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1. Violence, and diverse forms of oppression

The theme of the American Society of Criminology meeting this November is “Criminology at the Intersections of Oppression.” The burden of violence and victimization remains markedly unequal. The prevalence rates, risk factors, and consequences of violence are not equally distributed across society. Rather, there are many groups that carry an unequal burden, including groups disadvantaged due to race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual identity, place of residence, and other factors. Even more problematically, there is an abundance of evidence that there are marked disparities in service access and service quality across sociocultural and socioeconomic groups. Unfortunately, even today this still extends to instances of outright bias and maltreatment, as evidenced by ongoing problems with disproportionate minority contact, harsher sentencing, and barriers to services.

However, there is promising news, because advances in both research and practice are readily attainable. Regarding research, there are a number of steps that can be taken to improve our existing state of knowledge. To give just a few examples, we need much more research on hate crimes and bias motivations for violence. Hate crimes remain one of the most understudied forms of violence. We also need many more efforts to adapt violence prevention and intervention programs for diverse groups. The field has still made surprisingly few efforts to assess whether prevention and intervention programs are equally efficacious for different socioeconomic and sociocultural groups. Even after more than 3 decades of program evaluation, only a handful of such efforts exist. Program developers should pay more systematic attention to ensuring that materials that use diverse images and settings. However, it is also important to note that cultural adaptation means more than just superficial changes in name use or images.

Clasped Hands. Photo by Rhoda Baer. Public Domain via Wikimedia.
Clasped Hands. Photo by Rhoda Baer. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Regarding practice, what is needed is more culturally appropriate approaches. In many cases, this means more flexible approaches and avoiding a “one size fits all” approach to services. Most providers, I believe, have good intentions and are trying to avoid biased interactions, but many of them lack the tools for more culturally appropriate services. One specific tool that can help is called the ‘VIGOR’, for Victim Inventory of Goals, Options, and Risks. It is a safety planning and risk management tool for victims of domestic violence. It is ideally suited for people from disadvantaged groups, because, unlike virtually all other existing safety plans, it has places for social and community issues, financial strain, institutional challenges, and other issues that affect people who experience multiple forms of disadvantage. The safety plan does not just focus on physical violence. The VIGOR has been tested with two highly diverse groups of low-income women, who rated it as better than all safety planning they had received.

The VIGOR also offers a model for how other interventions can be expanded and adapted to consider the intersections of oppression with victimization in an effort to be more responsive to all of the needs of those who have sustained violence. With greater attention to these issues, there is the potential to make a real impact and help reduce the burden of violence and victimization for all members of society.

Dr. Hamby attended an Author Meets Critics session at the ASC annual meeting yesterday morning. The session was chaired by Dr. Claire Renzetti, co-editor of the ‘Oxford Series of Interpersonal Violence’.

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2. El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo Written and illustrated by Cece Bell Amulet Books; an imprint of Abrams. 2014 ISBN: 9781409710209 Grades 3-12 To write this review, I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library. Everyone has a superpower. What is yours? In El Deafo, author-illustrator Cece Bell shares her experience growing up deaf.  I was a regular little kid. I played with my mom’s stuff. I

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3. Little Melba and Her Big Trombone

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone  by Katheryn Russell-Brown illustrated by Frank Morrison Lee & Low Books, 2014 ISBN: 9781600608988 Grades K-5 The reviewer received a copy of the book from the publisher. "Spread the word! Little Melba Doretta Liston was something special."  The first line of this picture book biography announces to readers that they are about to meet an amazing individual.

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4. Five facts about women’s involvement in organized crime

Women are involved in many organized illegal activities, albeit in small numbers. Editors Rosemary Gartner and Bill McCarthy of The Oxford Handbook on Gender, Sex, and Crime have compiled important information about women’s involvement in organized crime. Here they’ve adapted some information from “Organized Crime: The Gender Constraints of Illegal Markets” by Valeria Pizzini-Gambetta (Chapter 23).

(1) Most organized crime falls into one of two distinct types – illegal industries and mafias — both of which are dominated by males. Illegal industries supply illegal commodities through networks that vary in shape and size according to the circumstances of the trade. Mafias are club-like groups defined by ritual entry, a territorially-based hierarchical structure, and the supply of extra-legal governance to illegal markets. Both types of activity have been dominated by men, but there are many historical examples where women also participated, particularly in illegal industries.

(2) There is historical evidence of mixed-gender groups of criminals. Several mixed-gender groups of criminals roamed the Netherlands and the German territories in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Some pirate groups in the Far East were also mixed-gender marauding communi­ties. In the early nineteenth century, Chinese pirates were ruled by the widow of their late general for several years. They formed a nation at sea, in which junks were gender-mixed, with female captives and family members on board. Buccaneer and pirate communi­ties in the Caribbean golden age were essentially gender-exclusive; nevertheless, a handful of women entered the world of sea piracy through love relationships, cross-dressing, and kinship.

(3) Female entrepreneurs have been involved in running illegal businesses in the modern period. Marcellina Cardena, Marie Debrizzi, and Stephanie St. Clair were part of the gender and racial blend that animated gambling in Harlem until the 1930s. These so-called “bankers” needed only cash and a network of policy vendors to conduct illegal gambling. They hired other women to go door to door to take dime bets in exchange for a small percentage of the win from both bankers and winners. Women have also played important roles in the drug trade. In Latin America, Eva Silverstein (arrested in 1917), Sadie Stock (arrested in 1920), and Maria Wendt (arrested in 1936) were part of international rings of traffickers that imported opium and its derivatives from China and Mexico for export to the United States and Europe. More recently, Mahalaxmi Papamani and her network of Tamil female neighbors managed an important share of the drug retailing market in Mumbai in the 1980s.

(4) Although less common, women have also formed gender-exclusive crime groups. The “Forty Elephants” was an all-female group that flourished in the shadow of The Elephant and Castle male gang in London throughout the nineteenth century and well into the 1950s. The young women of this group specialized in shoplifting in the West End. Their sorority was hierarchical and a “queen” was in charge of distributing targets among the group members.

(5) Women often play “traditional” female roles in organized crime. Women have been relatively less involved as active offenders in mafias; instead, traditional female roles remain the most important resource for this type of organized crime. Intelligence gathering, turf monitoring, and hiding illegal commodities or weapons are tasks that can be accom­plished as part of women’s ordinary daily routines. In most groups, women are trusted auxiliaries in a number of capacities at times that are critical for the functioning of the group’s operations.

Headline image: Person in the Shadows with handgun, on natural wooden background. © Alexei Novikov via iStockphoto.

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5. Does pain have a history?

It’s easy to assume that we know what pain is. We’ve all experienced pain, from scraped knees and toothaches to migraines and heart attacks. When people suffer around us, or we witness a loved one in pain, we can also begin to ‘feel’ with them. But is this the end of the story?

In the three videos below Joanna Bourke, author of The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers, talks about her fascination with pain from a historical perspective. She argues that the ways in which people respond to what they describe as ‘painful’ have changed drastically since the eighteenth century, moving from a belief that it served a specific (and positive) function to seeing pain as an unremitting evil to be ‘fought’. She also looks at the interesting attitudes towards women and pain relief, and how they still exist today.

On the history of pain

Click here to view the embedded video.

How have our attitudes to pain changed?

Click here to view the embedded video.

On women and pain relief

Click here to view the embedded video.

Joanna Bourke is Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is the prize-winning author of nine books, including histories of modern warfare, military medicine, psychology and psychiatry, the emotions, and rape. Her book An Intimate History of Killing (1999) won the Wolfson Prize and the Fraenkel Prize, and ‘Eyewitness’. She is also a frequent contributor to TV and radio shows, and a regular newspaper correspondent. Her latest book is The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers.

