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01 October 2008 @ 12:38 pm
kayo hatta
   
 

Kayo Hatta, an American independent filmmaker, was an incredibly visionary director who believed in social justice and sensitivity in all of her productions.  A strong believer in educational filmmaking, she is probably best known for her 1995 film, The Picture Bride, which won the director's award at the Sundance Festival.  The film, about Japanese women forced into arranged marriages in Hawaii during the early part of the 20th Century was only part of her long struggle to accurately portray Asian-American and indigenous Hawaiian women on screen.  Her other short films won numerous awards, and drew the media's attention to both Asian American and Hawaiian history.
Picture Bride was the first film written, directed, and produced by Asian American women, and there were no box-office stars in the film, though the studio encouraged Hatta to change the story and include a white male lead.  Too often Asian women are portrayed as geishas or some other exotic types,”  she said, “I wanted to get away from that."  The film is so beautiful because of precisely that attitude.  The characters are real and multi-facetted, and the story thrives on the relationships between the mostly female cast.  In addition, it illuminates a forgotten and important part of history.  It has become part of the curriculum at many Hawaiian schools.
While Hatta was not a zine writer per se, her spirit embodies the DIY mindset of zines.  Her film was made on a ridiculously small budget, and she struggled to finish it, through lack of funding and insurmountable obstacles.  Her dream would not die because she had little money-- in fact, the film's charm lies in its simplicity.  With a dream and a camera, she brought a new facet to historical study and independent filmmaking.  In addition, her film illuminated injustice and sought to change the world through a radical look at an historical moment.  A riot-grrrl who fought racial and economic inequity through film, her talent shines through in all of her films, including her last, a coming-of-age story released in 2006 called Fishbowl, and "Otemba (Tomboy)" which was chosen as one of the three defining moments in Asian American cinema.
Unfortunately, Hatta never saw Fishbowl's release as she passed away in 2005 at the age of 47.  Her films and legacy, though, continue to shine as examples of what women can do to fight injustice in their communities as well as change the way history is told, taking hold of their destiny and their past.


Kayo Hatta Quotes:
"You have to be prepared for everything.  And you must let your crew and actors know right from the beginning that your film is not some big budget studio picture, but a labor of love that everyone involved has to be committed to to realize the vision."
"I felt a surge of renewed energy, reminded of why we struggled for five long years to tell this story. "
"The songs connected me in a visceral way to the souls of the plantation workers, shattering for me stereotypes of issei (first-generation) women - that our grandmothers had gone through untold hardship, but endured it all with enryo (quiet reserve) and gaman (perseverance)."
"In researching and writing the Picture Bride story, we found that it was precisely the small, seemingly mundane details of daily life - giving birth, raising children, the hardship of daily work - that revealed the lives of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers most intimately. Through these details we come to understand and appreciate who they really were - and ultimately, who we are today. This is what we hoped to accomplish in telling their stories. Indeed, some of most gratifying responses to the film are from the many people who have told us that the film inspired them to find out more about their own family history, and to interview surviving grandparents before it was too late."
"In filmmaking, there is sometimes a magical moment where you forget you are making a movie."
 

 
 
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Barnard Zine Collection
03 July 2008 @ 10:58 am
This week, Voltairine de Cleyre is the idolized radical feminist, a woman who shrank from the limelight, but nonetheless was one of the most important activists and writers of her day.


voltairine de cleyre
"the most gifted and brilliant anarchist woman America ever produced."-- Emma Goldman
An American by birth, de Cleyre lived in a convent through her adolescence. Instead of becoming a nun like her poverty-stricken family intended, she became a radical atheist, escaping the convent by hiking 17 miles and swimming Lake Michigan.  After this dramatic escape, de Cleyre, due in part to her abolitionist roots, in part to her poverty, and in part to her own spirit became an important figure in the "free thought" movement.  Influenced by this movement, she created her own, feminist concept of anarchism.  She did not, as other anarchists, believe in the destruction of property rights, but she did believe a collectivist society was possible, even with a competitive population.  Unlike other anarchists, though, she also saw that the main issue was the economy, and until anarchists figured out a way to beat capitalism through any means necessary, (she was a great advocate for direct action,) they would continue to fail.
After having her child taken away from her as a consequence of refusing to live with the father, she began working even more tirelessly for women's rights, agreeing with Goldman and Wollstonecraft that normalized women's roles in marriage and society make them subordinate. (Nurture over nature!) Her relationship with Goldman, though, was tenuous and competitive personally, and highly respectful academically.  Both wrote papers in defense of one another, but de Cleyre claimed that Goldman was a "communist," while de Cleyre believed in the purest form of anarchism.
During the inter-war period, a time when Western countries were building their armies and preparing for World War I through cruelty and colonization, de Cleyre spoke out against militarization,  claiming, ""all peaceful persons should withdraw their support from the army, and require that all who wish to make war do so at their own cost and risk; that neither pay nor pensions are to be provided for those who choose to make man-killing a trade."  Sound familiar?
Probably the best writer and speaker of the movement, de Cleyre is not as well-remembered as Goldman partially because her life ended early, in her early 50s, and illness rendered her inarticulate toward the end of her life. Though she was depressive, she also survived an assassination attempt in 1902, and fought through taking her own life. For being staunchly anti-war, pro-women, and pro-collectivist, de Cleyre is a real riot grrrl, and her writings are a testament to her talent and tenacity.

