The evolved radical feminism of spoken word : Alix Olson, C.C. Carter, and Suheir Hammad

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2013-05

Authors

Rozman, Rachel Beth

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Abstract

Radical feminism is often associated with the 1970s and 1980s in the United States. Although powerful in its goals of solidarity and coalitions, the movement is often criticized for its lack of attention to intersecting systems of power. However, several contemporary feminist spoken word poets are reconceptualizing radical feminism in their political projects, using the theories and activist strategies while paying attention to race, class, and sexuality. This piece traces some of the history and literature of radical feminism, Woman of Color feminism, contemporary Islamic feminism, and spoken word poetry. Using these frameworks, I close-read three poems: "Womyn Before" by Alix Olson, "The Herstory of My Hips" by C.C. Carter, and "99 cent lipstick" by Suheir Hammad to discuss the manner in which each uses coalitions. Olson's poem provides an analysis of the performative and textual aspects of the poem as a way to envision an activist project grounded in old social movements. Carter's poem connects history and archives, using a Woman of Color framework, and through Hammad, the structural critiques of an unjust system that disadvantages minority youth are seen through lenses of Women of Color and Islamic feminism. While these poets gain some knowledge from radical feminism, they interpret it in their poetry in ways that address the intersections of identity.

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