Grrrl Power Liverpool presents an online archive essay series, Lonely Girl Phenomenology, as part of WOMEN & LOVE, a new literary project that seeks to investigate the sexism experienced by women and non-binary people within the realms of relationships, romance and love. Inspired by Chris Kraus, the Lonely Girl Phenomenology essay series provides a platform for women and non-binary writers to critically explore how they have experienced and consumed love; in life, in relationships, in public, in private, in media, in film, in music and in literature, in the face of misogyny.

Why Love?

WOMEN & LOVE is an exploration into the sexism and misogyny experienced by self-identified women and non-binary people in the territory of relationships, romance and love. As part of WOMEN & LOVE, the Lonely Girl Phenomenology essay series will provide a platform for writers to investigate and explore the trite misconceptions and misrepresentations of women and non-binary people. Over the next couple of months we will be publishing essays to provide a safe space for critical analysis and discussion into contemporary, intersectional feminism. 

Lonely Girl Phenomenology is a term coined by Chris Kraus in I Love Dick. Initially met with hostility, owed to the ‘provocative’ title from small-minded misogynists, the book embodies the unequal gender tropes found both in and outside of literature. This revolutionary novel, first published in 1997, depicts a new kind of philosophy that hadn’t been given a platform before – this is the female consciousness written from a female perspective. 

Kraus’ infatuation with Dick has been demonised over the years. In failing to connect with the confessional style of her writing, critics have reduced it down to just a woman obsessing over a man. This oversight reinforces the importance of the text. Kraus reclaimed the female first person which is something that had, up until that point, been compromised by and alluded to by male writers. In doing this, Kraus reclaimed space for women to write about their own personal experiences as an alternative to the once deemed ‘universal’ perspectives of men. This was a woman writing about being a woman in the most honest way possible, and this was revolutionary. With this in mind, the Lonely Girl Phenomenology essay series was created. 

Whilst Kraus’ anguish in I Love Dick is timeless, this project aims to draw on its legacy by further expanding on the idea of honest investigation into the female consciousness in 2017. We want to offer new perspectives on an age-long issue - the subjugation and degradation of women, but to do this through exploring contemporary, intersectional feminism. 

Writing this article, we are three women with vastly different life experiences, but with Grrrl Power we work on consensus, we agree on all actions before they are made. All decisions made uphold our intersectional feminist ideals that self-identified women and non-binary people deserve equal representation in the arts. 

We more often than not, despite our lives before this point, find ourselves on the same page, or at least reading in the same direction. Despite this, our ideas and understandings of love come from and go to vastly different places. Some of us are in love, out of love, in and out of love with love, in love with different genders, the same genders, multiple genders, in love alongside or separate from sex, and so on and so forth.  
What we’re saying is, we have completely different understandings of love and yet society and popular culture enforces a ‘one size fits all' idea. General narratives rarely stray outside of a heteronormative, white, able-bodied, monogamous, procreating relationship. For some people this is love and that’s okay, but what about all of us who don’t fall within this category? We want to explore self-identified women and non-binary people’s experience and consumption of love outside of conventional patriarchal narratives. This is because we’re a demographic of society who are told who to and how to love, when really, isn’t that our decision? Not just who and how, but where, when and most importantly why, and why not?

The Lonely Girl Phenomenology essay series will explore this misrepresentation and these stereotypes. Women of colour have dealt with some of the worst sexual abuse and have been deemed as hypersexual and promiscuous because of it. Queer and lesbian women have been trivialised as a male fetish, taking away from the importance and authenticity of their individual identity. Asian women are forgotten or mocked. Non-binary people are erased and ignored. Self-identified women and non-binary people are forcefully objectified by simply walking down the street. Then there's the intimacy that happens in friendship that is often dismissed as superficial. In every scenario of love and relationships, consumed and felt, these listed examples hold the burden of being the compromised. 

We’re fed up of archaic stereotypes that pitch women against one another and so here we are writing this first entry together - an ode to female friendship as our very own take on WOMEN & LOVE. The Lonely Girl Phenomenology essay series seeks to highlight that women and non-binary people exist outside of misogyny, patriarchy and society’s confines and constructs of relationships, romance and love. Fuck Valentine’s Day, this year it’s all about self-love and self-care. We exist and love for ourselves. 

Peace, Love & Grrrl Power,

Olivia Graham, Michelle Houlston & Aoife Robinson

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