Voltairine de Cleyre quotes
Let every woman ask herself, why am I the slave of Man? Why is my brain said not to be the equal of his brain? Why is my work not paid equally with his? Why must my body be controlled by my husband? Why may he take my labor in the household, giving me in exchange what he deems fit? Why may he take my children from me? Will them away while yet unborn? Let every woman ask.
I am an Anarchist, simply, without economic labels attached
Socialism and Communism both demand a degree of joint effort and administration which would beget more regulation than is wholly consistent with ideal Anarchism; Individualism and Mutualism, resting upon property, involve a development of the private policeman not at all compatible with my notion of freedom.

I never expect men to give us liberty. No, women, we are not worth it until we take it.
First, then, God, being all-just, wishes to do justice; being all-wise, knows what justice is; being all-powerful, can do justice. Why then injustice? Either your God can do justice and won't or doesn't know what justice is, or he cannot do it. The immediate reply is: "What appears to be injustice in our eyes, in the sight of omniscience may be justice. God's ways are not our ways."
Oh, but if he is the all-wise pattern, they should be; what is good enough for God ought to be good enough for man; but what is too mean for man won't do in a God.
"For it must needs that offences come, but woe to him through whom the offence cometh." The crimes of the future are the harvests sown of the ruling classes of the present. Woe to the tyrant who shall cause the offense!
Sometimes I dream of this social change. I get a streak of faith in Evolution, and the good in man. I paint a gradual slipping out of the now, to that beautiful then, where there are neither kings, presidents, landlords, national bankers, stockbrokers, railroad magnates, patentright monopolists, or tax and title collectors; where there are no over-stocked markets or hungry children, idle counters and naked creatures, splendor and misery, waste and need. I am told this is farfetched idealism, to paint this happy, povertyless, crimeless, diseaseless world; I have been told I "ought to be behind the bars" for it.
Who thinks a dog is impure or obscene because its body is not covered with suffocating and annoying clothes? What would you think of the meanness of a man who would put a skirt upon his, horse and compel it to walk or run with such a thing impeding its limbs? Why, the "Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals" would arrest him, take the beast from him, and he would be sent to a lunatic asylum for treatment on the score of an impure mind. And yet, gentlemen, you expect your wives, the creatures you say you respect and love, to wear the longest skirts and the highest necked clothing, in order to conceal the obscene human body. There is no society for the prevention of cruelty to women.
There is one common struggle against those who have appropriated the earth, the money, and the machines.
Regnant ideas, everywhere! Did you ever see a dead vine bloom? I have seen it.
The giant is blind, but he's thinking: and his locks are growing, fast.
 
 
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Barnard Zine Collection
25 June 2008 @ 09:56 am
This week's pre Riot Grrrl is a feminist and radical thinker who totally shook things up and set the stage for a first-wave, employing class sensibility, education, and free thought.
mary wollstonecraft

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Wollstonecraft remains one of the most important writers of her day-- she has made an impact on women's studies, on education, and on history.  Her Vindication of the Rights of Women is a key feminist text, and is still relevant today.
After suffering an abusive childhood, Wollstonecraft broke free of poverty by making her own way as a governess and author, utilizing her remarkable education and lust for knowledge as a stepping-stone.  Like a member of the riot-grrrl movement, Wollstonecraft did not do it all on her own-- while she never successfully began a movement, her friends, such as Fanny Blood and Jane Arden, were her greatest support.  Interestingly, Wollstonecraft and Blood imagined a "female utopia," and planned to live together and support each other, but Wollstonecraft's financial situation made this impossible.
Something else that's really neat about Wollstonecraft is that she decided to become an author even though it would be difficult to escape poverty while writing.  However, she set off on her own, and even provided strength to her family, encouraging her sister to escape an abusive marriage.  She moved to London, setting herself up with important intellectuals of the time, including Thomas Paine and future husband William Godwin.  (notice she never took his name, though!)
Besides her writing, which is incredibly important, Wollstonecraft is notorious for her tumultuous personal relationships.  Her relationship with Gilbert Imlay, a revolutionary and adventurer, changed the course of her Vindication, and she became a sex-positive feminist after the birth of her first child, even though the first half espouses sexless marriage.  They were never married, but Wollstonecraft was self-sufficient enough that it didn't matter.  After Imlay left her, (apparently she was too maternal and domestic,)  she tried to commit suicide, but a stranger saved her, even though she would have rather died.
Soon, though, she fell in love with William Godwin (a key founder of anarchism!) who thought she was an amazingly smart woman and respected her ideas, drawing some of his views on equality from her writing.  They stayed together through her young death, after which Godwin wrote a biography of this remarkable woman.
Wollstonecraft was a riot grrrl because she was the first person to espouse that without education and equality, women could not break out of a endless cycle of abuse.  Highly affected by Rousseau's writing, but disagreeing with him about his portrayal of women, she was not only fascinating in her personal life, but her writing also serves a testament to her legacy.  For years she was considered too radical and not respectable enough to be taught to women, but in the last 100 years things have changed, and Wollstonecraft's writing as well as her fascinating, if short, personal life is now fit to be taught, as she finally enters the canon.  As an independent and unrelenting voice for education and autonomy, Wollstonecraft could be considered one of the first influences on zinesters, and while the independent press may not have existed at the time, Wollstonecraft would have certainly made an impact if she had the chance.