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6. Women in the House (and Senate) by Ilene Cooper

A Woman in the House (and Senate): how women came to the United States Congress, broke down barriers, and changed the country. By Ilene Cooper; Illustrations by Elizabeth Baddeley Abrams. 2014 ISBN: 9781419710360 Grades 7 and up I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library. It is interesting what we take for granted, especially the opportunities for women. Now girls are

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7. Political apparatus of rape in India

Last week the Guardian reported, “A state minister from Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party has described rape as a ‘social crime’, saying ‘sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong’, in the latest controversial remarks by an Indian politician about rape.”  While horrified by these comments, I remembered that a book from OUP India’s office had recently landed on my desk and the author, Pratiksha Baxi, might be able to shed some light on the issue of rape in India for Westerners.  Below is a post Baxi sent in response to my query following the story mentioned above. –Christian Purdy, Director of Publicity

By Pratiksha Baxi


In the wake of the Delhi gang rape protests in 2013-2014, a section of the western media was critiqued for representing sexual violence as a form of cultural violence. For instance, a white woman reporter said to a friend, ‘we are filming Indian women of all kinds. You look modern. Please, can you say—I am India’s daughter’. Not fazed by the angry refusal, the reporter found some other ‘modern’ looking woman to mime this script for the camera. The Delhi protests became a resource for a certain kind of racialized sexual politics, which looped back to a nationalist rhetoric decrying the tarnishing of the image of the country abroad. Indian politicians responded by blaming the media, feminists, and the protests for sensationalising rape, and producing the crisis now posed to the image of a globalising economy.

The national and international political debates ignore Indian feminists and law academics—who innovated new juridical categories such as custodial rape and power rape—leading the path to conceptualise rape as a specific technique of state and social dominance.  They do not cite the learning of subaltern or Black feminists of the Global South. Nor are different jurisdictions compared to raise more serious questions about the cunning nature of law reform in neo-liberal contexts. Although there has been feminist research on rape, feminist interventions in international law and several global collaborations to combat violence against women, there seems to be an inability to carry the complexities of these debates in the national and international mainstream media.

Protests at Safdarjung Hospital. Photo by Ramesh Lalwani. CC BY-NC 2.0 via ramesh_lalwani Flickr.

Protests at Safdarjung Hospital. Photo by Ramesh Lalwani. CC BY-NC 2.0 via ramesh_lalwani Flickr.

In India, the political rhetoric on rape continues to deploy conventional scripts: boys will be boys; sometimes it’s right, sometimes it’s wrong; alcohol causes men to rape. There is a political refusal to recognise that rape is central to dominance, a routinized expression of sexualised power. Nor is it in political interest to displace the use of rape as a form of social control. Rather rape becomes a means of doing competitive party politics or as a technique of consolidating power.

Sexual assault is used as a means to control dissenting bodies. Rape is a technique of terror that is used with impunity to control social mobility, stifle dissent, reassert social control, gain political control, and target ‘hated’ communities. There is no serious attempt to challenge this kind of rape culture, which inhabits the cultures of policing. It is a political apparatus of sexual terror, not to be confused with theories of male sexuality or as evidence of cultural predispositions. Rather this rape culture rests on a political apparatus, which has several organised features.

First, it rests on a system of policing and law enforcement, which makes rape look like consensual sex, and consensual sex look like rape. For example, the use of the rape, kidnapping and abduction laws to criminalize love across caste or community is rampant, whilst rape as a form of caste dominance is scarcely taken seriously.

Second, the political apparatus of rape deploys violence to produce the public secrecy of rape: while everyone knows that women are raped, we are told no one must talk about it.

Third, this political apparatus rests on a scripted representational regime that attributes the blames of rape to women, alcohol, literacy, poverty, public access and so on—everything but the structures of dominance in a globalising economy. It institutionalises a politics of forgetting—from the traumatic histories of mass sexual violence to caste atrocities—we are told that there is no connection between everyday and mass scale sexual violence.

Fourth, it denies the link between the dispossession of the marginalised from property or land, and the growing rate of sexual violence. In the Baduan rape and lynching case, the children went out to the fields of the dominant caste to relieve themselves. The subsequent demand for bathrooms for dalit women is an expression of this dispossession, which makes them vulnerable to brutal sexual violence, murder and lynching.

Fifth, such a political apparatus acts as a thought police. It denies the right to sexual autonomy and choice. And it rewards those politicians who rape, riot, murder, censor or humiliate.

All this means that there is complicity between state and society in privileging rape as the expression of male power. The state conserves and even stokes the desire to rape as the foundational tool of male power. This is a political trait, not a cultural trait. There is an ever-expanding indifference to sexual violence survivors, which seems to be in inverse proportion to the anti-rape protests. For instance, even today a spare pair of clothes is not provided to rape survivors when their clothes are confiscated as evidence in police stations or hospitals.

Sexual violence can be prevented and redressed if this political apparatus is disbanded. To destroy this political apparatus, the doing of politics—local, national and international must change. Rather than engaging in an aggressive and masculine competition over crime statistics, politicians must engage seriously with the nature of institutional reform and response to sexual violence.

In the context of the international laws and policies on violence against women, the new government must allocate generous gender budgets to provide essential facilities to rape survivors and institute measures to prevent sexual violence. This must accompany zero tolerance for rape of women, men, sexual minorities and children. The recommendations to criminalise marital rape; repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and legislate against rape as a mass crime must be implemented. Section 377 IPC, a colonial law criminalizing homosexuality must be repealed. In other words, sexual autonomy and sexual dignity must be respected. This means that the conventional notions of sexual morality, which regulate women’s sexuality, pathologize queer sexuality and celebrate violent masculinity, must no longer lay the foundations of the Indian polity. National and international politics must recognise rape as political violence rather than cultural violence; substitute the language of ‘rescue’ with repatriation and learn from languages of social suffering rather than vocabularies of power.

Pratiksha Baxi is Associate Professor, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and author of Public Secrets of Law: Rape Trials in India (OUP India, 2014)

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8. Fearless Women

I am not a fearless woman. I’m actually quite timid. I like order and predictability and rules. When I was a magazine editor, I started each editing task by making sure the fonts and margins and other formatting issues were right. Only then could I tackle the content.

I’ve been thinking about this lately because in the author bio of my most recent book, Roller Derby Rivals, my editor at Holiday House wrote, “Sue Macy loves to write about sports and fearless women.” And it’s true. Nellie Bly got herself committed to an insane asylum so she could write an expose. Cyclist Dora Rinehart rode more than 17,000 miles in 1896 through the muddy, rocky, mountain roads around Denver. Midge “Toughie” Brasuhn (right) regularly careened around Roller Derby rinks with no concern about injuries—and ended up with eight broken noses during her career. To me, these accomplishments are alternately inspiring and terrifying.

As someone who was trained as a journalist, I find it perfectly acceptable observing and writing about fearless women while remaining out of the fray myself. I am moved by women who have the drive and determination to overcome society’s taboos or their own fears in order to follow their dreams. I’ve listened to scores of women who played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League talk about their motivation, and the common thread among all of them is the passion they had for the game. Over and over again, they’ve said, “They were paying me, but I would have played for free.”

When people are really passionate about what they’re doing, they grab my attention. At the start of my research on Roller Derby history, I went to a contemporary bout between the Garden State Rollergirls and a visiting team from Maryland. I barely knew the rules of the game at that point. What’s more, the announcer was muffled by an inadequate sound system and the action was so fast and furious that it was hard to follow. But one woman stood out. She was a New Jersey skater, covered with tattoos on just about every visible patch of skin, and she was magnificent. She wove in and out of the opposing skaters, lapping the field and then passing her opponents to score points. Her Derby name was Jenna Von Fury and her skill convinced me that Roller Derby was indeed a sport worth writing about.

