Revolutionary Girl Utena: After the Revolution is a collection of three short stories to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Revolutionary Girl Utena. If you haven’t watched the anime or read the manga, I definitely wouldn’t recommend starting here. This acts more like an epilogue. Utena is an almost impossible series to describe: it’s about a boarding school with a secret dueling club, a Rose Bride, and an upside down castle that descends from the sky. It’s deeply metaphorical, often surreal, and (in the case of the anime) sometimes comical. All versions of Utena are fundamentally about the relationship between Anthy and Utena (pictured on the cover). Some versions of that relationship are subtextual, and others are blatantly romantic. If you like fairy tales with lesbian subtext, or dark and strange headscratcher stories, or just want to dive headfirst into a completely engrossing world, I highly recommend Utena–just start with the anime.
It feels a little absurd to review After the Revolution, because you probably already know whether you’re going to read it or not. I’m a big fan of Utena, even if I can’t say I understand it, so I knew I’d be picking this one up. If you’re on the fence, I’d say this is classic Utena: beautiful, confusing, and a little frustrating. It follows some of the characters 20 years later, though whether it’s the characters from the anime, manga, movie, or a unique version is hard to say.
Of course, all Utena versions are dreamlike, but these stories step it up a notch. It feels like the end of the cycle here: the spiral is getting tighter. The centre cannot hold. Anthy and Utena flit in and out of the stories, but most of the page time is devoted to the other characters: Touga and Saionji, Juri and Shirori/Ruka, Miki and Kozue. I’d recommend picking this up without knowing a lot else about it, but if you want the details, here are the basic premises of each story.
The first story is the most surreal of the bunch. Touga and Saionji are rival art dealers, who each get a letter saying, “You who seek revolution… Return to the academy.” It turns out that “The Revolution” is a painting that Akio painted, and after his suicide, the value skyrocketed. Akio appears as a ghost and tells Saionji and Touga that if they find and protect the painting, he will lead them to a version of his will that bequeaths his whole art collection to them.
Juri’s story as well as Miki’s feels familiar, though it’s a different telling. In a way, they’re simplifications and distillations of their stories. In Juri’s story, she is explicitly in love with Shiori (she starts fencing to try to be the “prince” Shiori would like). Each story has a duel between characters (Touga and Saionji, Miki and Kozue, etc). It’s unclear, though, whether this is the end of their stories, or just a continuation of an unending cycle. They are fairly optimistic, as far as Utena goes.
In these stories, Utena has taken on the role of Dios. She appears in other people’s stories to push them along, then disappears. It’s unclear how the stories connect, but it seems as if she’s walking through each character’s dreams, on her way to find Anthy again. It feels as if she keeps reaching back farther and farther, to stop the cycle of abuse before it starts. (I saw someone on tumblr point out that revolution, as in “the power of revolutionize the world” can also be interpreted as literally revolving once–a circle. It blew my mind!)
This is Utena, so there is some disturbing material. Trigger warnings for suicide, death, child abuse, kidnapping, incest between siblings, and physical abuse.
If you’ve read this version of Utena, I’d love to hear what you think! There are so many threads to pull on here, so I’d love to get different perspectives.
Her loss is a loss for our country—yet even as we mourn, we must recommit to the cause of justice that she championed.
In the Jewish tradition that Justice Ginsburg and I share, it is customary to say to a person who has just lost a loved one, “May her/his/their memory be a blessing.” Many on social media have quickly transformed this sentiment into a cry for the justice that RBG embodied: “May her memory be a revolution.” And while I like the clarity of that statement, even the original sentiment of “May her memory be a blessing” carries these connotations, as Molly Conway wrote yesterday in the Forward:
When we say “may her memory be for a blessing,” the blessing we speak of is not “may we remember her fondly” or “may her memory be a blessing to us.” The blessing implied is this: May you be like Ruth. Jewish thought teaches us that when a person dies, it is up to those who bear her memory to keep her goodness alive. We do this by remembering her, we do this by speaking her name, we do this by carrying on her legacy. We do this by continuing to pursue justice, righteousness, sustainability.
