Category Archives: Feminism

The Golden Girls Character Review: Blanche Devereaux

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series The Golden GirlsRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from The Golden Girls.  to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In our world, there are certain ideas about women and sex. When we get to our golden years, we are not interested in sex and/or romantic relationships. On The Golden Girls, Blanche Devereaux (the late Rue McClanahan) was the exact opposite of the stereotype. A modern version of Scarlett O’Hara, Blanche had her fair share of dates. Widowed for a few years, Blanche often waxed poetically about the South of her childhood and the many young men who came calling.

But Blanche is more than just an old Southern debutante. She was devoted to her late husband and her late parents. Though her parenting skills were not as strong, she tried, as many parents do. She also attempted to accept that her brother was gay, though it took some help from her roommates to finally respect who he really was. She is also equally devoted to her roommates, who pay rent to her as the owner of the house they share.

To sum it up: Blanche is a great character because she is vibrant, she is full of life and is complicated like the rest of us. As both a fan and a writer, I love how complicated Blanche is. I also love that she represents that a woman’s sexuality does not diminish once she gets to a certain age. That is why Blanche Devereaux is a character that television viewers will not forget anytime soon.

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Don't Mess With Nancy Pelosi

History was made in the United States today. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) asked her Democratic colleagues to start to draft articles of impeachment against you know who.

But I don’t want to talk about the impeachment in this post. I want to talk about the badass that is Nancy Pelosi.

After the announcement, she was asked if she hated the President. The question came from Sinclair reporter James Rosen. The exchange went as follows:

“Do you hate the president?’

Pelosi stopped and chided Rosen.

“I don’t hate anybody,” she said.

She then returned to the lectern and said, “As a Catholic, I resent your using the word hate in a sentence that addresses me. I don’t hate anyone.”

“So then don’t mess with me when it comes to words like that.”

Nancy Pelosi is my new hero. Unlike a certain fairweather President, she is not afraid to stand up for what she believes in, even if the idea is unpopular. She stands up for what is right and stands up for this country. If only we had more politicians like her.

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What Took So Long For the Black Widow Movie to be Made?

For the last ten years, movie fans have come to expect a new Avengers film every year or so. All of the major male heroes (with the exception of Hawkeye) have had at least one stand-alone film over the course of those ten years.

For most of the franchise, Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) was the only woman on the team. Up until very recently, she was also without a stand-alone film of her own. The trailer was released earlier this week for Black Widow.

The movie looks fantastic. The supporting cast (Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour) looks equally fantastic. But I have to question why it took so long for Marvel to greenlight a Black Widow film?

It feels like an afterthought. Its as if Marvel is trying to stretch the franchise as far as it can go instead of following the natural narrative. This film feels like it is akin to a child giving in to the pressure from their parents to eat their vegetables. I wish it was not this way, but this is the reality that we live. Women still have to fight for the opportunities that come naturally to men.

This movie is on my must-see list for 2020. But being that it will not be released for another 6 months, we can only speculate about this film. My hope is that it does well and finally breaks the glass ceiling on female superhero films once and for all.

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The Good Liar Movie Review

We all want romantic love, no matter how old we may be. But that does not mean that every potential romantic partner we need is looking for the same love that we are.

In the new film, The Good Liar, Betty (Helen Mirren) and Roy (Ian McKellen) meet as many of us do these days: via the internet. Both single and at a certain age, their first date goes well. But Roy is much more than the lonely widower looking for love again. He is a con-man extraordinaire. Betty is his latest mark. A wealthy widow with only an adult grandson as her family, Stephen (Russell Tovey), Betty seems like a mark that is too good to be true.

But like all things that are too good to be true, this particular con is not going as planned. Roy begins to have feelings for Betty, which complicates his plans. But then Betty plays her hand and the game switches.

The Good Liar is not the best film of 2019. However, it is one of the more unique films of this year. As the film’s leads, Mirren and McKellen bring a gravitas and the obvious decades of acting experience to their roles. I appreciated that as an older woman, Mirren is given equal screen time and an equally powerful character arc as McKellen. There are not many actresses of her generation who are given these roles.

That being said, the film was a little too long. There were moments when I wanted the big reveal to drop instead of holding out a little longer.

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.

The Good Liar is presently in theaters.

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Burn It Down: Women Writing about Anger Book Review

In public, men are allowed to be angry. However, when it comes to women in public, its another story. At best, it is considered to be unseemly. At worst, she is labelled a harpy, a shrew or a bitch.

In the new book, Burn It Down: Women Writing about Anger, editor Lilly Dancyger compiles a list of stories from different women are angry. They come from different walks of life and have different beliefs, but their anger unites them. They are told to keep quiet and smile politely, but in a world in which women are still second class, the anger refuses to stay put.

I really liked this book. Anger is a natural emotion. But in our culture, it is a negative trait in women and a positive trait in men. What I liked about this book is that I felt like it was not only a release for the women whose essays were included in the book. It was also a release for the female reader who is angry but has subscribed to the idea that public anger is wrong.

I recommend it.

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Gabrielle Union is All of Us

In an ideal working world, an employee is solely judged by his or her work history. Their personal identities, physical appearance and beliefs play no part in their working life. But we don’t live in an ideal working world.

In recent television news, actress Gabrielle Union was unceremoniously fired from NBC’s America’s Got Talent. The reason for her firing was the objection of certain language from guest judge Jay Leno and the treatment she received because she is an African-American woman. There are also rumors that Union and fellow judge Julianne Hough were subject to additional scrutiny because they are female.

Union also spoke up because Simon Cowell, who judges and produces the show, smoked inside.

In regards to Cowell’s alleged indoor smoking, I personally believe that it is a disgusting habit that destroys your lungs and your wallet. But that is my opinion on the subject. If someone wants to smoke, that is their prerogative. I can’t tell them not to smoke. However, when it comes to respecting others, if you do smoke, go outside and do it. I don’t want or need the stench of your cigarette on me.

