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Tabatha Southey’s quirky and deliciously funny Collected Tarts

Collected Tarts and Other Indelicacies is an anthology of witty, thought provoking, and endearing columns by Tabatha Southey, a modest and humble human being with a spirited imagination that lends itself to powerfully funny writing. Each column, from the very first one published in 1999 to the last one in May 2017, will make the reader laugh, reflect, and maybe ponder the meaning of the word underwear.

Southey’s smart wit is what makes her writing so appealing. An avid reader herself, she does not underestimate her readers. No topic is too complicated, and if it is, she throws in a story about a monkey to lighten the load. She tackles each piece all with grace and humour — and perhaps an animal or two.

Southey has written columns for Elle CanadaThe WalrusMaclean’s Magazine, and of course, the Globe and Mail, where she held a long-standing position as a weekly columnist until earlier this month. On Aug. 31, both Southey and another female writer were let go after the newspaper underwent an overhaul.

“It was an honour to have a tiny little voice in a national conversation,” she said of the Globe’s decision. “I will miss my readers and I hope they follow me elsewhere.”

What makes Southey so successful as a columnist isn’t her animal-centric plotlines or her slightly sexual sense of humour (although they do help). It’s her loyal fan base — readers she admires as much as they admire her. “I love hearing from all parts of Canada,” she said. “I hear from guys in the military and people in small towns, and if its one thing that kept me at the column, it was hearing from readers.”

Her new book — to be launched on Sept. 30 — is a nod to those readers. It showcases a number of fan-favourites as well as Southey’s most thought-provoking and fun pieces. The book, Southey said, actually went long. “I thought, let’s put a variety in there. It would be a shame if someone got the book and something they really liked wasn’t in there.”

Every once in a while, Southey will include a few tidbits of information prior to the column, either to provide context or to recite a funny anecdote about how the piece came to be. She is candid about her experience as a writer, but still manages not to make herself the focus of the narrative. Through her columns, she tackles finances, business, politics, and even tells a harrowing story about what it’s like to shop for a bra. There is, as she says, something for everyone to enjoy.

You can purchase a copy of Collected Tarts and Other Indelicacies here.

 

After reading her book, Women’s Post spoke with Southey in detail about the future of satire writing, a columnist’s grind, and advice for young female writers:

Q: What was it like to review your work from 1998 to now?

A: It’s good because it forces you to go back and see what you did, and the pieces certainly got longer. I honestly enjoyed doing it. Does that sound vain? That I enjoyed reading my own work?

You’ve mentioned the grind of writing a column every single week. Has there been a time you were stuck?

Every week! Every week I’m like “That’s it. I’m done. I can’t!” Almost every week! I filed with the Globe on Thursday morning, sometimes the afternoon if it’s a story that was still developing. You never stop reading the news and thinking and you are always kind of hoping you will get an idea or a lead. If you don’t have an idea or a clue when you go to bed Tuesday night you don’t really sleep. My mother says “I know not to phone you from Tuesday to Thursday afternoon.” Every week I’m in a panic. There is no dinner cooked on Wednesdays.

Are readers still drawn to satire within news publications? Will we see more or less of it in the future?

I think it’s a golden age. A lot of people are doing great political comedy. I think political humour is cathartic and it motivates. I don’t think it’s going anywhere. In fact, I love seeing the Beaverton, which is doing great work here in Canada. I think they are knocking it out of the park and I’m very glad to see that. It’s so great they have that venue and a clear voice. The Internet makes it all possible.

What advice would you give to young women who want to become column writers?

I would say read a lot. And I think there is a trap that women columnists are easily led in to, which is to constantly write about being a woman…. especially if you are a woman and you have a tragedy to tell. There will always be a market for that. I think that’s a dead end.

My advice is to learn about one thing and learn everything there is about that one thing. It doesn’t really matter what that one thing is. It can be politics, it can be vintage cars, [or] it can be wine. Go and learn it and be the person that people call when there is a controversy. Be that person that people want their opinion. It doesn’t mean you can’t write about other things. That is my advice. Do not Sex in the City it up.

Do you think there is still a gap in terms of gender in the newsroom? Are there enough female writers?

No. There aren’t enough women in almost every profession. I do feel that women are brought in sometimes to bring in a woman’s perspective and not to tread in to other categories. I’m a woman writer and the number of times I’ve heard people say “she needs to go back to writing in the style section” – now there is nothing at all wrong with writing for the style section. Great, do it! But that’s not where I come from and that is the assumption that will be made. So I think there is still ground to be broken.

