you tell me first of all a little bit about yourself? How old are you, where are
you originally from and where do you reside now?
23 years old, from Long Island and now live in Brooklyn.
do you do besides Take Back the News?
I'll be starting to teach high school
English this September at a super progressive high school. I'm also a poet.
how long have you been doing Take Back the News now? Are you the only editor or
is there a team?
I've started the project about 2 years ago. I'm the founder
and director. I have a web designer and a few volunteers help out.
made you decide to start this project? How did you come up with the idea and the
Early in 2002, I was living in Boston and there was a lot of really
offensive news coverage of a rape that had taken place at a university there.
The papers were basically trashing the victim - making it seem like it was her
fault that she got raped because she was drunk and flirtatious. This is a pretty
common occurrence. However, an independent paper published a huge 2 page interview
with the victim and she told the story as it happened in her own words. It was
such a relief to hear her voice and her perspective. I realized that all survivors
of rape deserve this opportunity and I decided to start a print project that would
offer survivors such a chance. I chose the name because of its reference to Take
Back The Night, which people are already familiar with. It's sort of a year long,
printed version of a Take Back The Night. While I was collecting stories for the
first print project, I met Mike at a pro-choice benefit. He offered to build a
web-site so that the project could reach many more people. Everything took off
has been the response to Take Back the News since you launched it?
response has been overwhelmingly positive. Survivors have consistently contacted
me to offer their input and their thanks for the project. And whenever I've spoken
about the project, the audience has been really moved and opened by the stories,
and the idea behind the project.
do you love and find challenging about doing Take Back the News?
the fact that survivors are so willing to share their stories. It's really empowering
for me, and for other survivors. The biggest challenge is continuing to reach
new audiences, because rape is not on everyone's list of favorite things to hear
about. It's also a lot of work to run the project, and it can be daunting at times.
But I do what I can, when I can, and slowly but surely the project is growing.
do you think does the process of telling their experiences of sexual violence
- stories generally not told by mass media - to the women who submit to Take Back
I think that sharing your story is above all else really validating
and empowering. It's an opportunity to claim your experience by illustrating it
in your own words. And it's a means of slamming the door on shame - offering your
story to the public just screams that you can claim what happened to you, and
let other people in on what society deems your "secret" and you can
you feel part of a zine community or network and what does it mean to you?
Take Back The News is not a zine, per se, I don't necessarily feel part of the
community. But I started reading riot grrrl zines when I was about 12, and have
always been inspired by the DIY attitude and expression. The community is so alive,
and for that I'm really proud and grateful.
are some of the zines you read and admire?
I grew up on Bamboo
girl. I really admire any zine that exposes who the writer(s) is (are).
Zines are a bold move, and I respect that.
the experience of doing Take Back the News been empowering to you? In which ways?
What were some of main influences that have empowered you in your life?
Back The News has been empowering in the sense that I had this idea that I didn't
know if anyone else would care about, and so many hundreds of people have responded,
by sharing their stories, joining the mailing list, starting local print projects,
volunteering, inviting me to speak at their events
. it's been really validating.
I've been so influenced by the wonderful feminists in my life - my sisters, friends,
and teachers. Musicians and artists and activists and writers
. Audre Lord,
Alice Walker, Gloria Steinem, Kathleen Hannah, Ani, Louis Gluck, etc etc etc.
survivors of sexual violence,
survivors are burdened by keeping their stories hidden from a world that tends
to disbelieve, discredit, and stigmatize them. Perhaps you've felt this too, but
sexual violence is not a rarity. According to the UN Commission on the Status
of Women, one in three women and girls in the world will be beaten or sexually
abused in her lifetime. This is an epidemic. To the discredit of the mainstream
media, rape is under-represented and mis-represented. There's something you can
do to change this - TAKE BACK THE NEWS!
takes courage to share your story, but by adding your voice, your story, to the
news, you revolt against the stigma, and release the shame that survivors are
told to carry. This is your opportunity to share your words and help others understand
what rape is and how it affects real people.
may appear in print media in your state, but only with your permission. This may
happen if a local anti-rape group or independent paper hosts a Take Back the News.
You will be contacted by e-mail before your story is printed, and most stories
will not be printed. Of course, all submitted stories will be displayed on the
web site. And in order to respect your privacy, sharing your name is optional,
though encouraged if you feel comfortable doing so.
role does play the Internet for you? Does Take Back the News work best in the
virtual space, or do you sometimes think about spreading to a print medium? Are
there events going on around the web site?
