Category Archives: Feminism

RIP Aretha Franklin

Today, we lost of one of the giants of modern music, Aretha Franklin.

Known as The Queen Of Soul, her powerful voice and unforgettable songs have touched multiple generations of fans and performers. Her music broke barriers and easily jumped across genres, pulling in fans of every race, color and creed.

Her activism in the Civil Rights movement paved the way for people of color to succeed in ways that had only been dreamed of before.

Her music is iconic. Respect and Chain Of Fools are still feminist anthems decades after they were released.

One cannot help but sing along to her songs and feel the joy that comes from her music.

She was 76. RIP.

 

 

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The Romanov Empress: A Novel of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna Book Review

From the outside looking in, the life of a princess appears to be that of a charmed life. But if one was to look from the inside out, the perspective would be completely different.

Maria Feodorovna was not just born into a royal house, she married into one. Her story is chronicled in the new novel, The Romanov Empress: A Novel of Tsarina Maria Feodorovna. Written by C. W. Gortner, the author takes the reader on a journey from her character’s teen years to the last years of her life. Maria Feodorovna started her life as Princess Dagmar of Denmark. As a teenager, she married the future Tsar Alexander III of Russia. She would go on to have six children, five of whom would live to adulthood. Her eldest son, Nicholas II of Russia, is remembered as the last Tsar of Russia before the Communist Revolution.

Known to her loved ones as Minnie, Maria was not a shrinking violet by any stretch of the imagination. Intelligent, capable and strong-willed, Maria was the woman behind the throne. She may not have yielded power directly, but her influence was not unnoticed by those around her.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s not a short book in terms of length, but that’s ok. This is the type of book that should be read slowly so that every moment can be savored and remembered. The author has brilliantly found a way to balance the history and the endless myriad details of the period with the everyday humanity of her characters. The novel has an almost cinematic feel to it. It was as if I could not just see this world, but feel lit, touch it and live in int.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

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Defending The Motherland: The Soviet Women Who Fought Hitler’s Aces Book Review

War often asks ordinary citizens to act differently than they would when their country is at peace. This includes women who for the most part, remained in the background.

One of the lesser known and appreciated historical facts about World War II is that the war motivated women to stretch their legs beyond the traditional roles that they were accustomed to. In The Soviet Union, women not only actively joined the armed forces, but also were part of same-sex combat units that successfully fought back against the Germans.

The story of these women is laid out in the 2015 book, Defending The Motherland: The Soviet Women Who Fought Hitler’s Ace’s. Written by Lyuba Vinogradova, the author pulls together interviews with the surviving airwomen to tell the story of the squadrons who fought for their country while fighting sexism within the military.

I found this book to be not only educational and well written, but extremely interesting. The author found a way to bring her subjects to life in a way that not only appealed to both the feminist and the history nerd in me.

I recommend it.

 

 

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Throwback Thursday-St. Trinian’s (2007)

Movies set in an academic setting range from serious to silly to rebellious.

In the 2007 film St. Trinian’s, the school’s reputation for educating the next generation of British women is not the strongest. The students may not care about their school’s less than stellar reputation, but the minister of Education does. He takes on the task of reforming St. Trinian’s, not realizing that a) the school’s headmistress is his ex and b) the effort required to get the school to where he thinks it should be is almost a Herculean task. While this is happening, the school is already in danger of closing due to financial issues. Can the girls save the day by ripping off a well-known painting?

Starring Colin Firth, Rupert Everett, Talulah Riley and Gemma Arterton, the film is not for everyone. But it has strong message about girl power and a cheeky sense of humor that overrides the somewhat lackluster narrative.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Thoughts On Jennifer Aniston NOT Being A Mom

Having children, for many adults, is one of the greatest joys of their lives. It is also the greatest challenge of their lives.

In the upcoming September issue of InStyle, Jennifer Aniston addresses a number of issues regarding her personal life. One of the issues is that she does not have any children.

Since nearly the beginning of humanity, women have been told over and over again that they have one job: to bring a child into the world and raise it until the child reaches adulthood.

Some women, for any number of reasons, are not mothers. Some do not want children, others may have a physical or psychological condition that would only be complicated by pregnancy.

Of course, there are nay sayers who come back with the usual responses: “you just have not met the right person” or “wait till you get to a certain age, you will regret not having children”.

Frankly it’s no one business whether or not Jennifer Aniston or any woman has or doesn’t have children. She is an actress who is one of the lucky few to sustain a decades long career in Hollywood. Where she has succeeded, many have failed.

While the lives of the rich and famous have always been compelling to the masses, I find this spotlight to be ridiculous and a waste of time. There are so many issues that Americans are facing these days, the fact that Jennifer Aniston is not someone’s mother should not be and is not headline worthy news.

 

 

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Add Another One To The List XII: Les Moonves And Chris Hardwick

Since last fall, the backlash against rich and powerful men accused of sexual assault and/or harassment has been swift and powerful. Men who thought they could get away with such acts without repercussions are finally being forced to admit to their crimes. The newest men added to this dishonorable list is CEO chairman Les Moonves and  comic/podcast host Chris Hardwick.

Last week, Mr. Moonves was accused of using the casting couch to fill his sexual needs in return for work. In June, Mr. Hardwick was accused of abusing and blacklisting an ex-girlfriend.

The accusations against Mr. Moonves are still fresh. Only time will tell if he receives the same statement as Harvey Weinstein or if he is exonerated. As of this week, Mr. Hardwick has been cleared of the charges.

