*Warning: the post contains spoilers about the end of the third season. Read at your own risk if you are still catching up.
The anticipated release of a new season of a favorite television series is both exciting and nerve wracking. It has to build on the narrative of the previous seasons while opening the door to wherever the new season may go.
The first episode starts off right where the 3rd season ended. The plane full of women and children has safely landed in Canada. In Gilead, the repercussions of June/Offred’s (Elisabeth Moss) rebellion have created a ripple effect. She has become a Moses like figure to the fugitive handmaids who are desperate for freedom. The authorities in Gilead have a different take on her actions and have deemed her to be enemy #1.
In Canada, Commander and Serena Joy Waterford (Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski) are in the custody of the government and bickering. Meanwhile, June/Offred’s husband, Luke Bankhole (O-T Fagbenle) and her friends who are refugees, are dealing with the consequences of her actions from another angle.
So far, the first three episodes are fantastic. It is dark, gripping, and completely intoxicating. Next Wednesday and episode 4 cannot come soon enough.
Do I recommend it? Absolutely.
The Handmaid’s Tale is available for streaming on Hulu. New episodes are released every Wednesday.
There are two equally important keys to success: talent and hard work.
The 4th season of National Geographic Channel’s Genius series follows the life and career of the late Aretha Franklin. The first three episodes cuts back and forth from the early fifties, when the future superstar is a preteen to the sixties when the adult Aretha (Cynthia Erivo) is on the brink of superstardom. As a young girl, Franklin was a singing wunderkind. Raised by her enigmatic preacher father C.L. Franklin (Courtney B. Vance), she witnesses both his devotion to the church and his less than moral extracurricular activities. In the present, she is not only dealing with work and motherhood, but her sometimes shaky marriage to her husband/manager, Ted White (Malcolm Barrett).
Watching the first three episodes, I feel like I know who Aretha Franklin was, as a whole person. Not just the image presented in the press. Looking back, she represents badly needed change in this country for both women and people of color.
If I were to recommend a book on modern feminism to someone, this book would be it. Simply and intelligently written, it is a down to earth presentation of everything that the movement represents without being too political or getting in the reader’s face.
Myths from the ancient world are not just stories of the past. There is a universality and a humanity that still speaks to us today.
Antigone Rising: The Subversive Power of the Ancient Myths, by Helen Morales, was published last year. Using the myth of Antigone, (told to us by the play of the same name by Sophocles), she outlines how the myths from ancient Greece and Rome reflect feminist issues that were are prevalent then as they are now. Though they may seem innocent on the surface, a deeper dive reveals how these characters were to take a stand against injustice.
I loved this book. Ms. Morales is able to break down the specific elements of these tales to show us that things haven’t changed. The sexist bull shit that girls and women deal with today existed thousands of years ago. If there was one section that caught my eye, it was the chapter on the LGBTQ experience in that time period. It can be broken down by one sentence “same shit, different century”.
Change sometimes does not come on a whim. It comes from a traumatic event that forces the rose colored glasses off our faces.
Back on March 3rd, Sarah Everard was an ordinary woman. While walking home after a friend’s party, she disappeared. Her body was found a week later. She has since become an icon for the fear that women face worldwide when walking home alone at night.
Akin to the response following the murder of George Floyd last year, the hashtags #ReclaimTheseStreets and #TextMeWhenYouGetHome have flooded social media.
Why is the onus always be on women for our safety? Why must we feel the need to carry mace, our keys on our hand, or another form of protection just to make sure we are not assaulted or killed? The answer is that men still are told, both consciously and unconsciously that any woman walking by herself after dark is there for the taking.
There is only one solution. Author and former Secret Service agent Evy Poumpouras stated the following:
“… And I think it’s teaching young men and boys that this is not how we behave,” she continued. “Teaching women to stand up, speak up and fight.”
Only after this is done will this scourge be a thing of the past.
Within the world of fiction (and sometimes non-fiction), there are two main female stereotypes: the good girl and the bad girl. With little to no room to move beyond these basic character descriptions, some women have been forced to play the hand they are dealt.
The Jewish holiday of Purim is started this evening and lasts until tomorrow. Within the world that is the genesis of this holiday, there are only two women, Queen Esther and her predecessor, Queen Vashti. Esther fits neatly in the good girl category while Vashti does the same in the bad girl category. Though Esther is revered as a female icon within the Jewish faith, Vashti has been given a bad rap.