I think in general what gives you the right to have an opinion is a question that is asked more of women than it is asked of men. I feel that a woman’s opinion, especially if it’s quite surgically spoken, by which I mean well argued, is sometimes met with hostility.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?

I will read the nerdiest books ever. I read a book about a giant hedge. I like those [books that] take one topic and use it as a thread to go through history to learn something.

What’s next for you?

I am looking into other things. I have to say that people have been great about getting in touch with me and I’m going to make a decision fairly shortly.

I am exploring alternative revenue streams – how’s that?

 

Jessa Crispin regains focus in new book “Why I Am Not A Feminist”

Feminism is the new black. And although that’s not necessarily a bad thing – not at all, actually – there are a few concerns with this not-so-new concept of women’s equality. Unfortunately, instead of a movement, feminism has largely become a brand, a buzzword albeit. And it’s being used on literally everything. Hats, sweaters, mugs, and even stickers for your laptop. Your laptop. So, it’s no surprise that the definition of feminism is losing its meaning between the merchandise and arguments between you and bae about ‘who pays for dinner’ next.

Nowadays, everyone is a feminist. Jessa Crispin, however, argues otherwise. In her new book, “Why I Am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto”, Crispin explains the importance of bringing back the true meaning of feminism.

Her inspiration behind the book was simple. After reading up on modern feminist writing over the past five years or so, Crispin claimed to be constantly filled with despair on the content of the writing. And with the ongoing issues around the world, including the rise of the far-right worldwide, mass deportations in America, the shutting down of abortion clinics, she noticed that feminist writing still continues to be mostly concerned with lifestyle choices and pop culture. And that’s not the main priority right now.

“It led to occasions where I had to scream into a pillow. So writing this book was just my way of doing something with that anger so I wasn’t overwhelmed by it anymore.”

“Why I Am Not a Feminist” reminds readers what feminism is really about. As a feminist, men and women should be fighting for the political, economic, and social equality between the sexes. A feminist should recognize that women are oppressed by complicated systems. A feminist should realize that the oppression of women is not limited to the wage gap in North American society, or the prevention of girl on girl hate, or on dress codes that dictate what women should or should not wear.

Upon first glance, one may come to the conclusion that the book is actually calling out ‘white feminism’ – a concept which has gotten an increased amount of attention in recent years. While not outright exclusive, white feminism is about the failure to consider the problems faced by the “average woman” who are often alienated due to their colour, sexuality, cultural practices, and religious beliefs.

Be careful though. It’s not. In fact, Crispin hates the term “white feminism” as she so boldly told Women’s Post.

“It doesn’t really convey the meaning it’s trying to. What it should be is “power feminism,” a kind of pro-woman stance that is interested in the amassing and holding of power. Yes, white women have the most power these days. But the problems related to power feminism — a kind of blind selfishness, a focus on individual success over societal reform, a value system based on money and power and greed — are problems with our whole culture.

Maybe just call it patriarchal feminism!

But yes, feminism has been blind for too long to issues of class and race and sexuality, and it has been reluctant to look at the times when feminism and feminist leaders were racist, homophobic, and xenophobic. You still see this nonsensical resistance to associating themselves with the trans advocacy movement because they can’t move past a biological view of gender, or their lack of empathy and solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. And that’s a symptom of anxiety, that if they admit the humanity of other people — despite the fact that they themselves are begging to have their own humanity recognized — there won’t be enough attention for their own issues.

We’re all in this together. We are suffering under the same system. There has to be a solidarity that transcends race, sexuality, religion, class, and every other marker, so that we can fight effectively.”

So what exactly does Crispin hope you take away from her manifesto? Well, that’s not her job to figure out.

“I write the thing, then it’s up to people to manage their own responses. I’m not trying to abdicate responsibility for the work, I absolutely stand by it. But I don’t really have any expectation that this is going to change feminism. I think the best thing a writer can do is simply to write the material and then get out of the material’s way.”

She’s unapologetic. She’s pertinent. And her new book is a reflection of that. It’ll leave you feeling rather angry, and Crispin’s gallant, at times ranty way of explaining her point of view will only fuel this anger. This is not the type of book you’ll want to read with a cup of tea in your pajamas. It’s the type of book for when you’re looking for that extra jolt of passion required to seek the change you need.