Phrase it as you wish; either way, though, Justice Ginsburg’s death still feels like a body blow as our country is already reeling from the depredations of the Trump administration. Our democracy’s survival, however, does not rest on the efforts of one person alone, however, no matter how strong she was. Justice Ginsburg died on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and the start of the High Holy Days, when we reflect on our actions of the past year, make amends, and resolve to do better. Even as I mourn her, then, I hope to do more than ever to make sure her vision of equality, equity, and informed dissent continues. Let us use her passing, then, as a rallying cry to find our own strength, to renew our own efforts towards justice, and to show that her decades of work haven’t been in vain.
Here are some ideas for what we can do now, remembering her maxim that “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time”:
Some reason to hope: We only need four Senate Republicans to join the Democrats in order to block a vote. Right now, at least four Republican senators have said they will oppose confirming a new justice before the election—that’s promising, although it would be better if the confirmation was pushed back until the new Senate is seated on January 3 (if Democrats can win a majority) or until a new president (I hope) takes office on January 20. Vox breaks this all down in more detail, if you’re interested.
Help kick McConnell out of office. He’s up for reelection. You may wish to support his opponent, Amy McGrath.
Talk with your friends, neighbors, and relatives about why this is so important to you and what you are doing to make change. As Justice Ginsburg herself once said, “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
Pic of the Castro in San Francisco September 18, 2020 from the SF Chronicle.
BY ERIN BAYER Special to Lesbian.com
May her memory be a revolution.
Between real storms and the proverbial ones, 2020 keeps getting unimaginably worse. As the impossible plot has unfolded, the very fabric of our nation has seemed to be tearing. We looked to the courts to hold us together. We listened for leadership, for a voice of unshakable reason, something solid to guide us through. We found the notorious RBG. She was the masthead of the most seaworthy liberal ship, guiding our fleet through these stormy seas.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg famously said, “When I’m sometimes asked ‘When will there be enough [women on the Supreme Court]?’ and I say ‘When there are nine,’ people are shocked. But there’d been nine men, and nobody’s ever raised a question about that.”
From a small, unthreatening person came a voice so sharp and savage, it’s truth could not be ignored. In a culture where candor makes the best quick-witted memes, Justice Ginsburg’s written dissents have ignited a generation. I grew up with a sense of equality with my peers. We questioned gender norms, chose careers and loves, and felt ourselves generally overwhelmed by everything possible. The realities of glass ceilings, unaffordable childcare, and financial doors closed to the women and queer among us sunk in slowly. Another famous dissent by Justice Ginsburg articulated that discrimination often isn’t apparent at first, but only becomes clear over time.(Ledbetter v. Goodyear.) She made my own tired, disillusioned voice feel heard. She gave me hope.
Justice Ginsburg emerged as a vestige of truth, magnetic and necessary. And fun. Watching a diminutive woman speak truth to power is excellent fun. She was a lynch pin on the Supreme Court, and we looked to her to hold our country to account in the same way she held the highest court, with dignity and a laser-focus on equality. As she turned 87, we prayed she could hold out until the next election, our last chance to pull America out of its tailspin. We needed her voice, her strength, her clarity, her position.
I heard that she hung on for us as long as she could. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away Friday, September 18. As I write, it’s only been two days. We mourn with her loved ones and larger circles of friends. The loss of her love and light will not be filled. With just 46 days until the presidential election, the country is reverberating, and a liberal front is panicking.
Ginsburg herself noted that while she didn’t choose the role of lone dissenter, she was willing to take it on when she saw the need. (RBG, movie.) That need for dissent has never been greater. RGB’s indomitable voice filled that need like she was born for it, but her journey to the Supreme Court was fraught and long fought for. Her dignity came from being a woman in a career dominated by ignorant men. To honor her journey, now is the time for all of us to pick up the torch.
Molly Conway, in a Facebook post, reminds us that Ginsburg was Jewish. She writes, “When we say ‘may her memory be for blessing’ the blessing we speak of is not ‘may we remember her fondly’ or ‘may her memory be a blessing to us’ the blessing implied is this: May you be like Ruth.”
Newly updated, first North American edition — a paperback original — “Outrages: Sex, Censorship, and the Criminalization of Love” by Naomi Wolf.
From New York Times bestselling author Naomi Wolf, “Outrages” explores the history of state-sponsored censorship and violations of personal freedoms through the inspiring, forgotten history of one writer’s refusal to stay silenced.
I never thought I’d be a professional feminist as a career choice; I certainly didn’t intend to be. Growing up in the Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, at the height of various social justice movements in the 1970s including the fight for LGBTQ rights and the agitation of the “second wave” of feminism, I thought that by the time I was an adult, all of these battles would surely be won.
