Tree hugger, tour guide, top writer, feminist, newly-baptized Bay swimmer


An Incomplete Guide to Where Women Rule Online

Ali Wong kills it in Baby Cobra on Netflix

There came a point in my fairly long life when I was full to the brim of stories about male heroes. As a young girl, I could identify with the male leads of movies and books, but once I became a wife and a mother and a sexual being — and a target for misogyny — I wanted stories that reflected my complicated experience. For many years, I read only books written by women and found little of interest in movie theaters or on TV. …


Why ‘We Are Lady Parts’ is my new favorite show

Momtaz (the manager), Bisma, Amina, Ayesha and Saira make up the punk band Lady Parts

When geeky innocent Amina Hussein agrees to play guitar for the all-girl Muslim punk band Lady Parts, it’s only because she’s been promised a date with the drummer’s handsome brother, a man she finds attractive in part because he has “eyebrows you could hang on to.”

At 26 years old, Amina is in the marriage market, but her search for a husband is not going well. …


How about we move empathy from the heart to the brain?

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

I can’t remember where I first read the word “umwelt,” but as soon as I looked it up, it rocked my world. And by “my world,” I mean my umwelt.

Because that’s what umwelt means: the world as defined by the organism perceiving it. Every creature on the planet has a different umwelt. And while I understood that a caterpillar sees the world differently than I do before I discovered this “new” (to me) word, somehow having a word to describe that changed the way I see things.

Wikipedia gives German biologist Jakob von Uexküll (1864–1944) credit for developing the…


These teen punks give me hope for gender equality

Photo from LA Public Library/YouTube, copied from this NPR story

The teen punk band the Linda Lindas were all over the news and social media this week. I first saw them on Twitter, scream-singing the lyrics to their song “Racist, Sexist Boy” in a viral video of them performing at the Los Angeles public library. Then I saw stories about them in the Guardian, NPR, Los Angeles Times, Billboard, Buzzfeed News, etc.

I’m not a fan of punk music. Screaming annoys me. But I loved the song for probably the same reasons everybody else did — because it broke so many tired stereotypes.

  • I loved that the girls felt safe…


Prognosticators are spreading gloom, but…

Photo by Isaac Quesada on Unsplash

Stories in the New York Times and the Guardian this week warned of the world population dropping off a steep cliff and painted a gloomy picture of a planet populated mostly with old people by 2100. My reaction to that is: bring it on!

I’ve been reading for decades about the dangers of a population explosion: there isn’t enough food, enough water, enough jobs, enough housing, enough money; human beings are gobbling up all the resources and destroying the planet. …


Is it possible we aren’t ever going back?

I found this representation of Hercules killing a Hydra on French Wikipedia.

Almost everyone I know is vaccinated, the family cafe is still up and running, and the president has said we can go outside without masks. So…are we there yet? Are we back to “normal?” It sure doesn’t feel like it. And now I have to wonder, are we ever going back? Maybe not. And maybe that’s a good thing. Because “normal” was dysfunctional in so many ugly ways.

Normal was denying the climate emergency facing the planet.
Normal was ignoring the racial discrimination rampant in policing. …


Martha Gellhorn’s universal struggle to define her own life

I wasn’t going to watch the new Ken Burns documentary on Hemingway on PBS. I’d written off the famous writer as a macho poser. But then a friend recommended it, so I took a look. And, yeah. Besides having tremendous talent, he was a difficult blowhard. But Hemingway’s fragile ego wasn’t what interested me most. The most fascinating part in the three-episode, six-hour series was the part was about his third wife, Martha Gellhorn. How is it possible that I’d never heard of this woman before?

Gellhorn is considered by some to be the best war correspondent of all time…


Thirsty Work — Chapter 24: by which he meant unholy hell

Detail of the Rape of Proserpina as sculpted by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. That’s Hades, taking her to the Underworld. Photo found here.

Two young women from California travel to New Orleans in search of redemption after the death of their mother. Carolee thinks she will show her little sister the world, but what they find in the barrooms of the French Quarter at Mardi Gras is more than she knows how to handle, or could have imagined back home. This is the twenty-fourth and final chapter of the novel Thirsty Work.

Trigger warning: rape and violence.

Terry had an ego the size of his cock, dangling down dangerously between his legs. He walked with a swagger. Wore a jaunty white cap. Didn’t…


Thirsty Work — Chapter 23: self-harm by promiscuity

Photo by Umut YILMAN on Unsplash

Two young women from California travel to New Orleans in search of redemption after the death of their mother. Carolee thinks she will show her little sister the world, but what they find in the barrooms of the French Quarter at Mardi Gras is more than she knows how to handle, or could have imagined back home. This is the twenty-third chapter of the novel Thirsty Work.

It took me years of therapy to work out what happened next. I was guilty. I was frightened. I had failed in my mission. And the world I’d believed in was a lie…

Patsy Fergusson

Tree hugger. Tour guide. Top Writer. Feminist. Newly-baptized Bay swimmer. Editor of Fourth Wave. https://medium.com/fourth-wave

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