Category Archives: Feminism

The Martha Mitchell Effect Documentary Review

In every era, there are heroes that are recognized for their bravery. Then there are other heroes who are only acknowledged for their contributions long after that time has passed.

Martha Mitchell is one of those heroes who, unfortunately, is only starting to be seen and respected. The new Netflix documentary, The Martha Mitchell Effect, dropped recently on the streaming channel. In the early 1970s, she was married to John Mitchell, who was then the Attorney General for Richard Nixon. Not exactly known for being the meek and silent type, Martha was quick to blab to the press about her husband’s legally and morally dubious work. Silenced by both Nixon and her husband, she was made to believe that she was crazy.

I wish I had learned about her earlier. When we talk about second-wave feminism icons, Martha Mitchell is a name who rarely comes up. After watching this movie, I felt like she should be given a second look by modern feminists and historians. She dared to take on a corrupt administration and tell the truth when many stayed silent.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The Martha Mitchell Effect is available for streaming on Netflix.

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Filed under Feminism, History, Mental Health, Movie Review, Movies, Netflix, Politics

Bloomsbury Girls: A Novel Book Review

A bookstore is much more than it seems to be. It is a magical place in which dreams become reality and we can travel as far as our imagination takes us. It is also a place of business in which office politics and society’s rules play a role in the work environment.

Natalie Jenner‘s new book, Bloomsbury Girls: A Novel, was published last month. It takes place in 1950. Bloomsbury Books has been in London for a century, catering to the city’s book lovers. While times have changed, the store remains firmly stuck in the past. The staff (who are mostly male) are ruled by a list of 51 rules that are unbreakable. Despite this, the three female employees are doing what they can to break boundaries.

Vivian lost her titled fiance to World War II. He was killed in action, leaving her heartbroken. Five years after the war, she is focused on her career. Fashion-conscious and incredibly smart, she knows that she can do more than her current responsibilities.

Grace finds solace in her job. Married with two young sons, she is the sole source of income for her family. Though she loves being a mother and is trying to be a good wife (in spite of her husband’s faults), she would love to do her own thing.

Evelyn has raised herself up from being a farm girl and housemaid via a university degree. When she is turned down for an academic position due to her gender, she takes the job at the bookstore. Just because she is down does not mean that she is out. She has a plan for the future.

I love this book. Like its predecessor, it is well-written, charming, and completely entertaining. I was immediately drawn into this story of three women navigating a world and a job in which they are second class. Instead of shrinking and meekly accepting their roles, they stand up for themselves. It is a lesson that unfortunately, is just as relevant today as it was 72 years ago.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Bloomsbury Girls: A Novel is available wherever books are sold.

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Married With Children Character Review: Kelly Bundy

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*I apologize for not posting last weekend. The family came first.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television show Married… With Children. Read 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.

If we can say nothing else about Kelly Bundy (Christina Applegate), we can say that she is a chip off the old block. Like her mother, Peg (Katey Sagal), Kelly is not above using her sexuality to get her way. Like her father, Al (Ed O’Neill), she isn’t the brightest bulb in the box. Combine that with the blonde hair, and you’ve got the typical dumb blonde teenage girl.

Though she has a long series of boyfriends, none of them last. Al takes particular pleasure in sending them packing. She also loves to mock her little brother, Bud, who turns around and mocks her right back. When she is in school, Kelly would prefer to be elsewhere. Which accounts for grades that are nothing to brag about. In the eyes of her classmates, she is the mean girl.

But when push comes to shove, she is a Bundy. Bundys stick together, no matter what.

To sum it up: Obviously, Kelly is a dumb blonde who relies on her physical features to get by. But that is what makes her a brilliant character. She is a satire of a character who in another program might be wholesome, studious, and, well smart. In being who she is, Kelly ridicules the trope that often appears in family sitcoms. Applegate is clearly a smart performer. It takes a certain kind of intelligence to play a girl like Kelly.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, Television

Out of the Corner: A Memoir Book Review

From an audience perspective, it would appear that both starring in a blockbuster movie and coming from a respected performing family guarantees success in Hollywood. Anyone who knows the truth would say otherwise.

