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Lacy Johnson discusses activism, womanhood at book reading

Carmen Valencia
A view of the Fred Fox School of Music on Feb. 21, 2017.

Activist and author Lacy M. Johnson read a chapter from her book, “The Reckonings,” and had a Q&A session on Tuesday evening at the Fred Fox School of Music. The event was hosted by the University of Arizona’s Consortium for Gender-Based Violence and the Department of English.

“The Reckonings” is a series of essays written from her own life as a woman and trauma survivor. Johnson spoke about the fact that she was once kidnapped and raped by someone she knew.  She said she felt compelled to understand the complexities of gender and trauma for herself and the essays in the book reflect that.

Johnson read the first chapter of the book entitled “Girlhood in a Semi-Barbarous Age,” after she explained that when she first started writing the book her daughter was 7 years old. Her daughter is now 13, and wants to be called a woman — not a girl.

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Her advice to other activists was to take a lot of breaks and go slow. “You must be present in your body and in your community to have energy to do this work,” Johnson said.

Johnson said it is important for younger women to learn to say “no” to anything that doesn’t bring them joy, and to have a set of good profane insults that they can pull out at any time. She also said that gaining physical strength for whatever ability you have is key to building confidence and making yourself feel safer.

She said she believes that finding a set of tools to see toxic patriarchy in not only other people, but also movies, etc. is a key to a person’s development. Johnson also said she believes that communities will become better when gender becomes more fluid.

She said that seeking the proof that humanity is still loving keeps her on the path of activism.  And “rage, coffee and protein bars” keep her driven.

Johnson is an assistant professor of English at Rice University, a curator and activist. “The Reckonings” was a finalist in the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2018. She is the author of two other books: “The Other Side” and “Trespasses: A Memoir.”

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