Sadly they weren’t. When I wrote “The Beauty Myth” at 26, which happened to be published when a new generation was seeking a way out of the torpor and “backlash” of the evil 1980s, I named in the book, and engaged with, what became known as the “Third Wave” of feminism. (Writer Rebecca Walker coined the phrase at the same time).
This led me to an unusual life opportunity: I happened to have a seat as an observer of (and at times a participant in) the drama of Western feminism for the next thirty years.
The headline is that the women’s movement has gotten smarter and better, and that we are in what I’ve called elsewhere, a Renaissance moment for feminism.
This is hard at first, I am sure, to believe since mainstream media, which is still reactionary when it comes to women, rarely documents our vast successes. News outlets still like to feature the battle for women’s rights in a few stereotypical ways. At best a story will run about women’s systematic victimization – which is all too real; but the huge efforts that go into our effectively pushing back — landmark court cases, giant settlements against employers, rapists put in prison, traffickers undone by good legislation, even gradual transfers of larger shares of wealth to women as they open businesses, drive companies’ profits and fight for equal pay – are downplayed or ignored. So women don’t see reflected in the news, many benchmarks of how very effective we are being accruing decades of revolutionary victories.
A reason that we are being so very effective as what is basically the most sweeping revolution in history also has to do with how feminism has grown and gotten smarter since the 1970s.
When I was in my twenties, a painful fact was that feminists of my generation had to start all over again simply explaining (and learning) what equity issues were; simply re-teaching and reiterating what most students who take gender studies today, see as Feminism 101; basic theory. In the 1990s, things were a mess: the first insight of feminism – it’s not my personal problem, it’s systemic, it’s Patriarchy – was hard for many women to achieve, as the analysis had been swept away and they were being told that their problems were personal, not political. The accomplishments and analysis of my mom’s generation, the Second Wave, had been erased in a very short time. This left younger women to grope in the dark, figuring out the basics of body image issues, pay inequity, work/family balance struggles, sexual and domestic violence traumas. But when Third Wave feminism arrived, with books such as Susan Faludi’s Backlash and Rebecca Walker’s collection To be Real: Telling the Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism, younger women joined forces with enthusiasm.
Western feminism at the end of the 20th century, and into the 21st, had flaws. One central flaw was the fact that at first, white women’s issues and issues relating to women of more affluent economic classes, were often seen (or portrayed) as being central. An example of how simply bad a situation this created, from my own experience, is the fact that for a decade, I was invited onto panels – often made up only of white women – that were asked about “the conflict between mothers who worked and mothers who stayed home”, as if that was “feminism” – as if that the biggest problem that women of all backgrounds, faced.
A needed critique from women of color and women across the economic spectrum, forced a welcome upheaval in the form of a call for “intersectionality.” This critique was made easier by the fact that women’s (and later gender) studies programs had been established at many universities, thus giving feminist ideas institutional continuity that had eluded the Second Wave. One hugely positive result of this critique is that the image of the leadership of the women’s movement shifted, and more people became aware that women’s issues were diverse depending on whom you were, and that feminism was global; and that the most exciting advances and most important theory were being spearheaded by women in the Global South, and often presented by leaders of color.
Another problem in the past was divisiveness. During the Second Wave, sexual identity could be a battleground. Earlier feminism could be extremely Puritanical and judgmental about other women’s choices. Straight women such as Betty Friedan criticized lesbians, as in her famous 1969 warning about the “lavender menace.” https://www.thoughtco.com/lavender-menace-feminism-definition-3528970 Some groups, such as Radicalesbians, organized a reaction to this, and developed influential theories of “woman-identified women” that were exciting, but that also seemed to critique straight women for false consciousness. [https://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/wlmpc_wlmms01011/]. Women who identified as bisexual faced criticism too, for “not making up their minds.” This judgmental approach endured into the 1980s and early 1990s. Critique often turned women against each other.
Third Wave feminism was a huge step forward in that this group rejected the rigidity, divisiveness and judgmental tone of our moms’ era, creating a more inclusive discourse that was more open to the fact that women made different life choices and had different political agendas, and that there was space for all.
