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Womyn Artist: Alix Olson

17 Mar

A lot of the blogs I follow do regular “this feminist/womanist is awesome and I want to bring her to your attention” posts, and I thought I’d follow their examples. :)

Stop the Stinky War

I love this picture to itty bitty bits, and smile wide when I see it.

I became aware of Alix Olson because of my involvement with Livejournal. More specifically, with the Livejournal community Fuck Shaving. At some point in late 2007, I got tired of buying razors and fighting my body’s tendency to, you know, grow hair, and I sought out like-minded people through the mystical powers of the Internet. Somebody posted about this “OMGWTFBBQ awsum slam poet” (approximate quote) doing a song about armpit hair. And from that point on, I was hooked (and much as I enjoy mocking LJ, it certainly had an impact on my becoming more receptive to the idea that sexism was pervasive and that feminism was necessary, which has become so much of my identity today, so it isn’t just a place for bad grammar, shitty fanfic and dramatic oversharing).

There were no seats on the subway
so I had to grab a strap
As I lifted up my arm I heard a scream “what’s that?”
I took a look around,
I thought “there must be something scary”.
Like a lion or a tiger or the Virgin Mary?
But then, I noticed they were looking at me.
I heard “oh my gawd! They’re hairy!”

Here’s part of it on Youtube, including a small number of women flashing their underarms at the camera (sorry for the incompleteness and the poor sound quality).

And here she is talking about feminism on A Passion For Justice: 21st Century Feminism.

[partial transcript] You know, the minute that we’re told we’re too loud and too angry and that we have enough, we kind of have this tendency to say ‘Okay [puts up hands in stop gesture], okay, we must [stop],’ you know.  And it’s important to remember who’s telling us that. [links added to transcript – niema]

The paper called me a warrior.
a bad girl. a bad example.
The paper said I smile big,
but I curse too much.
and it’s true. I do
Feel like a warrior just for making it through the day, sometimes
I feel like a fighter.

I choose to use words as my form of activism because, to me that says ‘I choose to speak and I am making a decision to utilize this powerful toolbox of language.’ And I think throughout herstory there have been a lot of artists who have been afraid to be targeted as, you know, a feminist artist or lesbian artist. And I think for me, that’s an essential part of who I am and what I believe in and my value system.

It’s so much of that fear that motivates me. The fear that I’ll be dismissed, either by the mainstream “Eh, she’s just one of those wingnut feminists with hairy legs – who cares if she (spoken with contempt no text can convey) feels marginalized?” or by the feminist movement “Grow up, sunshine – you’re just another fauxgressive ostrich with your head in the sand, and we don’t want you.” That fear paralyzes me – that possibility that nobody cares what I think. So I keep going – I have to, in a way, to preserve my own sanity. But always, in the back of my mind, there are these two diametrically opposed forces, and I worry that I’m not enough like either one, especially the one I aspire to, to make it in this world. And before I spun off into “sleep-deprived niema bares her soul” territory, I was going to say that I very much get where Olson is coming from with why she is so upfront and in your face about her feminist, lesbian identity politics, and I get the feeling she understands why the herstorical artists felt they couldn’t be. It’d be fucking hard to be openly lesbian and feminist in this world without knowing how much easier it can be to hide in a closet – to not be deeply and intimately acquainted with the reasons the closet is such a ubiquitous metaphor in this society.

Olson’s pretty popular – she’s been in magazines and on AfterEllen, and has performed at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival* several times. But I still think she’s pretty damn cool and insightful. Give her stuff a listen!

*I wish I could go this year (I’ve never been), but my finances make it unlikely that I’ll be able to. *deep, heaving sigh* Anybody who’s going wanna be my emissary?