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By: Hannah Paget,
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, Health & Medicine
, Science & Medicine
, Joanna Bourke
, pain relief
, Story of Pain
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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?
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On women and pain relief
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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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The post Does pain have a history? appeared first on OUPblog.
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
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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, Current Affairs
, Editor's Picks
, Delhi gang rape protests
, Pratiksha Baxi
, Public Secrets of Law
, Rape Trials in India
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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.
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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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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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.
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.
By: Elizabeth Gorney,
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, Psychology & Neuroscience
, Social Work
, Battered Women's Protective Strategies
, domestic violence
, Sherry Hamby
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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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 |
| Hardware for Drapes|
|Kitchen Patent #1,612,730 1924|
|First Floor Bathroom|
|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.
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.
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!
Henry Holt and Company, 2014
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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, faith on the avenue
, international women's month
, katie day
, religion in america
, religion on a city street
, women in leadership
, women's history month
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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.
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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It’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.
Blog: The Open Book
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, Musings & Ponderings
, Anna May Wong
, augusta savage
, florence mills
, hiromi suzuki
, Marcenia Lyle
, patsy mink
, Pura Belpré
, Rosa Parks
, Wangari Maathai
, women's history
, women's history month
, zora neale hurston
, Add a tag
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
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
3. Anna May Wong, Shining Star: The Anna May Wong Story - the first Chinese American movie star
4. Florence Mills, Baby Flo: Florence Mills Lights Up the Stage - an international dancing and singing superstar during the Harlem Renaissance
5. Augusta Savage, In Her Hands: The Story of Sculptor Augusta Savage- a sculptor during the Harlem Renaissance who carved out her own special place in art history
6. Pura Belpré, The Storyteller’s Candle / La velita de los cuentos - New York City’s first Latina librarian
7. Patsy Mink, How We Are Smart - an American politician from the U.S. state of Hawaii
8. Hiromi Suzuki, Hiromi’s Hands - one of a handful of women in the male-dominated world of sushi chefs
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
10. Zora Neale Hurston, Zora Hurston and the Chinaberry Tree - renowned African American writer
Filed under: Book Lists
, Musings & Ponderings
Tagged: Anna May Wong
, augusta savage
, florence mills
, hiromi suzuki
, Marcenia Lyle
, patsy mink
, Pura Belpré
, Rosa Parks
, Wangari Maathai
, women's history
, women's history month
, zora neale hurston
The Girl from the Tar Paper School: Barbara Rose Johns and the advent of The Civil
by Teri Kanefield
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.
By: Kyle Zimmer,
Blog: First Book
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Books & Reading
, First Book Partners
, Kyle Zimmer
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, Dinah Mwangi
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, Girls Inc. of Alameda County
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, Katie Hendricks
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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 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.
As 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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February is Black History Month and way back in 2011, I looked at a book about African American soldiers in World War II called The Double V Campaign: African Americans and World War II
by Michael L. Cooper. The Double V Campaign demanded that African Americans who were risking their lives fighting for freedom and democracy abroad should be given full civil rights at home - Victory at home AND abroad. Cooper's book is an interesting, well-researched book, but it doesn't tell the whole story of the Double Victory Campaign. The Double V campaign was also waged on the home front, and women played a very important part.
In her book, Double Victory: How African American Women Broke Race and Gender Barriers to Help Win World War II
, Cheryl Mullenbach brings together the lives and work of a number of strong, brave women in four areas: women who worked in the war industry, women who became political activists, women in the military, volunteers and of course, women in entertainment.
Here are only a few of the many stories covered in Mullenbach's book:
High school teacher Layle Lane was asked by A. Philip Randolph, a Civil Righs leader, to help organize a March on Washington in 1941 to end discrimination in employment, since most defense plants would not hire African Americans. The march never happened, but Lane was in on the talks with President Roosevelt that led to the issuance of Executive Order Number 8802, which meant if you discriminate, the Fair Employment Practices Committee can investigate you. It wasn't perfect, but it was a start.
Pauli Murray, a female law student, let students from Howard University in peaceful direct action sit-in at a restaurant that refused to serve African Americans. Three by three the students entered, sat and asked for service. When that was refused, they stayed seated and began to quietly study. Police couldn't arrest them because by not being served, they weren't breaking the law. The owner closed for the day, but when he reopened the next day, the students held a peaceful picket outside and after a few days of lost business, the Whites Only sign came down.
The women who joined the WAAC (Women's Army Auxiliary Corps) once it was opened to African Americans discovered the racism and segregation followed them into the military, just as it had followed men of color. Nevertheless, the women soldered on and succeeded. And eventually, Charity Adams even became the first African American woman officer in the WAACs and commanded the 6888th Central Postal Battalion (see Mare's War by Tanita Davis
for an interesting and accurate fictional account of one women's experience in the 6888th).