Late last year, the computer search engine Bing produced an awesome TV commercial highlighting some of the female heroes of 2013. To the tune of Sara Bareilles’s song, “Brave,” Bing celebrated several fearless girls and women, among them the young Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai; marathon swimmer Diana Nyad; and Edie Windsor, who brought the Supreme Court case that that struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act. It was an impressive example of the never-ending parade of fearless women whose achievements have made an impact on the world, and a virtual shopping list of topics for a writer seeking to be inspired.

So as I finish my final post for I.N.K., I promise to continue producing books about women who made their mark as they challenged the status quo. I'll also occasionally blog on my Web site, suemacy.com. Check it out when you get the chance. Or follow me on Twitter @suemacy1. And thanks for reading.

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9. Girl Geek Chic: --Let's Change What's Cool


<!--[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE <![endif]-->

Last month on National Astronomy Day, I was at the Clay Center Observatory signing copies of How Do You Burp in Space? And Other Tips Every Space Tourist Needs to Know.  After inscribing a copy for a young boy, I looked up at his older sister.  
“Do you want to go to space, too?” I asked.

“I did once,” she said.

“What happened?”

She gave me a small smile, a Mona Lisa smile—that is, if Mona L. were a just-budding adolescent proud of her newly acquired sense of condescension. 

“Oh…other things took over,” she said in a tone that implied I couldn’t possibly know what she meant.

Oh…but I do. Having been there and done that, I was actually thinking about something else.  Do these other things that "take over" really have to edge out wanting to go into space or a daily check on favorite animal cams?  Is this really an either/or situation? Do the hormones make us want to pack away those childish things?  Or, despite so many strides, do we still think there’s only one type of girl that does those hormones justice?

This last question still on my mind, I later googled “nerds becoming popular” and immediately clicked on the images page.  I already knew that Sheldon’s chic and Zuckerberg’s billions have brought those three words in close company.  What I wanted to know was how many pictures of girls I would see sprinkled in among the guys wearing pocket protectors and suspenders.

Discounting “popular” girls torturing geeks, here’s the first “nerd girl” picture I came upon.  I was hopeful.  What a fool I was.  Once I clicked through to its home site, here are the words I found:  Who would have thought that being a nerd would be cool?  Well the time has finally come. There is nothing more fashionable that an over-sized pair of geeky glasses.  PS-When I saved the picture to my computer to easily transfer to this post, I noticed it was labeled, "pretty nerd."

Little Mona Lisa Girl at the Clay Center, the deck has been stacked against you.  Come on, STEM books, cool geek girl role models, Neil Degrasse Tyson.  Help girls aspire to go to space and wear cool nail polish in orbit, if that’s what they want.  Help everybody feel as if science and smart is back in fashion and sexy.

I spoke to astronaut Sunita Williams when writing Burp in Space, but never asked her if she felt she had to choose between lipstick and her dreams.  I wish I had. Maybe I would have been primed to say something to this young girl.  Even if she couldn’t hear me now, perhaps it would plant a seed. I know lots of girls get reacquainted with previous interests as women, but I hate to think of what has been lost in the meantime because their intellectual passions couldn’t coexist with the teenage definition of femininity.


On June 20, Liz Rusch is publishing I.N.K.’s last recommended booklist.  This time it focuses on STEM-related topics.  Let’s all take a second look.

 * * * * *



Thank you, Linda.  Thank you, I.N.K. Thanks to all of our readers. It’s been a pleasure.

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10. Rethinking domestic violence: learning to see past the stereotypes

By Sherry Hamby


The common stereotypes about battered women are wrong and not based on up-to-date science. Here are five common myths about battered women and the real truths about the realities and complexities of domestic violence.

Myth #1

Battered women keep domestic violence a secret.

Reality: Countless research studies show that most battered women disclose their partner’s violence to at least one person—about 80% to 90% of victims in many studies. Victims not only tell, they often tell multiple people and agencies. The problem is not that women don’t tell, it is that they do not receive useful help when they do disclose.

Myth #2

Victims just need to call the police.

Reality: Police officers cannot offer a cure-all for domestic violence. Police arrest perpetrators less than half the time when they are called to the scene of domestic violence incidents, according to the most recently available national data. Worse, arrested perpetrators seldom go to jail—approximately five out of six perpetrators arrested for domestic violence never serve any jail time.

hamby

Myth #3

Battered women don’t seek professional help.

Reality: Despite the limitations of police and victim services in many communities, battered women seek help at rates that are similar to people facing other problems. Battered women report to the police at rates that are similar to many other crime victims, and also similar to the helpseeking of people with psychological problems such as depression and anxiety.

Myth #4

Battered women just need to leave.

Reality: All sorts of dangers can increase when women try to leave, including separation violence, stalking, and increased homicide risk. Further, custody battles and other risks can, in some ways, pose even greater threats to women’s well-being and that of their children. We all wish that there was a simple solution like walking out, but the reality is far more complex.

Myth #5

Most women need professional help to cope with domestic violence.

Reality: Most women cope with the problem of domestic violence with informal helpseeking. In nationally representative data, it was ten times more common for women to go to a friend or family’s house than to a domestic violence shelter.

If you want to help women who have been victims of domestic violence, listen to their assessments of what is important, respect their values, and help them come up with a plan or seek resources that address all of the complexities and realities of domestic violence.

Sherry Hamby, Ph.D., is Research Professor of Psychology and Director of the Life Paths Research Program at the University of the South. She is author of Battered Women’s Protective Strategies: Stronger Than You Know.

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Image Credit: Violencia de género. Photo by Concha García Hernández. CC-BY-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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11. Research and Discovery After Book is Published

On my mini book tour last week, I visited the lovely town of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. While writing and researching about Anna Keichline for Women of Steel and Stone, Anna's grandniece, Nancy Perkins, asked if I'd be willing to allow the Bellefonte Art Museum to host an author reception when the book was published. I responded immediately, "But, of course."
Fast forward two years later and scheduled considering good driving conditions, I headed toward the center of Pennsylvania. My trip was filled with many fun surprises and observations.
Here are just a few of them:
Stayed in a Anna-designed house!
Anna's grandniece, Nancy, owns a home designed by Anna and asked me if I wanted to stay with her during my visit. What a treat! Almost surreal. What surprised me was the realization that one really doesn't get the true feel of a piece of architecture until you see the work first hand.
Anna Keichline Designed Home
Anna's houses were designed with many unique details.
The house reminded me of the California Bungalow I owned in Long Beach California - built in 1930 - but Anna's house had a basement, a second floor, and stairs to an attic. Some details that stood out to me were a cozy breakfast nook, beautiful fireplace, hardware for drapes on french doors, arched windows and matching doorknobs. 
Breakfast Nook 
Fireplace
 Hardware for Drapes
Kitchen Patent #1,612,730 1924
First Floor Bathroom
Doorknobs
Harvey Apartments 1935
Decker House 1931
Bible Home 1916
Harvey House 1939
Model House 











Beautiful architecture can be torn down.
Sadly, the beautiful Garman Opera House was recently torn down. Anna's Cadillac Building is disrepair but the community is hoping that it will escape the wrecking ball.
Cadillac Building











Beautiful architecture can be transformed into other uses. 
In 2001, the Plaza Theatre was shut down and turned into the Plaza Centre Antique Gallery. Turning a art deco theatre to a two-story store changed the entire structure and feel of the building, but the beautiful ceiling details and unique wall coverings still remain. If you go to the very back of the second floor, you can still peek into the "crying room"--- a room for mothers to take their fussy babies and toddlers, a feature not found in theaters in the 1920s. 

