Collaborative event seeks to addess ‘war on women’


Joan Lipkin has had it.

The artistic director of That Uppity Theatre Company says she is completely disgusted by the use of misogynous language and the flood of anti-female rhetoric on the part of the broadcast media on every channel and elected officials on both sides of the aisle. 

In response, Lipkin has established Sticks and Stones, a collective of women and men who will respond to “the escalating war on women” at “Sluts Talk Back,” set for 7 p.m. on May 14 at Left Bank Books Downtown, 321 N. 10 Street. A reception will precede the event at 6:30 p.m.

In addition to Lipkin, speakers at “Sluts Talk Back” will include Dail Chambers, Kathleen Finneran, Pamela Garvey, Allison Hile, Kris Kleindienst, Maria Guadalupe Massey, Rep. Stacey Newman, Summer Osborne, Scott Sheperd, Jarek Steele, Joan Suarez and Elizabeth Tucker. Other events, featuring other members of the collective, are planned for fall.

Lipkin took time recently to answer five questions about the inaugural event. 


Did Rush Limbaugh’s recent outburst about Sandra Fluke prompt this creative response?

We expect this behavior from Limbaugh, but we do not expect the anti-woman rhetoric used by other members of the media, including Bill Maher, Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann and Ed Schultz. If we are going to hold Limbaugh accountable for his disgusting and inflammatory treatment of women, what about the others? I believe in equal opportunity accountability. 


Are there other concerns that triggered the formation of the collective? 

I am a longtime advocate for reproductive choice—I’ve made several performance  pieces on that subject since 1990—and I have tracked with growing concern the mountain of anti-choice legislation introduced since 2010. There are more than a thousand bills designed to limit a woman’s right to privacy in health care.


So these will be the topics at “Sluts Talk Back?”

Yes—pejorative language, reproductive rights, domestic violence and economic parity. I want to make it clear this will not be a rant fest. We are a group of elected officials, performers, writers, musicians, activists and social service administrators, and we will use language in ways that are appealing to talk about what’s going on.


Why do you think language is an effective weapon? 

Language constructs reality on some level, and language also sets the tone for discourse. Right now we have a culture of contempt. We may say that sticks and stones can’t hurt us—but they can. Language is not irrelevant. 


What do you hope to accomplish with this event?

I want to re-energize the people toiling in these trenches for a long time, educate young people and awaken the sleeping giant that we are. No women and men of good conscience should tolerate the second-class status of women in this country. This is not okay.