With only one non-binary and two masculine-of-center members, the group of friends was decidedly femme-heavy. Nomi announced this during New Business, with Priya and lyn nodding in agreement, and Gina, Saleem, Danny, and Becca immediately grabbing slips of paper from the dissent basket. Bronwyn pursed her lips but was otherwise nonreactive. Candy, taking minutes, double-thumbed 7:30 PM <femmes into her notes app.

I’m concerned about the use of “femme” here.

I take issue with the term ‘femme-heavy.’

I wonder why we’re discussing this now, without Monique.

Gender: So. Fucking. Boring. New business? OLD BIZNESS!!!

Once Nomi read the dissents aloud to the group, she pulled out the lipgloss wand from her pocket and laminated her mouth, a ceremonial gesture before placing herself in Gina’s lap and kissing her deeply. This action prompted the others to divide into pairs and a threesome, and per the established terms of the Radical Love Response, the group made out for two minutes, until the sound of theremin wobble from Candy’s phone marked time. After they’d all separated and resettled, Gina, the dissenter-elect, took to the head of the table.

“We need to shut this down once and for all.”

“Shut what down?”

“Linguistic imperialism.”

“Way to derail the conversation, Gina,” Priya said.

“No vayas allí, hermana.”

“If you’re including me in your femme count, you should recalculate,” Bronwyn said, throwing her leg up and slamming a boot heel down on the table for emphasis. “I don’t self-identify that way. If we’re concerned about representation, we should actually be talking about race. I mean, seriously, people.”

Everyone except Gina nodded. Six finger-snapped their appreciations. Candy double-thumbed 7:41 PM Race>Gender: 8 nods, 6 snaps.

Gina, lame duck dissenter-elect, grabbed the roll of duct tape from the demonstration bucket, and with dramatic flair, tore off a section and placed it over her mouth. In solidarity, Becca did the same. With a smile, Saleem leaned over the table to stretch a hand to Bronwyn, which she took and squeezed.

“Listen,” Saleem said to the group, “I’m brown, bi, and a total fucking femme—which you should include in your count or whatever—but I can’t believe we’re not fucking talking about Islamophobia—”

“Totally,” Bronwyn broke in, “and what’s happening to immigrants in this country—the violence of deportation, yes, but what about the unaccounted for emotional labor of DREAMers?”

That time no one nodded or snapped, and all eyes were on Saleem, who had pulled his hand away and whose eyes were on Bronwyn, mouth twisted. Bronwyn blushed—she couldn’t believe she’d just been that person—and straightening her posture, tore off a piece of tape and covered her own mouth.

“Fuck off, Wyn,” Danny said. “That’s an inappropriate use of the tape. It’s a symbol of being silenced. Not about atoning for your microaggressions.”

“I like that she’s using the tool in a new way,” Priya said. “It serves a purpose, doesn’t it? We can reinterpret symbols, can’t we? Do we have to retain the same tired, neoliberal iconography of the past?” She bit down on the edge of the tape, tore off a piece with particular savagery and too placed it over her mouth.

Candy double-thumbed 7:47 PM duct tape misrepresentation? duct tape appropriation?

“Maybe we should take a vote now,” Nomi said.

“Monique isn’t here,” Danny said. “It’s not fair to make any decisions without Monique.”

Who’s Monique? lyn texted Candy.

Candy texted lyn WHO’S Monique?!?!

“Monique was asked to leave.”

“Wait, what? Disfellowshipped?”

“What are we even fucking voting on?” Saleem asked.

“The motion to gender-diversify.”

Gina exploded out of her chair, arms thrown up in exasperation, and Becca, in solidarity, shook her head from side to side with urgency. Bronwyn slammed her hands down on the table.

“Hey! I’m upset too, but violence is never an acceptable response, ladies.”

The closemouthed unit of women swiveled their heads toward Danny.

“Hold up, gurl,” Saleem said, “I might agree with the sentiment, but ‘ladies’? That was so diminishing.”

“Yeah, dude, check yourself.”

It was silent for a moment as Danny rested his head into open palms and the others looked round the room to one another, calculating. Finally, Danny grabbed for the duct tape in a way that everyone found to be passive-aggressive—their assent expressed by a metachronal wave of eye-rolling, minus lyn and Candy, who were busy double-thumbing each other.

Srsly, never met her.

Never met her? SRSLY?

Danny taped up his mouth and crossed his arms over his chest. He raised his eyebrows and shoulders as if to say Happy? and then deciding that was not enough, pulled out his phone and texted Happy? in a group text.

Candy clicked back to her notes app.

7:55 PM taped (5)> untaped (4)

lyn: wtf

“So here we are,” Nomi said, rising from the chair and resuming her place at the head of the table. “And where is that? Nowhere.”

Saleem snorted. “Hear, hear! I second that fucking emotion!”

lyn, newest among the group of friends, wanted to ask the crew about Monique, about why she’d been disfellowshipped. But they weren’t quite up to speed on the rules of engagement, and they had a bad case of eczema they were treating that would only be further enflamed by the duct tape.

“We’re almost out of time,” Candy said.

“So let’s vote. All in favor of diversifying?”

A chorus of snaps.

“All opposed?”

All the snaps.

It seemed to Candy that there was unanimous snapping for and against (she’d abstained), but Nomi seemed satisfied, if exhausted—and so did everyone else. Unsure of how to record the results, Candy checked notifications on the photo she’d uploaded to their account fifteen minutes before. It was a good share. Provocative. In the foreground, the roll of red duct tape on the table, and Gina, Becca, and Bronwyn’s taped mouths fuzzy in the background. Candy double-thumbed the final meeting minutes in her notes app. 7:59 PM Vote: ??? Duct tape pic: 48 likes : )


© Amanda Krupman
[This piece was selected by Sommer Schafer. Read Amanda’s interview]