   
Plaza Theatre 1925

Plaza Theatre Ceiling Detail
Crying Room in Back of Theatre
Anna's Life

Anna's Childhood Home
Anna's Cabin in Fishermen's Paradise

Grave Marker
Office Where Anna Worked w/ her Father
Historical Marker


Anna Featured on Bellefonte Monopoly

Book Signing in Anna K Exhibit

Nancy and I next to Anna

To get another perspective of Anna's life and the town of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, here's an entertaining and informative YouTube video, that I just found.

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12. "When I'm Good, I'm Very Good. But When I'm Bad I'm Better."

 Mae West spoke those provocative lines in the movie I'm No Angel, and women have been identifying with it ever since. But women were bad a lot further back than that 1933 movie. Find twenty-six of the world's most notorious females in Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves, & Other Female Villains by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple, with illustrations by Rebecca Guay.

Modern Times and Changing Gender Roles


If Salome dropped her veils today, would we call her bad? Or would we arrest her parents for a variety of crimes against a child? If Mata Hari made up a whole new self tomorrow and danced her way into a criminal lifestyle, would we execute her or send her to counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder? Would we encourage Lizzie Borden to move into her own apartment, Bloody Mary to establish an ecumenical council, and Typhoid Mary to take some nursing courses at a community college? Would we still consider these women bad? Or would we consider them victims of bad circumstances? As our world changes, so does our definition of bad. Especially when it comes to half the world's population--the half that happens to be female.

With women's relatively new rights--to speak out, to vote, to have power over their own bodies--comes a new set of responsibilities. Women are no longer required to do a man's bidding--no matter whether that bidding is legal or not. But no longer can a woman say that she was just followign a man and count that as justification for bad acts.

We measure guilt and innocence today on a sliding scale. And never has it been easier for the general public to "weigh" the misdeeds of its favorite modern-day bad girls. The nightly news, tabloids, blogs, and the fast pace of the Internet all make sure of this. Today, as throughout history, the court of public opinion is capable of swaying or tempering the criminal courts.

Now that you have been introduced to some of history's bad girls, you will have to decide for yourself if they were really bad, not so bad, or somewhere in the middle. And perhaps you will see that even the baddest of bad girls may have had a good reason for what she did.

from the Conclusion of Bad Girls

March is Women's History Month!

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13. Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale by Demi Henry Holt and Company, 2014 ISBN: 9780805097290 Grades 2-5 The reviewer received a galley from the publisher. Elementary school students are often assigned a project in which students are asked to choose a biography from the school or public library, read the book, then write a report or create a project that highlights the accomplishments of the person. As a

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14. Leaning in

By Katie Day


I am one of the last professional women I know to read Lean In by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (Knopf, 2013). If you are also among the laggards, it is an inspiring call to women to lean into leadership. Too often, Sandberg shows through research and life story, women are not considered “leadership material,” and not just by men. We also send that message to ourselves, and attribute any success to external factors such as luck and the support of others. We just don’t think we have the right stuff to be leaders.

Too bad Sheryl Sandberg has not been to Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia. After studying the communities of faith along that one street—around 88 congregations, the number fluctuating year to year—I found one thing that stumped me. There are a whole lot more women in leadership in these houses of worship than in any national sample of clergy. The most generous research findings reflect 10-20% of congregations to be headed by women in the United States today. In my sample, 44% of communities of faith have female leadership. This phenomenon is true across the religious spectrum. “Prestigious pulpits” in the historic Mainline Protestant churches are disproportionately occupied by women. But so were the pulpits in small independent African-American churches. Two of the three mega-churches had women as co-pastors. In the third, the associate pastor is a woman and considered the heir-apparent for the senior position. Two of the three peace churches had women leaders. There are no longer Catholic churches on the Avenue (which don’t have women priests), and the two mosques I researched were led exclusively by men. But the small Black spiritualist Hurleyite congregation (Universal Hagar) has a woman as pastor.

photo of Universal Hagar Church

Universal Hagar Church, a Hurleyite congregation, is located across the street from Fair Hill Burial Ground. Photo by Edd Conboy. Used with permission.

How can we account for this? It might have something to do with Philadelphia’s cultural history of inclusivity, providing a context in which women broke through the stained glass ceiling in the AMEZ and Episcopal traditions. Perhaps it is more closely related with the Great Migration North, in which women sought out church anchors in neighborhoods in which to settle. Frankly, I am hoping a researcher will figure this out…and bottle it!

More impressive to me than the numbers are the amazing women I interviewed. Women like Pastor Jackie Morrow, who started a church and a school in a row house, and ministers to everyone in her corner of Northwest Philly, from the young men who play basketball in her parking lot to the mentally challenged woman who regularly stops by for prayer, food, and a hug. Or Rev. Melanie DeBouse, who pastors in the poorest neighborhood in the city and is teaching young children to “kiss your brain” and older men how to read. Or Rev. Cindy Jarvis, senior pastor at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, where she oversees a budget of over a million dollars and has underwritten efforts to prevent gun violence, provide health care for the poor, and a vibrant social and educational program for seniors. These women, and others on the Avenue, are leaning in to take leadership roles not in corporations but in the trenches of gnarly urban problems.

Make no mistake: I like Sandberg’s book. But the clergy women of Germantown Avenue are leaning into stronger headwinds with impressive competence and confidence. They inspired me more.

Katie Day is the Charles A. Schieren Professor of Church and Society at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. She is the author of Faith on the Avenue: Religion on a City Street and three other books and numerous articles that look at how religion impacts a variety of social realities.

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15. Gloria

GloriaIt’s a peculiar and depressing phenomenon that women—far more than men—who have moved past youthful attraction and procreating age tend to become invisible. So a film featuring a 58-year-old female divorcee is something of an anomaly (you can watch the trailer here).

Trend-bucking protagonist Gloria (who lends the film its name) refuses to be typecast. Her now-grown children have left home and are having children of their own. Her ex-husband has moved on. She would like to move on too.

Attempting to defy loneliness, disconnection, and old age, Gloria ventures out to singles parties. This is where we meet her in the subtitled Chilean film’s opening scenes, swallowing a drink and plucking up the courage to enter the dancing and dating fray.

But her prospective beaus bring a lifetime of baggage and bad habits, and Gloria finds her flings brief and unfulfilling. Adult courting is, it seems, just as awkward and excruciating as when you’re in your teens.

Then Gloria meets Rodolfo, a former naval officer now fun-park owner seven years her senior and with whom she can actually imagine a future. Yet the relationship’s not without its quirks and challenges, and it’s these difficulties and how they infer to the rest of Gloria’s life that provide the film with its main narrative drive.

Without giving too much away, we gain insight into Gloria through these events and incidents and how she handles herself throughout them. She is a fascinatingly complex, strong woman we come to admire and respect.

Gloria is an understated lead and the film itself is quietly, thoughtfully unveiled. Which makes it sound, on paper, as though it’s slow and boring and lacks the makings of a hit, but it’s the antithesis: subtle, surprising, compelling.

Gloria is someone who could be our mother. She’s someone I’m conscious I might grow up to be (and yes, that realisation was rather like having to face my own mortality).

Because here’s what most impressed me about this film and for which I can’t take credit for thinking up because it’s in the director’s notes (although it made complete sense when I read it and decided I must have known it subconsciously):

The film, which is told from Gloria’s point of view, contains not a single frame in which her body isn’t present. Every scene ekes out information about how she’s feeling about life and how and where she fits in with the rest of the world.

Here’s the zinger: Gloria plays a supporting role in the lives of those around her, yet Gloria has managed to turn a supporting role into a leading one.

