This guest contribution comes from Anne Thériault, a Toronto-based writer and cat enthusiast who blogs about feminism, mental health, and parenting. You can follow her on twitter at @anne_theriault or her blog at The Belle Jar.
Today we asked Baba Yaga—celebrated and infamous Russian witch—to share some of her wisdom and enduring tips on feminism. Here’s the advice she had for all the young, struggling feminists out there:
1. Subvert traditional gender roles by taking a common kitchen implement and using it for your nefarious feminist activities. For example, fly around in a mortar and wield the pestle as your weapon. WHO’S MAKING ARTISANAL SPICE BLENDS NOW, EH?
The answer? Not you. Because you’re too busy oppressing men to even think about setting foot in the kitchen.
2. Build a hut that stands on chicken legs. Not only will this be useful for getting you from place to place, but the legs will also be a deep metaphor for the lens through which society views women’s bodies. Is the term “chicken legs” not synonymous with scrawniness? And yet are women not encouraged to be as slender as possible? It is this type of contradiction that highlights the absurdity of the expectations placed on women.
Your Chicken Leg Hut Performance Art will explore the idea that women can never win when it comes to their appearance; in a culture of pervasive misogyny, there will always be something “wrong” with how a woman looks. It will also ask its viewers to examine their own internal biases with regards to the objectification of women. Divorced of their context, are the chicken legs simply things? Or are they body parts deserving of love and respect? Remember that there are no right answers to these questions.
Plus you will be running around like the fucking boss of the forest in your hut on legs.
3. Free women from the shackles of domesticity by abducting their children. You can then indoctrinate these children in the ways of feminism and/or use them as free labour. Or just eat them. Whatever. It’s hard to find good sources of protein deep in the Siberian forest.
4. Reject the male gaze by being an ugly old crone with long greasy hair and a hooked nose. Try dressing yourself exclusively in filthy rags, or, if those aren’t available, maybe just wrap a huge bed sheet toga-style around your body. What’s most important is that you’re comfortable and can move your arms easily to cast wicked spells. Dress for you and your needs, not for anyone else.
Get yourself a set of iron teeth because why the fuck not, those are super metal. Like, literally metal.
Remind yourself that you don’t exist to please men – you exist to be a terrifying witch who does whatever she wants.
5. Assert your independence by living deep in the woods, far away from any towns or villages. Prove that women can be self-reliant by going completely off the grid; make sure your only contact with other humans is when you want to fuck shit up and/or function as a sort of deus-ex-machina to help out some fairy tale hero. Use locally-sourced building materials—for example, the bones of your enemies can be constructed into a functional yet chic fence.
6. Promote healthy consent by asking visitors to your hut if they came of their own free will. (Or were sent by someone else.) It’s important for your students/admirers/victims to understand that they have bodily autonomy and don’t have to wander around the woods looking for weird witchy huts if they don’t want to. Have some diagrams and source materials ready, just in case you need to get more in-depth on the topic of enthusiastic consent.
Afterwards, you can show your visitors your cool collection of glowing-eyed skulls. After all, you don’t get many strangers coming to your hut; you may as well use their time in your hut to your fullest advantage.
7. Whenever in doubt, remember the Deer Credo: does before bros, and hags before stags.