Tag Archives: feminism

The 49th Anniversary of Roe V. Wade Could be It’s Last

The anniversary of any legislation that enfranchises a formerly disenfranchised people should be one of remembrance and respect.

Yesterday was the 49th anniversary of Roe V. Wade. If things go a certain way, there is a good chance that it would be a thing of the past. The choice of whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term and care for the child that comes out of that pregnancy is not the decision of the government. It is a decision that is deeply personal. The only people concerned are the ones that have a hand in making that decision.

If Roe is either completely overturned or is rendered toothless, the potential of a patchwork of state laws is very real. Depending on where the pregnant person lives and the income they bring in, they could at best have access to a safe abortion or at worst use the coathanger method of ending the pregnancy. If the pregnant person survives, the physical repercussions on their body does not fade quickly or easily.

We all know that having children is a blessing. But it is also a responsibility that I think some pro-life people conveniently forget. Not every child is blessed to have parents who are able to emotionally and financially support them.

At the end of the day, Roe is about a pregnant person (a woman to be specific) deciding their own destiny. Unfortunately, we live in a world in which some believe that a woman either does not have the right to or is unable to draw her own conclusions. For that reason alone, the fight for Roe must continue on.

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Jungle Cruise Movie Review

When a company such as Disney chooses to make a movie based on one of the rides in their theme parks, the requirements for a successful adaptation are different than another IP. The writer(s) are only limited by their imaginations. However, there must also be some adherence to the original context, even if it comes out of an unorthodox direction.

The new Disney movie, Jungle Cruise premiered this weekend on DisneyPlus. Taking place during World War I, Dr. Lily Houghton (Emily Blunt) desperately wants to be accepted by the scientific community. But because she is a woman, her work means nothing. Wanting to prove the naysayers wrong, Lily and her brother MacGregor (Jack Whitehall) travel to the Amazon. Her goal is to prove that a centuries-old curse is not a myth, but the truth. Their guide is the smartass Captain Frank Wolff (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), whose boat looks like it could sink at every turn.

As they get deeper into the jungle, the secrets and dangers slowly reveal themselves. On their heels is Prince Joachim (Jesse Plemons), who has his own reasons for wanting the magic that is supposedly promised in the stories.

This film is an interesting hybrid of The Mummy and The African Queen. Blunt and Johnson have decent chemistry. I appreciated that Blunt’s character. She certainly breaks the mold in terms of how women in his genre are seen and treated. I also appreciated that one of the main characters is LGBTQ and while they may seem to neatly fit into a stereotype, they don’t.

Overall, it was enjoyable. But I wouldn’t call it completely memorable. For an action/adventure, it was decent, but not as thrilling as it could have been.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Jungle Cruise is available for streaming on DisneyPlus.

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Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol Book Review

Imagine, if you will, a heterosexual couple walks into a bar. The man is likely to order a “manly” drink, which is likely described as a beer or vodka. The woman is likely to order a “girly” drink, which is likely sweet, fizzy, and comes with a tiny umbrella.

Mallory O’Meara‘s new book, Girly Drinks: A World History of Women and Alcohol, was published last month. Her study of human history and alcohol creation/consumption comes down to a simple hypothesis. Though women have been making and drinking various forms of booze since the beginning of human history, our contributions have been (for the most part) either ignored completely or considered to be “unwomanly”. While men have been allowed to get wasted since the dawn of time, a woman who has had one too many is either neglecting her duties or is daring (heaven forbid) to act as a male does.

I loved this book. The author is funny, sarcastic, and has no problem ripping a hole into the ideas of what is “acceptable” for a woman. She also hilights those who have defied expectations and took their place at the bar, regardless of what was being said about them?

Do I recommend it? Absolutely. It was a joy to read.

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Flashback Friday: The Sword in the Stone (1963)

A good origin story, when well done, can fill in the gaps and answer questions about a character’s back story. When we know where this person has been, it allows the audience to understand them and perhaps, not be so judgemental about where they are going.

The Sword in the Stone (1963) is Disney‘s answer to the origin story of King Arthur. Based on the book by T.H. White, the movie follows a young boy named Arthur, also known as Wart (voiced by Rickie Sorensen, Richard Reitherman, and Robert Reitherman). Young, orphaned, and poor, he is looked down upon by those around him. When he meets Merlin (voiced by Karl Swenson), Arthur goes on an emotional, psychological, and physical journey that will eventually lead him to the throne of England.

