graphic for Feminist Erotica Season 2 Episode 6 with A. Andrews. A is pictured on the right of the graphic, with a faded haircut with buzzed sides, wearing a grey shirt with a tattooed arm visible.

A. Andrews is a disabled cartoonist from Minneapolis, Minnesota and the creator of A Quick & Easy Guide to Sex & Disability from Limerence Press. Join A. and Princess as they talk about their process in creating the guide, removing the stigma for disabled people to talk about their bodies and the larger movement for disability justice.

Resources in this episode: A. Andrews’ new graphic novel A Quick & Easy Guide to Sex & Disability from Limerence Press; Princess’ review of the guide at Rebellious Magazine for Women; other must-have books like Disability Visibility: First Person Stories From the 21st Century Edited by Alice Wong; and Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha; follow A. Andrews on Instagram and Twitter.

Follow Feminist Erotica on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and email us with questions/comments/concerns at feministerotica@rebelliousmagazine.com. Wanna join our book club Lit Lap? Read our January pick with us here. This episode is sponsored by Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. 

Listen to this episode and read along!

Transcript

Voiceover Goddess: Welcome to Feminist Erotica, a podcast from Rebellious Magazine for Women. Join Jera, Karen and Princess for stimulating interviews that explore feminist representations of desire as well as short and sweet erotic snippets read by the authors themselves. This episode is sponsored by Just The Tip, Rebellious Magazine’s inclusive sex and relationship advice column, where you’ll find interviews with sexuality researchers and educators, as well as compassionate responses to anonymous questions. Check it out at rebelliousmagazine.com/just-the-tip.

Princess: Welcome to the Feminist Erotica podcast. My name is Princess McDowell, one of your co-hosts, and today I am joined by A. Andrews, a queer and disabled cartoonist living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and they are the creator of ‘A Quick and Easy Guide to Sex and Disability,’ an easy-to-read guide that covers the basics of disability sexuality, common myths about disabled bodies, and practical suggestions for having the best sexual experience possible. A., thank you so much for joining me today.

A.: Yeah, of course. Thank you for having me.

Princess: No problem. So, for our listeners who aren’t familiar with you or your work, can you tell them a little bit about who you are and the types of stuff that you do?

A.: My background’s a little bit all over the place. I started out in a fine arts track, and I pretty quickly moved on and into the art therapy kind of circuit, and then doing kind of one-to-one work with folks. I also kind of started exploring. I thought it was important that I explore what it’s like to be the person telling my story as well, rather than just being a person who’s listening and expecting other people to tell me theirs. So I kind of moved into this kind of sector of figuring out ways to have fuller and bigger conversations with people through the lens of telling my own stories. And then, you know, when the Quick and Easy Guide series kind of started to come out with the ‘Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns,’ and then there was a second guide on human sexuality and gender identity. I really saw a good opportunity to bring into focus the topic of sex education for disabled people as I identify as a disabled person and a lot of my general work is kind of just slice of life and what it’s like to live with a disability. And I think if I had to think of anything that needed to be out there in the world for disabled people right now that just exists in very, very limited corners of the internet and that’s about it, sexuality and sex education for disabled people I think is really lacking. And so I kind of took on this challenge of trying to bring that into the forefront of those conversations. And the rest is kind of history. Not only was interested and we developed this relationship, and now the book exists and I’m really kind of happy that it all worked out that way.

Princess: Absolutely. Go out and pick up a copy of ‘Quick and Easy Guide to Sex and Disability.’ When I read it and I got it in, and flipped through it and really just kind of soaked in a lot of the pages, the first thing that stood out to me was, this is something that everyone needs on their bookshelves. Just because of the specificity for the disabled community specifically, and the tools that are in there for them to be able to talk through their specific needs and understanding their own sexuality. But also for those of us who want to learn and want to know more about how we can support the community. The book is something that just kind of encompasses that in a really easy-to-read, you know, quick read. You know, you can sit down and get through it in a sitting. You can really take it bite by bite, and that’s something that I really, really appreciated about the guide when I read it. Can you talk a little bit about your process in creating the guidance and creating the educational aspects that translate for everyone?

