Nasty Women – the book: ‘Trump and Piers Morgan are top of the list to get a copy’


A collection of essays on womens lives published by 404Ink steals from the president for its title, and has been endorsed by Margaret Atwood

The day Trumps Muslim ban began in January, publisher Laura Jones was editing an essay by Zeba Talkhani about being a good Muslim. She reached the part where Talkhani, who lives in the UK, recounted being told by a man: When Trumps in power hes going to ban you from entering the US. I just thought: Oh my God; that happened today, Jones says. That actually happened.

You may not have heard of Talkhani, or Jen McGregor, Mel Reeve or Katie Muriel. Theyre all nasty women: some of the 20 writers making their debut in a new collection of essays looking at what it is to be a woman today. They may be young and unknown, but none of the writers hold back, tackling topics as heavy and complex as contraception, sexual assault, weight, class and race. Some are furious, like Ren Aldridges fierce deconstruction of sexism in punk (an essay called Touch me again and I will fucking kill you); others are sad, like Reeves reflections on the aftermath of rape, or McGregors essay about developing osteopenia from Depo-Provera, the contraception injection.

After Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton such a nasty woman during one of the US election debates, millions took to social media to reclaim the label as a call for defiance and female rebellion. Two people swept up in that fury were Jones, 26, and Heather McDaid, 25, just six months after establishing their indie publishing company 404 Ink late last year.

A woman protests against the Trump administration in Vermont. Photograph: Kerry Cunningham/GuardianWitness

This was the Trump provocation that shocked the pair into action. At the mere mention of the presidents name, McDaid mutters an expletive. After the election, I knew we had to do this book, she says. Hes rolling back rights for everyone except white men and businessmen.

Hes an insufferable bigot, says Jones. But its not something that we can pretend isnt there. We saw this coming.

Political foresight aside, neither of them anticipated how well received Nasty Women would be. Margaret Atwood deemed it an essential window into many of the hazard-strewn worlds younger women are living in right now and personally donated to 404 Inks Kickstarter campaign to fund the books publication. The 6,000 target was smashed in just three days (helped along with Atwoods Twitter endorsement: sounds nasty enough for Moi).

By the end of the Kickstarter in January, more than 1,300 backers had raised 22,156. We were speechless and ecstatic at 6,000, McDaid says. Anything after that just stopped registering as being real money.

The Glasgow and Edinburgh launches for the book are now sold out, with waiting lists in place for those eager to get hold of returned tickets evidence of the demand for young, defiant, female voices. No matter who reads this, there will be at least one essay that will open your eyes to something different, something that you identify with, Jones says. She even thinks the process of editing Nasty Women made her a much better intersectional feminist; acknowledging their white privilege has been a challenge for both women while working on the book. At the minute, those who shout the loudest to the most get to shape what the truth is, says McDaid. So were telling stories that are eye opening and important. Were creating a platform for voices that arent being heard.

One of those voices is Muriel. A 24-year-old criminology student living in Maine, she was approached by McDaid to write about familial divides after she had a vicious Facebook row with a Trump-supporting family member. The resulting essay, Independence Day, is astoundingly frank: Muriel, who is of Puerto Rican descent, was labelled a spic by her aunt. I cannot decide what is scarier: that Trump is president, or that people I know and love enabled him, she writes. What I have decided is that my aunt was right about one thing: I have a big damn mouth and Im going to use it.

I cant think of anything more important right now than women telling their truths, Katie says. This is the time for pushing back, for saying no.

Self-proclaimed neo-nazis and KKK supporters have tweeted McDaid and Jones with graphic images of women being sexually assaulted. I think that sums up the current state that were in, says McDaid, dryly. Publish a book about women with a very tenuous link to Trump in the title and neo-nazis will tweet at you.

People are mistaking us for a dedicated feminist publisher, which is understandable, says Jones. But we didnt set out to do that. We know in some cases were preaching to the choir, but that choir can always be a little bit more vocal and a little better educated.

Now that publication day is finally here, the full measure of Nasty Womens success is still to be seen. Trump and Piers Morgan are at the top of the list to get a copy, Jones says. Weve been trying so hard to antagonise Piers Morgan, but he hasnt bitten yet.

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