The year 2017 may be remembered best as a year of reckoning. Women (and men) rallied behind a battle cry fashioned as a hashtag, #metoo, calling out men in power — from Weinstein to Besh — urging that no longer will we put up with “boys being boys.” The infallible became fallible, and the silenced voices found their tenor.
But we’ve still got a long way to go. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report, gender parity is “over 200 years away.” Closer to home, CP recently reported that every single Republican running for S.C. governor supports complete state abortion ban. From the workplace to the female reproductive system, women are still fighting for equality, day in and day out.
In honor of that fight, today, more than 100 years after the first national Woman’s Day was observed in the U.S., we look back at 10 stories from this year that featured women dominating in the fields of cuisine, arts, criminal investigation, music, and more.
When she’s not slinging “untraditional Japanese” fare with husband Shuai for Short Grain (a cult favorite food truck and semi-finalist for a James Beard Award) Corrie Wang is writing — everything from futuristic shorts in our Lit issue, to full length, critically acclaimed YA novels.
Wang’s The Takedown, which was named by Seventeen magazine as one of the 20 best YA Novels of 2017, is set in no particular time period, with Wang specifying that it’s sometime in the “near future.” And technology isn’t just omnipresent— it’s everything.
In our April 5 cover story, Wang said that she was tired of seeing female characters who were bumbling and clumsy. “They were always the underdog, and that’s great, and I know people like that, too. But I think the opposite of that was villainizing girls who kind of had their shit together,” said Wang. “The more we keep doing that the more we run across, later in life, these walls because it’s not acceptable when we’re younger to be a girl doing our own thing.”
The Justice Seeker
Local professional animal cruelty investigator and Valiant Animal Rescue executive director Michelle Reid works tirelessly to save abused and neglected animals from large scale commercial breeders and irresponsible, often dangerous citizens. Just last year, thanks to the forensic work completed by Reid and her team, close to 50 people were put in jail.
In our Feb. 28, 2018 news feature, Reid said that, “When I process animal crime scenes I collect that for prosecution to present in court. We have an animal crime lab in the Lowcountry, the only one well within the tri-state area. Everything is under lock and key 24/7. We can maintain chain of custody, and the lab where we process evidence has a large freezer and dry storage…We’re really big on people being held accountable.”
To learn more about Valiant’s work, visit valiantanimalrescue.org; you can make donations directly via paypal.me/valiantrescue.
Vanity Deterville graced our cover this past October for a story about homeless and hungry students at America’s most beautiful college. A trans woman of color who struggled with homelessness after being turned out by her family, the young poet was also featured a week before for her progressive MoJa premiere, Sugar in the Grits.
The play, which Deterville described as a “snapshot of my life,” follows Vanity, born into a West Caribbean Christian Southern family, navigating life and evolving from “bisexual to effeminate gay male, to makeup artist, and now, I’m an openly trans woman, which I wished [I would’ve become] many years ago.”
“For people who feel like they can’t tell this story … I want to turn struggle into art,” Deterville continued. “We all have hurt and pain … I want to tell the many stories that have always been in Charleston for trans women of color.”
The Music Makers
In November, we featured five of the Holy City’s most talented disc jockeys. There was Samira Miche, aka Sista Misses, who specializes in hip-hop, funk, and soul; Kristin Halvorson aka DJ Tuff Girl, who you can find at Tin Roof spinning dance, breakbeat, and punk; Duolan Li, aka Aunti Ayi, co-owner of Tu and XBB, who specializes in dance and house music; Pam Huseby of the Soul Preservation Society, who you can listen to every Sunday morning on OHM Radio starting at 11 a.m.; and Loni Lewis, aka DJ Lanatron, a librarian who moonlights as a DJ.
Listen to beats from Auntie Ayi at an Ecstatic Dance event this Fri. March 9 at the St. Julian Devine Community Center.
The Silence Breakers
In our Dec. 6 cover story “You Too?” writer Enid Spitz looked at Charleston’s restaurant industry in the wake of nationwide sexual misconduct allegations. Spitz spoke with Butcher & Bee pastry chef Cynthia Wong, who recounted a day when a vendor visited the restaurant and planted an unsolicited kiss on the chef; F&B careerist Lindsay Collins of Effin B Radio, said that “it’s kind of like the wild west of industries…being a physical, close-quarters job, it [sexual harassment] gets overlooked and kind of built into the culture. Now it’s to the point where you really step back and realize how bad it was.”