Star power carries a lot of weight and in WWII it was not different. When the Hollywood Victory Campaign was formed, actress Hattie McDaniel was asked to be in charge of "Negro talent" section. Hattie, who had won an Academy Award in 1940 for playing Mammy in Gone with the Wind, helped to organize black entertainers to perform in the segregated all black units of the armed forces. This work required the entertainers would need to meet frequently, usually at Hattie's house. But she lived in a restricted area, meaning no blacks allowed. So when the white homeowners filed a legal complaint, Hattie fought back and won.
Lena Horne, one of my favorite singers, was a favorite during the 1930s and 1940s and she was also part of the Hollywood Victory Campaign. Mullenbach tells about the time on a southern USO tour, Lena performed one night to a white only audience, and the next morning in the mess hall, she was to perform for the black soldiers. But in the front row were German POWs. She left the stage, stood in front of the black soldiers, back to the Germans and sang. She ended up quitting the USO tour over this, but continued entertaining soldiers throughout the war.
These are just a few of the many interesting women included in Double Victory: How African American Women Broke Race and Gender Barriers to Help Win World War II
. It is a well-researched, nicely presented book with lots of supporting photographs and detailed back matter. It is intelligently written, yet very accessible for young readers. The fact that she introduces us to ordinary women doing extraordinary things in wartime makes it all the more valuable. And while it is good to know that anyone can make a difference, not just famous people, it is also nice to read about the contributions of so many African American women, which are often overlooked.
Kathryn Atwood started a narrative about women and their courageous acts in WWII in her work Women Heroes of World War II
and Cheryl Mullenbach has extended that narrative to include African American women in Double Victory: How African American Women Broke Race and Gender Barriers to Help Win World War II
This book is recommended for readers age 12+
This book was an E-ARC from Net Galley
For more on the Double Victory Campaign, see Newspapers - The Pittsburgh Courier and
Fighting For Democracy - African Americans
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, Science & Medicine
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, Daniel Freeman
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By Daniel Freeman and Jason Freeman
Students are often told — perhaps by excited friends or nostalgic parents — that university is the best time of their life. Well, for some people these years may live up to their billing. For many others, however, things aren’t so straightforward. College can prove more of a trial than a pleasure.
In truth it’s hardly surprising that many students struggle with university life. For one thing, it’s probably the first time they’ve lived away from home. College involves all sorts of potentially daunting changes and challenges with the young person’s support network of family and friends usually many miles away.
It isn’t only university life that students may be struggling with. Many common psychological problems also tend to develop around this stage of life. Depression, phobias, social anxiety, panic disorder, insomnia, alcohol problems, eating disorders, sexual problems — all typically begin during adolescence or early adulthood.
Whether students arrive at university with these problems, or develop them while there, coping with mental health issues alone and in a strange town can be particularly difficult. It’s not made any easier by the assumption that you should be having a ball.
When we think about mental health, one issue that is often overlooked is gender. Yet who is more likely to develop almost all of the psychological problems we’ve mentioned? The answer is clear: women.
Indeed, although it’s commonly asserted that rates of psychological disorder are virtually identical for men and women, when one takes a careful look at the most reliable epidemiological data a very different picture emerges.
Contrary to received wisdom, overall rates of psychological disorder are not the same for both sexes. In fact, they are around 20-40% higher in women than in men. Depression, for example, affects approximately twice as many women as men. The same is true for anxiety disorders. Women are anywhere from three to ten times more likely to develop eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa. There’s good evidence to suggest that women are more vulnerable to both sleep disorders (primarily insomnia) and sexual problems (such as loss of desire, arousal problems, and pain during sex — all of which are classified as psychological issues).
This doesn’t mean, of course, that mental illness is an exclusively female problem — far from it. Very large numbers of men experience depression and anxiety, for example.
Nevertheless, though men tend to be prone to so-called externalizing disorders such as alcohol and drug problems and anti-social personality disorder, while women are more susceptible to emotional problems like depression and anxiety, the figures aren’t equal. If the epidemiological data is reliable, women clearly outnumber men for psychological disorders as a whole.
How do we explain this phenomenon? Why is it that women appear to be more vulnerable to mental illness than men? Well, this is an under-researched area. In the case of certain disorders — depression, most notably — some useful work has been done on gender. For most conditions, however, we have little evidence for why men and women are affected differently.
Things are especially tricky because mental illness is seldom the result of just one factor: a complex mix of genetic, biological, psychological, and social causes is often involved. Yet patterns do emerge from the limited research that has been conducted into the links between gender and mental health. What stands out is the stress caused by life events and social roles.
