Tag Archives: feminism

Thoughts On The 200th Anniversary Of Persuasion

No one goes through life without making mistakes or having regrets. It is part of being human.

200 years after, Jane Austen‘s final completed book, Persuasion, was published posthumously with Northanger Abbey, the first novel she completed.

It’s been nearly a decade since Anne Elliot saw Frederick Wentworth, her former fiance. At the time, Anne was 19 and living with her sisters and her emotionally bankrupt, but spendthrift aristocratic father. Frederick was a penniless sailor, not exactly an appropriate match for a daughter of the aristocracy.  Lady Russell, who was a close friend to Anne’s late mother and acts as a mother figure to Anne and her sisters, convinces Anne to break off the engagement. Anne does as advised.

Cut to the present time. Anne’s father has bankrupted the family and they must leave their ancestral home, Kellynch Hall, for more financially feasible lodgings in Bath. Before going to Bath with her father and sister, Anne spends some time with her married younger sister, Mary. Among the visitors to Mary’s home are the Admiral and Mrs. Croft, who have signed the lease on Kellynch Hall. Frederick Wentworth is Mrs. Croft’s brother, he too is welcomed into Mary’s home. The tension between Anne and Fredrick is palpable. Can their relationship be repaired and move forward or will they both be stuck in the past?

Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen novel. Not just because of the maturity of Austen’s voice as a writer, but also because the narrative contains a maturity that did not exist in her previous novels.  Their breakup weights heavily on the mind of both lead characters and colors how they see themselves and their world for most of the novel. That breakup and that unspoken anger/grief feels very modern, even though the book was published 200 years ago.  Austen was writing this novel at the very end of her life. It almost feels like she was using this novel as a way of exploring her own regrets, especially when it came to the question of how her life had turned out, had she made a different set of decisions.

Persuasion is beautiful, heartbreaking, romantic and simply one of the best books ever written. If you have not read this book, do yourself a favor and read it. I promise you that you will not be disappointed.

 

 

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Filed under Books, Feminism, Jane Austen, Persuasion

Add Another One To The List Part 2: Charlie Rose

When the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke in October, the nasty truth of our society and how women are treated was brought into the harsh light.

The newest member of this quickly growing list is respected journalist Charlie Rose.

Eight women have accused Mr. Rose of making unwanted sexual advances toward them.

As painful as the newest revelation is, I  believe that is absolutely necessary.  This is an evil in our society that must be confronted.  This is not simply about the power imbalance, but it is also about how women are seen and treated. The first step in resolving a problem is admitting that there is a problem. Now that we have been forced to admit that there is a problem, we must resolve the problem. Unfortunately, it will be easier said than done.

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Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump’s America Book Review

America woke up on November 9th, 2016. When Donald Trump won the Presidential election, it was a shock to us all. It was a reminder that freedom and democracy must be fought for. We cannot sit back and hope we will wake up tomorrow with the same rights as we did today.

The new book Nasty Women: Feminism, Resistance, and Revolution in Trump’s America, edited by Samhita Mukhopadhyay and Kate Harding  is a collection of essays by prominent female journalists and activists who are using their voices and their podiums to speak of the wrongs that Trump is doing to America and her citizens. The list of contributors the book include Rebecca Solnit, Cheryl Strayed and Nicole Chung.

I loved this book. The contributors all write about a variety of experiences, but their message is the same. We have to resist, there is no other choice in matter. If we don’t, our children and grandchildren will ask us questions we will be able to answer.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Tracee Ellis Ross On Being A Single Woman

It’s hard to be a single woman, even in 2017. Though our accomplishments are astounding, two questions always come up: when are you getting married and when are you having children?

Actor Tracee Ellis Ross, star of the sitcom Black-ish and daughter of music legend Diana Ross is a single woman. At the age of 45, she has neither a husband or a child. Recently, she spoke at the Glamour’s 2017 Women of the Year Summit about being a single woman.

Her speech is nothing short of amazing and inspiring.  The truth is that for most of human history, from the time a girl was born, she was told in every way possible that how she is viewed depends on whether or not she has a man. Being single is a fate worse than death.

In Emma, Jane Austen made the following comment about single women:

“Single women have a dreadful propensity for being poor. Which is one very strong argument in favor of matrimony.”

The fact is that doors that were unquestionably open to men in regards to education, career and opportunities to go beyond the boundaries of hearth and home have only recently been kicked open by women.  But there is still one more door to kick down: the idea that a woman’s worth, despite who she is and what she has accomplished, is strictly based upon if she has a ring on her finger and a child at her feet.  A man’s worth is not judged by these factors, why must be women be judged by these factors?

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Filed under Books, Emma, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Music, Television

The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness Book Review

There is no doubt that feminism has changed the world. Women are achieving more and walking through doors that only a few short years ago were closed to them.

