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Curses, chants, and being ‘100 percent that bitch’

Erin Gibson gets ‘Feminasty’ at the University Book Store

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Erin Gibson, feminist podcast speaker and author, speaks to an audience at the University Book Store. Gibson spoke about politics and her new book "Feminasty" among other topics.

In the middle of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings last week, a group of Seattleites, led by author, actress, and podcast host Erin Gibson, gathered in the University Book Store to put a curse on him.

Gibson instructed the audience to focus on a piece of paper that she held in her hand, upon which she had written his full name: “Brett Michael Kavanaugh.” Then, in a camp-counselor call-and-repeat cadence, the audience repeated her chant:

“Brett Michael Kavanaugh, I thee invoke. No harm shall befall you, only great misfortune.”

Gibson pocketed the piece of paper and assured the audience that she would burn it in the street after the event, citing the fact that open flame in a bookstore was a major fire hazard.

“Seattle, you guys are the f---ing best,” Gibson said. “D.C. was like, ‘I don’t know if we should do this.’”

Gibson’s recently-published book is titled “Feminasty: The Complicated Woman’s Guide to Surviving the Patriarchy Without Drinking Herself to Death.”And if laughter is the best medicine (perhaps second only to alcohol) for feminists suffering under the weight of the patriarchy, not to mention the latest sexist Supreme Court screenings, then everyone in attendance at U Book Store on Wednesday left the event thoroughly healed.

Gibson treated the audience to excerpts of her book retold in an interactive slideshow format — a “slideshow of backstabbing bitches.”

“I talk a lot of s--- about men in this book,” Gibson said. But, “some women ... can be misogynists and get in the way of us progressing in life.”

So her slideshow featured a host of infamous women, from Phyllis Schlafly, who helped block the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1982, to Ivanka Trump, to “Your Mom’s Worst Friend Deborah.”

Strategies for dealing with these types of women came in many forms. Gibson shared her unaffectionate nicknames for Ivanka — among them “Flesh Stiletto” and “Aryan Crayola” — and offered advice about practicing self-care in the face of other women who just want to tear you down.

“They don’t understand nuance at any level,” Gibson said of the type of woman she deems “Your Mom’s Worst Friend Deborah.” “It’s not your responsibility to be the laundry basket for their misery towels and shame socks.”

Sprinkled throughout Gibson’s wisecracking metaphors were earnest bits of advice for keeping sane and (mostly) sober within the patriarchy and the Trump administration. Her loudmouthed honesty was a balm for the audience, which was visibly stressed from the first day of classes and from the pictures of Trump administration officials flashing on-screen. (When the picture of Ivanka first went up, so did a chorus of groans.)

Audience members delighted equally in Gibson’s jokes and in her wisdom. In the cozy space of the upper floor of the bookstore, there was a feeling of deep understanding and communal healing in the air — or maybe it was leftover energy from the Kavanaugh hexing.

Gibson was introduced to the audience by Alison Sheridan, the IT Supervisor for the University Book Store, who described the feeling of discovering Gibson’s podcast, “Throwing Shade,” as “coming home.”

“We are here tonight to go ham on the patriarchy with the woman who is 100 percent that bitch,” Sheridan said.

This translated to an uproarious event which, at its close, had generated an entirely re-gendered list of the U.S. government. By popular consensus, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was replaced with author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Oprah Winfrey became the vice president. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, however, stayed Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

This event was part of Gibson’s tour to promote “Feminasty,” a book she says she wrote for women like her younger self. Gibson said that she wishes she was politically engaged from a younger age (though this clearly has not impeded her life’s success).

As a younger woman, she was concerned with only two things: “Marlboro Lights and getting fingered,” Gibson said.

While Gibson’s wit was sharp and she didn’t hold back at all while grilling her least favorite politicians, the room still felt like a safe space, full of women and allies making hilarious light of the (often very heavy) things they endure. When Gibson picked up an audience member’s dog, Molly, and tucked Molly under her arm while reading from her slideshow, the entire group beamed.

The event concluded with a book signing and meet-and-greet. Gibson thanked Seattle for being, in spite of its reputation, one of the warmest, and definitely one of the “witchiest,” stops on her book tour.

Reach writer Mac Murray at Twitter: @merqto

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