My two sisters and I are the trio behind the Lady Rage postcards. After the Kavanaugh hearings the three of us wound up in an epic rage-texting episode. We live in different time zones and none of us are sleeping well these days, so I never know when I’ll catch one or both of them awake and online. The night after the rapists in the halls of power decided to inaugurate yet another of their kind on the Supreme Court, my sisters and I were sleepless together, raging at the world over facebook messenger.
We’re artists, the three of us. Music, visual, literary. We’re all three teachers. We all three carry the burden of our own horrible #metoo stories. Not long into our epic session of sister rage, one of my sisters, the visual artist, posted a photo of the glorious painting of Judith beheading Holofernes.
We cackled over our screens. We googled. We found more art depicting raging ladies. Then one of us wrote a caption. SEE YOU ON ELECTION DAY. Thus we harnessed the creativity that our rage had so gloriously unfurled, and in a flurry of texts that stretched into two days we designed the series and called them Lady Rage and printed them up and within a week they arrived in our trembling and still raging lady hands, and they are beautiful.
And disturbing. I mean: beheadings! With today’s headlines? Come on. My sisters and I are nonviolent as hell. Third wave intergenerational feminist pacifists, you know? Are we seriously going to distribute these images? The calm expressions on these ladies’ faces as they exact their grisly revenge is so damn unsettling! That young woman posing with her sword, the most blasé teen in the history of teens! Yeah, whatever, I can hear her sigh. Dude is dead.
The violence of this collection is shocking because it’s not normal for women to wreak bloody murder. It took some searching to find even these five images. Note the absence of ladies of color, who presumably didn’t exist in the 16th centuries and/or had nothing in particular to be enraged about. During our brainstorm my sisters and I fumed over museums crammed--crammed!--with the glory of white men and their bloody swords. Noble knights pridefully posing over the corpse. Dude just took a human life because their distant King got his feelings hurt by another distant King. Normal, whatever!
So here we are in a particularly violent and bloody period in American history. Mail bombs, domestic terrorism, beheadings sanctioned by the President, school shootings, synagogue shootings, police shooting black men and women.
The violence of men. White men. Teenage boys shooting their classmates. College men raping college women. Executives showing us their dicks, senators grabbing our pussies, bosses locking their doors.
These images are shocking not only because they make fun of violence. They shock because they’re not normal. They shock because they defamiliarize murder. They force the viewer to look at violence again, to not look away, and to consider, for a moment, not the abominations done by these women, but the abominations they must have suffered. Because in the history of art and literature and music, we learn that men kill when their feelings get hurt. Women kill when they’re pushed to the edge of survival. When their lady rage kicks in.
These postcards are hardly profitable. Considering the costs of production and the time it takes to promote, market and ship, not to mention the 10 percent we’re donating to #metoo, we’re talking less than minimum wage. Who cares. It’s not about the dough, it’s about the rage!