A.: Yeah, totally. So when I first started making it, it was really important for it to feel like it had this disability lens where disabled people who might come across the book would see it and know that it exists for them. I think that disabled people knowing that they are an intended audience is a really powerful thing in a way. It brings a lot of power naming something and saying, ‘This is for you’ in a world where there’s too many things that are not for you. But, you know, I think that the reality of disability is that that umbrella is so gigantic. Disability can be so, so much a focus in your life, or it could be a thing that you deal with, but don’t even really recognize it as a limitation, necessarily.

So I really wanted to be able to kind of encompass as many different perspectives on what disability and disability sexuality even is. And to do that, I thought it was really important that we took the kid gloves off of, ‘technically as a disabled person, you can do this’ and more as just a like, ‘everybody knows that as a disabled person, you can do this. Here are various ways that this could all play out.’.

I think the most challenging part was probably the quick and easy aspect of it. It’s not a quick and easy topic ever to discuss sexual education, especially when you’re talking about how we all feel about our bodies, or how others care or don’t care for them.

Princess: Right.

A.: And so that’s a very big, you know, net to try to catch in such a small and concise thing. So really what my main point of focus was, ‘How can I make this conversation not feel scary?’ I think that disabled people, whether we like it or not are so often medicalized. You know, we’re medicalized not only by doctors themselves in the medical community, but I think by people as well, just in general day-to-day living. So I wanted the aspect of doing something that felt a little bit slice of life, a little more conversational and a little bit more coming from a perspective of, ‘This exists if you want this information, but I’m not here to point my finger and wag at you and teach you something’ was really important to just kind of try to figure out the ways that this is not being talked about and kind of try to come at it from a different angle.

Princess: It definitely feels like the conversation that you’re having with the reader.

A.: Yeah!

Princess: It’s not a singular experience reading this book.

A.: Yeah, yeah. That was my biggest hope. You know, I didn’t want to be a white, technically ambulatory disabled person wagging my finger at you and telling you what your experience with this must be like. People who are living with disability are living with all of the other isms and marginalizations that exist in the world. And so disability can be a major or a minor part of their life, but it’s only a part of their identity. And so, yeah, I really wanted something that felt like ‘you and me are just going to chat right now. And if you meet this, if any of this resonates with you, if any of this feels good, maybe we can talk about why this is so important, or what we can start working on to move into a better direction where we feel better about these kinds of conversations happening.’

Princess: Yeah. We touched on it a little bit, or a lotta bit the last time we talked was just the spectrum and the diversity in the characters, not just skin color but also range of disability, and that whole thing. Because, you know, it’s such a small thing, but it’s very intentional. When you create something and make images that a lot of different people can see themselves in, it opens the room so wide to bring everybody the conversation.

A.: Yeah. I mean, that was definitely the hope with it. I think that was also my biggest anxiety with it was just, you know, how much, how little. It’s funny, cause when you’re cartooning, there’s an idea of what cartooning is, right? It’s kind of silly, it’s kind of comical or fun or playful, but with drawing disabled bodies, I didn’t want to make it comical. I didn’t want to make it light and funny and silly. I just wanted to be able to have some kind of authentic way of showing you that, yes, this book is for you, but also this book is for this person here or that person there. And so I thought that while I can’t possibly go into the various ways that that shows up for people outside of my realm of personal experience, I can certainly at least advocate for everybody feeling seen in this space and knowing that this is a conversation that they deserve to be having. So I kind of approached it from that angle of just approaching diversity in making sure that there is a space within this book for anyone to kind of feel seen, but also making sure that we’re talking fairly broad so that everyone knows that I’m not pointing at them and telling them that they need to do one thing one way. So yeah.

Princess: Yeah. What’s the reception been since the book’s been out?

A.: It’s been, honestly, it’s been really awesome. The best is getting really nice feedback from people where it’s been well received, or folks that are kind of finding it in little spaces that feel good. I know I’ve been working to try to get clinics copies of the books. Usually when you have a book, you write a certain set of amount of comp copies into your contracts so you have some on hand to do what you want with. And usually you use them at book fairs or in talks and in spaces. But of course with pandemic times, I’m sitting here virtually talking to people and I want those books that exist for me to be in spaces where they’re more accessible for people. Even though I think buying the book is an accessible thing, I think that there’s something to be said about, you know, if I’m not out in the world handing out these copies, I have been trying to find corners of the world that could use it. So that’s been really nice to just hear back from people that someone found it in a doctor’s office or someone who found it in this random kind of, ‘I found this at local library’ or, you know, wherever. It’s nice to just knowing that it exists places, but it’s all the better when people are reaching out and really wanting to interact around it.

