Well, first of all, I went to the book release of The Riot Grrrl Collection by Lisa Darms at the Fales Library at NYU, which holds the original RG zines AND houses Kathleen Hanna's old filing cabinet, covered in stickers.
As a huge fan of Bikini Kill and Le Tigre as well as other RG bands (AND a fan of zines!), this was so super incredible to have attended. Kathleen read from her Bikini Kill zine, Johanna Fateman (of Le Tigre) read from hers, Artaud Mania, and Ramdasha Bikceem read from her zine, GUNK. Each documented the punk movement in their own ways: Bikini Kill expressly feminist, Artaud Mania art-school punk satire, and Gunk, a punk look at the New Jersey scene in the 90s through a racial filter.
And I got the book signed by them all!!!!!! Sorry the pic is kinda blurry; I was shaking and crying, haha. (I also wanna note that there was wine and food afterwards, and they specifically made a point that the food be vegetarian! These are obviously very smart people who realize that animal rights is a feminist issue. The food may even have been vegan - I didn't actually stick around. Pretty sure Johanna at least is vegan.)
Riot Grrrl was so important to people because it provided a strong, supportive community for people who felt theretofore voiceless, either due youth or gender or race. You really got this if you attended the release. There were a lot of tears and a lot of THANK YOU SO MUCHes. And not to get all sappy, but I think food blogging is very similar in its sense of community. I've always thought so but I was particularly struck by this since I was simultaneously reading another book, Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity by Emily Matchar.
There's a chapter in the book about blogging and the rise of domestic chic, which understandably struck a chord with me. While I think I'm pretty honest on the blog about what a fuck-up and a mess I am, and I'm obviously not trying to make any money off this thing or get a cookbook deal (just zines! buy my zines!) it is kinda scary that I basically only show you what I want to show you, and frame my life in a certain way, and in doing so perhaps glorify homecooking or inspire self-comparison.
I am by no means rich but I do live comfortably enough to have time to blog, time to cook - something I actually enjoy but am grateful is no longer expected of a woman - , money to spend on treats like cacao nibs or vegan cheese. I'm grateful for these privileges but I totally understand that some people don't enjoy cooking, some people have three kids to take care of and a full-time job, and some people are rural vegans who have more limited food options and occasionally slip-up in food choices. I'm also incredibly grateful for generations of feminists for having fought so hard to allow women the choice to cook or not (among countless other things.)
When I read in Matchar's book that "blogs' influence and trust level drive purchase intent" I started to feel a little uncomfortable and questioned how honest I truly am, or if I put a positive spin on certain food or products or restaurants, even unconsciously. (Is this the desire to be liked? To need to be nice, like women often feel they do?)
If I influence people to go vegan and eat more salads, that's cool but I'm not a spokesperson for a corporation and just because I eat a lot of Justin's peanut butter cups doesn't mean you necessarily should too. You know?? Maybe I am just especially impressionable but I definitely have bought products just by seeing the on yr blogs, even without a word to recommend them. So this month, I've been purposefully trying to cut back on "products." Unfortunately we live in a capitalist society and it's impossible to entirely get away from corporations: I'm not going to grow an almond tree, harvest those almonds, and make my own almond milk because I honestly don't have time or the abilities or the desire to do that. Matchar writes very eloquently on how cultish and judgmental extreme DIY can be. However, I have stopped shopping at Whole Foods since June 1st so I'm not tempted to grab convenience products, and I won't go to WF again until at least the end of the month.
This personal challenge ties in nicely with the Food Bank of NY challenge I was emailed about a couple days ago. To raise awareness about the sad state of an impoverished standard of living, people are asked to attempt to eat on a food stamp budget: in New York, that's $31.50 per person per week. From the 12th through the 18th, I'll be attempting to eat for $1.50 per meal.
While Matchar doesn't specifically highlight vegan blogs, I think both challenges will be interesting because vegans are typically seen as privileged people (see Cadry's great post on that here) but it is beyond that. It's not about superdomesticity or holier-than-thou. It's about a lifestyle of compassion for fellow animals and humans and raising awareness about suffering, be it by women of the world, non-human animals, or the impoverished because we can. Fuck speciesism, classism, racism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism...
It's a sick sad world but we have a duty to make it better: "from each according to [her] ability, to each according to [her] need." Has anyone else tried an extreme budget challenge like this? Anyone else reading anything thought-provoking? I highly recommend both books (and I'm not even making any money for saying that! Though I do selfishly want someone to talk to about them more.)