It’s certainly plausible that women experience higher levels of stress because of the demands of their social role. Increasingly, women are expected to function as career woman, homemaker, and breadwinner — all while being perfectly shaped and impeccably dressed: “superwoman” indeed. Given that domestic work is undervalued, and considering that women tend to be paid less, find it harder to advance in a career, have to juggle multiple roles, and are bombarded with images of apparent female “perfection”, it would be surprising if there weren’t some emotional cost. Women are also much more likely to have experienced childhood sexual abuse, a trauma that all too often results in lasting damage.
How do these environmental factors affect the individual? At a psychological level, the evidence suggests that they can undermine women’s self-concept — that is, the way a person thinks about themselves. These are the kind of pressures that can leave women feeling as if they’ve somehow failed; as if they don’t have what it takes to be successful; as if they’ve been left behind. Body image worries may be especially damaging. Then there’s the fact that women are taught to place such importance on social relationships. Such relationships can be a fantastic source of strength, of course. But to some extent we’re relying on other people for our happiness: a risky business. If things don’t work out, our self-concept can take a knock.
Perhaps then, part of the reason why so many common psychological disorders begin in adolescence and early adulthood is because this is the time when young people start to take on the demands of their conventional adult role. If those demands are more stressful for women than men that may help explain why we see young women start to outnumber young men when it comes to psychological problems.
But we need more evidence. The best answers will come from longitudinal studies: following representative cohorts over a number of years from childhood into adulthood, and carefully measuring the interaction between biological factors, life events, and mental illness.
Such research is complex and expensive, but given the extent of the burden on society and individuals alike, understanding what causes mental illness and thus being better placed to prevent and treat it should need no justification. Yet we cannot assume, as so many have done, that gender is merely a marginal issue in mental health. In fact, it may often be a crucial element of the puzzle.
Daniel Freeman is Professor of Clinical Psychology and MRC Senior Clinical Fellow, Oxford University. Jason Freeman is a freelance writer and editor. Together they wrote The Stressed Sex: Uncovering the Truth About Men, Women, and Mental Health, Anxiety: A Very Short Introduction, and Paranoia: The 21st Century Fear.
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Image Credits: (1) Stressed student. Photo by Alexeys, iStockphoto. (2) Hard study. Photo by Oliver, iStockphoto.
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For my INK blog this month, I am doing something a tiny bit different, although all the content is still nonfiction, and it is in honor of my new picture book about Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor in America, which came out this Tuesday. But I digress. What is the Next Big Thing? It is an author blog tour. What’s a blog tour? A blog tour gives those on the tour a chance to meet different authors by way of their blogs. The Next Big Thing began in Australia. Each week a different author answers specific questions about his or her upcoming book. The answers are posted on author’s blogs. Then we get to tag another author. On and on it goes.
The tour came to me from Manhattan. I was tagged by my friend Elizabeth Winthrop. She was tagged by her friend Eric Kimmel. I’ll tell you whom I’m tagging at the end.
Now for the questions.
What is the title of your next book?
Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? It is the story of Elizabeth Blackwell, who was the first woman doctor in America.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I have done, and do, a lot of research on women’s history—especially in America. Elizabeth Blackwell’s story was one I came upon again and again. It was also one of those stories I tried to sell more than once but met with some resistance because Blackwell’s name is not instantly recognizable. I felt that was exactly why there should be a book about her!
What genre does your book fall under?
Most definitely picture book.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Keira Knightley would make a fabulous Elizabeth Blackwell, who was also British—although she is too tall in real life. But Knightley captures the spark and fire of Elizabeth well. Blackwell was a petite blonde, studious and serious, but a real risk-taker.
Who is publishing your book?
Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt and Company (Macmillan Kids Books)
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I never know how to answer this question! With picture books, especially, I tend to write a draft and stick it in a drawer for quite a long time, then pull it back out and work on it again, and repeat. A few years inevitably pass in this way.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Elizabeth Blackwell inspired me to write this book! There are older books about her, but it was time to get younger kids excited and let them know who this trailblazer was.
What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
I love Blackwell’s fire. The details I discovered about her toughness as a kid were a delight to find and kids will, I think, really be able to relate to some of the things she did as a child. Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? hit bookshelves this past Tuesday, and I couldn't be happier.
For the next Next Big Thing, I am tagging the amazing and talented Deborah Heiligman. Her answers will be up soon.
“Just the facts, Ma’am. Just the facts.” Isn’t that what Sgt. Joe Friday would say on Dragnet? Actually, no. Sgt. Friday’s actual lines were "All we want are the facts, ma'am" and "All we know are the facts, ma'am".
The writer's mind is always working - always questioning, always wondering. Last Saturday night, I sat down for some TV time and the movie Hysteria was on. I love that time frame, the actors in the movie, and the subject. In my last book, I touch upon the diagnosis of hysteria that was used to describe the feelings of women in the late 19th century. It’s a topic that interests me, so I settled down to spend a few hours watching the movie.
