To clarify, the above is a book title, not an imperative statement directed at you. After all, YOU wouldn’t go poking around in my ladyparts uninvited, would you? No, you would not. Which means you have much better manners than, say, the hundreds of politicians at the federal and state levels who have lately been making it their business to regulate what goes on in America’s Panties. 2012 was truly a banner year for regressive, anti-choice, and just plain old anti-female legislation, so much so that Kim Wyatt, owner of independent publisher Bona Fide Books, got totally fed up and decided she had to do something. Since she’s a publisher, that something turned out to be “make a book about it.”
The resulting anthology—due out in January to coincide with Roe v. Wade’s 40th anniversary—features 21 feminist writers covering topics ranging from reproductive rights to gender identity to violence against women, and boasts contributors from some pretty high-falutin’ outlets: The Nation, Mother Jones, the New York Times. One of my essays is also included (thanks, Kim!) and since signing on to the project I’ve been hoping Kim, or someone, would tell the backstory of how the book came to be. Then I figured, eh, what the hell, I used to be a features reporter, I’ll just interview her myself. So read my interview, then order the book. It’s going to be awesome.
(Edited for space and to make me sound more articulate than I am.)
Lady Troubles: What first gave you the idea for the book?
Kim Wyatt: It was the whole political conversation this year. I kept reading about this crazy legislation having to do with birth control and women’s menstrual cycles, and one day, I just had had enough. I was sitting in my office reading and I suddenly shouted, “Get out of my crotch!” One of the subcontractors working with me said “You know, that would be a great book title.” That subcontractor is in her early twenties, and so are a lot of the women I work with. I get the sense that they feel like voting doesn’t matter, that both parties are totally corrupt and it doesn’t matter who you choose. I feel like I spend a lot of time lecturing them that it does matter. This book is for them. It was my opportunity to educate younger women.
LT: Your company, Bona Fide Books, is pretty new, but it it seems like so far you’ve mostly published nature titles.Why did you make the shift to a political book?
KW: I’d worked in publishing since the ‘90s as a freelance editor, then in 2009 I started Bona Fide. I started the company because I made a pinky-promise with a friend of mine that we were going to do the work that was our mission. I didn’t set out for it to be nature books, but I guess that’s what I’m interested in. But I’m also a feminist. When I got the idea for “Get Out of My Crotch!” I thought that it wasn’t a good fit for Bona Fide, but I also thought it was too important not to do it. So I created a new imprint [Cherry Bomb Books] to publish it.
LT: When reviewing the essays as a group, was there anything that surprised you, or any themes that emerged?
KW: What surprised me as I was reading it was just how much [material] the Republicans were giving us. They just kept saying these stupid things every day, they wouldn’t stop talking about women.
LT: They knew they were in a hole and they kept digging, it was like they couldn’t help themselves. The things they brought into the discussion were just amazing. We’re talking about birth control, really? I grew up in the ‘80s, which was a hideous time in many ways, but something as basic as birth control was not on the table.
KW: And the rise of the rape apologists. That really surprised me.
LT: Anything else you’d like to say about the book that we haven’t covered?
KW: I knew I would get a lot of essays about the reproductive choice issue, but I didn’t want it to only be about that. The thing that ties all the essays together is legislation; this is really a book about laws. When you look at it that way, the most shocking thing of all is the systemic erosion of women’s rights.
“Get Out of My Crotch! Twenty-One Writers Respond to America’s War on Women’s Rights and Reproductive Health” is due out January 22, 2013, and is now available for PRE-ORDER! You should totally buy it.