‘Gloria is the study of character that we all know in real life, but we have never seen in a movie before,’ producer Pablo Larrain says, ‘and that’s a major achievement.’

The story is mature, nuanced. Gloria is an unobtrusive character, more observer than at the centre of the action. Her vision is failing and her over-sized, almost Coke-bottle-thick glasses dominate her face. She scrambles with putting them on, adjusting them, and occasionally taking them off throughout the film—they’re an aid as much as a hamper.

Perhaps most surprising and haunting is that Gloria’s is a story that’s everyday, yet we’ve never noticed or considered it before. Gloria offers us a new lens through which to look—I’m now looking around me with a new perspective and clarity.

Chilean actor Paulina Garcia, normally a theatre actor and now, like Gloria, playing her first leading feature film role, inhabits Gloria magnificently. Her actions are strong yet mild, grief-stricken yet stoic. She’s determined to find a place for herself—and to find love—in a world that overlooks her for both.

Garcia was awarded the Best Actress award at the 2013 Berlinale film festival; the film won Best Film at the same event. The jury reportedly commended the film ‘for its refreshing and contagious plea that life is a celebration to which we are all invited, regardless of age or condition, and that its complexities only add to the challenge to live it in full’.

I agree with that sentiment. Gloria surprised me—I’ll admit I paused momentarily when I was offered its review. I wondered: What insight could I possibly gain from the film or offer on its verdict? Would I even be able to maintain interest for its entirety?

The answer is a simple yes. The film’s not slow, it’s thoughtful. Gloria is not definitively sad, she’s ultimately extremely optimistic and resilient. The story’s not ordinary, it’s utterly important and relatable. Next time I hear a love song come on the radio in my car, I’ll be smiling and singing along and thinking of Gloria and women like her (which may include me).

Which begs the question: If there are few (or I’ve missed) films featuring ordinary women not traditionally put in leading roles, I’ve missed books that do similarly. If I were to try to expand my reading oeuvre accordingly, which book(s) would you recommend I start with?

Thanks to Rialto Distribution for the Gloria review opportunity. Gloria is now open at selected cinemas nationally.

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16. 10 Great Women of Color Whose Stories You Should Know

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ve rounded up ten of our books that feature some amazing women of color! From a baseball player to an American politician, these women have helped pave the way for many others.

1. Wangari Maathai, Seeds of Change: Planting a Path to Peace - the first African woman, and environmentalist, to win a Nobel Peace Prize

seeds of change

2. Marcenia Lyle, Catching the Moon: The Story of a Young  Girl’s Baseball Dream - the first woman to play for an all-male professional baseball team

catching the moon

3. Anna May Wong, Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story - the first Chinese American movie star

shining star

4. Florence Mills, Baby Flo: Florence Mills Lights Up the Stage - an international dancing and singing superstar during the Harlem Renaissance

baby flo

5. Augusta Savage, In Her Hands: The Story of Sculptor Augusta Savagea sculptor during the Harlem Renaissance who carved out her own special place in art history

in her hands

6. Pura Belpré, The Storyteller’s Candle / La velita de los cuentos - New York City’s first Latina librarian

storyteller's candle

7. Patsy Mink, How We Are Smart - an American politician from the U.S. state of Hawaii

how we are smart

8. Hiromi Suzuki, Hiromi’s Hands - one of a handful of women in the male-dominated world of sushi chefs

hiromi's hands

9. Rosa Parks, Dear Mrs. Parks: A Dialogue with Today’s Youth - Mrs. Parks changed the course of history when she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, sparking the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement

dear mrs. parks

10. Zora Neale Hurston, Zora Hurston and the Chinaberry Tree - renowned African American writer

zora hurston and the chinaberry tree


Filed under: Book Lists, Musings & Ponderings Tagged: Anna May Wong, augusta savage, diversity, florence mills, hiromi suzuki, Marcenia Lyle, patsy mink, Pura Belpré, Rosa Parks, Wangari Maathai, women, women's history, women's history month, zora neale hurston

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17. The Girl from the Tar Paper School by Teri Kanefield

The Girl from the Tar Paper School: Barbara Rose Johns and the advent of The Civil Rights Movement by Teri Kanefield Abrams. 2014 ISBN: 9781419707964 Grades 6-12 I received a copy of this book from the publisher. In 1950, fifteen-year-old Barbara Rose Johns was sick and tired of the horrible conditions she and other black students endured attending the Robert R. Moton High School.

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18. 496 Million Women

496 million. That’s how many women in the world can’t read or write even the most simple sentence. Many women never have the opportunity to reach 6th grade, and some don’t get to go to school at all.

Today, we join citizens around the world in celebrating International Women’s Day, and I want to share the stories of Dinah Mwangi and Katie Hendricks, two special women whose lives exemplify the theme of this year’s celebration, “Equality for Women is Progress for All.”

Dinah MwangiDinah makes progress for all in Nairobi, Kenya. While waiting in line at a carwash, Dinah noticed two young boys straining to see what she was reading – a children’s book she had purchased for her niece. When she asked if they would like to join her, the boys lit up.

They read, and laughed and shared stories with Dinah. Then they told her they had no books of their own.

Dinah started buying books with her own salary and recruited volunteers to read and distribute them to kids each Saturday. In less than three months, she had over 500 kids participating. Now she’s pursuing relationships with Kenyan publishers, corporations and funders in order to expand her reach and deepen her impact.

On the other side of the world, Katie makes progress for all by helping girls from low-income families in California’s East Bay bridge the gap between school and home.

Photo from girlsinc-alameda.orgAs a young teacher, Katie yearned to improve all aspects of her students’ lives, inside and outside the classroom. Her holistic approach led her to create Girls Inc. of Alameda County, a program that inspires girls to be strong, smart and bold. Katie and her team reinforce what their girls learn at school, help them become fluent English speakers, provide them with healthy meals and expose them to subjects girls aren’t always encouraged to study, like science, technology and athletics.

By improving the lives of girls in California’s East Bay, Katie also improves the lives of their family members, teachers, friends and classmates.

Dinah and Katie represent what’s possible when women have the education, resources and motivation to make progress for all. Their immediate impact on the kids they serve is immense. Equally powerful, however, is how their spirit and service ripple through entire communities, transform lives and change the future.

In addition to celebrating heroic women like Dinah and Katie, I invite you to join me in recommitting ourselves to becoming a powerful force for equality.

The gender gap has closed significantly over the past few decades, but we still have a long way to go. In some countries, less than a quarter of women finish primary school; 496 million women around the world cannot read or write a simple sentence; and globally, women only reach 93 percent of men’s educational attainment.

I believe the path to equality is through access to quality education. That’s why First Book is equipping educators like Dinah and Katie with brand-new books and resources for the kids they serve, expanding our network to reach women and girls around the globe and lifting up the voices of an unprecedented community of individuals serving children at the base of the economic pyramid.

Please consider a gift to First Book today. Together, we can support the work of heroic women like Dinah and Katie around the world.

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19. molecular, bedeviled


Welcome, all, to Poetry Friday!  It's March 8, a date which has been International Women's Day since 1911.  If you've never explored the history, get it here.

I had hoped to go broadly international for you today with a few poems from women around the world, but then something less exotic yet somehow more universal caught my eye.  It's in the title; it's in the way we comb our hair and dreams sift out; it's in the way nothing is very serious and yet we all worry about forgetting the way home. 

Bon Courage | Amy Gerstler

Why are the woods so alluring? A forest appears
to a young girl one morning as she combs
the dreams out of   her hair. The trees rustle
and whisper, shimmer and hiss. The forest
opens and closes, a door loose on its hinges,
banging in a strong wind. Everything in the dim
kitchen: the basin, the jug, the skillet, the churn,
snickers scornfully. In this way a maiden
is driven toward the dangers of a forest,
but the forest is our subject, not this young girl.
 
