Words

Shrill

Lindy West is living out loud

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The word “shrill,” evocative and onomatopoetic, conjures high-pitched, grating voices. It’s used derogatorily, and it’s often aimed at women.

Author Lindy West re-appropriates it in her book Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, a memoir that’s as funny as it is poignant. West is a former movie reviewer for Seattle’s The Stranger whose social commentary regularly appears in The Guardian, the New York Times, This American Life, Cosmopolitan, and Jezebel, among others.

She lets loose in longer form, with raucous, delightfully profane chapters recounting her childhood and adolescence and showing how she grew more adept at raising her voice to speak up on issues that mattered to her.

A core part of West’s identity is her weight. She writes heart-breakingly about a time when even the seatbelt extender on the airplane was not sufficient, and her panic and pain at having to squeeze into a seat. She eventually learns to embrace the term “fat,” and to find strength in her size.

She writes, “The breadth of my shoulders makes me safe. I am unassailable. I intimidate. I am a polar icebreaker. I walk and climb and lift things, I can open your jar, I can absorb blows—literal and metaphorical—meant for other women.”

West took some big hits when she penned an article for Jezebel entitled “How to Make a Rape Joke.” West attempted to find a middle ground between strident feminists who do not think rape is a laughing matter, period, and obtuse First Amendment supporters who claim their rights are violated (get it?) if they aren’t “allowed” to share their nasty, vitriolic humor.

According to West, jokes that poke fun at the rapist, not the victim, are fair game, as are ones that point out how frightening it can be to be a woman, or how oblivious some men can be about this. She listed several examples, cushioned it all with plenty of disclaimers and generally came across as reasonable.

Yet a corner of the internet exploded, and crude threats and insults rained down on West by the hundreds. They attacked her weight, her intellect and her gender, even saying she was “too disgusting to get raped.” One vile troll went so far as to create a fake Twitter account posing as West’s dead father. This level of harassment went way over the line, and how West addressed it (and ultimately received an apology from her attacker) makes for powerful reading.

Equally fascinating are West’s dialogues with comics and other powerful men she once admired (yes you, Dan Savage) and her honest and loving explorations of her relationships with her father and her husband.

Christine Perkins is the executive director of the Whatcom County Library System. She serves on the programming committee for Bellingham City Club.

Smoking Crow
More Words...
Fear and Love
Not your average memoir

With the recent news that Saudi Arabia will soon be offering tourist visas, the publication of Adam Valen Levinson’s new memoir/travelogue, The Abu Dhabi Bar Mitzvah: Fear and Love in the Modern Middle East, is perfectly timed. More than an account of his travels, the book describes both…

more »
Word Up
The power of poetry

Those who prefer candy over creative wordplay will be out of luck when they plunk a quarter into a new contraption located at Fairhaven’s Village Books.

Instead of something sweet to chew on, people contributing their 25 cents to the Poetry Gumball Machine will instead spin a wheel to…

more »
Mary's Mysteries
A pioneer woman of Skagit County

Even though she started writing years before her British counterpart, popular mystery writer Mary Roberts Rinehart was often referred to as “America’s Agatha Christie.” But Rinehart was much more than a writer. She traveled the world, started her own publishing company, was a war…

more »
Events
Today
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

10:00am|Skagit Valley

Free Appliance Pick-up

10:00am|Whatcom County

Bellingham Beer Week

10:00am|Throughout Bellingham

The Lewis & Clark Expedition

10:00am|Mount Baker Theatre

English Country Dancing

1:30pm|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

Mt. Baker Plant Sale

3:00pm|Mt. Baker High School

Jazz Jam

5:30pm|Illuminati Brewing

Pub Run

6:00pm|BBay Running

Canadian Exploration

6:30pm|Mount Vernon City Library

Mexican Kitchen

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Balkan Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Get Gritty

7:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

9 to 5, the Musical

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Misty Flowers

7:30pm|Chuckanut Center

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Tomorrow
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

10:00am|Skagit Valley

Free Appliance Pick-up

10:00am|Whatcom County

Bellingham Beer Week

10:00am|Throughout Bellingham

Mt. Baker Plant Sale

3:00pm|Mt. Baker High School

9 to 5, the Musical

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am|Stimpson Family Nature Reserve

Book and Bake Sale

10:00am|Deming Library

Valley Writers

1:00pm|South Whatcom Library

Coffee Tasting

3:00pm|Camber Cafe

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Fourth Friday Art Walk

5:00pm|Historic Fairhaven

Ship of Fools Closing Reception

5:00pm|Cooper Lanza Gallery

Inspire Higher Dreams Gala

5:30pm|Silver Reef Event Center

Always...Patsy Cline

7:00pm|Conway Muse

Wilderness and Wellness

7:00pm|Village Books

Cantabile Chamber Choir

7:30pm

Skagit Community Band

7:30pm|Maple Hall

The Kid

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Friday Night Flicks

7:30pm|Van Zandt Community Hall

Legends and Brawls

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Trove Web
Saturday
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

10:00am|Skagit Valley

Free Appliance Pick-up

10:00am|Whatcom County

Bellingham Beer Week

10:00am|Throughout Bellingham

Mt. Baker Plant Sale

3:00pm|Mt. Baker High School

9 to 5, the Musical

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Book and Bake Sale

10:00am|Deming Library

Always...Patsy Cline

7:00pm|Conway Muse

Skagit Community Band

7:30pm|Maple Hall

Cantabile Chamber Choir

7:30pm

Legends and Brawls

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Ferndale Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Hall Post #154

Have a Heart Run

9:00am|Edgewater Park

Senior Center Plant Sale

9:00am|Bellingham Senior Activity Center

Hydrangeas 101

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Linuxfest Northwest

9:00am|Bellingham Technical College

Everson Garden Club Plant Sale

9:00am|Everson-Goshen Rd.

Independent Bookstore Day

9:00am|Village Books

Backyard Habitat and Native Flora Fair

10:00am|Fairhaven Village Green

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Vaisaikhi Day Celebration

10:00am|Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Sudden Valley Garden Club Sale

10:00am|Sudden Valley Dance Barn

Correspondence Club

10:30am|Mindport Exhibits

Sculpture Tours

10:30am|Big Rock Garden Park

Growing Dry Beans and Grains

1:00pm|Chuckanut Center

Panel discusses oil sands pipeline

3:00pm

Klee Wyck Journal

4:00pm|Village Books

Visions of the Soul Opening

5:00pm|Forum Arts

Spring Has Sprung Opening Party

5:00pm|Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park

Naomi Shihab Nye

7:00pm|Performing Arts Center

Moon Walk

7:00pm|Whatcom County

Contra Dance with Incognito

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Dylan Foley and Eamon O'Leary

7:00pm|Littlefield Celtic Center

Skagit Symphony Classics Concert

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Paula Poundstone

8:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

see our complete calendar »

Trove Web Village Books Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1