices too, are sorely needed.
Nasty Women was published on March 8, 2017 by 404 Ink and can be ordered from their website.
Megan “Spooky” Crittenden is a secluded writer who occasionally ventures from her home to give aid to traveling adventurers.