The internet is vital to Take
Back The News. It allows survivors everywhere to access the project, and that
is an amazing thing about the medium. Take Back The News reaches more people through
the internet, but is more powerful in print. Print projects generally appear in
existing publications. So when readers are flipping the pages of an indy paper
that their used to reading, and suddenly see all of these powerful and horrible
accounts of rape, told in the survivors own words, it's incredibly startling and
moving, and real. I so strongly believe in print media, and really want to focus
there for the future of the project. As for events, I just spoke at a benefit
for LadyFest East, and am always open to speak at feminist-type events.
you define yourself as a feminist? What are the most pressing issues you are confronted
with in daily life (as a woman)?
Absolutely! (Who wouldn't?) I think the
biggest issues in feminism now are reproductive freedom, global feminism, and
violence against women. In my daily life, I frequently feel confronted with issues
of sexism - whether I'm walking down the street and someone shouts a booty call,
or I realize that in my classes it's mostly the boys who speak, or I realize that
at work, all of the people at the top are men, or that most of the women in my
office wore uncomfortable shoes and small everyday things like that. Oh and advertisements
all over the place - horrible depictions of women! Not to mention George Bush.
What do you think about feminism today? Do you see yourself as
part of "Third Wave Feminism" and if yes, what does it mean to you?
Or why not?
I think feminism is at a strong point. So many women (and men)
are organized in the movement and accomplishing so much. The backlash has been
hard though, and has resulted in lots of people thinking feminism is unnecessary
and unglamorous, and all about male-bashing. But these are illusions, and I'm
confident that the movement will shatter them. I absolutely see myself as part
of the third wave, and for me, that means building on the foundation set my the
women in history that I admire with all of my heart. And it means recognizing
that we have a long way to go, and that we can't stop until equality has been
achieved in the workplace, in government, in healthcare, in the family, throughout
the world - everywhere.
you consider grrrl zines or grrrl-friendly and -focused resource sites as an important
part of a social movement? Do you think zines/resource sites as everyday feminist
practices can effect meaningful social and political change at large, or do they
have significance mainly in personal lives without larger implications? In other
words, do and can grrrl zines/resource sites change the way people think, or is
this just wishful thinking?
Grrrl zines and resources are certainly important.
They have fostered an active and informed counter culture that has had far reaching
effects on the culture at large. These resources staert by affecting personal
lives - and that's the start of revolution. The people inspired by such resources
are the ones out there kicking ass to get the work done. Zines are a huge stone
causing serious ripples. That was cheesy but you know what I mean. Anything that
is diseminating vital information and affecting the thoughts and actions of grrrls
(and creating new grrrls all the time) is seriously powerful.
would a utopian grrrl-friendly society look like in your view? How do you think
society might be re-thought and transformed to come closer to an "ideal"
world for women? Do you have any suggestions for the development of women/grrrl-friendly
In a grrrl friendly society, rapists would be humiliated, not
victims. Grrrls would hold at the very least, half of the major offices and have
full say in how their lives and bodies are run. Men would break out of the myth
of masculinity and women would break out of the myth of femininity. One thing
that needs to be re-thought is the family structure. The myth that men can control
women and that women need to do it all (work, bear and raise children, take care
of the house, foster a loving relationship, etc etc etc) is ridiculous. Duties
need to be shared and the society needs to be restructured to reflect the reality
of women's life. Women are exposed to violence and this needs to be addressed.
Women have children to care for, and day care needs to be readily available and
affordable for all. Women are responsible enough to make their own choices about
their bodies. Women are not second class citizens. Women can make their own choices
about love and leaving. Women are their own power.
As far as U.S. policies
go, three huge starting points are:
1. Reproductive freedom on demand without
2. Child care available on or near all work sites and affordable
3. New standards for prosecuting perpetrators of violence against women
- standards that will actually penalize perpetrators. This might include mandatory
psychological evaluations, and mandatory investigations by the police upon complaint.
are some of your personal wishes/visions/ideas/plans for the future?
personal wishes are to expand Take Back the News into a nonprofit organization
with tremendous reach, to continue to publish poetry locally and nationally, and
to be the best damn teacher I can be.
there anything else you'd like to add?