“Punk, power, Brexit, role models, sexual assault, immigration, pregnancy, Trump’s America, contraception, fetishisation”— these are just a few themes covered by Scottish publisher 404 Ink’s upcoming non-fiction book, Nasty Women.
The essay collection, which aims to tell the real stories of 21st century women, was first inspired by the election of Donald J. Trump as president.
“His abhorrent comments against genders, races, disabilities, sexualities, cultures and so much more made his acceptance into office unbelievable to us. Fearing more years of his horrendous commentary we wondered what we could do to fight his rhetoric, no matter how small,” said 404 Ink co-founder Laura Jones.
With the spark alight, Jones and partner Heather McDaid commissioned writers to join their cause, but didn’t stop there. They also opened Nasty Women for submissions so they could find a wide range of women willing to tell their stories.
As their inbox overflowed with interest, there was one similarity that stood out—oppression. Even with this similarity, there was still an unexpected element.
“What was surprising was the sheer number of ways that women felt oppressed in the 21st century. From judgement as a trans woman, oppression in people being unable to pronounce a name, from family history to reproduction – a number of pieces were pitched on these subjects,” Jones said.
Public interest in the project also took Jones and McDaid by surprise. The two set up a Kickstarter goal of £6,000 ($7508) to fund Nasty Women and reached that goal in just three days. The support has continued to grow from there with the project amassing a total of £22,156 ($27,873.13) in 30 days — an accomplishment that continues to exceed the pair’s expectations.
“We have no idea where it’ll stop and our expectations are constantly surpassed,” Jones said. “We knew that the book would resonate with a small pool of readers but we didn’t anticipate the outpouring of support from authors we admire across the globe (such as Margaret Atwood, Samantha Shannon and Louise O’Neill) as well as press taking an interest in the project. It’s been humbling and very exciting. We may have shed a tear or two.”
Nasty Women will feature 20 contributors, including established names such as lead singer of Against Me! Laura Jane Grace and journalist Chitra Ramaswamy, and is set to be published on International Women’s Day (March 8).
Jones said she hopes Nasty Women is just the first of many art projects that gives minorities a platform to oppose “oppression from Trump’s administration and intolerance in a post-Brexit Britain.”
“We’re mostly thrilled that the women who have written so eloquently and passionately for the book will have their voices and stories heard around the world,” she said. “Nasty Women doesn’t stop at publication. We’ll be holding events across numerous festivals in the UK throughout the year showcasing the important stories.”