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Women & Power

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Newsletter, Our Minds & Bodies

Women & Power

Dear Friends,

So much going on here — deep in the bitter cold of an East coast winter, many of us are more than half-way through our Dry January, whatever that means to you. For me, it’s been a long, healthy slog of (almost) no alcohol. Last week we launchedTheWoolfer.com, the first iteration of a WWVWD website, replete with photos and information, and even a shop helmed by Woolfer Diana Kane English (totes, tees, vibrator necklaces!). Enormous shout-out to the super talented baby Woolfer Tracy Rhine, who made the whole thing happen, and did it so beautifully.

Major frustration of the week is that a Woolfer outing to MOMA PS1 in Queens resulted in my getting temporarily BANNED from Facebook. We went to see the Cathy Wilkes show, which was great, but wound up utterly mesmerized by the Carolee Schneemann show. Foolish me, in my enthusiasm, posted some pics of her work, including a few nudes, and was summarily shut out of the group. It turns out you can post all sorts of pictures of men’s nipples, but don’t you dare show a woman’s naked torso!

The exile from my beloved land has made my last week in NYC a bit stressful, as I leave today for a very exciting (first time) drive across the country! I’m headed to Venice, CA, for three months, where I hope to build up the LA WWVWD communityand generally get a new perspective and some sunshine. I’ll be meeting Woolfers along the way (in Memphis, Arkansas, and Telluride, at the very least) and posting about it for sure.

Love,

Nina

Hot Topics

Image created by Rochelle Weiner Carr AndiamoCreative.com. Used by permission.

Last weekend: Black-clad actresses at the Golden Globes and Oprah’s pitch perfect acceptance speech. This weekend: Pink-capped protesters at Women’s Marches around the country (for info on the Woolfers’ NYC meetup, click here). With #MeToo evolving into #TimesUp, the subject of women and power — or more specifically women and their relation to power — has been a hot topic, well, just about everywhere. So it’s no surprise that Woolfers have been passionately weighing in on everything from the rumors of Oprah running for POTUS to the latest blow-up-the-Internet revelation of Aziz Ansari’s alleged sexual misconduct. While we cannot possibly sum up in a sound byte the very important and nuanced conversation about gender, power, and consent that emerged vis-a-vis Aziz (as one commenter nervously confessed, she had been driven to tears by plenty of bad sex, BUT she had also been cajoled into some of her hottest hookups – what to do with that?), we offer a Woolfer-curated round up of some of our favorite articles on the subject from the HuffPoSeattle Stranger, and NYT for your exploration and reflection. And don’t miss Samantha Bee’s brilliant take!

And then there was the millenial angle. For a group of women over 40, many of us viewed what happened through a generational lens (and, let’s be honest, not a little disdain for our younger cohort) … but when 20-something Katie Way, the babe.net writer who broke the story, crossed words with Ashleigh Banfield, calling her a “second wave feminist has-been,” it was on. Against the rising fury, one Woolfer took a different tack, imploring us to remember our own youthful arrogance, and calling on us to understand and mentor the Katie Ways of the world. Although the consensus was no thanks — at least not this particular writer, at this particular publication — the flash of kindness and compassion was a sobering reminder to us all that solidarity is power.

Of course, in between all this talk of power and politics, Woolfers discussed the everyday thoughts and observations that compose a life. One Woolfer reflected upon the inspiration she finds in the locker room at her local Y, where she delights in the beauty and inevitability of aging bodies, so often made invisible to us. While our culture celebrates youth, this post generated a thread of wonder and appreciation for our bodies — whether birthing and feeding our children (if we have them), serving as a source of fun and pleasure, or pushing boundaries of the expected, as this woman did by qualifying for a marathon at age 50. The collective takeaway was to treat our maturing selves with the admiration they deserve, not the criticism our culture creates (although perhaps, just perhaps, our culture is changing?). In that spirit, we celebrate this beautiful image.

Photo: Katarzyna Kozrya

Woolfer Reads

Two books on our radar are Cambridge Classics Professor Mary Beard’s slim manifesto Women & Power and Naomi Alderman’s novel The Power, a modern-day heir to The Handmaid’s Tale. Nina read Women & Power over the weekend, and found it provocative, if more suited to the academically inclined. The Power attracted a number of enthusiastic readers. Woolfer Jordana Horn Gordon called it “riveting,” and confessed that she was sneaking peeks during bathroom breaks because she could not put it down. Karyn Helen chimed in that she wished the book had been around 20 years ago, and Laurie Nardone summed it up with “holy smokes, this was fantastic.”

Woolfer of the Week

Betsy Martens

73 years old, living in the Chicago area most of my adult life, grew up in Detroit area.

Tell us what you’d like us to know about you, in under 50 words

A shy, obedient child of Southern parents, I broke out of that to fight the PTB (“Powers That Be”). Dictionary editor, journeyman typesetter, union printer, filmmaker, photographer, information architect, editor/writer, now struggling with retirement. Several main men over the years, the first two now dead and the third still living, separated for 15 years: best friend, no sex. Sigh.

If you had a warning label, what would it be?

Deeply flawed, but worth the effort.

If you could tweet something to your younger self, what would you say?

Have greater faith in yourself, and don’t be afraid to disagree, especially with friends.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

After life as a social justice activist in which I pretty much neglected my relationship with my daughter, I worked very, very hard to rebuild that relationship. It’s taken close to 25 years but I feel we’re now on solid ground.

Xanax or weed?

At this point, booze, though I’ve heard great things about Xanax, and I was a stoner for 10 straight years with Main Man #2, an artist.

Woolfer Wants

For those of us who are having a dry hair January, several Woolfers swear by the “black bottle” Age Defy Pantene Shampoo. According to moderator Hannah Casey, “It really does what the label says!” Not only is it touted as more effective at smoothing unruly grays, boosting lackluster color, and repairing breakage than professional salon brands, but the price is right. You can get both the shampoo and conditioner for under $20 here.

Don’t forget to visit the WWVWD shop! From t-shirts to tote bags to vibrator necklaces, we’ve got what you need to get decked out like a true Woolfer.

O how we miss Carrie FIsher. Here she is in an artwork titled “Our Blessed Rebel Queen Carrie FIsher” by Lindsay van Ekelenburg.

Thank you, Shelle Sumners for posting!

A Few Notes on Music & Video

We’ve deemed this Storm Large song, “Eight Miles Wide” the WWVWD anthem, just because we think it’s so funny. 

Check us out on Spotify, where generous Laurie Nardone created two WWVWD playlists (sign in required), WWVWD and WWVWD Vagtunes.

Lastly, Nina’s daughter Ruby Fludzinski created a WWVWD YouTube channel and made this video of Woolfers having fun together IRL at our last (riotous) clothing swap: How to Ruin a Date in Four Words.

Til next week,
Nina, Stephanie, & Kris

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WWVWD Newsletter Team

About the Author

Stephanie Staal and Nina Collins have worked together and adored each other since 1994 when they were both babies in the world of book publishing. Stephanie is a lawyer, journalist, & author of READING WOMEN, and Nina is the founder of "What Would Virginia Woolf Do?"