Lez Liberty Lit #15: A Blind Date With Literary Knickers

Welcome to Underwear Week, a whole week dedicated to your favorite bum-hugging clothesthings. As we said many moons ago, we feel a lady is at her best when she’s not wearing pants. And while our last adventure around this neck of the woods took us only as far as boyshorts, this time around we’re exploring the vast and many-flavored land of underwear. From edible panties to hoopskirts and history, we’ve got you covered. Just like your underwear.

underwear banner

by carolyn & riese

Books! They are really great. You just won’t believe how great they are. You may think that the Internet’s great, but that’s just peanuts compared to books. Welcome to Lez Liberty Lit, our column about literary shit that’s happening that you should probably care about. We’re aiming to put one of these together twice a month.

The name “Liberty Lit” was inspired by the short-lived literary journal produced by Angela Chase at Liberty High School in 1994.

Underwear Week

In celebration of Underwear Week, here are some types of underwear inspired by lesbian fiction:

In Strange Women by Miriam Gardner, bloomers and black lace panties are the subject of scandal (it was the 1950s).

Sarah Waters writes about corsets and wearing only stockings in Fingersmith.

In Ash by Malinda Lo, Ash strips to a camisole before dressing up as a boy.

Michelle Tea mentions wearing baby-doll underwear and no underwear in The Chelsea Whistle.

Nicole Griffith mentions going commando in Stay.

Radclyffe talks about wearing a robe with nothing underneath in Above All, Honor.

Robyn Lawley via robyn lawley eats

Robyn Lawley reading in her underpants via robyn lawley eats

Lit Links

S. Bear Bergman writes a defence of reading.

Malinda Lo is relaunching Diversity in YA, her project with Cindy Pon celebrating diversity of all kinds in young adult fiction.

Jamaica Kincaid discussed her new novel, See Now Then, with NPR.

If you haven’t checked out “The Banal and the Profane,” Lambda’s series chronicling a week in the life of a queer writer, do so now.

Elizabeth Taylor reading in her underpants via Literary Hoarders: People Reading

Elizabeth Taylor reading in her underpants via Literary Hoarders: People Reading

Writer Edna St. Vincent Millay’s love letters to silent film actress Edith Wynn Matthison are totally adorable.

Zadie Smith, W.H. Auden, David Foster Wallace and other famous authors had killer course syllabi.

Queer Books Please wrote about the problem of categorizing books across intended audience, genre and amount of queer content:

“What is required to label a book as lesbian fiction–besides, of course, explicit labeling by the publisher or author? Does someone need to identify as a lesbian? Does that need to be romance–or at least, sexual attraction? Personally I don’t need sex and I don’t need explicit identification or labeling in the text to be interested in a book as a piece of queer fiction. (I hope people don’t mind the use of the word queer. A part of me worries that the word has sort of radical implications. And I know my mother still can’t say the word queer because it feels rude and shocking to her. But for me it isn’t meant to be politically aggressive, but rather a better way to be inclusive when describing my tastes.) I’d say any book that allow for the possibility of queer genders and sexualities is at least queer enough that I’ll consider talking about it here on the blog. That’s a pretty big net to cast.”

reading in superman underpants

reading in superman underpants

The current short story boom does not really exist, argues Laura Miller.

Here is how to buy your way on to the New York Times bestseller list, if you are so inclined. (Also: ick.)

Everyone keeps writing likeeeeee thisssssss.

Make your own classic sci-fi pulp fiction covers with the PULP-O-MIZER.

killer lesbian robots

The bracket for this years’ Tournament of Books has been released. Contenders include Gone Girl, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Building Stories and Bring up the Bodies.

Elizabeth Hand wrote about fictional women who fight against the patriarchy.

Brooklyn Based has three reading lists for people who still love books.

Female reviews are still outnumbered by male reviewers at major literary journals.