I feel like at this point, our collective response should not be all fire and fury. But that also depends on the severity of the charge. The response to the accusations against Aziz Ansari should not be the same response to Harvey Weinstein.  But that doesn’t mean that they can get away with it.

The message should be clear. Sexual assault and harassment by both men and women will not be tolerated. Those accused of such acts and found guilty will receive a punishment that fits the crime.

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Mary B: A Novel: An untold story of Pride and Prejudice Book Review

In Pride and Prejudice, Mary Bennet is the classic middle child. She is neither beautiful like Jane, witty like Lizzie or outrageous like Kitty and Lydia. Like her sisters, she knows that she must marry well to survive, but without looks or fortune, she knows that the chances of marrying well, if at all are slim to none.

This is the premise of the new novel, Mary B: A Novel: An untold story of Pride and Prejudice.Written by Katherine J. Chen, the book tells Mary’s story before, during and after the events in Pride and Prejudice. As she watches three of her sisters marry, Mary knows that she will forever be the spinster sister dependent on others for her needs. Her only solace is her books and the story in her head that she begins to write.

Then life begins to imitate art and Mary’s voice as a smart and independent woman begins to shine through.

I had high expectations for this book. In terms of Pride and Prejudice characters, Mary is often given the short shrift. It was nice to hear her perspective on the world. However, I had two points of contention that I have no choice but to bring up. The first is that there was language and certain phrasing that was too modern for Georgian England. The second was Colonel Fitzwilliam. Without giving away the plot, I felt like his narrative and specific character arc did not ring true when compared to how he was portrayed in the original novel. In Pride and Prejudice, Colonel Fitzwilliam is outgoing and jovial. His cousin, Mr. Darcy, is perceived in a good chunk of the novel as surely and anti-social. In this book, Colonel Fitzwilliam is closer to Mr. Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility or Mr. Churchill in Emma than he is to how Jane Austen introduced us to in Pride and Prejudice.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Emma, Feminism, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Writing

Throwback Thursday-Joe Millionaire (2003) & Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? (2000)

In television, there are two types of programs. The first type is engaging, entertaining and intellectually stimulating. The second type requires the least amount of brain cells and can often be described as demeaning. It’s therefore no surprise that some reality television shows fall into the second category.

In the early 2000’s, Fox aired two programs that represents the worst of the worst of reality television: Joe Millionaire (2003) and Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? (2000)

The focus of Joe Millionaire was Evan Marriott. The female contestants vying for his affection are told that he is a wealthy man seeking a spouse. But the reality is that Mr. Marriott is far from wealthy, he is a construction worker. At the end of the series, the truth of his occupation was revealed. If the chosen woman stayed with Mr. Marriott, the couple would earn a million dollars.

The premise of Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? was a cross between a Miss America like beauty pageant and a game show. The female contestants went through the motions of participating in a beauty pageant. But instead of earning the title that is ordinarily bestowed on the winner of such events, they earned the title of the wife of an unknown multi-millionaire. In the end, Darva Conger won the competition and instantly married Rick Rockwell. Let’s just say leave it as there was no happily ever after for this couple.

The problem with these shows is two-fold. The first issue is that it still spreads the idea that a woman’s only goal in life should be finding a husband. The second issue is that it says that some women, when they do marry, are for lack of a better term, gold diggers. They choose a spouse based on one’s fortune and not on one’s person.

I just find both shows to be despicable and a complete waste of my precious television viewing time.

Do I recommend both? Absolutely not.

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Thoughts On The Basis of Sex Trailer

When it comes to social reforms, there are two avenues: protest and amending the law.

When Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a young lawyer, the second wave of the feminist movement was at its height. While many saw the path to equality via protest, the future Justice Ginsburg understood that amending the law was just as important as public protest.

Her experience in this period of her life is documented in the upcoming film On The Basis Of Sex. Starring Felicity Jones as RBG and Armie Hammer as her late husband Martin Ginsburg, the film tells the story of the court case that would put RBG on the legal map and on the road to joining the Supreme Court decades later.

The problem with some biopics is that regardless of whether the subject is alive or dead, the facts don’t always make it to the final cut of the film. My hope (especially because RBG is still alive and kicking), is that the film (and Felicity Jones by extension) portrays RBG as she ought to be portrayed on the big screen.

On The Basis Of Sex hits theaters on December 25th. 

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Another Straight White Man Is In A Seat Of Power

When Justice Kennedy announced his retirement two weeks ago, it was predicted by many on both sides of the political aisle that his chosen replacement would certainly be conservative in his political beliefs.

Earlier tonight, you know who introduced Justice Kennedy’s replacement. Brett Kavanaugh is to be the new associate Justice on the Supreme court, pending a hearing in the Senate.

I’m going to go out and say it, because there is no other way to react. And if sound like liberal, I am.

Another straight white man is in a seat of power. It’s not exactly a surprise that among the four front-runners, there was no one of color and only one woman, Amy Coney Barrett.

The government is supposed to be of the people, by the people and for the people. How is the government supposed to do this if those in power do not reflect the voters who put them in power?

Only time will tell how Mr. Kavanaugh will vote on the cases that are presented to SCOTUS, if he is indeed confirmed by the Senate.  My hope is that he will vote with his heart and his legal head instead of blindly voting via partisan lines. But then again, hope often springs eternal, especially considering our current political climate.

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