“This feels different,” said Collins, somewhat reluctantly, “if for no other reason that people are scared. People don’t want to be the next John Besh.” And, maybe things are different — just before the 13th annual Charleston Wine + Food Festival, W+F board member, Greater Charleston Restaurant Association president, James Beard Foundation’s National Advisory Board member, and Patrick Properties CEO Randall Goldman was ousted from W+F and resigned from Patrick Properties as a result of misconduct allegations. The James Beard Foundation also asked Goldman to resign.
“No restaurant can say without a doubt that nothing like that has ever happened in their restaurant,” said Collins in Dec. “It’s already gone too far, across the board. In every city.”
The Empowering Baker
Charleston Wine + Food cover woman Danetra Richardson makes some delectable treats as a pastry chef and business owner of Swank Desserts.
She’s also the master of athletic feats that would make your head spin, I mean, just look at that cover. When she’s not making macaroons or wedding cakes or the best brownie you’ve ever tasted Richardson is defying gravity at Amorous Dance Pole and Fitness Classes. “When I’m there I feel like I can block out everything else that’s going on in my life,” said Richardson. “You feel better about yourself, it’s awesome. It’s sexy and intense and it can be frustrating but empowering all at the same time.”
The New Narrative
In her Spoleto Festival USA 2017 production of Yo, Carmen world-famous flamenco dancer and choreographer Maria Pages tells the story of Carmen, the Sevillan seductress immortalized in “Habanera” and red dancing women emojis. Except Pages’ narrative diverges from the classic tale.
Pagés’ Yo, Carmen is a project that had been percolating in the dancer’s soul since she was “a little girl.” Pagés, who grew up in Seville — the sultry and exotic backdrop of Carmen, — said that as a Sevillan, “Carmen is a story everybody knows, it’s very popular. It’s something I’ve grown up with all my life. This story is close to me.” And at age 54, Pagés said the timing of the telling is right. “I decided to do Yo, Carmen when I was ready to talk about the real woman. If I were younger I couldn’t say what I can say now. I need to be mature like a woman to say what I say. To try to arrive to the essence of the woman.”
In Pages’ version of the story, Carmen gains control. “In the opera, it’s not Carmen who says what is her life. It’s only the men who say who is this woman. Yo, Carmen says when we are more fragile, more strong. It is about the real woman.”
The Painter, and Survivor
Carrie Beth Waghorn creates beautiful ink paintings of the female form, driven both by a desire, simply, to create, but also to confront her past: at age 14, Waghorn was raped. Suppressing that pain was part of her life until one really bad year when she suffered a bad breakup and the death of her mother. “I still feel like I’m processing it on a daily basis,” Waghorn told CP last September. “Experiencing that loss has generated a lot of space, and it’s ‘How do I fill this space?'”
Check out Waghorn’s work online at carriebethwaghorn.com.
The Absolutely Fabulous
FAB, an all-female F&B business conference created by F&B vet Randi Weinstein, kicked off this past summer, featuring two days of workshops for women in hospitality. Last year a panel discussed challenges that women in F&B deal with everyday, everything from learning how to stop apologizing (it’s hard, right?) to responding to sexism from both customers and coworkers to standing up for yourself. At the panel, extracrispy.com editor Kat Kinsman said, “Asking someone to do their job is not being a bitch.” Damn straight. And that was just one of the 15 FAB sessions held at the inaugural conference. The next FAB conference is scheduled for June 10-12, 2018. Learn more at thisisfab.com.
The Vice appearance
Just last month, Vice News Tonight visited Charleston to talk to F&B workers including April Robinson, Isabella Cain, Cynthia Wong, and Megan Deschaine about the #MeToo movement. Butcher & Bee pastry chef Cynthia Wong told Vice, “I was always just surprised that there weren’t more men accused in the industry. There’s a certain kind of ass slapping kind of attitude that goes on.” Isabella Cain, a trans woman who transitioned while working in F&B, also spoke in the episode, talking about the harassment she saw, not necessarily directed at her, but at under age girls who worked in the front of the house. Said Cain, “For me it was really shocking after I transitioned and I tried to open up to some of the other girls in the restaurant, and they’d just go, ‘Well, that’s just part of what we deal with, welcome to being a woman.”
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