She’s glad to lie down with trees towering all around.
A certain euphoria sets in. She feels molecular,
bedeviled, senses someone gently pulling her hair,
tingles with kisses she won’t receive for years.
Three felled trees, a sort of chorus, narrate
her thoughts, or rather channel theirs through her,
or rather subject her to their peculiar verbal
restlessness ...    our deepening need for non-being intones
the largest and most decayed tree, mid-sentence.
I’m not one of you squeaks the shattered sapling,
 
blackened by lightning. Their words become metallic
spangles shivering the air. Will I forget the way home?
 
************
Find the rest here, and meet me in the woods at dusk.
 
In case it's possible that anyone has missed the March 1 launch of the new Poetry Friday Anthology, Middle School edition, please visit the blog to learn more. I'm delighted to be included in yet another stellar collection of work for children and teachers to enjoy together.

I'll be rounding up in three waves today and look forward to seeing what everybody's been up to while I was "resting." Leave your links in the comments (since me and Mr. Linky have yet to get it on), and thanks for stopping by.
 

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20. “Board” of Women? Our roundup of Women’s History Month books

In honor of Women’s History Month (and International Women’s Day, which is today!), we’ve pinned a roundup of our titles that feature some pretty amazing women on Pinterest. Check out our board and be inspired to make your mark in history!

WHM Pinterest


Filed under: Holidays Tagged: Book Lists, dreams and aspirations, overcoming obstacles, women, women's history, women's history month

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21. VIDA at AWP



One of the most interesting discussions I saw at the AWP conference was one sponsored by VIDA, with editors and writers talking about the results of VIDA's 2013 count of female and male writers in various publications. This year, they were able to offer a particularly revealing set of graphs showing three year trends in book reviewing at major magazines and journals.

The only report of the discussion I've seen so far is that of VIDA volunteer Erin Hoover at The Nervous Breakdown (although I'm sure it was covered by Twitter when it happened). Hoover gives a good overview of the panel and the issues. I took lots of notes, so will here add some more detail to try to show how the discussion went.

After introductory remarks by moderator Jennine Capó Crucet, the first responses were made alphabetically by last name, and so two men began: Don Bogen, poetry editor of The Cincinnati Review, and Stephen Corey, editor of The Georgia Review. Bogen noted that, inspired by VIDA, he'd done a count of the poetry published by CR during his 7-year tenure and discovered to, really, his surprise that he'd achieved parity between male and female writers (or at least male and female bylines). How had he managed to do this unconsciously, he wondered? The best hypothesis he had was that he seeks real diversity of experience and point of view in poetry and has eclectic taste — indeed, the only poems he said he's not particularly interested in are ones that reflect his own experience. He noted that certainly the idea of parity depends on where one is counting from, as particular issues of the magazine would go one way or the other, and he tends to organize blocks of poems in between other genres in each issue in ways that have sometimes been balanced but also sometimes been entirely female or entirely male. Many times, too, he said, he does his best to read blind, paying little to no attention to a byline, and has often discovered that material he thought was "male" or "female" had been written by someone of another gender. Thus, the magic of literature.

Of the panelists, Stephen Corey seemed perhaps least comfortable with the discussion. His initial statement was simply a set of questions. (I think I managed to write them all down, but may have missed something.) When we talk about gender balance, he asked, are we talking about balance in submissions? In page counts? (Does a 30-page story count the same as a 1-page poem?) Should reviews be counted the same as poems, essays, or stories? Do you want an editor to read your work with gender in mind? Should a publication put out a call for more work by males or females? Should a publication put out an anti-call against one gender? When you read, do you care if what you read is by a man or a woman [audience: YES!], and should an editor care?

After Corey, E.J. Graff said so many interesting things I had trouble taking notes. Here's what I wrote down:

  • The count is an example of why all English majors should take a course in statistics. Graff: "I wish I had!"
  • The submission gap is enormous. With opinion pieces, women editors solicit women and are often turned down or need more time, whereas men often say yes and offer to get the piece done very quickly (important for current events).
  • Men continually send pitches after rejections, women don't.
  • Structural acculturation. We have to overcome our own socialization — and not just in terms of gender. The audience, for instance, was overwhelmingly white.
  • We must make our own choices conscious because many of our prejudices are unconcious. Graff pointed to the Implicit Association Test.
  • For students, there is a dramatic shift between the world of school and the world of work. It can be difficult to learn how to promote yourself. Men tend to do this more comfortably than women, because it's generally more socially acceptable for men.
  • Make a posse. Promote yourself and your group. Start a movement or magazine. Challenge each other, help with drafts and careers, but as a group move each other forward.
  • When lesbians and gay men started working together in the 1980s, there were many difficulties, suspicions, and prejudices. To overcome these difficulties, many groups decided on a shared leadership structure that required equal power sharing between a man and a woman rather than just one leader. Why not do that with more prizes, editorships, groups?
Katha Pollitt (a personal hero of mine, and one of the main reasons I went to the panel) then offered her perspective, particularly as someone who has a long career as a poet and essayist, as well as a former editor with The Nation. Because I love Katha Pollitt, I tried to write as fast as she talked, and so here are my notes from her initial statement:
  • Some editors are quite conscious, others not at all — and some of the latter group are women. They can be very far away from consciously considering the issue, they can be very far away from any sort of balance, and yet still think they're doing great (and thus not need to become conscious).
  • As VIDA has shown, raising the issue can, sometimes, make change.
  • At The Nation, the front and back of the magazine are totally separate. In front, the subject areas (politics, news, current events) and speed of weekly publishing means the editors have settled on "go-to" people who they know are very reliable — maybe not the best writers, but they turn in clean copy on time. These editors would need to make the time to seek out new, female experts who are reliable. Some places have made such an effort — Alternet and Mother Jones, for instance.
  • You have to think about it (make the issue conscious) because we have to compensate for elements in the culture.
  • There are too many women trying to write in too few subject areas. Look at how many women are writing about Girls! Women should try to cultivate interest and knowledge in areas outside those seen as "feminine" or "women's issues".
  • If you're not getting submissions from women, you have to ask why. Why would a woman throw herself at your wall?
  • Most op-eds are solicited. Most slush piles aren't even read by an editor. Slush is not where the problem lies.
  • Things are fairer at newspapers. They have unions and must follow anti-discrimination policies.
Then the discussion moved on to questions and comments from the audience. Again, from notes, which may distort some things simply because I couldn't write fast enough. (I'll offer some summary and response at the end.)

Q: Is gender-identified subject matter more or less appealing? Also, racially-identified? Etc.
Don Bogen: An experience can be gendered, but not to the writer. Surprised plenty of times to discover the gender of a writer whose byline was indeterminate. The otherness of the imagination is important.

Q: 99% of news is what is seen to be traditionally male. Much of human life is dismissed as female.
E.J. Graff: It's worse than you know! The Global Media Monitoring Project statistics are horrifying. Women in the news are usually victims or family members ("the wife of", "the mother of", etc.). These create our implicit biases. Though, as Katha Pollitt said, there may be a good amount of female bylines in newspapers, the top editors and the columnists tend to be male.

Q: Wal-Mart has a huge effect on the economy because it is so large, and so getting Wal-Mart to change practices can have a massive ripple effect. Is there a Wal-Mart of the literary world that we should focus on trying to change?
[Some laughter, cross-talk]
Another audience member: The Wal-Mart is in the room. Unsubscribe from magazines you don't like the numbers for, and let them know. Let Harper's know. Let The New Yorker know. Don't let your subscription lapse silently — it's important that the magazines know why you are leaving them, and what it would take to get you back.

