I’m Dani Ward,

and I do lots of things.

Writing

I spend a lot of my time trying to learn how to be a better human, which leads to lots of thoughts about lots of things. I work those things out in writing, sometimes also journaling and critiquing media.

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

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.

Haikus With Dani: JerkBrain Edition.

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.

Codependent avoidance.

I’m spending a lot of time just sort of sitting with myself. What do I want? What do I think? What am I willing to give, or ask for? Why? Am I just trying to placate others for my own comfort and ease of anxiety, or is this something I’m genuinely willing to agree to or compromise on? If so, why?

All you can do is survive

The final product: calligraphy and hand-lettering by me (with help from Showcase Sans for the smaller text). 2016.

It’s been a rough year so far. There’s been a lot of life changes and personal crises and accomplishments. Lots of good, lots of bad, lots of change.

As a creature of habit, change doesn’t usually bode well with me.

I’ve taken time away from 99% of freelancing work, aside from the occasional lettering commission that I take on only because I want to. I’ve cut out every single thing from my life that isn’t necessary for me to survive — because right now, all I can ever guarantee out of any particular day is that I will survive it.

The circumstances of my life aren’t shameful. And if all I can do is survive, I’ve done more than enough.

Want a free print-ready poster file?

Support me on Patreon by the end of the week, and I’ll upload Saturday morning!

The Stories We Tell: Purity Culture and Shame.

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..

The Stories We Tell: Purity Culture Edition

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:

When I must be “The Bad Guy.”

I could explain my thought processes for every step of these various journeys. I’m very prone to explaining and dissecting and hoping beyond hope that I can just make you see why and how, make you see cause and effect, connect dots for you, connect dots for me. I want to feel justified, validated. I don’t want to be The Bad Guy. I don’t want to accept that to so many, I am petulant and over-sharing and running away from problems that could be fixed if I would just try harder.

But I can’t change, even if I tried. Even if I wanted to.*

And so…here I sit. The Bad Guy. It’s not comfortable. I don’t like it. But if this is who I have to be in order to be me, then so be it.