Reasons to Fight For Democracy: The Mass Graves in Ukraine and the Murder of Mahsa Amini

It’s easy to get discouraged about the state of democracy these days. But what we have to remember is that it is worth fighting for.

The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has been going on since the winter. In the liberated city of Izium, mass graves were discovered. So far, the number of bodies is over 400. Many of those killed were civilians and children.

Warning: the images may be distressing.

If this discovery is not enough to the world that Putin must be stopped and forced to stand trial, I don’t know what is. Unless we make it clear that this type of action is unacceptable, it will happen again.

In Iran, Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman, was killed by the morality police. Her crime was supposedly an issue with her headscarf. Since 1979, it has been compulsatory. As a result, protests have broken out. Many women have cut their hair and refused to wear the hijab in response to Amini’s death.

Religion of any kind is all well and good. But when the majority forces their beliefs on the minority and believes that one gender is superior or inferior to another, that is a problem we cannot ignore. If we do, it is at our own peril.

May Mahsa Amini’s memory and the memories of those murdered by Russia since the beginning of the war be a blessing. Z”L.

Dispatches From the Right: Kari Lake on Feminism, Louisiana Woman Denied Abortion, and Texas Mother Rips Book Bans

The nature of the American democracy is made up of two different political parties who at the end of the day, can hopefully come to a compromise. These days “hopefully” is wishful thinking and “compromise” is a dirty word, depending on who you speak to.

Last week, Arizona Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake made the following statement:

“Women are not equal to men. We don’t want to be equal to them”.

I have a problem with this statement. If women are not equal to men, then we are inferior. Therefore Ms. Lake hasn’t got a chance in you know where to win her election. The person who becomes Arizona’s next Governor will automatically be a male. This type of thinking drives me insane. The women take advantage of feminist achievements when it suits them, but they also bash it when it suits them. They can’t have it both ways. We are equal to our male counterparts, or we are meant to be barefoot and pregnant without any rights.

Last week, in Louisiana, Nancy Davis was denied an abortion. As of when the news hit the press, she was 15 weeks pregnant and told that her fetus was nonviable. Due to the draconian and far too vague anti-abortion law, she will have to travel out of state to have the procedure. I can only imagine that being told that the fetus is nonviable is hard enough. The last thing I would wish on anyone in that position is to be told that they have to carry a pregnancy to term because of legislation crafted by non-medical professionals who may be forcing their religious beliefs on others.

And finally, in Texas, Adrienne Quinn Martin stood in front of her local school board and basically told them to shove their book-banning ideas where the sun doesn’t shine.

My favorite part of her speech is as follows:

“Your personal religious beliefs, people in this room and on this board, should not have an effect on my child’s education either. Our school are not to be used for personal political agendas and our children are here for education, not religious indoctrination,” she told the room as she looked various board members and attendees directly in the eye.

“I implore the board to put an end to attempts to appease these extremists. Focus on retaining staff, providing excellent public education and a safe and welcoming learning space for all students. The speakers speaking about what great Christians they are? Great. Go tell your pastor. Our schools are not your church.

Am I a taxpayer whose taxes help to fund public schools? Yes. But I am not a parent or a teacher. Nor do I have a degree in education. Therefore, I will let those who interact with students on a constant basis make the decisions that are best for our children’s education.

This is the state of our political system these days. We have two choices: let the extremists on the right change this nation or fight for everything we hold dear.

POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive Play Review

Women have always done the behind-the-scenes work. But while the men get the accolades, the women are ignored and their work is minimized.

The new Broadway play, POTUS, by Selina Fillinger, puts the spotlight on seven women who are the real power behind the throne. Or, in this case, the President of the United States. The story starts when during an event, POTUS (who is only seen from the waist down) refers to Margaret, aka FLOTUS (Vanessa Williams) via a word I will not repeat on this blog.

Harriet (Julie White) is the chief of staff who is trying to keep the resulting chaos at bay. Jean (Suzy Nakamura) is the press secretary who is doing everything she can to answer the barrage of questions. Stephanie (Rachel Dratch) is the mousy secretary trying to boost her confidence.

Chris (Lilli Cooper) is the journalist balancing work and motherhood (complete with breast pumps). Bernadette (Lea Delaria) is POTUS’s wayward sister with a not-so-clean past. Dusty (Julianne Hough) is a young lady who might be POTUS’s sidepiece.

Together, these women must tamp down on the scandal and save the leader of the free world.

The best way to describe the play is a feminist political farcical screwball comedy. All of the performers are at the top of their game. The physical gags provoke nothing short of gut-busting laughter. Woven into the comedy are issues that are, unfortunately, still too prevalent, even in 2022.

It is one of the funniest plays that I have seen in a long time. I would, in fact, see it again, if it had not already closed.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. If it goes on tour at some point, I highly recommend that you run, not walk to the box office.

POTUS: Or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying to Keep Him Alive closed in New York City on August 14th.

Women Power Woman GIF by INTO ACTION - Find & Share on GIPHY

This Burns My Heart: A Novel Book Review

Marriage is sometimes more than a matter of choice, it is a matter of compromise. The problem with that is that if we compromise too much, we give our power away.