Q: Why is the literary world so obsessed with dudes from Brooklyn?! I don't want "women's literature", I want literature. Even when women are put forward, though, they become invisible.
Pollitt: Yes, why when Jonathan Franzen writes a book is everybody else suddenly invisible? Can Karen Russell get the same amount of notice? She should, but does she? It's a problem of publicity. Some women get attention. But does the attention last? Will it last? Can we make it last? The writers are there, the quality is there, the publicity is not.

VIDA volunteer: Feel empowered. Email magazines. Use knowledge to use your money and time well. VIDA is 10 volunteers. You are many. Vote with your dollars.

VIDA co-founder Erin Belieu: Most of the media reports on the count frame the story as, "It still sucks." And it does. But there's more to it than that. Many places say they need a comment from people such as New Yorker editor David Remnick if they're going to run a big story, but the editors of the highest-profile magazines won't talk, and so the story is not seen as journalistically significant. Behind the scenes, though, there is concern. One well-known female fiction writer gots calls from multiple editors when the count was released this year — the publications were embarrassed, and they wanted this writer to contribute. She didn't have any short fiction available and also didn't want to be the token female, so she gave the editors the names of 5 other writers who might be able to give them something.

Q for Katha Pollitt: Is there a perception among editors that there are female and male subject matter? Is more male subject matter being covered?
Pollitt: War, politics, etc. — these are not "male" subjects! More women are killed by war than men. Women's lives are deeply, intimately, and constantly affected by politics. These are human subjects. The New York Times has two male columnists who started out as food writers, a subject often associated with women. Get to know a lot about something interesting in a less crowded field and you will have an easier time getting published.

And then time ran out.

The take-away message was, as Erin Hoover wrote, consciousness. The world we live in is structurally biased against equality, and as people who live in this world, if we don't consciously work toward increasing equality, we will unconsciously contribute to inequality.

I love the idea that we could follow Don Bogen's lead and try to read and publish eclectically, seeking experiences and representations outside of our own, and thus achieve equality. But I don't think it would work. I expect he's an outlier and his example would be difficult, even impossible, to replicate. Worse, a stated interest in diversity might be used as cover. I think too many publishers and editors could just say to themselves, "Hey, we're nice, tolerant, liberal people who sorta like, you know, value that diversity thing. Yeah. We'll be equal," and then go right on reinforcing the status quo. I actually would prefer that someone just say, "I couldn't care less about equality," and not pretend.

Let's go back to Stephen Corey's questions. They're good for discussion, but I think they're problematic overall. With regard to page lengths and genres, etc., it's really not that hard to compare like to like, and VIDA, for instance, offers statistics in various breakdowns (books reviewed, reviewers, etc). The "overall" stats that VIDA provides are useful as a way to view the problem generally, but yes, there's a difference between a 200-word review and a 10,000-word article. The general view is useful, though. We're not to the point where distinctions necessarily say a lot. The trends are so bad that getting too specific is pretty much a waste of time. Maybe in the future it would be an interesting exercise, but right now the information is pretty damn unambiguous and shameful. As Don Bogen showed, there's plenty of reasons for an individual magazine issue or section of an issue to be dominated by women or men, but once you step back from individual issues and sections, once you increase the data set, then consistent, significant inequality speaks for itself.

Do we want editors to read our work with our gender in mind? I've never assumed they wouldn't. I'd love to live in a world where my gender presentation was irrelevant, but I don't live in that world, and pretending I do just reinforces a status quo I loathe. My name is Matthew and I physically present as male; that affects people's perceptions of me consciously and, especially, unconsciously. How much does that matter to any one editor? I assume a bit (at least), unless they want to give me multiple results from the Implicit Association Test showing that they are utterly unaffected by gender ... at which point I might assume they don't entirely care about my apparent maleness. Otherwise, I'm going to assume they're living in the same swamp of associations that I am.

Should there be a call made for more of one gender, or against another? Oh, please. This is a question better left to concern trolls. I can just imagine the sort of call that would go out: "Dear Womens: We don't know any female scribblers. Please submit to us so we can see if you know how to write. Thanks!" Or, even better, "Hey guys! These feminazis are doing their thing and we're afraid it might hurt our reputation in this politically correct environment, so please cut it out with the submissions for a while. Once we've published some girls, then we can get back to the real work."

More interesting to me is the question: Do you care about the gender of a writer you read, and should an editor care? The audience loudly affirmed that they care about the gender of writers they read. For me, this is a similar sort of problem to whether I care about if an editor knows my gender when I submit writing to them. In an ideal world where gender is as meaningful as handedness or eye color, a writer's gender for me would be an interesting and inconsequential detail. But I don't ever expect to live in such a world. Human culture has been and continues to be meaningfully and significantly affected by gender. To not care about a writer's gender in such a world is to not care about something that meaningfully and significantly affects that writer. So yes, I notice the gender of writers I read. I care about it. The world does not just naturally drop a nicely balanced group of male, female, and genderqueer writers on my readerly doorstep. The world makes it easiest for me to read white male writers who use the English language and publish with major publishers. I make the conscious effort to seek out others. (Among the books I'm currently reading: Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin; The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates; The Collected Poems of Audre Lorde; Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde by Alexis De Veaux.) If I want to know about the world outside of my own experiences — and that really is why I read — then I have to pay attention to some of the categories the writers I read fall into. It's why I got interested in African literatures, even before I ever traveled to Africa. I can't imagine not reading such work now. Not for reasons of political correctness or some other overloaded scare term, but for purely selfish reasons: my life is richer and more interesting with such writings in it than not.

So it's probably not surprising that I think editors should notice and care, because otherwise the structures of our culture are going to notice and care for them, and will replicate the dominant status quo.

The most important thing to come out of the VIDA count, though, is a desire from editors, writers, and readers to actively fix the problem. This, it seems to me, is VIDA's real message and value. Here are the stats. If you don't care about them, then don't care about them. (You're an asshole, but maybe you're okay with that.) If these numbers shock, dismay, annoy, or even just vaguely bother you, then do something. If you're an editor, seek out female writers and work to make sure your venue is not one that posts various signs saying, "GIRLZ KEEP OUT!" (Hint: If you publish mostly male writers and seriously wonder why non-males don't submit more to you, you're behaving like an oblivious dunderhead.) Be conscious, put forth some effort, and don't start whining for cookies because you did what you should have been doing all along. If you're a reader, let the VIDA count guide you. Tin House, Poetry, and Threepenny Review are three magazines that have deliberately tried to get their numbers to be better, and they're three great magazines well worth your support. There are others, too, and will, I expect (I hope!), be more. If it matters to you, speak up with your voice and your writing, with where you submit work, and with where you spend money. We can be proactive.

And remember E.J. Graff's advice: Make a posse. Promote yourself and your group. Start a movement or magazine. Challenge each other, help with drafts and careers, but as a group move each other forward.

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22. The Five Most Mentally Unstable Ladies of “Venture Bros.”

Following the misadventures of a family of fourth generation super scientists and the villains and associates they have picked up along the way, Adult Swim’s The Venture Bros., created by Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick, has been treating its fans to an intelligent pastiche of adventure fiction and the teen sleuth genre since 2004. With each passing season, the popular animated series, which exposes the bleak future of boy detectives and the failed dreams of the 1960s space race, adds to a constantly evolving collection of characters from the male-dominated catalog of secret agents, boy geniuses and action figures.