When it comes to the other accusations, its the same old same old. Women are judged by their looks and not by their ability and their intellect. They are also labeled as “hard to work with” (or other non-PC names) if they stand up what they feel is wrong. In the clip above, a comment was made that struck me. I’ve been a fan of AGT for a few years. While the male judges remain, the female judges are rotated out every few years.

The more I read about this news story, the more I realize that Gabrielle Union is all of us. Though the details of her experience differ, the story is the same. A female employee speaks up against something that she believes is wrong. Instead of at the very least investigating her claims, management demotes and/or fires her and goes on as if nothing happened.

My hope is that this story spurs more women to speak up. I also hope that it lights the fire under a company’s ownership or management team to ensure that the negative publicity that NBC has received does not happen to them.

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The Golden Girls Character Review: Sophia Petrillo

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series The Golden GirlsRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from The Golden Girls.  to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

When it comes to women of a certain age, the impression is that time have taken their toll. At this point in their lives, they are living quietly, without the excitement of their younger years. Sophia Petrillo (the late Estelle Getty) on The Golden Girls proved that women of a certain age do not lose their lust for life just because their younger years are behind them.

Sophia was born in the first few years of the 20th century in Sicily. One of three children, she immigrated to New York as a teenager. After the death of her husband and being hospitalized for a stroke, Sophia moved in with her daughter, Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur).

The stroke took away Sophia’s ability to censure herself. This often led to conversations that ended with Dorothy threatening to send her mother back to the home. “Shady Pines, Ma” was often heard out of the mouth of an exasperated Dorothy.

Though she openly mocks her housemates, Sophia loves them as if they all were her flesh and blood. It is that love that sustains her, especially after Dorothy re-marries and moves in with her new husband.

To sum it up: It would be easy to create a character of a certain age who has taken a back seat to life. It is harder to create the same character, especially if she is female, with the same vibrancy and joie de vivre as a younger woman. Fans of The Golden Girls love Sophia because she is sassy, she is smart, but most of all, she loves her daughter.

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The Chaperone Movie Review

The opportunity to travel offers more than what it appears to be. It is more than the place one goes to, it is the emotional experience and the growth that comes with travel.

The 2018 movie, The Chaperone, is based on the book of the same name by Laura Moriarty. At the age of fifteen, future silent screen star Louise Brooks (Haley Lu Richardson) is given the opportunity to study dance at a prestigious school in New York City. But a fifteen year old girl cannot travel alone, especially in 1922. Norma (Elizabeth McGovern) is there to make sure that Louise stays out of trouble.

But Norma has her own reasons for leaving Kansas and her family behind. Can she find the answers she is looking for and will Louise become the star that she dreams of becoming?

Penned by Downton Abbey scribe Julian Fellows, this movie is interesting. I appreciated the parallel character arcs of the lead characters. Though their end goals are different, their individual journeys are remarkably similar. I also appreciated the relationships with the men around them are secondary to the relationship between Norma and Louise.

However, compared to Downton Abbey, this movie is kind of meh. Though I have not read the book yet, I did not have the chill up my spine that I had with Downton.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

The Chaperone is available for streaming on Masterpiece.

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Filed under Books, Downton Abbey, Feminism, History, Movies, New York City

The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation Book Review

Unless one is a diehard political junkie, the confirmation process of potential Supreme Court judges is an event that can be missed. But the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh last year was must-see TV. The sexual assault allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford made viewers and those in the halls of power ask if Judge Kavanaugh was truly up to the task at hand.

The new book, The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation, by New York Times writers Kate Kelly and Robin Pogrebin, is more than the story of Judge Kavanaugh. It is a mirror that reveals the truth that America is a divided nation, politically, socially and culturally. While telling the story of Judge Kavanaugh’s life, Kelly and Pogrebin do a deep dive into who their subject is and the accusations that nearly stopped his career in its path.

Like many Americans, I watched this story like a hawk last fall. What I like about the book is that the writers leave the perspective up to the interpretation of the reader. Though they make clear that the allegations are serious (as they should), they do not play judge and jury.

As a feminist, I have two perspectives on this story. The first perspective is that Judge Kavanaugh acted in a way that only one who is young, immature and stupidly drunk will act. It appears that in middle age, he has matured well beyond the young man he was in the 1980’s. The second perspective is that this is a man who has no respect for women, especially when he is not sober. If he truly has no respect for women, how is able to make sound legal judgements that can potentially affect millions of American women?

I recommend it.

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The Golden Girls Character Review: Rose Nylund

*I apologize about the delay in posting. For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series The Golden GirlsRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from The Golden Girls.  to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

The dumb blonde has been a reliable character trope for generations. But it takes a smart writer and a smarter actress to take that character trope into new directions. On The Golden Girls, Rose Nylund (Betty White) appears to be the stereotypical dumb blonde. But she is much more than that.

At first glance, Rose appears to be far from the brightest bulb in the box. She says and does things that only a naif would say and do. The stories of her youth often reference her hometown, St. Olaf and the Scandinavian-American family that she was raised in. While she may appear to be a dumb blonde, Rose is much more than the archetype.

A widow whose husband died while they were making love, it takes Rose a few years to get back into the dating world. She is employed in a series of jobs after losing her late husband’s pension. Though she did have a long term relationship with Miles Webber (Harold Gould), the relationship ended after they broke up and Miles married another woman.

To sum it up: It would be easy to characterize Rose as a dumb blonde. But she is so much deeper than the innocent that she appears to be. Rose is empathetic, kind, loving, sensitive and sometimes, not all there. But we love her still, regardless of her lack of intellectual abilities.

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