Princess: I just pictured it on a dentist’s desk next to Highlights. And then that little toy that you push the thing around, and it’s like a little rollercoaster.

A.: Oh yeah!

Princess: The guide fits, like, completely-

A.: Sex education books.

Princess: Absolutely.

A.: Yeah, totally. I love the idea of people being able to find it on their own, but I also love the idea of, ‘this is such a thing that is so frequently medicalized and it has to exist in this format,’ because the people caring for us and treating us with kid gloves are a part of the problem in us not getting this education. So it feels more my job to be putting it in the hands of people who could then be giving better advice, or who could then be leading people. What’s the- leading a horse to water, you know? Taking that information and knowing that it exists, and then helping people to find it. While I hope that disabled people really resonate with it, I’m really hopeful that people in general do so that we can just not necessarily look at it as a they-versus-us conversation.

Princess: Yeah, definitely. I want to talk a little bit about communication as it is in the book, because it’s such a huge theme, where you’re kind of walking through basic tenants of establishing good communication boundaries and consent as a disabled person in these different environments where you need to have these conversations with people who are interacting with you. For someone like me, it was very helpful for me to understand the two spaces where disabled people have to have those kinds of conversations. You’re having to have them with nurse practitioners or doctors who are regularly seeing you in addition to partners, who you want to share a sexy time things with. So can you talk about the importance of communication in those spaces for disabled people? Because as much as I got from the book and are able to see how I can use those pointers in my own personal spaces, it also was very revelatory for me to see those in situations where disabled people would need to have those skills also.

A.: Yeah. Yeah. I think communication is funny cause if anything, that’s, that’s it, that’s the trick. That’s the key. If you want the magic recipe for how this can all go down and get better, it’s communication. I also think that that’s a really frustrating answer for a lot of folks in general. We all always want to have some solution that feels really tangible and communication feels really daunting for a lot of people. But I think that when we kind of strip it all away in communication with people and just like, what do you see? What are you experience in your space? Or like, what do you think about when you think about this topic? I think from the perspective of able-bodied people asking me questions about the book or about my opinion on a thing has always been like, ‘you know, but like how do you really ask the questions that feel important to ask?’ How do I bring this up without it being mean or bad or pointed, you know? The question from disabled folks is usually like, ‘how am I ever going to figure out how to talk about this thing? I’m afraid of A, B or C happening, and I don’t know how to tell a person that cause that’s a scary or weird thing to tell someone or whatever.’.

You know, our brains play a lot of tricks on us and tell us that we’re always the only one to ever need a thing, you know? But in reality, when you have a relationship with anyone, especially a sexual relationship with someone, there’s needs on both sides of that equation. Everybody needs something within their boundaries, within their communication style, everything to make them feel safe in that equation. And so for me, I think that it’s really important that we learn and develop a language around our own bodies and how we feel about our bodies, because it takes that unknowingness away from the equation. If we know that we’re anxious about something that our body might do or not do. If we can find a language for talking about that, it’s usually a lot more okay than we think that it will be. And equally, if we learn how to ask people about their bodies without making them feel like they’re on a platform where they have to disclose their entire life to you in a way that feels invasive, that just kind of opens you up for having a more authentic connection and to know how you can keep your partner safe. So the communication game is so important, especially because, you know, disabled folks historically are told repeatedly that their bodies are not worth talking about. Disabled folks tend to be treated with this concept that their body is to be observed and not cared for, or where there’s a lot of childish treatment of disabled bodies. There’s a lot of medicalized treatment of disabled bodies. And we do become sensitized in general, maybe not independently or individually, but I think we become really sensitive to that. To that idea that maybe someone else won’t be able to handle our body or won’t feel comfortable with our body. And I think it’s less that and more that people need a language for talking to us about it and we need a language for talking to them. And that can only really happen when you know and feel like you deserve to have that conversation.

