If human progress ever needed anything to keep existing, that thing has always been the achievement of perfect equality between the two sexes. Denying the fact that men and women are equal is denying the right that society has to evolve and keeping things from evolving is killing time and time is the only important thing we can't afford to waste. In a world full of prejudice, women had to take position in order to be taken into consideration and their movement was given a degrading name: "emancipation of women"
From this point of view "Cutting Edges" is a hyperfiction based on a true story from "not too long ago", a story of women and the men surrounding them, a story about the beautiful feeling of love and the powerful feeling of hate.
Cutting Edges is a monthly regional magazine in Portland, Oregon with a political edge, run by Lyssa Strutter who is owner, editor and publisher at the same time. The office of Cutting Edges is located in an older brick building on the edges of downtown. The actual publishing of the magazine is done at a local press called the Wet Duck. At the office, Lyssa tries to keep things as egalitarian as possible, everybody answers the phone,everybody does his own typing. She sets the deadlines and the others respect them. She has an eighteen-year-old daughter, Hannah, named after Hannah Arendt, with whom she is "on speaking terms" but not enough to tell her that she has been raped by her boyfriend, Jesse Jameson, one night at a Halloween party;
"I must be so used to people providing all the significant events of their life story voluntarily that I don't ask anymore".
In her desire to be "the impeccable superior" no major decision is made without all the staff members present. Her main goal in life is to change the world.
The first important event is the arrival by ship to Portland of Portlandia, a statue which in some people's opinion seems to be "an enormous example of bad taste", whose figure is "utterly tasteless". The image of the dominating statue, representing an oversized woman, gives Lyssa a sense of power making her wish she had been just as open and visible.
The local people receive the statue with great enthusiasm. Once occupied her place on the pedestal, Portlandia becomes some sort of a Goddess "huge and bright and female" standing for the feminine power, inspiring to nothing else than to worship. At this point the main theme becomes "women" with all their virtues and with all their faults, with their ups-and-downs and with all the problems surrounding them.
At Cutting Edges almost all the employees are women, all of them sharing the same passion for art under its different forms:
Roxana Sower is both photographer and graphic designer; she has a daughter, Daphne, a student at the University of Washington.
Diana Archer is an assistant editor at Lyssa's magazine, her job is to keep an eye on Portland music scene; she is also the singer, the songwriter and the keybordist of her own band.
Deborah Dobell is a good friend of Lyssa; she is a successful novelist and Mercy Kennedy Flunk is an assistant professor at the university married to a vacuum cleaner repairman.
Through Hannah's story we get a glimpse of what the lack of maturity and at the same time of communication can lead to; she only knows her boyfriend for two weeks and she trusts him more than she trusts her mother and she admits that she wasn't "exactly completely innocent" when she met him. She is proud of being his "Oregon girl". Jesse has his own idea of women: if he ever marries he would like to marry a virgin and in his opinion women like to play games, that is why they can never be trusted.He also thinks that all women are the same: "you treat them well and they just fuck you over"
Racism also makes its way through Jesse's judgement; he suddenly reveals his hatred for blacks based on the simple conviction that "blacks are no good". He prevents Hannah from the dangers of the "real world" in his mind represented by Chicago, the city he comes from. Then he comes to say that all women are alike because "they all want a chance to screw a black.Women alywas want a taste of black meat". We know why he hates blacks when he says:" because all my life I've been fucked over by blacks", reason enough for him to think that blacks would get Hannah in trouble. He thinks that just because she is a woman all she does is lie and play games and "woman" sounds like a dirty word in his mouth. What is truly sad about Jesse's vision on women is that he is definitely not the only man on earth who thinks the way he thinks, there are millions of women who have to face this kind of judgement everyday and live with it.
Hannah's only refuge is Eugene, where her best friend Kate lives and where she will start studying again to get away from Jesse.
Not knowing how to explain what happened between her and Jesse she blames it on her lack of experience with men on the one hand and on the other hand on the absence of her father. Looking for a male influence on her life, what she really needs is the gentleness of her mother to whom she will finally tell the truth about her relationship with Jesse.
Three women share what they call the "Amazon House", maybe because Lilith and Myrine (two of the occupants) are self-defense teachers. Their stories are of the most typical and of course, they include men: Lily dates Adam, a professional student in Physics but their relationship becomes very often the victim of Adam's infidelities. Myrine has a long-distance relationship with Matt Mollitt, who lives in Eugene. Adrian Newman is Diana's long distance boyfriend,a professional musician who would like Diana to move to Seatlle,where he lives. Lyssa has an affair with Marty, the divorced staff crew writer.
In Portland, women declare WAR ( Women Against Rape) first protesting against sexual violence and then expanding to all the issues related to sexual inequality. Far from being an ordinary protest movement, the women involved threaten with a sexual strike, that is, complete abstinence.
Rape is the most important issue. Seen as "the act of forcing sexual intercourse upon an unwilling victim, no matter what the relationship between the rapist and the victim may be", rape must be faught against first by the reeducation of women's mentality and then by completing the task of reeducating men. The strike spreads rapidly to other major cities on the West Coast.
Even so the strike led by Lyssa is an unsuccessful attempt to destroy sexual violence. But she is not the kind of person who gives up so easily, her next attempt is to put an end to nuclear power plants in Oregon. Even nowadays she is still fighting to save the trees, the whales, that is...the world. Her life-partner Marty is always there by her side although he is the one who runs the magazine now. Her daughter Hannah started working for Cutting Edges but her high ambitions will lead her to higher spheres.
Deborah keeps selling millions of books, Roxana quits her job at the magazine and starts taking pictures of landscapes and female bodies.
Life goes on just like in any other place, many other attempts of many other things will be made, some will be successful, some will be not.