Thursday June 14, Creative Time and the New York Public Library brought together poet and writer Eileen Myles, writer and Jezebel.com founder Anna Holmes, and artist and musician JD Samson for an evening themed around the idea of constructing a 21st-century feminism.
Following a conversation between Myles and Holmes that spanned the commodification of identity, literal boys clubs, and menopause, Samson performed with January Hunt and Laura Dune as well as members of the Lower Eastside Girls Club and Xhoir.
Here are some excerpts from Myles and Holmes’s dialogue:
EM: Is keeping a diary feminist? Growing up, part of what you were grappling with was not being silent. As a young female, I was constantly being invited to be silent.
AH: None of my peers would identify as “feminist.” This was ’92 or ’93. It was made toxic. Now there’s women with the T-shirts and it’s a whole marketing thing.
EM: It starts to be your career. You are always being reminded that you are female. You are always being asked to weigh in about being female. It constantly displaces you from the narrative you are trying to make.
AH: It’s the same for writers for color. I wanted to start a digital property that would only be populated by writers of color but they wouldn’t write about race at all.
EM: When I’m alone, am I a feminist? When I’m alone, am I a female?
AH: What did you want to be when you grew up?
EM: An astronaut. What about you?
AH: A dancer. I was very extroverted as a child but then at about 10 or 11, something happened that I think happens to a lot of people. I fell into myself.
EM: You are going through this transition and it’s unmarked, undiscussed, unritualized. You are being told to hide, just like menopause. My mid-40s started to get weird and operatic. I was so productive, I must have written three books. I was nuts. It’s psychedelic. A lot of women I knew started drinking and drugging again. Five women I knew killed themselves that decade.
AH: [on the political moment] Right now, norms are being broken, lines are being crossed, but there’s not an outcry. It’s not a lack of interest. It’s a feeling of impotence.