Women however, are frequently portrayed as, albeit appropriately for the tone of the program, cynical sex workers, emotionally disturbed shut-ins and hapless bystanders. However, there are a handful of female characters, all of which that walk the line of masculinist fantasy and post-feminist strength, that have risen to the top as fan favorites. For those of you who need a refresher before The Venture Bros. returns for its fifth season tonight at midnight, here’s a recap of the show’s previous seasons through the eyes of these sometimes misunderstood, always popular ladies of the Venture-verse.

Dr. Girlfriend
Occupation: Number Two for The Mighty Monarch
AKA: Lady Au Pere, Queen Etheria, Dr. Fiancee, Dr. Mrs. The Monarch
First Appearance: Episode 101: Dia De Los Dangerous!
The lover/second in command for Dr. Venture’s relentless arch-nemesis, The Monarch, and the most prominent of all the female characters in the series, she has had a string of male bosses intent on exploiting her sexuality rather than take advantage of her professional acumen and top level efficiency. Due to her bass-y, gravel inflected voice her actual gender is called into question on numerous occasions, including rumors that she is MTF with a surgically implanted baboon’s uterus.

In Episode 102, Mid-Life Chrysalis she goes undercover for The Monarch to seduce Dr. Venture and infect him with a deadly serum, only to ultimately be slut-shamed by her boyfriend and driven back into the arms of her old boss, Phantom Limb. After some soul searching, she and The Monarch reunite and are granted duo-ship by the evil-doers bureaucracy The Guild of Calamitous Intent. It appears that their villainous bliss is put in jeopardy when in, episode 414, Assisted Suicide, she makes out with Henchmen #24, but when The Monarch finds out, he simply shrugs it off, pointing out that bad guys are pretty much all swingers.

Sally Impossible
AKA: The Visible Woman
First Appearance: Episode 109: Ice Station: Impossible
Rival scientist, Professor Impossible’s long oppressed wife, she is kept hidden from the outside world and her husband’s investors due to her invisible skin — a result of one of his laboratory accidents. Trapped in a loveless marriage and desperate for sexual intimacy she is constantly looking for a way out through the few men she comes in contact with, like in episode 205, 20 Years to Midnight where she mistakes Dr. Venture’s self-serving behavior for affection and desire to rescue her from her imprisonment.

Eventually, by episode 309, Now Museum – Now You Don’t, she is living with Dr. Venture’s parasitic twin brother, JJ, on Spider Skull Island as part of his defense team. Her absence from her husband’s life drives him into a deep depression and leaves him in such a low emotional state he can be recruited into the new evil guild, The Revenge Society as seen in episode 411, Every Which Way But Zeus.

Molotov Cocktease
Occupation: Siberian Mercenary
Group Affiliation: The Black Hearts
First Appearance: Episode 104: Eeney, Meeney, Miney… Magic!
A deadly opponent of the Venture family’s bodyguard/nanny, Brock Samson, the two are locked in a pre-coital tête-à-tête that, due to her titanium-clad chastity belt, she ultimately always wins. She is truly the only woman he has ever loved, which is proven in episode 207, Assassinanny, where she discovers while babysitting the Venture family in Samson’s absence, that he kept her eye as a memento.

Publick and Hammer make up for Molotov’s shameful underuse in the show by weaving her into major plot points in the most clandestine of ways; take for example episode 313, The Family That Slays Together, Stays Together, pt. 2, when she stages an elaborate assassination attempt on Samson in order to guarantee success for her own mercenary squad, The Black Hearts. In the season 4 finale, Operation P.R.O.M she reveals that while she is no longer chaste, her heart belongs to her new boyfriend, Monstroso and she lets herself fall to her apparent death rather than stay with Brock.

Triana Orpheus
Known Relatives: Dr. Byron Orpheus (father) Tatyana (mother)
First Appearance: Episode 104: Eeney, Meeney, Miney… Magic!
The daughter of the magical Dr. Orpheus, she and her father rent an apartment on the Venture property after her mother left them for a young necromancer named The Outrider. She is unaware that, because of her father’s involvement in the dark arts, her own sanity is teetering on the brink of instability, this is made most clear in episode 204, Escape to the House of Mummies where he alludes to having to wipe her memory every time she goes into her bedroom closet, which is actually a porthole to “the burning nowhere”.

When faced with a future of being married to Dean and mothering his deformed offspring in episode 407, The Better Man she decides to go and live with her mother, where she finds a new boyfriend, a dreamboat paraplegic named Raven.

Colonel Hunter Gathers
Occupation: Secret Agent
First Appearance: Episode 207: Assassinanny
Brock Samson’s government agent mentor, after dedicating his life to the secret agency OSI, he undergoes gender reassignment surgery to escape assassination after he goes AWOL.

He is frequently seen providing professional and spiritual guidance to Samson in flashbacks and, in the case of episode 211, Showdown at Cremation Creek, pt 1, a peyote induced fever dream. After spending some time working undercover as an exotic dancer and in an all-female mercenary squad, it is later revealed that he had been undercover for the splinter terrorist group S.P.H.I.N.X. all along, where Samson rejoins him as his charge. Though he is no longer living life as a woman (from the waist up, anyway) he reveals in episode 415, The Silent Partners that he misses his breasts: “Inside of me there’s a woman screaming to be heard!”

The Venture Bros. season five debuts on Sunday, June 2, at midnight on Adult Swim.

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23. My Own Style


I have always loved this quote from Lee Damsky...just so awesome! I created this by using paper as my base then adding some acrylic (background) and dye ink to add details. 

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24. Bookwomen

Bookwomen

I thought you might like to see the T-shirts I designed for the Friends of the Library 5K I ran last Saturday. Here I am faux-modeling them with my friend Carin Siegfried, an independent editor here in Charlotte.

Carin and I were 5K teammates for the local Women’s National Book Association chapter. If you’re in the area and are a booklover, it’s a great place to meet people and network. We have book industry professionals as well as folks who just love books, and actually, you don’t need to be female.

Just this week I got lots of encouragement and excellent ideas for my nonfiction project from another of my WNBA friends (yes, that’s the acronym–no, we don’t play basketball). WNBA meets monthly for all manner of book-related events. In October we host our annual Bibliofeast event, which is a fantastic dinner with a full slate of authors. Details on that event and everything else here.

If you don’t live in Charlotte but are interested, there are Women’s National Book Associations in Boston, New York, Detroit, Nashville, San Francisco, Seattle, and D.C.

I’ve been neck-deep in my nonfiction research this week. Feels great! It finally seems to be moving forward. Hope you have a great weekend.


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25. Christmas Lites III Cover Reveal!

Releases Dec. 3! All proceeds donated to

Releases Dec. 3! All proceeds donated to NCADV

The Christmas season is upon us yet again. Yes, my friends, it is a time of giving, loving, and sharing. Within these pages is a way you can help many people desperately in need of love, support, and goodness: the victims of domestic crime. By purchasing this anthology, you are sending every last dime made off this book to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The NCADV is an amazing charity that saves these people and lets them know there is still hope, still goodness, and still a reason to carry on.
Twenty-one authors have joined in this year, giving their time and their stories to these people – and to you. We all hope you enjoy our holiday tales captured in bite-size pieces. Whether you read this on the bus, before bed, or snuggled by the fire, please, do read – and share.

Authors in this anthology:

Addison Moore
A.F. Stewart
Amy Eye
Angela Yuriko Smith
Ben Warden
Cassie McCown
Elizabeth Evans
J.A. Clement
JG Faherty
Jonathan Tidball
M.L. Sherwood
Monica La Porta
Ottilie Weber
Patrick Freivald
Phil Cantrill
Robert Gray
Ron C. Neito
S. Patrick Pothier
Tricia Kristufek
Vered Ehsani
*Brandon Eye bonus story

Editor/compiler: Amy Eye of The Eyes for Editing
Cover Design Kyra Smith


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