Whether you agree with her views or not, readers should admire the Crispin for her unconventional, yet highly relevant, way of thinking. Essentially, “Why I Am Not a Feminist” is a not-so-friendly reminder that being a feminist isn’t just about wearing a “this is what a feminist looks like” shirt or about re-blogging a gif from a Taylor Swift interview on Tumblr. It’s about looking past that, and focusing on what is important to truly bring about the change towards equality.

“Why I Am Not a Feminist” is now available on Amazon!

What are your thoughts on the book? Let us know in the comments below! 

7 things to know before Girl Positive launches in Vancouver

Showcasing diverse voices of girls and young women from North America, Tatiana Fraser and Caia Hagel shift the focus from media’s sensationalist stories to highlight real-life accounts of how girls are making positive change and shaping a new world. Girl Positive looks closely at topics from social media, sexual violence, hypersexuality, and cyberspace, and offers stories of struggle and victory, bringing to light where today’s girls are finding new paths to empowerment.

Girl Positive launches in Vancouver Thursday at the Historic Theatre. To find out more about this unique publications, Women’s Post caught up with co-authors Tatiana and Caia and asked them a few questions. Here’s what they had to say:

Can you tell us more about your new book, Girl Positive?

Caia Hagel

Tatiana: Girl Positive was published in September by Random House. It explores the political, social, and cultural realities facing young girls and women today. We cover a range of topics; from pop culture to the Internet, to girls and sexuality and we dive into topics such as poverty and racism. We talk about girls as leaders and changemakers. Girl Positive also takes up issues pertaining to girls, power, and relationships and unpacks issues around sexual violence. So, its quite broad in terms of the issues we tackle. We really intended to center girls’ voices and experiences; to hear from them about how they see their world and the issues that they’re dealing with. It was important to get a feel for their inspirations, actions and visions for change.

What was your inspiration behind the book?

TatianaAs founder of Girls Actions Foundation, I was working with girls, young women, and organizations across the country for many years. It was very clear to me that the issues or the stories and the popular culture and the narratives about girls didn’t line up with girls’ realities. This misalignment was outdated.  What we’re doing in the book is re-framing the issues that girls are dealing with in a more complex and holistic way.

CaiaTatiana and I met when she was still acting director at Girls Action Foundation and I was—and still am—the co-founding creative director of Guerilla Pop Media Lab, an ethical media group. We enjoyed working together and the approach we took to creating a dynamic media platform for the voices of girls and young women and their messages, cross-pollinated in an exciting new way. I’ve been working my whole career in media creating space and visibility for the less visible and often most pioneering voices  Girls are an emerging force. In Girl Positive, Tatiana and I merged our skills, our passion for girls, and our belief in their crucial role in co-creating our future, to provide a platform for them to speak from the truth of their experiences. We hardly ever hear from girls themselves about their own lives, even when the stories are about them. In our book, girls speak from their diverse realities. In Girl Positive, all the people who care about girls, including girls about each other, get to know them, get to understand their struggles, see their visions and learn about practical ways to support them in their leadership as they move in to their power.

What was it like to collaborate with each other?

TatianaIt was a very creative experience for both of us. What’s unique about our collaboration is that by combining our backgrounds and expertise, we were able to make this work accessible to new and broader audiences. Oftentimes, the learning that’s happening around girls and young women is happening in the margins and on the fringe. We wanted to reach every parent and educator across the country- and everyone who cares about girls. That is what is really special about our partnership together.

Caia: We managed to create a holistic space where storytelling could be the means to seeing, hearing and feeling the issues that are at stake in our book, and in the world. We were able to do this because we brought culture and politics together through our backgrounds and complementary expertise. When ‘issues’ are made personal and heartfelt—and we love how the book is just brimming with girls voices, they’re all in there with us, navigating us through their worlds—big things like ‘activism’ and ‘policy change’ become tangible to everyone and like ‘wow, I really get this now and I can be part of it too!’ which is something we really wanted to offer all readers.

You speak about many problems that girls face on a day-to-day basis in your book. Can you tell us more?

