I’ve been noticing a recent (though long overdue) trend in woman-centric education tools for the tiniest of tots, but frankly, a lot of them are super lame. I don’t really think preschoolers need to learn about Hillary Clinton, she’ll be ruling over them soon enough. They’ll get it by osmosis…
The new alphabet book—Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History . . . and Our Future! is a breath of fresh air on that front. Combining figures from the arts like Patti Smith and dancer Isadora Duncan with human rights activist Yuri Kochiyama, and the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation, Wilma Mankiller, the book goes for the deeper cuts and avoids a wholesome/boring lecture on “foremothers”—plus, the graphics beat a princess theme any day. Considering how many times kids request the same book, I’d say it’s a good move for parental sanity.
The Wrecks were a raging early ‘80s, all-female, hardcore band from the “Skeeno Hardcore” scene of Reno, Nevada. Considered by Seven Seconds to be a “sister band,” they were a bit of an anomaly at the time—four teenage girls playing ultra noisy, brutal hardcore. Certainly, they were mining similar musical and thematic territory that Bikini Kill would become famous for ten years later. Their “claim to fame” was a single song, “Punk is an Attitude”, which was included on the widely-distributed Not So Quiet on the Western Front compilation LP, released by Maximumrockandroll magazine in 1982. Their drummer, Lynn, went on to play with hardcore gods, The Dicks. Watch some incredible footage of her Dicks tenure here.
“This band hails from Reno, Nevada and is composed of four teenage girls that do mostly all hardcore material. The nine songs on this tape are definitely not of the slam’n'thrash variety but are more akin to art damage, sorta like Flipper. Anyway everything here is original and well, kinda weird. Broken-up rhythms and strange singing abound but this stuff really does grab ya after repeated listenings. Also the lyrics are top notch and these girls definitely have something to say! They deal with subjects such as high school, Cuban refugees, and the all important question about drug use. What ya got here is a fairly rewarding tape from a rebellious crew of teenage girls ready to shake up the system.” Frankie DeAngelis (Ripper #7, May 1982)
“The Wrecks were one of the first all-female hardcore punk bands. They rocked Reno from 1980 to 1982. Two of the members went on to form the still-active Imperial Teen: Lynn Truell and Jone Stebbins. Lynn was just named one of the 100 best alternative-rock drummers by Spin magazine, which neglected her time in The Wrecks but included her drumming in The Dicks and Sister Double Happiness.” Mark Robison
Ladies, are you sick of “c*nt” being used as a derogatory term? Let’s re-appropriate that word to mean “fantastic” or simply “badass.” We can start this revolution by donning a pair of these plush black velvet C*NT flats by Los Angeles-based footwear brand YRU. In gold-threaded embroidery, the right foot has the letters “CU” and the left, of course, finishes it off with the “NT.”
Last Saturday was a typical Saturday for me, crate digging in the local thrift shops. One of my hard-and-fast rules of vinyl thrifting is always buy any never-before-seen oddball platter if it’s a dollar or less. You simply never know when you’re going to stumble across that undiscovered “break” that some hotshot DJ will fork over major-league cash for, or in this case, something so truly bizarre and wrongheaded that it warrants sharing with the rest of the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, behold the album unearthed this past Saturday: a sealed copy of 20 of the World’s Best Advertisements.
Procured for a mere 50 cents, this record was released in 1967 by the Chuck Blore Creative Services ad agency. Ostensibly the album is a promotional tool for the agency, collecting the “world’s best” ads from the time of Mad Men; but as I learned from needle dropping the first three tracks, the men who produced these ads were really (really) mad.
These radio spots produced for DWG Cigar Corporation for their RG Dun line of cigars are a clear reaction to the Women’s Liberation Movement of the time, and they are absolutely jaw-dropping in their over-the-top misogyny. They certainly don’t make ‘em like this anymore, folks!
Not merely sexist, these ads essentially advocate violence against any henpecking harpy who would dare to ask her husband to extinguish his malodorous cheroot. Tune in and experience the acrid, sooty stench of a very different American cultural milieu.
In the first of the three ads, a man who has “had it up to here with all of this female equality bunk” throws his wife into a closet which is made into a “national shrine” by browbeaten men the world over. Truly a hero for the Men’s Rights Activists of his day, he is advised by a macho voice-over to “kick over her vanity table on the way out the door.”