The beginning of the movie starts with “1880” at the bottom of the screen. I’m enjoying the movie until Maggie Gyllenhaal’s character, Charlotte, rides down the street on her bike. “Wait, a second”, that voice way back in my head says. “That’s a safety bike, they weren't invented until 1885.” I know, the director was trying to show that the character of was a strong, independent woman. The bicycle in the 1890s was a very instrumental in the woman’s rights movement. In fact, Susan B. Anthony told the New York World’s Nellie Bly in 1896 that bicycling had “done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.” But, the safety bike, though it is very cool, wasn’t invented until 1885.
The next day, as I am wont to do, I researched the movie, the characters, and the story. The movie totally changed the actual facts and characters for Hollywood’s version of the story. I was okay with that. I was not okay with the appearance of the safety bike. Actually on IMDB in the goofs section, it states: “The character Charlotte Dalrymple is shown riding a safety bicycle. The film is set in 1880, but safety bicycles weren't invented until 1885.”
IMDB not a valid source, but a good jumping off point, I soon plunged into my own quest for the truth. After swimming through the pages and pages of research, images, and such, I narrowed down the manufacturer of the bicycle in the movie - who may not manufactured this particular style until many years past 1885. Before I could continue, to squelch my excitement, that little voice in the back of my head asked, “Don’t you have a manuscript due in a few days?
The manuscript I just finished contains about 200 "things" about Chicago. Since it is for kids, I thoroughly researched every fact and yelled at my computer when I found twisted information. For example, several sources said that rainbow sherbet is a Chicago thing. The truth is "rainbow cone" is a Chicago thing, not rainbow sherbet.
In my description of the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition, I wanted to show the many inventions from the fair. Many sources said that the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair introduced the world to the Pledge of Allegiance, Cracker Jack, the Ferris Wheel and Juicy Fruit Gum. The Random House site for The Devil in the White City
says: "The World’s Fair introduced America to such classic favorites as Cracker Jack, Shredded Wheat. and Juicy Fruit and was the birth of historically significant symbols like Columbus Day, the Ferris Wheel, and the Pledge of Allegiance."
In actually, what Erik Larson wrote about Juicy Fruit was: “They sampled a new, oddly flavored gum called Juicy Fruit and caramel-coated popcorn called Cracker Jack.”
Evidently, what Erik Larson writes is fact. Many sources now state, crediting The Devil in the White City
as the source, that the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair introduced the world to Cracker Jack, the Ferris Wheel, and Juicy Fruit. Cracker Jack was actually sold at the fair, the Ferris Wheel no one can doubt was a hit at the fair, but Juicy Fruit was not officially at the fair.
Other products that receive second billing as introductions at the fair had actual booths; Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix, Shredded Wheat, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and others. The Wrigley website reads: "In 1893, during an economic depression, he introduced two brands that would become company icons: Wrigley’s Spearmint® and Juicy Fruit®."
Going straight to the source, I sent an email to the Senior Vice President of Wrigley Corporate Affairs. We went back and forth a few times but I didn’t get an official answer to my question: "In time for the fair and the millions visited. It would have been sold by salesmen and women to the crowds attending may of whom visited Chicago for the first time. There will not have been a Juicy Fruit pavilion I'm pretty sure it was launched in time for the worlds fair rather than at it.” "It was as I thought. It was launched in Chicago in time for the World’s Fair but it wasn’t an official part of the Fair.” “The fair bought many people to chicago so lots of footfall for the brand." "But in 1893 Wrigley was a small business and remain so for another 15 years or so.”
In the end, what I finally wrote as part of the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition: William Wrigley Jr. introduced Juicy Fruit gum. (And, people wonder why writing takes so long.)
I started this piece by quoting Sgt. Joe Friday, I thought I’d end it by sharing a few fabulous fact quotes by some very wise folks.“If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts.”
~Albert_Einstein “Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable."
~Mark Twain “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
~John Adams“The truth is more important than the facts.”
~Frank Lloyd Wright“False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for everyone takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness; and when this is done, one path towards error is closed and the road to truth is often at the same time opened.”
And, finally,"Never trust quotes you find on the internet."
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.
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!
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Tagged: Book Lists
, dreams and aspirations
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, women's history
, women's history month
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?
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
By: Jennifer DeDonato,
Blog: Colorfly Studio
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, mixed media
, jennifer dedonato
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, lee damsky
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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.
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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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:
Angela Yuriko Smith
Monica La Porta
Ron C. Neito
S. Patrick Pothier
*Brandon Eye bonus story
Editor/compiler: Amy Eye of The Eyes for Editing
Cover Design Kyra Smith