Tatiana: We’re both parents. We both have daughters. And so, it was really important for us to focus on girls’ voices and hear their stories. The book weaves together many and diverse experiences that girls are living. Our role is to provide the context and draw on the analysis and the thinking that’s out there. In terms of experience, I can say for myself, that the inspiration for doing and creating spaces for girls and young women came from my own experiences growing up a young woman and a girl. I ended up in Women’s Studies by accident at university and it was transformative for me because I began to see that my experiences growing up with a single mom and seeing issues around violence that my peers were dealing with, or my family had dealt with, issues related to gender violence that often become internalized for girls and young women were in fact social and political issues that I could help change.  So, I think we all have our personal journeys that connect to the many issues that we talk about in the book.

Caia: It’s a unique time in history to hear from girls and young women. Technology has allowed them to create a new space for their self-expression that is unfiltered, honest and real—and all over social media and mainstream media feeds, generating attention, noise, controversy and discussion. After having been left out for so long, girls are now able to speak up and push their agendas into culture on their terms. I would have loved to have had the same direct line to participating in collective dialogue as a girl! Tatiana and I both grew up with single moms who were feminists. We happened to have role models who could help us think critically about who we were and what we needed. Resources, mentors and good role models are a crucial part of a girl’s ability to actualize her dreams and the often practical and brilliant solutions she has to some of her own, her community’s and the larger world’s problems. Trusted mentors and resources are also necessary in helping girls live up to and back up what is said on social media, or what we see there because celebrity feminism is so hip right now. There is still a lot of progress to be made that requires all us. Structures can only shift to give these voices real power to lead if a lot of us are involved in supporting this movement, and the girls within it. We hear incredible stories of girls and by girls in our book, who are re-imagining social, cultural, political and economic issues from their unique points of view, informed by their diverse realities and their resilience. Our goal with Girl Positive is to celebrate this by bringing their stories together in one dynamic place. With this, and reflections from experts on some of the topics we cover, as well as our own analysis, we aim to give tools to all of us to support girls so that all girls can be part of shaping the future.

Do you have advice for girls who aren’t feeling so positive, especially in the wake of recent political events?

Tatiana Fraser

CaiaWe were devastated by the election of Donald Trump. But the truth is that through his alt-right agenda, we are finally seeing and having to politically negotiate with what has always been there but bubbling silently (and violently) in the background. It’s easier to fight what is in the open. Girls, women and the many marginalized groups that are most deeply affected by this administration are feeling a call to action that is unprecedented, and an urgency about using their resources to organize, protest and build against these regressive forces. We see this time of darkness as a great opportunity for large-scale transformations lead by the people who are carrying the visions for a world that is innovative, inclusive and progressing because it reflects our true diversity. The Women’s Marches and the movements of resistance at the Dakota Pipeline and Val D’Or are a great start. It’s as if Trumpmania has opened the door for all of us to use our voices, to get our toolboxes together, and really organize ourselves to make change part of our agenda.

TatianaIt’s definitely an opportunity. There’s momentum. It’s a unique time. A time for young women and girls leadership for change. It is a time to build on where we’ve come from and to really push for change on many levels. At the same time, it’s a calling to recognize there’s work to do. Part of that work is recognizing the intersecting realities girls and women experience from diverse locations and identities. Women who are coming from issues related to poverty, or women who are dealing with racism have an important perspective, experience and contribution to make to the change. There’s work to do.

What message do you hope to pass on with this book?

Caia: One of the simple ways of accomplishing the goals of the book that we’ve listed above, was to create a ‘survival kit’ at the end of every chapter that offers practical tips about the issues of that chapter to everyone from girls themselves to grandfathers, friends, mothers, teachers, political leaders and coaches—to support those issues and get involved in changing them to empower girls. You don’t have to be wearing a pink hat and a pussy riot scarf and be marching on the streets everyday to make change happen. You can do it in small and large ways, which are equally as meaningful. We took a very passionate and practical approach to creating a book that we hope becomes a handbook for everybody in our collective quest to shape a future that is sustainable, enlightened and populated with leaders who are, and were once, girls.

Your book launches today! What can we look forward to?

Caia: The Cultch theatre (hyperlink to https://thecultch.com/) has started a Femme February month and our panel will be the first event. We will host
an amazing line up of three generations of women who work in the arts, and we will link the stories from our book told by girls to the storytelling they do as writers, actors, activists and directors – and hear from them about the realities they face in the workplace where racism, sexism and ageism are still alive and well. We’re really excited to be participating in this event and having Girl Positive make a splash in Vancouver!

Girl Positive launches in Vancouver today at the Historic Theatre. To find out more about this unique publication, visit their Facebook page!