Fat Girl,

Never.

By Dani Ward January 15, 2018 1 Comment

Two years ago this month, I left my husband, shortly before telling him he had 2 weeks to get out of the house for good. It’s been a very long two years, full of pain and struggle and freedom and confusion and finding myself. And finding words.

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Haikus with Dani: Coercion

By Dani Ward March 17, 2017 0 Comments

Content note: rape

St. Patrick’s Day will never be the same for me. This whole week has been nothing but hellish memory almost every waking moment. I’m so grateful for the friends and family who have spent time with me to make sure I’m not alone and that I’m safe.

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Haikus With Dani: overwhelmed; overwhelming.

By Dani Ward February 28, 2017 0 Comments

Brought to you by intense introspection during a season of traumatic anniversaries. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to describe my mental health struggles, and I think I touched on a couple of things pretty well here.

i do not mean to
overwhelm you. i simply
overwhelm myself.

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Haikus with Dani: In Which There Is No Room.

By Dani Ward January 26, 2017 0 Comments

It’s been a full year since I broke up with my spouse. A very hard year, if you recall. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to process things as best as I can, and that often looks like distilling emotions into haikus. Something about the structure and limitation seems to lend itself well to expressing myself in succinct and powerful ways (much like how Twitter’s character limit can help focus one’s thoughts).

I don’t really want to offer commentary on this. There is so much I am still processing. But it feels important to share it, and to share it now. And one of my goals is to listen to my intuition far more than I’ve been able to in the past.

One thing I will say is this: it’s a terrifying time in our country right now. To be a woman, not white, not straight, not healthy in body and mind. Most of my friend group — myself included — are fighting the creeping despair as we watch this new administration work so hard to make our lives at best uncomfortable and at worst nonexistent. It’s easy to not take care of yourself in an effort to remain informed, to know what fresh hell awaits every morning.

But the little things matter. Little things like remembering to eat. Checking in with friends. Asking people to check in on you. Kissing your loved ones. Snuggling your pets. Or even daring to simply take up space.

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Intersectionality or Bullshit: When White Feminists Profit From Women of Color

By Dani Ward August 12, 2016 0 Comments
A mix of roman caps, italic, and uncial calligraphy of Flavia Dzodan's quote, "My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit."

A few years ago, I read a powerful article by Flavia Dzodan entitled “My Feminism Will Be Intersectional Or It Will Be Bullshit.” It resonated with me, so much so that I chose to calligraph it. That’s something I do very often with phrases or sentiments that I believe strongly in. I even shared the design with her on Twitter, and she seemed very pleased with it. This was, of course, before her cancer diagnosis and internet hiatus.

It was also before it became a meme and took on a life of its own.

This week, I read with great sadness and anger about how so many people took her words and sold them — with neither permission from nor compensation to her.

You see, last year, Feminist Apparel saw my design and expressed great interest in selling a shirt of it. I was intensely uncomfortable with this. Yes, I put in the work of drawing the letters and creating the design. But the words were not mine. Neither were they words in a public work like a book, for which the author had been paid. While I cited the source, I couldn’t in good conscience profit off of the words and work of a woman of color. Especially in the name of feminism (and especially considering the context of the article the phrase came from!).

I didn’t ignore the request from Feminist Apparel. Instead, I reached out to Flavia on Facebook to tell her about the interest in the design. I told her I was uncomfortable making money from her work. That if she was okay with the design being sold, I wanted to make sure we worked out a way where all the profit would go to her, not me. But I also told her if I didn’t hear from her, I would never sell it and it would only become part of my portfolio. I never did hear from her, and so I have never sold it. Ever.

The biggest part of why I’m writing this is because it was an absolute jolt to see my artwork used in a Vox article covering the topic. It seems to be used as an example of someone appropriating from her work. And I want to be clear that I have not, nor will I ever, accept compensation for the work of someone else. I will never sell that piece.

But secondarily, I’m angry. I’m angry with the kind of feminism that will take the words and work of women of color and capitalize on them with no recognition or offer of compensation. Particularly stealing from women of color. Particularly given the racism that’s always been a driving force in white feminism.

Look. I’m not a saint. I don’t deserve cookies or kudos for how I’ve handled interest in this design, for being primarily concerned with Flavia’s ownership of her words and desiring that she receive compensation for her work rather than me. This is bare minimum decent human behavior.

Especially for feminists who want to claim to be intersectional when their actions prove that, when it comes to intersectionality, their feminism is indeed bullshit.

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Haikus With Dani: JerkBrain Edition.

By Dani Ward June 21, 2016 2 Comments

There’s a lot going on in my life. I’ve deactivated my Twitter for a little bit. Vulnerability is terrifying, but it’s easier to be vulnerable to an amorphous mass of people than talk to anyone in particular about what’s been happening, even the things that are only happening inside my own head. Therefore, you’re getting more of my depressing fragments of dialogue, this time brought to you by my very own JerkBrain.

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Haikus With Dani: Existential Edition

By Dani Ward May 16, 2016 1 Comment

I’ve been rather existential lately. I mean, I usually am anyway. But back to the “it’s hard to explain in anything except shards of thought” kind of existential. So. The contents of these haikus will likely turn into blog posts at some point. But for now, I serve them to you as the fragments they are.

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The Stories We Tell: Purity Culture and Shame.

By Dani Ward April 1, 2016 7 Comments

I had a very eye-opening conversation with my mom recently.

We were talking about my marriage to my ex, and she asked me if her hunch was correct that I’d have married him anyway if my parents hadn’t given us permission. (You see, in our iteration of purity culture, even as a 22-year-old adult, I needed my parents’ permission to marry.)

I thought a moment and answered honestly: yes, I would have still married him. Then I clarified, “I honestly thought I had to.”

“You didn’t get that from us!” Mom responded in astonished confusion. “You don’t have to marry someone just because you slept with them.

Let me state up front: that’s an entirely true statement. I agree with it 100%.

And yet it was my turn to be shocked.

Because that statement flew in the face the entire narrative of my first 20+ years of life..

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Haikus With Dani: Breakup Edition

By Dani Ward March 3, 2016 3 Comments

Welcome to Haikus with Dani: Breakup Edition, the part of the show where Dani comes out and shares her breakup haikus. It’s been a little over a month since I broke up with my partner of 7 years (and spouse of 6 years). In so many ways, it’s been unspeakably hard. I literally don’t have…

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The Stories We Tell: Purity Culture Edition

By Dani Ward February 18, 2016 2 Comments

Purity culture: a definition.

As defined by the excellent No Shame Movement,

Within the conservative Christian context, purity culture is simply the view of any discussion of things of a sexual nature outside of the context of heterosexual marriage as taboo.

Those with in purity culture must adhere to a strict heteronormative lifestyle that forbids most physical contact with significant others, as well as engaging in self pleasure, or holding lustful thoughts about another person that is not a spouse. This view is generally enforced and policed by the family and church community. Purity culture includes an insistence on female modesty and responsibility to shield boys and men from sexual temptation.

To be blunt, purity culture is distinctly religious and sexist at heart. As Dianna Anderson states, “Purity culture is, in brief, the linking of religious piety with virginal status, particularly in young people, and the association of sin and shame with sex.”

As such, it operates with an awful lot of assumptions about the world and how people do and/or should belief and/or behave:

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