Fast forward to today. There’s never been a better time to be a young feminist, or a better feminism. The young women I meet today have rejected a lot of stupid binaries that have held people in thrall for the duration of history. They usually aren’t wedded to the idea that there are only two genders; they often celebrate the fact that gender is a spectrum, as they see it, and that it can be chosen. They have the important language and concept that sexuality can be a specific identity and/or it can be what they call “fluid” – a word and acceptance that could have liberated so many people in the past, had it been in usage. They are self-aware about white privilege, very often, and scan their own positions for unintended (or intended) racism or class blindness – a self-awareness that is often mocked by the right wing, but that is so much better than the obtuse omissions caused by the narcissism of privilege that often afflicted my own generation.
Younger feminists today have little fear of power or of making a scene in a good way; they are rarely burdened with spectres of what “nice girls don’t do”; they use social media, take to the streets, start blogs and businesses, out their harassers and rapists, choose their own body positivity, make their own family structures, decide their own fates, form their own alliances. I’ve never met a generation less impressed with others telling them what to do and whom to be. The world they are making for women – however you or they define that word – is going to be a world of radical freedom — if only pandemics and oligarchs don’t stand in their way.
Feminism has grown up, in my view, with this generation; and become as fluid and inclusive and diverse as is the human family.
Dr Naomi Wolf received a D Phil Degree in English Literature from the University of Oxford in 2015. Dr. Wolf taught Victorian Studies as a Visiting Professor at SUNY Stony Brook, received a Barnard College Research Fellowship at the Center for Women and Gender, was recipient of a Rothermere American Institute Research Fellowship for her work on John Addington Symonds at the University of Oxford, and taught English Literature at George Washington University as a visiting lecturer. She’s lectured widely on the themes in Outrages: Sex, Censorship and the Criminalization of Love, presenting lectures on Symonds and the themes in Outrages at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, at Balliol College, Oxford, and to the undergraduates in the English Faculty at the University of Oxford. She lectured about Symonds and Outrages for the first LGBTQ Colloquium at Rhodes House. Dr Wolf was a Rhodes Scholar and a Yale graduate. She’s written eight nonfiction bestsellers, about women’s issues and civil liberties, and is the CEO of DailyClout.io, a news site and legislative database in which actual US state and Federal legislation is shared digitally and read and explained weekly. She holds an honorary doctorate from Sweet Briar College. She and her family live in New York City.
Patrisse Cullors at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. (Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)
Patrisse Cullors, the artist, activist and prison abolitionist who co-founded Black Lives Matter, has condemned televangelist Pat Robertson’s for suggesting the movement is anti-Christian because it is LGBT-inclusive.
Robertson, 90, made the comments last week on his The 700 Club chat show. He claimed that the Black Lives Matter movement will lead to a “lesbian, anti-family, anti-capitalist Marxist revolution”.
Calling Robertson’s comments “outlandish”, “inflammatory” and “dangerous”, Cullors said that his insinuation that Black Lives Matter is anti-religion is “disgraceful” and offensive to Christian campaigners against racial injustice.
“People are hurting all across this country due to the carelessness of comments made by individuals like Pat Robertson,” Cullors said in a statement on the Black Lives Matter website.
“At what point do those individuals who walk alongside him stop and say, enough is enough with the sexist, misogynistic, and supremacist way of displaying the bigotry that continues to flow from the souls of many of our leaders.
“Christianity was built on empathy; not hate. Until hate and racism is eradicated, America will continue to be a divided nation.”
An unprecedented number of global protests against police brutality and racism began in May, after George Floyd, a Black man, was killed by a white police officer kneeling on his neck, and have continued over the summer.
Robertson had also criticised Colin Kaepernick, the former quarterback whose football career was effectively ended when he knelt during the US anthem to highlight police brutality and racism during the 2016 NFL preseason.
“Athletes used to be terribly admired by all of society, but their rating has gone to negative because of their association with Black Lives Matter,” Robertson said, citing no actual sources.
“Of course Black lives matter, but that legitimate thing has been hijacked by these radicals.”
These “radicals”, Robertson claimed, aim to “destroy the nuclear family” and paint “Christianity as being racist”.
In her statement, Cullors concluded: “It is our hope that Pat Robertson and anyone else who believes we are destroying Christianity with our work, would join us in our movement as we will continue to galvanise these moments of division and false character accusations as fuel to move our country and world forward.
“Every day, we are surviving — if we do. We will continue to rise up until all Black lives are valued and matter across this world.”