[musical interlude]

Princess: I’m just sitting here thinking, man, and that’s so much a part of self care, right? It’s figuring out ways to positively talk about our own bodies that’s not enveloped in shame or misperception or anything like that. Trying to figure out the ways to communicate our own needs without falling into the trap of what we were told to feel about our own bodies.

A.: Yeah. And the comparison of, what can another person do that I can’t do? Or, what does another person need that I don’t need? We talk ourselves in and out of things all the time. We’re always so in our heads around what others might do or what this might look like for another person or what this might sound like to another person. And it’s like, how can we just be better listeners, better talkers, be better at knowing that even if we don’t know how to have this conversation, even if this conversation feels really fumbly, we know that we deserve to be having it with this person. I think it’s why, it’s the communication aspect feels frustrating to folks sometimes. It’s like we want a simplified answer and communication’s very hard.

Princess: It’s always the last thing that people actually want to do or want to be able to do is just talk about it. Like, ‘No, what if we just buy a thing?’ Or, ‘What if we just sit in the silence of-‘ and No. We need to figure out a way that we can communicate that feels authentic to our own feelings, but also registers with the other person that we’re trying to talk to.

A.: Yeah. Well, and it’s like, once you are actually talking, the kind of dream-like idea that you have of what sex is between two people in the world and in actual practice is so much different than any kind of fantasized or idealized version of sex that you have in your brain. We watch a movie and it’s like, first you kiss. And then you kind of start touching the shoulders, and then you kind of start moving this way. And it’s like, they never ask, ‘Is this okay?’ They never ask if you want this next thing. Is it okay if I do this thing? They never ask you what you want your body to be called, what you want to be referred to as. There’s so many aspects of the kind of Disney romance idea that we build up in our heads around sex that just doesn’t exist in actual, consensual sexual relationships.

Princess: Right.

A.: We have these awkward conversations of, ‘What are you into? What makes you feel good? What do you want to try? What are you not interested in trying?’ And we have to have those conversations. Otherwise we’re like willingly and unwillingly entering into these relationships or these situations that we’re not actually ready for. And we’re not prepared for. And I think that the lack of preparedness is the part that makes everything feel really scary. If you can have a conversation with somebody about how you feel about a thing first – I’m really nervous, but I want to try. I’m really scared that this will happen. Maybe if we do it like this, it would be better for me – you’re just setting yourself up to have a more comfortable situation with another person. And to give that person the opportunity to treat you the way that you want to be treated in that kind of interaction.

Princess: And I think a lot of that also starts with our own conversations with ourselves.

A.: Oh, absolutely. Yeah.

Princess: And kind of unlearning what it is that we’ve heard about our bodies, or seen reflected in media and then saying, ‘I don’t ascribe to those things. That’s not how I talk about my own self.

A.: Yeah.

Princess: Learning the language of ourselves and then teaching other people that language.

A.: Yeah. Learning how to ask for what you want. Learning how to even just say ‘I don’t know what I want’ is a skill. You don’t have to know! I think that sometimes when you talk about the communication piece, people are like, ‘But how do I know? If this has never happened for me, or if this has been notoriously hard for me, how do I know what I even want in that kind of engagement? And sometimes you want to try a thing, and in the midst of trying a thing, it doesn’t feel good for you. It doesn’t work for you. ‘I thought this was going to be one thing when we started doing it, it felt like another.’ Great! You had a conversation with this person, you said you wanted to try a thing, you worked on it together, it didn’t turn out to be the thing that you love doing, or it didn’t do what you thought it was going to do, and so you have that opportunity to have a conversation. The Post-game, wrap-up. Have a conversation about, ‘this isn’t working and I want it to work. Can we figure out a different way?’ And flexibility in these situations is key. You can have engagements that don’t feel super great and they don’t have to feel unsafe or bad for you. You don’t have to know exactly what you like or exactly what you want, but you need to know that you have control in the situation that you’re in, and that you have the respect and the engagement of your partner. And from there, you can work on the language around learning what you want, but you do have to have some kind of platform. You have to have like a starting point for having those conversations because you can get really swept up fast without it.

Princess: Absolutely. Things kind of just snowball from there.