The question is, what do we want and are we truly happy? Writer Jill Filipovic explores this concept in her book, The H-Spot: The Feminist Pursuit of Happiness Book.  While interviewing women from across the political, cultural and racial landscape, Ms. Filipovic asked if we can have it all. We are told, in this generation, that we can have it all. We can work in whatever job we wish to, the doors to higher education are no longer closed to us and we no longer have to choose between having a family and a career. While that concept is correct to a certain degree, there are many obstacles ahead of us.  Whether it is equal pay, having access to medical care, not paying an arm and a leg for childcare, etc, it is indisputable that while we have achieved a lot, there is still a long road ahead of us.

I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed because Ms. Filipovic laid out, in black and white, what is needed for true equality. While she did celebrate our past victories, she also reminds the reader in practical terms what battles are ahead of us.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Thoughts On The Anniversary Of The Publishing Of Little Women

Late last month was the 149th anniversary of the publishing of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.

Little Women for those unaware, is the story of the four March sisters growing up in Civil War era Massachusetts. Their father is away, fighting for the Union, leaving his wife, known as Marmee to her daughters, to be both mother and father.

Meg, the oldest, is level-headed and responsible. Jo (short for Josephine), is the tomboy, the son her father never had and the wannabe writer. Beth is the homebody who rarely socializes outside of her family circle. Amy, the baby of the family, is artistic, but spoiled and selfish. Living in genteel poverty, the girls, the mother and their longtime housekeeper, Hannah do the best they can under their circumstances.

What I love about this book is that it is so universal. While the sisters are archetypes, Alcott brilliantly fleshed them out so they are fully formed characters. She also allows her characters to grow in a very organic way, instead of forcing adulthood upon them. There is also, as there is often is with books by female writers before the modern era, an undercurrent of feminism.

It’s been 23 years since the last film adaptation of Little Women was released.

Next year, PBS will be airing their own adaptation of Little Women.

When I think of Little Women, I think of how much I understand these girls and their journey. I also think how much this book mean to me when I was growing up and how it led me to become the bookworm I am today.

Louisa May Alcott, thank you for this amazing, wonderful book that continues to last. May the book and your legacy live forever.

 

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Gilded Suffragists: The New York Socialites who Fought for Women’s Right to Vote Book Review

It is a common misconception that the first wave of feminism in the early part of the 20th century was solely run by working class and immigrant class women. That is fallacy.

This year, writer Johanna Neuman’s new book, Gilded Suffragists: The New York Socialites who Fought for Women’s Right to Vote was published. Ms. Neuman writes of the women at the top of the social ladder who put their money where their mouth was to further the cause of feminism. Women belonging to the well-known families with names like Astor, Morgan, Belmont, etc, came together (as best they could) with their working class and immigrant class sisters to work towards a brighter future for generations of American women to come.

The beginning of the book was a bit slow, but when it picked up, it really picked up. By the end of the book, I was reminded that feminism does not just belong to a particular class of women or women who belong to a specific ethnicity. It belongs to all us and it is up to all of us to ensure that our daughters and granddaughters continue to have the rights and privileges that have been so hard-fought for.

I recommend it.

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Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World Book Review

While the basic definition of feminism is equality for women, it is much more than that. It represents an ideal that all human beings, regardless of sex, are judged for who they are and not for their sexual organs.

Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World, edited by Kelly Jensen, is an anthology comprised of essays, stories, lists, letters and art about the topic of feminism. Contributors include writers Roxane Gay, Malinda Lo, actor/activist Amandla Stenberg and actor/comedian/writer Mindy Kaling. They write about everything from finding self-love, navigating relationships and body image.

What I loved and appreciated about the book was that it was based on the real life and the real experiences of the contributors. I also liked that instead of just including essays and stories, the book also included art, letters and lists. The book could have read like a boring academic text, there was a life to the book. I don’t know about any other readers, but this book has certainly re-light the fire under my behind to continue to fight for my rights.

I absolutely recommend it.

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We Should All Be Feminists Book Review

Feminism is not just a cause to be embraced by Western women. It is a cause to be embraced by women from every corner of the world.

Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie published her book, We Should All Be Feminists in 2012. She addresses feminism as it must be addressed in our modern era. Writing directly from her own personal experience, she shines a light on the topics that this generation of feminists must address to allow our daughters and granddaughters to make even greater leaps and bounds.

I really enjoyed reading this book. Though it is super small, Ms. Adichie speaks directly to what is a universal experience of being a woman and what battles we still need to fight to achieve true equality.

I recommend it.

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The Mother Of All Questions Book Review

Feminism, like any social justice movement is never static. It must be dynamic not only to meet the goals, both large and small of the movement, but also to adapt to the changing society.

Writer Rebecca Solnit published her 2nd book, The Mother Of All Questions, earlier this year. In this slim volume, Ms. Solnit writes about women who have stood up to the outdated and double standard rules of the patriarchy, the rise of rape jokes and other topics.

I appreciated this book because Ms. Solnit is unafraid to breach certain subjects in a very raw and real manner that hits the reader straight in the face. It it is a reminder that despite the enormous leaps and bounds that women have made, we still have a long way to go.

I absolutely recommend it.

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