It has been two years since the COVID-19 pandemic spread throughout the world and left no community untouched. As we are sure our readers are all aware, we are reminded each day that this pandemic lingers. Just this past month, COVID deaths in the US reached over one million and staggering rates of inflation continue to impact the world’s most vulnerable, making it even more difficult to make ends meet. More locally, as Peitho’s editors, we have seen how the pandemic has deeply affected our journal as well. It often takes a good two years to develop a cogent argument supported with research and theory, to draft, seek feedback, and rewrite and a year or more to have a manuscript reviewed and to revise. We also know that, although not all feminist scholars identify as women, that women across the globe have carried the weight and have been some of the most affected by the pandemic. Due to the timetable of scholarly publication, we’re concerned that we will continue to see the effects of the pandemic on women’s scholarship for another year or more to come. We also know that queer, non-binary, and trans scholars as well as scholars of color have had to live through the pandemic alongside continued violence against them and their communities. Likewise, as Peitho Winter 2022 author Jessica McCaughey detailed in her essay on how the pandemic impacted graduate student writing production, due to increased responsibilities at home and outside the home in the form of various sorts of care work, women have not been able to complete the amount of work that they had been able to pre-pandemic. And sadly, our journal has felt the effect of these events in the form of a low number of submissions. As a result, this issue is a bit shorter than the past issues. We have no articles to offer. However, we are proud to publish a small set of robust Recoveries and Reconsiderations and book reviews.
We want to point out that we hope that our readers are moved —and supported— to write and publish soon. There is so much for us as feminists to write for and against:
- The recently leaked Supreme Court memo that would effectively end Roe v. Wade and the right to abortion demonstrates how feminist intervention is direly needed. Access to abortion, safe birth control, and safe birthing practices and technologies are all socially and racially just practices, and striking down Roe v. Wade may compromise all these things. Communities of color have already been the most impacted by abortion restrictions.
- The nomination and confirmation of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court is a long overdue event in United States history. We chose a photograph of her for the cover of this issue to laud her as a superlatively accomplished jurist and to insist on more recognition for more Black women.
- Men with guns have committed mass shootings with horrifying frequency: 14 May 2022 – a man murdered ten people in a grocery store in Buffalo, NY. 15 May 2022 – a man murdered one and injured five others at a church in Laguna Woods, CA. 24 May 2022 – a man murdered 21 people, nineteen of them children, at an elementary school in Uvalde, TX. 1 June 2022 – a man murdered four people and then took his own life at a medical building in Tulsa, OK. Gun policy and mental health, like everything else, are feminist issues.
- In the Gulf South and east coast, hurricane season 2022 has just begun, and on the west coast, wildfire season has just begun. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka are facing deadly heat waves. Residents are simultaneously dealing with the real trauma of climate disasters from the last several years and dreading what will come next. Climate crisis is a global, feminist issue.
As scholars of rhetorics and feminisms, we may decide to do research and writing about abortion rights, Justice Jackson (and the racialized sexism she endured during her confirmation hearings), mass shootings, or climate disasters. Even if we study other topics, however, this news is still happening around us as we research and write, and that matters. It’s important to us as editors to acknowledge this. Current events are part of the material conditions of writing, as well as of teaching and learning, just as personal, health, and family situations are.
The authors who contributed to the Spring 2022 issue have worked during this turmoil, and we are proud to present their articles. “Selvedge Rhetorics and Material Memory” by Jennifer Clary-Lemon is a surprising look at how much history and narrative is embedded in the smallest objects, in this case selvedges, which are the edges of bolts of fabric, which have information about the design and the company that made the fabric. Those who have worked with wallpaper may know that selvedges appear on some wallpaper rolls as well:
Using a fabric selvedge as a point of entry and rhetorical accretion as a methodological guide, Clary-Lemon reveals a feminist historical narrative about the textile industry and its abuse of women and children. Her article helps to open a space for studying fabric archives.
Asmita Ghimire’s article “Yogmaya Neupane: The Unknown Rhetorician and the Known Rebel” shares the story of Yogmaya, a feminist activist in Nepal during the early 1900s. When women in England and the US were pushing for the right to vote, Yogmaya and her coalition, Nari Samiti, were fighting on behalf of women and girls in Nepal, to end discrimination and abuses including Sati, the immolation of widows after their husbands’ deaths. Ghimire interweaves personal narrative, research, and conversation with a senior scholar, Barbara Nimri Aziz, the primary scholarly authority on Yogmaya to reconsider Yogmaya as a rhetorician as well as a feminist activist.
Rachel Molko’s article “SCUM Manifesto as a Rhetoric of Domination” analyzes Valerie Solanas’s rhetoric as feminine rage. In 2022 (and for many years prior) we don’t take Solanas seriously as a feminist writer, but Molko reconsiders SCUM Manifesto using Ahmed’s idea of a “feminist snap” and analyzing it as an expression of rage. While it attempts to make an earnest argument about patriarchy and gender, it fails to do so and instead replicates domination, that of women over men. Molko uses her careful reading of Solanas to reflect thoughtfully about feminist accountability. She offers those familiar with SCUM Manifesto a new take on it, and others an opportunity to encounter it for the first time.
Our book reviews provide a preview of two very important books about severe traumas. The first is Erin Green and Jessica Enoch’s review of All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake by Tiya Miles, a monograph about one family heirloom that demonstrates much about history, race, research, archives, and more. Rachel Smith Olson reviews What It Feels Like: Visceral Rhetoric and the Politics of Rape by Stephanie R. Larson, an exhaustive analysis of rape culture in recent years in both public discourse and legal contexts.