In the second spot, a man at a restaurant nonchalantly asks the maitre d’ to throw his nagging wife out the window when she objects to his cigar. His request is followed by the sound of female screams and breaking glass, apparently she has been physically hurled through the front window of the establishment.The man, now a national hero, advises his followers to “keep a cigar in your face and a woman in her place!”
In the third commercial, the “Take a Cigar Stand” movement is sweeping the country and one brave activist declares “The American male is finally standing up for his rights. Today, if a woman objects to a man smoking his cigar, he doesn’t put it out… he puts her out.” A tacky Bob Dylan clone sings that “a woman has no sense of humidor” and an all-male Broadway cast sings “Don’t wait for my return, dear. I’m smoking while you burn, dear.”
These ads are a window into a time when men were truly threatened by female equality and certainly put into perspective the 1968 debut of Virginia Slims cigarettes and their famous ad campaign marketed toward women: “You’ve come a long way, baby.”
My public school education taught me very little on either the English or American women’s suffrage movements. I received a sterilized, almost Disneyfied briefing on the mass of ladies who fought for the vote, but they remained a nameless marching sea of stern-faced sashes and hats. (To be fair, this was a school that still had the U.S.S.R. on the maps, so historical pedagogy may have taken a backseat to acquiring basic resources like toilet paper, and possibly clearing out asbestos.) It was only years later and of my own accord that I beefed up on stories of women terrorizing politicians, enduring hunger-strikes (and the subsequent force-feedings) and yes—throwing themselves in front of the King’s horse.
Up until very recently, I had presumed that last one was more of a symbolic than violent gesture—a bit of pedestrian-on-equestrian hassling. On the contrary, British suffragette Emily Wilding Davison actually chucked herself in front of—and grabbed the reins of—a galloping horse as it was running the Epsom Derby in 1913. The video below is actual footage of the brutal event.
Davison valued the cause more than self-preservation; she had previously been thrown in jail nine times and suffered 49 force-feedings while on hunger strike. This time she targeted the horse owned by King George V for maximum uproar. As you can see, the impact was incredibly violent. She held on for four days before dying from internal injuries and a fractured skull. Her funeral was memorialized by the movement.
Though Ken Russell wanted to be a ballet dancer, his father wouldn’t hear of it—no son of his would ever be seen in tights—so the young Russell turned his attention to photography, a craft he thought he could make his name with. He attended Walthamstow Technical College in London, where he was taught all about lighting and composition. Russell would later claim that everything he did as a trainee photographer broke the rules—a trend he continued throughout his career as a film director when producing such acclaimed movies as Women in Love, The Music Lovers, The Devils, Tommy, Altered States and Crimes of Passion.
Russell became a photographer for Picture Post and the Illustrated Magazine, and during his time with these publications took some of the most evocative photos of post-war London during the 1950s. He spent his days photographing street scenes and his nights printing his pictures on the kitchen table of his rented one-bed apartment in Notting Hill.
For fifty years, it was believed Russell’s photos had been lost, but in 2005 a box marked “Ken Russell” was discovered in the archives of a photo library. Inside was over 3,000 of Ken’s negatives.
Among his most famous work from this period is “The Last of the Teddy Girls”—a series of photos documenting London’s girl gang subculture and their male counterparts. Russell was attracted to these young women for their sense of independence and style—dressing in suits, land army clothes—while rejecting society’s expectations of more traditional, feminine roles. (Teddy kids of either sex were known for fights breaking out wherever they congregated.) The images show Russell’s innate talent for composition and offer a fascinating look into a rarely documented female subculture.
More of Unkle Ken’s beautiful photos, after the jump…
Here are some vintage photos ranging from the early 1940s to 1970s of women’s roller derby competitions. As you can see by the images, these women ain’t takin’ no shit while they’re on their skates. It’s hardcore stuff.
I tried to add captions to photos I could find information on. I also included a movie trailer at the bottom of this post for the 1972 film Kansas City Bomber starring Raquel Welch. Because RAQUEL WELCH ON ROLLER SKATES! Honestly, what more could you want?
1969 WITCH protest in front of Chicago Federal Building.
Of all the second wave feminists who exploded into action over the 1960s and 70s, no group seems to have had quite as much fun as WITCH—the fabulous acronym for Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell. Like so many other groups, WITCH was formed from a split, this one from New York Radical Women. Their counterpart, Redstockings, became the more famous “intellectual” feminist group, producing such visionary minds as Ellen Willis and Shulamith Firestone (who, among many other far out things, argued for the option of robotic wombs to liberate women from childbirth). WITCH on the other hand was the wild and wooly protest group, easily identifiable by their Halloween get-ups.
