She started with a story: She was on a plane coming home from South Africa. The man sitting next to her asked her what she had been doing there. Contemplating whether she wanted to get into that conversation with him, she turned the question on him. He replied, “I was in a golf tournament.” Oh, what the heck, why not, she figured. “I was there doing work as a radical feminist lesbian,” she told him. He was taken aback, and hemmed and hawed, asking, “is radical really necessary?” and “aren’t men and women already equal really?” She spent the rest of the plane ride writing a poem for him, which she performed last Friday night at Word X Word. It was amazing. It offered a litany of examples of the ways that women are oppressed and treated unequally in our culture, ending with the words: “and that is why I am a radical feminist.”

Alix Olson is profound and hilarious, full of fire and strength. Totally right on. Her performance left me excited and fired up and ready to ask questions and challenge the status quo. She also performed “Womyn Before”:

On Friday, towards the end of that piece, she elicited names from the audience as she quietly chanted “womyn before me.” Urging us to break through the initial silence, she motioned with her hands for us to shout out names, saying, “I believe shyness is a tool of patriarchy.” I made the first contributions that popped into my head: Ani DiFranco, Frances Perkins, Eleanor Roosevelt (I feel a future post coming with a more extensive list!).

I’m new to Alix’s work, but I just ordered a few CDs, and I am totally excited to dig into her stuff. Some initial pieces to check out (lots of YouTube out there): America’s On Sale!, Picnic Table, Cute for a Girl, Subtle Sister, and Armpit Hair. Any recommendations?

To round out this post, here she shares a few words on feminism: