Seattle’s Lindy West Brings Women’s Issues to Light Online

Writer, performer and activist Lindy West keeps her wit about her

By Brangien Davis

0114lindywest

December 23, 2013

This article originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of Seattle Magazine.

“Jane Fonda hugged me.” Columbia City–based writer, performer and activist Lindy West still can’t quite believe she got a squeeze from one of her idols, but there is video evidence from the Women’s Media Awards, held in October in New York City. West, a Seattle native, former writer for The Stranger and now full-time writer for feminist blog Jezebel.com, received the Social Media Award (presented by Fonda) for her smart and seriously funny online essays about gender dynamics, social justice, politics, body image and other women’s issues. The 31-year-old West gained fame last summer when she wrote a Jezebel column explaining to comedians why rape jokes at the expense of rape victims are not funny—a point that might seem obvious, but which resulted in a televised debate (on W. Kamau Bell’s Totally Biased) with comedian Jim Norton and subsequently, a viral spew of rape threats from commenters claiming nothing should be off-limits in comedy. “This happens to women all over the Internet, every day,” West says, regarding the violent verbal attacks. But after the online frenzy cooled to a simmer, she was heartened to see major comedians she respects, such as Patton Oswalt, publicly support a paradigm shift. However, West says she doesn’t want to be “the rape lady” forever, adding, “I write political stuff, but about 40 percent of the time, it’s fart jokes.”

 

Need to Know
1. West is a contributing writer on two recently published books: The Stranger’s How to Be a Person and The Book of Jezebel: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Lady Things. She is currently at work on a book of humorous essays.

2. Regarding the ridiculous yet ongoing debate about whether women can be funny, West says, “Women use humor the exact same way men do. It’s just that men are taught to be loud about it.”

3. She recommends two new female-focused live comedy showcases in Seattle: The Comedy Womb (Belltown, 2322 Second Ave.; comedywomb.com) and Wine Shots comedy happy hour at The Rendezevous (Belltown, 2322 Second Ave.; 206.441.5823; Facebook: “Doghead in the Door Productions”)

 

4. Watch West host the live storytelling show “The Moth” every first Thursday at the Fremont Abbey Arts Center ($8; sign up at 6:30 p.m., doors open at 7 p.m. 4272 Fremont Ave. N; 206.414.8325; themoth.org).

 


BEHIND THE SCENES OF OUR SHOOT

For our profile of writer/performer/activist Lindy West, photographer Hayley Young wanted to capture the idea of West as being under attack—but comfortable in the position. She imagined a woman at a witch-burning stake—decked to the nines and daring all comers. But finding a stake in 2013 Seattle isn’t easy. So Young and her assistant John Vicory picked up a 150-pound cedar log (and firewood) in Port Townsend and built their own pyre on West’s family’s property in Quilcene. They worked against the dying of the light to build their set, and had a 15-minute window of gorgeous sunset and views of Quilcene Bay to capture what we think is a pretty indelible image.

 

 

 

Illustration by Arthur Mount

Seattle Artifacts: The Mystery of Chief Seattle’s Death Mask

Is it real? Where did it come from?

In different parts of the world, and throughout the course of history, death has been memorialized in a variety of different ways. One of the more intriguing was death masks. Typically, a wax or plaster cast was made of a deceased person’s face, which then served as a model for sculptors when creating statues and busts.  …

Photography by Sage Chen

The Art of Weathering Winter: Foraging, Bathing, and Gold Dust

Two Seattle Chefs on the Soothing Hobbies that Get Them through the Winter

Though I’ve lived in Seattle nearly my entire life, the early winter sunsets, which fall like a set of blackout curtains over the world, never fail to feel like a curse. This year, though, I wanted to challenge myself to find a better way to get through it. Could it be an opportunity to surrender…

DSC_5132 copy 2 hero-min

Hip-Hop Healing in Seattle

Rapper Carter Costello’s house is more than just a venue for artists

The last time I was at Seattle rapper Carter Costello’s house was under the cloak of night. I had been invited to an art and music show — featuring Seattle photographer and artist Baby Claypool, a duo of fire dancers, rapper Nobi and Costello — by local photographer James Gerde. Once I set foot on…

Seattle artist and curator Anthony White challenges consumerism and societal hierarchy in his work.

Seattle’s Prince of Plastic

Artist Anthony White’s work offers deep, and sometimes uncomfortable, cultural commentary

Overheard conversation at artist Anthony White’s current exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum plays out like a zeitgeisty spoken-word soundtrack that weaves between the past and present, hitting various cultural milestones along the way. “Is that Lindsay Lohan?” “Look, Nintendo!” “Do you notice the Greek columns?” “Ah, Lisa Frank!” The joyful cacophony is a reaction…

September Backpage cropped-min

Time Warp: ‘Seattle’ Magazine Cover Still Relevant, Five Decades Later

Magazine cover from 1968 still applicable today

Rising prices. Concern over firearms. The above cover from “Seattle” magazine is from September 1968, but it’s sadly just as relevant today. At 4.19%, inflation in 1968 was less than half what it is today (9.1% in July), but was rising rapidly. For perspective, an item that cost $1 back then would cost $8.51 today….

Me day Jackson after was born crop-min

Book Excerpt: ‘Cotton Teeth’

When I was 28 years old, I was diagnosed with a late-stage cancer and given a prognosis of “three months at best.” At the time, my wife was eight-and-a-half months pregnant with our only child. Not wanting to terrify her with the news, I chose instead to take the train from New York City to…