A.: Mhm.

Princess: And then you find yourself in a place where you don’t remember how you got there and the work to back up can feel almost as daunting as the work of getting started.

A.: Yeah. Yeah. The work to move through a moment can be really challenging when you haven’t really figured out an exit strategy or a plan around it. And disabled people are not strangers to the idea of having to accommodate, or having to figure out a plan or a way of doing something differently than they see it being done. And so the big thing is that we have these conversations together where we can really figure out what we want out of these kinds of relationships, more than anything. Sometimes knowing what you don’t want is enough. Sometimes knowing exactly what you want is great. And sometimes just knowing what you might want to dip your toe into, what you don’t want to even attend, you know, just finding where you have hard lines and finding where you have wavering lines in both communication and in touch with another person is really crucial to having sex that works for you.

Princess: So we talked a little bit about self care, but I think for those of us who are not directly in the disabled community, I think that the larger world has this really idealized concept of self care, like pedicures and manicures and bubble baths and that kind of stuff. Where I think the actual work of being a better person and of being a better feminist is educating ourselves on the mass spectrum of discrimination and different experiences that we don’t have in our own person. I’ve seen a lot more visibility to disabled people speaking up about their experiences and, especially during the pandemic, because they’re going to be a lot more people who are having to deal with the effects of COVID when they get it. A lot of people are going to come out of this pandemic with chronic illnesses because of the way that COVID just ravages the body. So there’s going to be a lot more people that join the community, so to speak, and folks are speaking up and saying like, ‘Hey, we’re here. And all these things that we’re doing now are things that we’ve been asking to have done for us to accommodate for decades.’ All of us are working from home now or going to school from home where a lot of the institutions were saying like, ‘Oh, we can’t do that. That’s not possible.’ And when I read those things from people on Twitter and articles and stuff, I just feel like the tone I get from people is like, ‘Okay, we’ll just, you know, spit in our faces.’ Cause now that other people need it, now you can make it happen, but we’ve been asking for it for so long that no one listened to what we had to say. Because discrimination. Can you talk about how it’s been seeing so much discourse around disability in mainstream, in Twitter and those activist spaces now that we are eight months into this pandemic?

A.: Sure. I mean, it’s definitely a loaded one. I have many personal experiences and feelings. And then I have my personal experience of things where I certainly, you know, go through the motions of feeling like, where the hell was this? You know, where was all this care before? Or especially right now, as you said eight months into it when people are getting a little tired of it, I experience a lot of ‘What happened to COVID?’ Everyone’s like living their lives again, and I’m-

Princess: Still here.

A.: Still in my house. But I do think that, when I can kind of get out of my head and really read through the various perspectives of it, while there is certainly divisiveness and there can be hard feelings that are really valid and fair, I do think that the disability community recognizes, in general-, the community is certainly not a monolith, but I think that disabled people very much stand in support of one another. The thing that’s funny about the activism that’s taken place is that so frequently when ableism is being combated in workplaces and out in the world, access isn’t necessarily just for me, because I need this extra thing. It’s for any of us. Like, I’m glad that you have this 40-stair mansion on the hill, but what are you going to do when you’re old? Or, what are you going to do when you break your leg? There’s various different times when this can even benefit you.

Princess: Right.

A.: As a general rule of thumb, I really hate the argument of ‘this matters because it could also affect you,’ ’cause I don’t think that’s the point. I think the point is that it affects people right now, and it always has affected people, and it’ll continue to affect people. And whether or not it affects me personally is kind of irrelevant. For as much divisiveness as there is, and for as much personal irritation around certain kinds of conversations that exist, I find a lot of hope that people are at least talking. I think that we all know a bad take when we see them. We all know infighting doesn’t get us anywhere in our communities. But a lot of us identify how we identify. And a lot of us have a lot of things to fight against. We’re not all rich, straight white men living on Capitol Hill, that’s real. I think that at its core, we all know that infighting is not the key to liberation. And I think that we do know that liberating ourselves as disabled people is more important than deciding whose rights matter right now, or whose fight will be the fight that we fight for. I think that the fact that conversations are existing on such a major kind of platform and in such a major way around COVID is something that I can find some hope within. Because you’re right, my needs are more often than not considered extra. You know, when I need something, it’s just an absolutely above and beyond need. And I think that with COVID and with the pandemic and all of the rearranging for the better of everyone, people are starting to realize that those needs aren’t necessarily individualized as much as they used to be. And while that can be really frustrating because we’ve been yelling that, who cares when it’s being noticed now?