The 2012 romantic drama, This Burns My Heart: A Novel, by Samuel Park, was published in 2011. Soo-Ja Choi is a young lady coming of age in the 1960s. The Korean war is in the not too distant past. Though she wants more than to be someone’s wife and mother, she caves to the traditional culture that she has been raised in. Instead of marrying the boy she loves, Soo-Ja agrees to say “I do” to marry another young man whom her parents approve of. She believes that he will give her the freedom she desires.

Within a few years, her marriage becomes hollow and empty. Soo-Ja’s focus turns to her daughter, whom she hopes will have the freedom she never had. Though she is loyal to her husband, she has not stopped thinking about the one that got away. As they keep bumping into one another, she starts to question if she has a future with him after all.

I enjoyed reading this book. Park’s characters and narrative are fully formed. It was also a learning experience as I know next to nothing about Korea, or what was occurring at that time. It’s almost Persuasion like in the depths that the story goes.

Though it is not the best novel that I have ever read, it is engaging, well written, and a reminder of women cannot and should not be contained in what is considered to be an “appropriate” role in life.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

This Burns My Heart: A Novel is available wherever books are sold.

Thoughts On Pink’s New Music Video “Irrelevant”

Art and artists have a unique way of revealing truths about the world.

Earlier this week, Pink released her new video “Irrelevant“. In the video, she claps back at the haters while speaking about the crap that we are dealing with at the moment. Women’s rights, abortion, school shootings, January 6th, etc are all spoken of in the manner that only Pink can.

I could go on, but I will let the music speak for itself.

Anatomy of a Scandal: A Novel Book Review

There is no such thing as a perfect life. There are ups and downs, good times, and bad times. What matters is that we appreciate the good times and weather the bad times.

Anatomy of a Scandal: A Novel, by Sarah Vaughan, was published in 2018. Sophie Whitehouse has it all: two healthy and happy children, a solid marriage, and a comfortable life. Everything she knows is shattered by two major revelations. The first is that her politician husband, James, has just confessed to having an affair with a younger female employee. The second is that he is accused of raping the woman whom he has been sleeping with. Sophie appears to be standing by her man, but she is quietly questioning if he is telling the truth.

Holy shit, this book is good. My first exposure to Anatomy of a Scandal was the Netflix miniseries that was released earlier this year. As expected, there are changes between the novel and the screenplay. What I loved about the narrative is that it is the women whose voices we hear. Though James is at the center of the scandal, his perspective is secondary. In another writer’s hands, James would be the main character and the women around him would be reduced to a stereotype. What Vaughan has wisely done is make all of her characters thoroughly human while giving a spotlight to those who have been ignored in the past.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Anatomy of a Scandal: A Novel is available wherever books are sold.

9to5: The Story of a Movement Documentary Movie Review

Every social movement starts with a small step toward change.

The 2021 Netflix documentary, 9to5: The Story of a Movement is the real-life 9 to 5. In Boston in the 1970s, female office workers were second-class employees. Stuck in an administrative (aka the secretary) role, they were blocked from climbing the professional ladder due to their gender. Banding together, they raised their voice and fought for better pay, better opportunity, and against sexual harassment.

I loved it. My generation of women stands on the figurative shoulders of these women. Without them, we would still be making coffee and answering the phone for our male bosses. What was also apparent is that though it’s been fifty-odd years, the issues they experienced then are still being wrestled with now.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

9to5: The Story of a Movement is available for streaming on Netflix.

Feminism Girl Power GIF by Sarah Wintner - Find & Share on GIPHY

I Want to Celebrate Independence Day, But I Can’t

Today is the 4th of July and America’s Independence Day. I want to celebrate our freedoms, but I can’t.

I am not free today.

My right to my body and my future was taken away from me. I am no longer equal, I have been reduced to being once again, a second-class citizen. If some people have their way, I will be forced to carry and birth a child, regardless of how it was conceived. I will be nothing more than a walking, talking uterus. My wants, my desires, my abilities, and my flaws, will be meaningless.

I want to celebrate today, but I can’t. Instead, I mourn and I fight.

Republicans and the Hypocrisy of Small Government

Every political movement, big and small, has a core ideal that governments their policies and legislation.

If we are to believe the current Republican party, they are governed by the idea of small government. As per Thomas Jefferson, it is as follows:

[A] wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.

On paper, it doesn’t sound hypocritical at all. It comes off as fairly reasonable. The powers that be should not be interfering in the day-to-day life of the average person on the street. But the reality is another story entirely.

When they are called out for their duplicity, they claim “free speech“. What about my right to free speech? Why is it they are allowed to speak their truths, but if I do it, I am labeled a radical lefty snowflake?

If they want to live in a right-wing, sexist, and racist Christian theocracy, that is their choice and their decision. As we say in Judaism “Zolst leben un zein gezunt!” (Yiddish for you should live and be well!). but do not impose your beliefs on me and expect me to quietly give in.

Preaching Ryan Phillippe GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

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.

People Hello GIF by InnovatorsBox - Find & Share on GIPHY
%d bloggers like this: