FEMINIST HULK is a 28-Year Old Queer Vegan Ph.D Student in Iowa

JESSICA LAWSON, VIA MS MAGAZINE

Feminist Hulk, the enthusiastic Twitter Monster who SMASHES PATRIARCHY for 45,000 followers, has revealed his identity to Ms. Magazine. Obviously.

FEMINIST HULK actually did his first Ms. Magazine interview in June along with his “literary life partner,” but no hints were made at that time as to the HULK’s true identity. From that interview:

Ms.: Is Feminist Hulk genderqueer?

feministhulk: HULK HAVE PENIS, IDENTIFY AS MALE, SO HULK COULD BE CONSIDERED CISGENDER. HOWEVER, HULK DELIBERATE IN CHOICES, RESIST PRESSURE TO NATURALIZE OR PRESCRIBE GENDER SCRIPT. SO, HULK COULD BE GENDERQUEER. DEFINITELY HAVE GENDERQUEER POLITICS.

J: While I won’t reveal my gender identity here (I think the followers have more fun trying to guess), writing Hulk feels like a genderqueer practice. Slipping between my voice and his highlights to me the performativity of genderplay. My literary life-partnership with Hulk, while nonsexual, is thoroughly queer.

But this new interview isn’t with Feminist Hulk — it’s with Jessica Lawson, a 28-year old Smith alum who described herself to Ms. as a “white, vegan, queer, woman-identified female.” Lawson is currently an English Lit PhD candidate at the University of Iowa and she just had a baby and right now the baby is wearing “a Batman onesie and a hot pink cloth diaper.” Surprise!

Obviously one of the most delightful elements of FEMINIST HULK was that, just like my head and this website, everything was straight out of the queer feminist handbook. But Feminist Hulk spoke these messages in an aggressive, masculine monster voice that was somehow subversive, funny and effective:

Early write-ups from Salon and Feministing made FEMINIST HULK famous real fast. The Ms. interview discusses the genesis of Feminist Hulk as well as the genesis of Jessica Lawson and her baby who just got born.

How did the idea of Feminist Hulk first come to you?

I used to slip into The Incredible Hulk voice when having online chat conversations. One day, I was talking with my buddy Libby Bulloff about someone’s inconsiderate, entitlement-driven behavior. I suggested that sexism was a contributing factor, and then wrote, “HULK SAYS FUCK PATRIARCHY. HULK SMASH GENDER BINARY. ALSO, HULK THINK JUDITH BUTLER IS THE SHIT.” Libby and I are mutual friends with the writer of @xdressinghulk, and she suggested that I create a Feminist Hulk Twitter page. I had posted to Twitter maybe five times in my life, but for some reason I said, “Give me ten minutes.” I opened the account, made the icon of Hulk holding a copy of Gender Trouble, and here we are!

She went to Smith and just had a home birth — read the full interview at Ms.Magazine.

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Riese is the 39-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

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17 Comments

    • She is. I knew her in college, in that vague way where she was friends with friends of mine and she was awesome and I kinda wished I could get around to actually being friends with her. Like that.

  1. Now that I composed my thoughts/feminist rage feelings:

    My lesbian feminist rage makes me turn into she-hulk where I smash assholes with verbal lashings and ever so gently smash (sexing) like-minded women.

    Feminist Hulk and I can be lesbros yah!

  2. I find the assertion that gender is purely a social construct to be highly offensive and disrespectful of male- or female-identified transsexuals like myself.

    Yes, much of what we define as “man” or “woman” is a social contruct, but not all of it. My transgender identity is not simply the result of my shortsighted inability to see gender is some sort of illusion.

    Acceptance of gender is solely a social construct is wholly incompatible with the idea of innate gender identity. This, in turn, lends credence to the idea that early reparative therapy can “fix” transgender children or that other types of experience could “turn them into trannies.”

    Gender is different from biological sex. It is complex and multi-faceted, and some parts of what we see as gender are indeed social/cultural constructs. To say gender as a whole is socially constructed is ignorant, naive, and a very hypocritical oversimplification coming from a “queer feminist.”

    • I appreciate this perspective a lot, because it’s an important distinction to consider. Much of the theory I read in college/conversations I’ve had with like-minded friends and also closed-minded people made me strongly believe that it was correct to think gender is a social construct. It was actually an article on AS (duh, right?) that made me reconsider that and take into account how dangerous it is to view gender as ONLY a social construct/how unfair it is to our trans and genderqueer community. Innate gender identity is absolutely a thing, and it’s imperative to consider that nuance when learning & teaching about gender.

      To go along with Dina’s point, though, if you read the full interview Jessica comments that she views her Hulk persona as a place to begin the conversation, not as a Voice of Truth or any of that nonsense. Here’s the direct quote, because she’s way more eloquent than I am:

      “Just a few weeks ago, I made a comment about the difference between biological sex and socially constructed gender, and I was kicking myself for not having enough room to fully elaborate the point. A half-dozen readers commented, rightly, that Judith Butler argues that biological categories are themselves socially constructed. That totally made my day. So, I think of Hulk less as a translator for theory (which puts all the power in Hulk’s hands, and I don’t dig that) and more as a place people can go to test out their own ideas, regardless of how much or how little theory they may have been exposed to before. If that just makes Hulk the green doorman for an internet speakeasy of feminist brain-nuzzling, so be it!”

      I totally understand being unhappy about her oversimplification, especially because it directly attacks your own gender identity which I can’t purport to understand, but I guess my point is just that she’s aware of Hulk’s limitations and also an “internet speakeasy of feminist brain-nuzzling” sounds fucking fantastic and also quite similar to the AS comment threads which I adore, so I am down with that.

      • ***In my last paragraph when I say “directly attacks your own gender identity which I can’t purport to understand” I feel like I left out a comma or something, because I meant I can’t possibly understand what it’s like to have one’s gender identity attacked because I am a feminine cis-female and am read as such 100% of the time. Hopefully that’s how the comment reads, but I’m worried it sounds as though I’m saying I can’t purport to understand YOUR gender identity, which is not what I meant. Your gender identity is yours and I will affirm it because that’s how the world should work when it comes to gender and actually all identities, and that’s really all there is to it, IMO; I just wanted to make sure that was clear.

  3. As a gay male, I understand the “culture,” but it’s people like this who make a negative impact on everyone.

    Like Rush Limbaugh and Shawn Hannity, Feminist Hulk is preaching to the choir. She’s not changing anyone’s mind. She’s not making people think. She’s spewing the same old ultra-liberal, tree-hugging rhetoric but giving it a different packaging. Again though, her fan base (which can clearly be seen by the comments here) is a bunch of like-minded people.

    So, why did I say Feminist Hulk has a negative impact on everyone? Well, plain and simple, she’s riling up the like-minded thinkers. She’s not helping to enlighten anyone outside of that circle. And finally, she’s laying it on so thick that she’s alienating people outside of the like-minded circle and pushing them away in a manner that only makes them think we’re all nut jobs!

    I’m gay and I agree with a lot of what she says, but I really just don’t appreciate the way in which it is said. I personally think it just makes us look bad.

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