Kimberly Dark on Feminism-ing in New and Vibrant Ways
I think we’re in an interesting moment with regard to the term “feminist.” I still use the word, of course, but I’m more interested in the practice of feminism. I’m interested in finding ever-fresh language and ways of thinking to contribute to the practice of feminism and I think poetry and creative writing are a huge part of that. Also, I encourage you to find interesting ways to use all of yourself. For example, I’m a sociologist by training and I make my living as a writer, storyteller and teacher. I’m also an embodied person with a life history – I’m female, middle-aged, fat, queer, a parent, etc. I ask: How do you inventory and use your ever-shifting identities in the service of a better world?
I’m fond of George Orwell’s suggestions in his essay “Politics and the English Language.” He’s advocating for clear thinking and maintaining the ability to move easily between meaning and language – an ability that’s often lost in political discourse and by the use of clichés and tired metaphors. This is hugely important today, though he was writing about it in the 1940s! I think some feminists’ attachment to the word “feminism” is also problematic. I was on a panel discussing feminism in Sydney Australia last year (Women Say Something) and a chunk of our time was taken up fussing with each other and with the audience over the word “feminism” and how we get people to use and find comfort with the word. Well, I’m not sure everyone has a map from this word back to it’s meaning and rescuing the word is not my primary concern. I don’t want to throw it out; I value its history. And I want us to keep feminism-ing in new and vibrant ways.
So, let’s keep writing about women’s experiences and lives, the intersections of privileges and oppressions. Keep following feeling and sensation back to cultural circumstances. I want to keep asking, what hurts and why? What brings pleasure and why? I ask what makes me feel unable to speak and then put creativity to that. We need poetry, certainly, because it prompts a conscious arrangement of the breath. And we need more writing and moving and making of all kinds. I hope the poem I’ve offered for this collection prompts you to offer vibrant language in your world too.
Kimberly Dark is a writer, mother, performer and professor. She is the author of five award-winning solo performance scripts and her poetry and prose appear in a number of publications. For more information on her go to www.kimberlydark.com and follow her @kimberlydark