As children, we are taught that Vashti was wicked for disobeying her husband. The reason she was either banished or executed (depending on who tells the story), comes down to the simple fact that the men who were supposed to see her “beauty” were afraid that other women would follow in her footsteps. The only way to quell the potential of any feminist rebellion was to get rid of Vashti and replace her with a woman who knew her place.
In real life, we know that we are much more than the good girl vs. the bad girl. No human being is entirely good or bad. We are a spectrum of personality traits and choices. The problem is that while men have been given unabashed permission to live within this spectrum, women are only starting to move beyond very specific character types.
I think its time to give Vashti her due. In standing up for herself, she is standing up for every women who has been put down and/or limited because of her sex. It’s time to give her her due as a role model instead of reducing her to a one note character.
Change does not happen from nothing. It requires the will to see it happen and the bravery to stand up against those who would prevent such change.
Radium Girls premiered in 2018. Based on a true story, it takes place in the 1920’s. Sisters Bessie (Joey King) and Josephine (Abby Quinn) are employed by American Radium (based on the real company U.S. Radium Corp). Their job is to paint watches and military dials with radium. In order to paint within the miniscule lines, they had to wet the brushes with their lips. When Josephine starts to get sick, Bessie starts to put two and two together. But when the company starts to push back, she realizes that getting justice is easier said than done.
The narrative is the classic underdog/working class vs. the big bad men who keep them down. Though the story is in the same genre as Iron Jawed Angels, Norma Rae, and Suffragette, I didn’t getting the same “yes I can” rush that I usually get with these kind of films.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
Radium Girls is available for streaming on Netflix.
Some people know from an early age that they are going to change the world. Others simply change their world by being a decent human being and seeing the injustice that is forced on others.
The new Eleanor Roosevelt biography, titled Eleanor, was written by David Michaelis. Published last fall, this is an extensive womb to tomb biography of the late former First Lady. Born in 1884 in New York City to the wealthy and respected Roosevelt family, her childhood was not a happy one. She lost both of her parents and her younger brother by the she was a teenager. As a young woman, she married her fifth cousin and future President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Their marriage not all sunshine and roses. But it became the platform she needed to become one of the greatest social justice warriors of the 20th century. Whether or not she knew it, Eleanor was a proto-feminist while serving as First Lady. Instead of quietly following in the footsteps of her predecessors, she became an activist. While other women were just starting to step out of the traditionally female world, she jumped whole heartedly into the causes she believed in.
This book is a masterpiece. It is gripping, entertaining, and humanizes a giant of American history. I will warn however, that it is far from a short read. But it is completely worth it, taking the reader behind the public image to see real woman behind the myth.
Dr. King was one of many who fought for equality. Though his ultimate goal was equality for African-Americans, it spread to the rest of the country. Women, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and other Americans of color who have been disenfranchised heard his message and understood exactly what he was saying.
Though we can proudly say that we have made progress in the multiple decades since he was taken from us, it is more than clear that true equality is still too far off for many. I remember a cartoon in a book when I was in school. The image was of a tree had been cut at its base, but the roots were untouched. The analogy about racism and prejudice was obvious.
The fact is that we have a long way to do. Between the riot in DC almost two weeks ago and the murders of multiple African Americans last year, the dark side of the United States revealed itself in a way that was opening.
What Dr. King started almost a century ago, we have to finish. It is the only way to make his dream a reality.
The concept of marrying for love is new in the course of human history. Throughout most of our time on Earth (and still in some parts of the world), marriage is a business arrangement. A woman is sold or given to her husband as though she is an animal or an inanimate object.
The memoir, I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced: A Memoir was published in 2010. In 2008, Nujood Ali was a young girl living with her family in Yemen. Married off to a man decades older than her, Ms. Ali told her her story with the help of journalist Delphine Minoui. Used as a servant by her new family and abused by her husband, she knew that she had no choice but to run away. Arriving at the local courthouse, she asked for a divorce.
In the west, we like to think that marriage is between two consenting adults that are ready, willing, and able to make what will hopefully be a lifetime commitment. But marriage is other part of the world is seen differently. Child marriage is is more common than we think it is. I loved this book. Ms. Ali not only broke barriers in her home country, she inspired millions of women across the world to do the same.