Protesting beauty pageant circa 1969.
The group specialized in disruption of the sensational bent, shrieking and chanting in black clothing and white face paint, and “throwing hexes” at enemies of the people. Among their many targets were beauty pageants, Wall Street, bridal fairs, Chase Bank, the presidential inauguration, and even sexists in the politically left anti-war movement. Some of the more famous work was actually quite modest in its goals (hey, all politics are local politics), including protesting public transportation fare hikes with this little hex:
Witches round the circle go
to hex the causes of our woe,
We the witches now conspire
To burn CTA in freedoms’ fire.
Bankers gall, politicians guile,
Daley’s jowl, lackey’s smile,
Trustee’s toe, bondholder’s liar
These we cast into our fire.
Meetings held, messages sealed
When the fare hike is revealed
We, the people, are the prey
Of the demon, CTA….
WITCH were one of many radical feminist groups of the second wave (1960s and 70s), and one of many that is sadly understudied and overlooked. Luckily women like director Mary Dore work on projects like She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, a new documentary that chronicles the feminist lay of the land in the days of the counterculture revolution. It’s baffling to think that explicitly socialist groups like WITCH and the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union started out on the same footing as Hillary Clinton boosters like the National Organization for Women, but we all know that even in the feminist movement, the game is rigged towards Wellesley girls.
You can find a screening of She’s Beautiful When She’s Angryhere, and I say it should be mandatory viewing for all girls under the age of eightteen. Where else are we going to get the next chapter of WITCH from?
Yesterday, the best-selling author and neuroscientist Colleen McCullough died at the age of seventy-seven. McCullough was one of Australia’s best-known and most popular novelists, whose success was firmly established with the publication of her second novel The Thorn Birds in 1977. It was later made into a highly successful TV miniseries starring Richard Chamberlain. McCullough followed on her success with a string of bestsellers including An Indecent Obsession (1981), The Ladies of Missalonghi (1987), The Touch (2003) and her Masters of Rome series of historical novels. McCullough’s books have sold in excess of 30 million copies.
But McCullough had originally studied medicine before successfully moving into neuroscience and becoming a respected teacher at the Department of Neurology at the Yale Medical School in New Haven, CT.
By any standard, most people would be content with just one of McCullough’s incredible careers, and one would think that a national newspaper like The Australian might write a glowing obituary, eulogizing this talented and brilliant Australian woman. Well, most of us would, but that’s not what The Australian decided to focus on when writing her obituary, instead they considered her most relevant attributes as being “plain of feature, and certainly overweight,” though she was also “a charmer.”
It’s dispiriting to think how this ever got past the paper’s sub editor’s desk—unless of course the paper is completely staffed by sexist idiots—which, who knows, perhaps it is? What is more disturbing and inexcusable is how a woman of such great achievement should be so casually demeaned and undervalued.
Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom as the stupidity of the Australian’s obituary has seen an amusing response from the Twittersphere, where people (including writers Caitlin Moran, Neil Gaiman, Joanne Harris and comedians Katy Brand and Craig Ferguson) have been tweeting their own mock obituaries (#myozobituary), which you can read below.
#myozobituary would be “Although she grew a disappointing arse, she nonetheless got laid & won awards."
When two of the best and most unpredictable talk show guests in all of television history—boisterous Oscar-winning actress Shelley Winters and alcoholic Brit leading man, Oliver Reed—ended up as consecutive bookings on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson on September 25, 1975, it seemed like an occasion where sparks might fly. And they did. At least something flew. It was a clash of the talkshow titans.
Winters was there because, well, because she was always on 70s talk shows (and gave good value as a guest, you can see how she makes Johnny’s job easy during her segment) while Reed, his first time on the program, was there to promote his role in Ken Russell’s Tommy. Winters comes out first and makes some cougar-ish observations about younger men. She’s her normal charming self. Then Reed is introduced, who declares that he’s “Quite extraordinary”—and I think it’s also fairly safe to assume completely drunk out of his fucking gourd—before going off on an offensive tangent against women’s liberation and feminism causing an incensed Winters to dump her drink squarely on his head.
While she’s still on the couch, Winters gets in a LOL adlib at Reed’s expense that demonstrates why she was such a popular fixture on talk shows. Watch for it.