Animation-wise, this is Disney at its best. The technical abilities to bring this movie to life is awe-inspiring. But the narrative is rather simple. Granted, I have not been the target audience for a very long time. But as an adult, I would prefer a little more complexity and less in-your-face-ness. I would also appreciate it if the female characters (who are limited in number compared to the male characters) had been given the opportunity to move beyond the 2D boxes they were kept in.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Throwback Thursday: The Bletchley Circle (2012-2014)

World War II was if nothing else, a game-changer. While the men were at war, women had career opportunities that were previously denied to them.

The television series, The Bletchley Circle (2012-2014) followed five former employees of Bletchley Park. Millie (Rachael Stirling), Susan (Anna Maxwell Martin), Jean (Julie Graham), Lucy (Sophie Rundle), and Alice (Hattie Morahan) whose job was to help win the war. Now that the men have come home, the women have returned to the traditional roles of wives and mothers. But that does not mean that the skills they used during that time have completely faded into the background. When a serial killer leaves a trail of bodies behind, the women come together to find who this person is and stop them.

I wanted to like the series. It had all of the elements of a program I would love: the era, the performers, a female-driven detective narrative. But it was unfortunately bored rather quickly and turned it off. Whatever hook exists to keep viewers coming back was lost on me.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

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American Made: What Happens to People When Work Disappears Book Review

The American economy is built on and fortified by the average worker. It is through our blood, sweat, and tears that this country has thrived in spite of all odds. But that fact is often forgotten when some jobs are shipped out of state, or worse, out of the country so those at the top can save a few bucks.

American Made: What Happens to People When Work Disappears, by Farah Stockman, was published this month. The book follows three different factory employees who were all employed at the Rexnord factory. Shannon is a single Caucasian mother who breaks boundaries by being one of the first women to take on what was an only male position. Wally, an African-American man, dreamed of opening his own barbecue restaurant but paid the bills by working on the factory floor. John, who is also Caucasian, was a machine operator who came from a family whose livelihood was supported by union jobs.

When the jobs leave and an entire community is affected, what are the repercussions? Not just on an economic level, but for the individual who lost both their income and identity? Stockman explores how these decisions create ripple effects that have the potential to forever change the outlook and the future of the employees, their families, and society as a whole.

What I liked about this book is how thorough the author is. By telling the stories of these three individuals, she takes the reader behind the headlines to see the real people whose lives are forever upended when their places of employment are physically moved elsewhere. As someone who works a white-collar job and sits at a desk for seven hours a day, I did not fully appreciate how important and overlooked these professions are.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Rita Moreno & Mental Health: A Revelation That Needs to be Heard

Rita Moreno is more than an icon. She is a trailblazer who opened the door for non-POC performers to not only have a career, but to play roles than were more than the servant or the background character. She also dealt with mental illness and lived to tell the tale.

Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It premiered a couple of weeks ago on the PBS series American Masters. The documentary follows her life and career from her early days playing “ethnic” characters to her current status as one of the most respected performers in Hollywood. Best known for her role as Anita in 1961 film adaptation of West Side Story, it was one of the first (if not the first) fully fleshed out Latino characters on the big screen. Up until that point, Latinx performers either had to hide who they were (a la Rita Hayworth) or play a stereotypical characters ( e.g. Carmen Miranda).

While I was not surprised that she was sexually assaulted. Then, as now, women are still seen as sex objects to be used and thrown away when our usefulness outside of the bedroom has vanished. What I was surprised is that she has lived with mental health problems for decades and survived a suicide attempt. I found her honesty to be refreshing and comforting. It was as if she was saying “I did it, you can too”.

If I could, I would send an invite to watch this film to anyone whose life is complicated by mental illness. If it provides one person at least a brief respite from the mess in our heads and the push to ask for help, I would be satisfied.

Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It is available for streaming on the PBS website.

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Much Ado About Nothing Character Review: Beatrice

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

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the William Shakespeare play Much Ado About Nothing. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. 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. When the one we love walks away, the emotional wound that is created by that loss does not always close quickly or easily. It sometimes festers, creating a wall to prevent future heartbreaks.

In Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice comes off as a confident, smart mouthed, and distrustful of romance. When she meets up with her ex, Benedick, her response is to call him on what she sees as his bullshit. While everyone around them is enjoying their banter, they do not see that she is afraid of being vulnerable, especially in front of the man who she is not quite over. When she hears that he is in love with her, Beatrice loses her armor and becomes hopeful that their relationship will begin again.

Unlike her cousin, Hero, Beatrice is not willing to submit to marry whomever her father approves of. She will only walk down aisle if she can respect herself and be in an equal partnership. In her world, a married woman is legally the property of her husband. She has no right to property, to any income, or even to her own children. The only way to remain in control of her fate and maintain control of financial and/or material assets is to remain single.

The turning point for her narrative is after the aborted wedding of Hero and Claudio. Angered that her beloved cousin’s name and reputation has been blackened, Beatrice rages that the sexist and misogynistic ideas that have ruined her cousin. Though she is unable to challenge Claudio, she and Benedick walk into the sunset. She is no longer afraid of love and more importantly, in love with a man who will not force her to submit the traditional idea of what is it is to be a woman.

To sum it up: Being vulnerable is never easy. It is harder when the person we want to be vulnerable with is the person we love most. The fear of rejection is so prevalent that the immediate reaction is to put up emotional walls and pretend that the we are fine. Beatrice’s initial reaction to Benedick is hide her heart to protect herself. But she eventually learns that putting your heart on your sleeve is not a bad thing. We just need to trust our gut and hope for the best.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

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Filed under Character Review, Feminism, William Shakespeare

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings Review

Movies and/or television shows that are based on comic books have been part of our modern entertainment era for decades. What is important is the balance between the source material and the enjoyment of the audience.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was released into theaters a few weeks ago. Based on the comic book of the same name, we are initially introduced to twenty something Shaun (Simu Liu). Living in San Francisco, he and his best friend Katy (Awkwafina) earn their living parking cars. Reality intervenes when Shaun’s ancient warlord father Xu Wenwu (Tony Chiu-Wai Leung) send his goons to bring his son back to China. On the plane, Shaun tells Katy that his real name is Shang-Chi and the truth about his family. Meeting up with his sister Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), they have to come together to defeat their father and prevent an even greater disaster from occurring.

I loved this movie. Though I have no knowledge of the narrative or the character arcs within the books themselves, I can say with certainty that the film adaption is superb. I loved the balance of the comedy and the action. The female characters who surround Shang are not sitting in the background, waiting to be rescued. They are as important to the action as the male characters. The one role that stood out to me was Xu Wenwu. He is akin to Anakin Skywalker in that his intentions are good, but his actions are not exactly on the up and up.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is currently in theaters.

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Impeachment: American Crime Story Review

Back in the late 1990’s, the impeachment trial of then President Bill Clinton was everywhere. His affair with Monica Lewinsky and the scandal that followed could not be ignored. One would have to be either living under a rock or under a certain age to at least not catch a whiff of what was coming from Washington DC.

The third season of the FX series, American Crime Story, focuses on the whirlwind that surrounded the Clinton administration following the rumor that he had an extramarital affair with Lewinsky, who was then an intern in her early 20’s. Clive Owen plays the former President. The four main female players are Lewinsky (Beanie Feldstein), Hillary Clinton (Edie Falco), Linda Tripp (Sarah Paulson), and Paula Jones (Annaleigh Ashford).

What I like about this series is that it takes the sexism that was part and parcel of this this entire affair and turns it on its head. Nowadays, Clinton has been politically lionized in some circles for what he did while in office. But it is easy to forget that his reputation was that of a hound dog who was not above forgetting his marriage vows. The focus is not on him, but the women around them. Depending on the sources, Lewinsky (who is one of the producers of this season), Clinton, Tripp, and Jones are either mocked, ignored, or vilified for their behavior during this period. Instead of being portrayed as 2D stereotypes, these women are fully rounded characters and finally allowed to tell this story from their perspective.

The cast is fantastic. Owens disappears under a prosthetic nose and a southern accent. Feldstein gives her character the breadth and depth that she finally deserves after being a punchline for twenty plus years. Paulson’s Tripp is sort of an anti-hero. The viewer may not agree with the decisions she made, but we learn more of her than the headlines portrayed back then. For their parts, Falco and Ashford are equally good, trying to hold their own in a world that does not do them justice.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Impeachment: American Crime Story airs on FX on Tuesday night at 10PM.

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