The Feminist Utopia Project: Fifty-Seven Visions of a Wildly Better Future

I thought I heard mythical California rain on the roof of the bookstore where I sat last night as I listened to the editors and contributors read portions of this book. And indeed, minuscule droplets of a watery variety greeted me as I left the packed room, rushing to catch the train, when the reading was over. The sudden burst of water was as unexpected as the delightful energy and wisdom of the 20-something-year-old writers (mostly) who shared their tales inside. Today I swung by the library, where my copy of the book was freshly arrived, and sat down to read this evening. The collection is a mixed bag, or in the fashionable yet overused parlance of NYTimes theater critics, “uneven.” I love the editors’ vision: imagine a world where we’re beyond all this bullshit, where misogyny isn’t so common that we barely notice it (“Misogyny tastes like air, feels like gravity.”) This allows us to move outside our usual mode of defense, and go on offense, create the world we want to live in. The collected works inside range from amazing to curiously bland, but thankfully each is so brief that when you’re blindsided by the bland and can shake your head to recover, moving on quickly.
At last night’s reading, most entertaining was poet and actor Sarah Matthes, who read her piece “A list of thirty-three beautiful things to wear on your breasts” in response to a terrible Buzzfeed article about 51 impossibly beautiful bras for girls with small breasts. I also enjoyed Tyler Cohen’s explanation of her visual contributions, gender-neutral t-shirts and playgrounds for kids. Not at last night’s event, but one of my favorites from the collection was Hannah Giorgis’ “Not on my block: Envisioning a world without Street Harassment”. There were a few contributions from the rare male feminists, including one I appreciated by Daniel José Older, “Beyond Badass: Toward a Feminist, Antiracist Literature,” which touched on my pet peeve of naming women “badass” and calling it a day (“our slush pile was full of women characters that were either passive and in need of saving or simply badass and nothing else.”)