Out of the Corner: A Memoir, by Dirty Dancing actress Jennifer Grey, was published last month. Grey is Jewish acting royalty. Her paternal grandfather, Mickey Katz was one of the most famous comedians and musicians of his day. Her parents, Joel Grey (of Cabaret fame)and Jo Wilder followed in her grandfather’s footsteps. Raised in both New York City and Los Angeles, she rose to fame in Dirty Dancing, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and other 1980s classics.

The reader is taken on an emotional journey through her early years, the ups and downs of her personal and private life, and finally, her finding peace with her identity.

This book is amazing. Grey’s tale is emotional, human, honest, and goes straight to the heart. She leaves no stone unturned, revealing her flaws, her mistakes, and the various heartaches that came her way. Within the narrative, there were two stories that stood out. The first was her father publicly coming out almost a decade ago after spending a lifetime in the closet. The second is her wish to speak to co-star Patrick Swayze one last time. It is a heartfelt wish that I think that anyone who has lost a loved one will understand.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was on a “best of” list come the end of the year. It is one of my favorite books of 2022.

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It is a Sad Day in America: Roe V. Wade is No More

A few months ago, we celebrated the 49th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. When I wrote that post, I still had hope that the right of anyone with a uterus had the right to decide their own fate. That hope died this morning.

By lunchtime, the federal government had washed its hands of the issue. It is now illegal to have an abortion in America. Each state can now decide if the procedure will be allowed and to what degree. In many states, this means that will be either completely against the law or limited to saving the life of the pregnant person.

American women are officially back in the dark ages, depending on where they live. Thankfully, both my home state of New York and New Jersey are among the handful of states that put the life of the pregnant person over politics. But not everyone is so lucky.

How many women will die from back-alley abortions or putting foreign objects in their bodies? How many females of any age will be forced to give birth to their rapist’s child or carry a dead fetus to term? How many women of color who are already living under hard conditions will have another proverbial plate spinning in the air?

The overturning of Roe is the beginning of a slippery slope. According to Judge Clarence Thomas (who I loathe with a passion), this decision opens the door to taking a second look at other rulings.

Justice Clarence Thomas argued in a concurring opinion released on Friday that the Supreme Court “should reconsider” its past rulings codifying rights to contraception access, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage.

In a similar vein, Loving v. Virginia could also be overturned. That means that his marriage to the equally loathsome Ginni Thomas could be viewed as illegal.

If they thought we would go quietly into the night, they have another thing coming.

Courtesy of Facebook

We can donate to pro-choice organizations (Planned Parenthood, NARAL, etc). We can march and let our voices be heard. We can vote in November and more importantly, vote blue. Though it is dark, the sun will rise again. We just need to fight for that sunrise.

P.S. Congress finally passed a gun control bill. It speaks volumes about this country that we confer more rights on a weapon than a living, breathing human being.

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Throwback Thursday: Hang Time (1995-2000)

Everyone has that one thing in high school that defines those years and that experience. It could be sports, music, art, etc.

Hang Time aired on NBC from 1995-2000. This high school sitcom followed the lives of seven members of a high school basketball team at fictional Deering High School.

In short, this show was Saved by the Bell on the basketball court. Other than the sports angle, the only thing that made this show stand out was that the team consisted of both male and female players. I can recall watching an episode or two, but I was not a regular viewer. Obviously, there was enough of an audience to keep the series on the air for five years. I was not among them.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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If the Shoe Fits (Meant to Be Series) Book Review

At its heart, Cinderella is the story of finding the good in life and rising about the shit that fate has sent our way.

If the Shoe Fits (Meant to Be Series), by Julie Murphy, was published last year. Cindy Woods is a plus-sized recent college graduate. After spending the last four years in New York City, her career path is stuck in first gear. With no other options, she returns to Los Angeles and her childhood home. She is welcomed with open arms by her stepmother, Erica Tremaine, and her stepsisters.

Cindy is a fashion fanatic. Due to her size, finding the latest and greatest clothing that fits her has always been a problem. When Erica’s Cinderella‘s themed reality dating show, Before Midnight (a la The Bachelor), is down a contestant, Cindy agrees to step in. It was supposed to be a way of getting her designs noticed. It also doesn’t hurt that the guy at the center of the program is good-looking.