I had a pretty major surgery, about a year ago, a little over a year ago now. And for my day job / office job, I was denied any opportunity to work from home. It wasn’t something that my office could do. We weren’t set up for that. There was no technology to make that happen. And certainly COVID came around, we packed bags in an afternoon and we have never been back to work. And it’s been about eight months now, moving towards nine. And we won’t be back at work until at least the summer. And I think in the beginning, I certainly had my gripey feelings about that. And my ‘where was this when I really needed it?’ And I would have only been one person, and this would have been easy to accommodate. Clearly. We’ve been able to do it on a widespread scale here. We could have planned for that, you know? And I had those moments and I had those feelings, and now I’m grateful that this exists now. And I’m grateful that when this comes up for me or another person, that we have something to look back on and say, ‘This worked before. We can make this work.’

None of us are strangers to the road being long and unfair. When we get over the personal feelings of hurt over things not working before when they could have, there is that hopefulness that we can be better next time around, or we are louder now. And I think there’s so many people doing that work that it would be a real shame to stay stuck in feeling bitter about the things that weren’t working, because those people never stopped trying, you know. Disability Twitter specifically is amazing. Folks are on there, they are yelling every day. They are fighting the good fight every day, all day. People have made ableism their life, fighting this their life and activism. And I think that, I can be grumpy. I can have my bad days, but I’ll always be grateful for people being loud and unapologetic and continuing to fight for people that maybe support them now, but didn’t support them six months ago, you know? And I think that, as a collective while we have infighting like any other group of people, I think that the disability community is very much here with open arms for anybody that needs somebody to yell in the ears of their community for them, for sure.

Princess: Yeah. Disability, Twitter is where it’s at.

A.: It really is.

Princess: Yeah. I added a bunch of folk to my timeline just to make sure I was getting that perspective and listen, they will call you out. They will be like, ‘No. See. Actually, let’s reframe this.’ And it’s so important. I think as we talk about self care and we talk about finding hope, and I don’t want to say tempering on responses, but just being aware of our reactions and feelings about things. I mean, as a black queer woman, I am very aware of my reactions to things. And I do feel the sense and connect with the sense of ‘the things that we’re asking for? They’re not just us being selfish. I mean, there are things that would benefit the whole, and allowing ourselves to be upset that we even have to ask for some of these things.’ But then there is the move beyond like, you know what, I’m just going to be happy that now we can get to this point and people understand the full context of ‘Please don’t kill me.’

A.: Absolutely. Yeah. And going back a tiny, tiny bit to you asking about reception of the book and all of that, really the only thing that I don’t like answering or really responding back to, is when folks insinuate that I’m the first or the only doing any work that I’m doing. Because for one, genuinely my work is one in line of many. And also it’s built upon the perspectives of so many people doing this work and so many people educating me, primarily disabled black women. I think that the disability community has a racism problem. A very, very big racism problem. And I think that we honor and advocate for white disabled people in ways that we don’t stand for and don’t honor black disabled people in that fight, who are really leading that fight. And so I’ve really resent when I’m being asked questions around, ‘What is it like to be one of the only people creating content like this? What is it like to be bringing up a subject that no one brings up,’ because that’s not true. And it’s not a thing I want ever implied in the work that I’m doing.

[musical interlude]

Princess: Hey, Hey, this is Princess McDowell, co-host of the Feminist Erotica podcast, inviting you to join our book club, The Lit Lap. Every other month, we hop on a Zoom call and discuss an erotica book with you in the community. And then afterward we interview the author with your questions and a few of our own. This January we’re diving into Best Lesbian Erotica Volume 5, edited by Sinclair Sexsmith For more information, head over to feministerotica.com and look for our About Us page or find us on Twitter @feministerotic for the link in our bio.

[musical interlude]

A.: Have you ever read Care Work?

Princess: Yeah, it’s on my list here.