Wollstonecraft quotes:
"Children, I grant, should be innocent; but when the epithet is applied to men, or women, it is but a civil term for weakness."
"If women be educated for dependence; that is, to act according to the will of another fallible being, and submit, right or wrong, to power, where are we to stop?"
"Men and women must be educated, in a great degree, by the opinions and manners of the society they live in."
"Strengthen the female mind by enlarging it, and there will be an end to blind obedience."
"Virtue can only flourish among equals. "
"Women ought to have representatives, instead of being arbitrarily governed without any direct share allowed them in the deliberations of government."
"Slavery to monarchs and ministers, which the world will be long freeing itself from, and whose deadly grasp stops the progress of the human mind, is not yet abolished."
"I do not wish [women] to have power over men; but over themselves."
"Contending for the rights of women, my main argument is built on this simple principle, that if she be not prepared by education to become the companion of man, she will stop the progress of knowledge, for truth must be common to all, or it will be inefficacious with respect to its influence on general practice."
"It appears to me impossible that I should cease to exist, or that this active, restless spirit, equally alive to joy and sorrow, should be only organized dust -- ready to fly abroad the moment the spring snaps, or the spark goes out, which kept it together. Surely something resides in this heart that is not perishable -- and life is more than a dream."


 
 
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Barnard Zine Collection
19 June 2008 @ 10:18 am
I thought it would be fun to put up profiles of some girls who were rioting long before girls were grrrls and punk rock existed. These women (womyn?) would probably have been zinesters had they lived through the movement, and all of them are reverently adored by current zinesters.

dorothy parker

Image from Syracuse Blog
An incredibly witty, intelligent woman, a poet, a satirist, and a writer, she was known for her quips and commentary, which were at once highly personal and appealing to American audiences. One of the most quotable people of the 20th Century, she was also the most ruthless woman of her decade. A member of the "scene" before there was really even a "scene" per-se, she was less Courtney Love and Kathleen Hanna than Lydia Lunch, but more clever. Working class, her schooling ended at 13, and she played the piano and worked on her poetry until she sold her first poem to Vanity Fair. (talk about unschooling!) As a member of the Algonquin Round Table, she was a part of a salon that contained some of the greatest minds of the 20th Century. (George F. Kaufman, Harpo Marx, P.G. Wodehouse...) and in 1925 took a bet on a fledgling magazine by a friend that turned out to be the New Yorker.
In the 1930s, she became incredibly politically radical, forming the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League in 1936, and she became a fierce civil rights and free speech advocate. Apparently her anti-fascist organization, made up of some of the wealthiest in Hollywood, managed to contribute more to the Communist Party than the entire American working class combined.
Like many zine writers, she had huge substance abuse problems, and her later life was spent writing in relative solitude, as her alcoholism grew worse and Hollywood blacklisted her for being a Communist in 1950. (In fact, the F.B.I. has a 1,000 page dossier on her-- talk about punk rock!)
After her death, her estate was bequeathed to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and after his death, to the NAACP.
Parker's radicalism is sometimes white-washed due to the lack of politics in her writing. What's funny about a lot of what she writes is that on the surface it seems that women should be reliant upon men for financial gain, but in actuality, it is a satirical play on a value system that values heterosexuality, consumerism, and commodification.
However, like a zinester, she championed women's rights with a unique, critical, and independent voice in the media, both mainstream and personally, surpassing even the most intelligent of her generation despite substance abuse problems and tumultuous romances.
Dorothy Parker was so talented and incredible that I don't even think there is a modern (post-modern?) parallel. She was third wave before a third wave existed, punk rock before punk rock, and rioted like a girl should.

Dorothy Parker Quotes:
The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.
Now, look, baby, 'Union' is spelled with 5 letters. It is not a four-letter word.
Heterosexuality is not normal, it's just common.
Men don't like nobility in woman. Not any men. I suppose it is because the men like to have the copyrights on nobility -- if there is going to be anything like that in a relationship.
Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.
If all the young ladies who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, no one would be the least surprised.

Resumé
Razors pain you; Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you; And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful; Nooses give;
Gas smells awful; You might as well live.

One Perfect Rose
A single flow'r he sent me, since we met.
All tenderly his messenger he chose;

Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet--
One perfect rose.

I
knew the language of the floweret;
"My fragile leaves," it said, "his heart enclose."
Love long has taken for his amulet
One perfect rose.

Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it's always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.

While I know she appears in zines, I found it difficult to find any zines in the catalog that have her in the keyword search.

If anyone knows of any, let me know, and I'll update the post to include them!

 
 
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