Instead of quietly staying in the background, Cindy becomes a fan favorite. She also starts to fall for the guy. She will have to take a jump into the unknown, not knowing if it will end in heartbreak or a happy ending.

I loved this book. Murphy pays homage to the 1950 animated Disney film while writing her own story. In another narrative, Cindy would either have to lose weight to achieve her goals or be forced into the fat and funny sister/best friend role. The cherry on top for me is that Cindy is not looking for a man, her priority is her professional future.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Fairy Tales, Feminism, Television

The Redhead of Auschwitz: A True Story Book Review

To be the descendent of a Holocaust survivor is to grow up with a trauma that stretches well beyond the first generation. They have a unique responsibility to tell the stories of their loved ones that sometimes feel more pressing than those of us whose direct families were out of harm’s way during the war.

The Redhead of Auschwitz: A True Story, by Nechama Birnbaum, was published at the end of last year. The book tells the story of her late grandmother, Rosie Greenstein. Though Rosie was often told that her red hair was undesirable, she believed that it was an asset. Though her family was poor, Rosie’s childhood was idyllic. Raised by her widowed mother, she dreamed of her wedding day and future husband.

That dream came crashing down in 1944. The Jews of Hungary were forced out of their homes and sent directly to Auschwitz. The only thing that is keeping her alive is her fierce spirit and the will to survive in the face of all-encompassing death.

This biography is written in such a way that every gruesome and horrific detail is hard to ignore or forget. The narrative flashes between two different time periods until the story converges: Rosie’s life before the war and her time in the death camp. What I got from the book was more than a granddaughter’s love for her grandmother. It was pride in the strength that was passed down through the generations and families that come into the world since the end of the war.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. P.S. I also recommend following the corresponding Instagram account.

The Redhead of Auschwitz: A True Story is available wherever books are sold.

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Becoming Elizabeth Review

I find the origin stories of famous historical figures to be fascinating. Knowing who they were before allows us to understand them as fully formed human beings, not just names in a textbook.

The new Starz series, Becoming Elizabeth, is the origin story of Elizabeth I of England. Then known as Elizabeth Tudor (Alicia von Rittberg), her world turns upside when her father, Henry VIII dies. Though it is her younger brother, Edward VI (Oliver Zetterström) ascends to the throne, neither she nor her elder sister Mary I (Romola Garai) are free from court intrigue. She must both deal with being a teenager and the very tricky politics of sex, religion, and power.

I am hooked so far. The young lady we are watching on screen is both ordinary and extraordinary. Her ordinariness comes from experiencing the same growing pains that we all went through at that age. The extraordinariness comes from being seen as nothing but chattel while using every tool at her disposal to survive. It is brilliant, it is entertaining, and I am looking forward to the rest of the season.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Becoming Elizabeth airs on Sunday night on Starz at 8PM.

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Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power Book Review

To be a woman in politics is to have a backbone made of steel. It requires courage, strength, an incredibly brilliant mind, and the ability to navigate through the bullshit.

Nancy Pelosi has done this and so much more. She has broken barriers, become a controversial figure, and stood toe to toe with some of the most notorious political figures of our era. Her biography, Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power, by Susan Page, was published earlier this year. Pelosi was born in Baltimore, the youngest child, and only daughter in a prominent Italian-American family. Though she was raised in an era in which girls were boxed in, her mother encouraged her to color outside of the lines.

Moving to California after marrying, Pelosi only got into politics after her children were grown. Starting at the local level, she climbed up the ladder with a shrewd mind and an understanding of the game. Page spends most of the book examining her career and the challenges (especially when going against you know who) that she has come against. Diving into the details of the last few decades, the woman we meet is one who does not shrink when coming against a man who thinks that he knows better than her.

I enjoyed this book. The reader is introduced to Pelosi as the whole woman, not just the image on the evening news. She is thoroughly human in a way that I found relatable and inspirational. Pelosi may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but you cannot deny that what she has accomplished is exceptional and admirable. We need more women in this world like Nancy Pelosi.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Madam Speaker: Nancy Pelosi and the Lessons of Power is available wherever books are sold.

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