This interview with Toni Morrison in the Paris Review from 1993 reads like it was conducted yesterday. Morrison discusses her writing habits, editors, gender, race, language and the chaos of the world:

“It is not possible for me to be unaware of the incredible violence, the willful ignorance, the hunger for other people’s pain. I’m always conscious of that though I am less aware of it under certain circumstances—good friends at dinner, other books. Teaching makes a big difference, but that is not enough. Teaching could make me into someone who is complacent, unaware, rather than part of the solution. So what makes me feel as though I belong here out in this world is not the teacher, not the mother, not the lover, but what goes on in my mind when I am writing. Then I belong here and then all of the things that are disparate and irreconcilable can be useful. I can do the traditional things that writers always say they do, which is to make order out of chaos.”

librarian in underpants

librarian in underpants

Famous novels renamed, Strunk-and-White style.

The best blind dates are with free ebooks.

At the Lesbrary, Laura reviewed Sister Spit, an anthology edited by Michelle Tea. Danika reviewed The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard, edited by Tom Leger and Riley Macleod. Casey reviewed Among Other Things, I’ve Taken Up Smoking, by Aoibheann Sweeney.

At Lambda Literary, Courtney Gillette reviewed L is for Lion, a memoir by Annie Rachele Lanzilloto. David Blaustein reviewed Writing with Scissors: American Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance, by Ellen Gruber Garvey. There are also lots of upcoming books to look forward to this month, by authors including Jean Borich, Lillian Faderman, Kate Bornstein, Katherine Forrest, Matilda Bernstein Sycamore and more.

Don’t forget to check out all the awesome book-related things we published recently: Malaika reviewed Barbara Sjoholm’s Incognito Street. Vanessa wrote about the first LGBT-inclusive Jewish children’s book.

via pinterest

Bettie Page reading in her underpants via pinterest

Events To Watch Out For:

March 7, Los Angeles: Malinda Lo will be speaking and signing books alongside host Cecil Castelluci. Mysterious Galaxy (2810 Artesia Blvd.), 7:30 p.m.

March 8–9, Chicago: Chicago Zine Fest is on this weekend. Events will be held at Columbia College and Quimby’s Bookstore – visit the schedule to see where to go when.

March 11, New York: Jeanette Winterson and A.M. Holmes are having a conversation and you’re invited. Purchase tickets online. Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space (2537 Broadway), 7:30 p.m.

March 16, Long Beach: Literary Women of Long Beach to celebrate female-identified authors will be held at the Long Beach Convention Center (110 Pine Ave.), 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

March 20–24, New Orleans: The five-day 2013 Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival will honour Tennessee Williams and feature queer authors Ayana Mathis and Michael Cunningham and a ton of other awesome people.

March 23, Boston: Queer poet Andrea Gibson will appear with musician Shira E at the David Friend Recital Hall at 8 p.m. See the Facebook event for details.

March 24: If you submit a request by March 24, you can get a free copy of the April 2013 issue of POETRY magazine.

March 31, San Francisco: Sister Spit, starring Michelle Tea, Ali Liebegott, TextaQueen, Tamara Llosa-Sandor, Daniel LéVesque and DavEnd, is touring! Catch them at the San Francisco Public Library (Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St.), 2 p.m.

Know of a queer event with literary merit? Send it to us!

What We’ve Been Reading:

Riese: I finished Without a Net: The Female Experience of Growing Up Working Class and it was great. Michelle Tea edited the anthology and at least half of the writers are queer and all the stories are pretty short if you have attention span problems. There’s stories from Dorothy Allison, Eileen Myles and diane diprima, but also a lot of writers I’d never heard of before. I would absolutely recommend it.

Carolyn: I read Pierre Bayard’s How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read, which I am basically in love with. Bayard advocates for an extreme historical materialist approach to literature in which, because no one can (or probably wants to) read every single book in everyone else’s canon, the context of a text has priority over its actual content. Since I worry constantly about not being to read everything I want to, this book basically handed me a cup of tea and reminded me that books are supposed to be fun and it is OK to not care about Proust.


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Ryan Yates

Ryan Yates was the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com, with bylines in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, The Daily Beast, Jezebel, and elsewhere. They live in Los Angeles and also on twitter and instagram.

Ryan has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. I read the entire article very confused as it didn’t describe what a “Liberty Clit” was whatsoever.

    Then I realized the clit was all in my head.

    I guess Lit makes more sense…

  2. I usually read right through these but I just can’t get past that picture of Liz Taylor.
    Underwear week makes me feel like I’m off the meds that help me focus but in the best way possible.

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