A.: Yeah, it’s great. It’s brilliant. And it’s a collection of essays that are top-notch. I would definitely recommend that as reading material for anyone, especially in the realm of self care. Like, how do we practice self care when we’re also practicing justice work? And we’re also practicing- like, when our lives are social commentary? Or a political tool? And it’s really a beautiful act of advocating for, not only the care of your people, but the care for yourself. It’s really good.

Princess: Also want to throw out Disability Visibility.

A.: Oh yeah.

Princess: By Alice Wong. These books, add them to your bookshelves folks. Expand your library, add it into what you’re reading. Expand your justice work, because it is absolutely necessary for the liberation of all people. Ain’t nobody free til we’re all free. I want to end and ask you this one question. In the middle of all of this craziness and the whole 2020 has just been a mad rollercoaster ride with no seatbelts, what is bringing you joy today?

A.: What is bringing me joy today? The hardest question, right at the end. What’s bringing you joy today and everyday in the face of the endless news cycle and in the face of all of the impending doom that exists in our day-to-day living right now is just knowing that like the world has yet to be great for us. That we’re not slipping back into something terrible, we’re just getting louder about it being so. And I have a lot of, like, I know that doesn’t sound joyous. That sounds really depressing. But I think that when we view this as, ‘Oh, this is the worst year yet. Everything used to be fine. And it was terrible.’ Nothing was fine. We were quiet. And I think there’s something really beautiful about seeing the world get loud, even when our power’s not quite there yet. And I think being able to call it what it is and say that the world has never been great for a lot of us yet. And I get a lot of joy in knowing that we have always found a way to survive within the system and within these spaces. And we will always take care of our own. That is the only thing that really gives me hope with anything right now. Because I could easily tumble into the pit of despair. Everything is awful. But we’ve been surviving this. We’ve been fighting this.

And you know, maybe saying that we’ve been surviving this as a little obtuse cause a lot of us haven’t, and so maybe that’s putting a little bit of a cart before a horse, but I think that we as a collective, we as people are never, ever going to go down without that fight in us. And that brings me a lot of hope and it keeps me positioned to fight. It keeps me ready to stand for the people that I say that I stand for. It keeps me ready to rest when I need to and tell myself that we’ll have a fight tomorrow, I can take a nap. You know, it’s the thing that reminds me that it’s okay to need a second to gather yourself and to get back to it because we’re going to have that opportunity to show up day in and day out. So that’s maybe what’s bringing me joy. What’s bringing you joy?

Princess: Sopapilla cheesecake.

A.: Well, that’s a better answer.

Princess: *laughs*.

A.: I want that.

Princess: A. Andrews, where can people find your work?

A.: Oh boy. So my book is kind of out everywhere. You can buy it anywhere, from Amazon to your local bookstore, which I would recommend over Amazon, but-

Princess: Absolutely.

A.: I do get that anywhere you can find it as good. And, I am _anghost on all my social media, on Instagram, Twitter. So you can find me around there. And my work’s a little bit all over. I just did a piece with Visual AIDS in New York City. So there’s a project that I did with a friend of mine on HIV care access that’s been pretty cool. And I’m working on some COVID resources for MDH at the moment as well. So, the path to navigating COVID for folks, primarily living in Minnesota in terms of tangible resources, but in terms of COVID information, it could be universal. So we’re trying to get that up and running online as well. Usually if you follow me on any of my social media, you’ll always have the opportunity to find whatever projects are lurking all around the internet.

Princess: A., it has been a pleasure talking to you. Pleasure catching up with you. Thank you so much for joining me today.

A.: Thank you. Yeah, this was a lot of fun. I feel like I could hang with you and ramble forever.

Princess: Yeah!

Voiceover Goddess: Feminist Erotica is a podcast from Rebellious Magazine for Women, hosted by Jera Brown, Princess McDowell and Karen Hawkins. If you have an idea for a future episode or want to share your thoughts, we’d love to hear from you. Email us at feministerotica@rebelliousmagazine.com. Follow us on Instagram @feministeroticapodcast, on Facebook @feministerotica, and on Twitter @feministerotic, and make sure you subscribe to us wherever you devour podcasts.

Transcript has been edited for clarity. Post may include Amazon-affiliate links.

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