Tag Archives: feminism

Radium Girls Review

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.

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Eleanor Book Review

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.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2021

Change is never easy. Especially when the change is overcoming and dealing with cultural, racial, and religious stereotypes.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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.

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I Am Nujood, Age 10, and Divorced: A Memoir Book Review

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.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Flashback Friday: Good Bones (2016-Present)

Watching HGTV, the impression one gets is that home building and renovation industry is a gendered one. The man handle the construction and the women are in charge of the decor.

Good Bones premiered on the channel in 2016 and has been a regular part of the schedule ever since. The redheaded mother-daughter duo Karen E. Laine and Mina Starsiak Hawk, co-owners of Two Chicks and a Hammer, renovate and restore houses in their home town of Indianapolis. As is expected, there are issues along the way. But the hope is that once the home is done, it will be sold for a nice profit.

What I like about this show is the unique mother/daughter relationship. Mina is the levelheaded one while Karen is more creative. I also love that it disputes the myth that women are only able to and/or not interested in the construction aspect of home building and renovation.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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The Handmaid’s Tale Series Review

Thanks to generations of brave and hardworking women, we have achieved rights and privileges that were once upon a time, a dream. But that does not mean that the fight is over.

The Handmaid’s Tale (based on the books by Margaret Atwood) premiered on Hulu back in 2017. In a world not too distant from ours, climate change and the low numbers of births opened the door to a second Civil War. When the dust settles, the United States as it existed is a thing of the past. The Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian regime, is now in control. The once archaic gender roles of the past are now the law of the land.

The women who are still able carry and bear children are slaves. Among them is Offred (Elisabeth Moss). She is given to a childless couple, Commander and Mrs. Waterford (Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski) and has one job: give them a child. Offred’s only form of survival is to hang onto the past and remember the life, the name, and the family she had before everything changed.

Though I could not get into the book, I am part way though the first season and thoroughly hooked. What makes this story palpable and scary is not a dystopian future that is impossible to imagine as reality. Given our present predicament, it wouldn’t take much for this work of fiction to become something more.

It is for me, a reminder that in some countries (Saudia Arabia, for one), the daily experiences of women are not too far off from the women in this book. It is also a throwback to a not so far away time when we had to fight for even the most basic of rights.

If nothing else, it is stark reminder that our democracy and freedoms are not guaranteed. We must continue to do everything we can to ensure that they are protected.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The Handmaid’s Tale is available for streaming on Hulu.

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Rude: Stop Being Nice and Start Being Bold Book Review

From an early age, one of the first lessons we are taught are manners. Though some of the rules that fall within manners are cut and dry, others are not quite as clear.

Rude: Stop Being Nice and Start Being Bold, by Rebecca Reid, was published last month. The spark that was the impetus for this book came from personal experience. Reid, a journalist and a comedian from the UK, was a guest on a TV show. After being talked over several times by a male comedian, she spoke up. Instantly labelled “Rebecca Rude” by social media, she could have easily given into the criticism. Instead, she saw it as an opportunity to harness the concept of “rudeness” into a positive thing.

Using examples within the world of popular culture and several prominent women wo were given the label of “being rude”, Reid points out how it is not entirely a bad thing. In speaking up for their individual needs, these women stood up for what they wanted and needed. She also points out that while men are allowed and applauded for being aggressive and speaking their minds, women are given all sorts of nasty labels for acting in a similar manner.

Part feminist mantra and part self help book, this is the perfect way to overcome our personal and cultural prejudice against women who are act and speak as men do. Reid also encourages her readers to fight for their dreams and not be afraid to stand up for what they need to see their dreams become a reality.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Mad and Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency Book Review

Towards the end of Jane Austen‘s novel, Persuasion, there is a conversation about books and the portrayal of women within the world of literature. This conversation ends with the following statement that is as true in Austen’s time as it is in ours.

“Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.”

The new non fiction book, Mad and Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency, was published in the fall. Written by Bea Koch (co-owner of the Los Angeles area bookstore, The Ripped Bodice), the book tells the story of women who did not fall in the White/upper class/Heterosexual/Christian category. It shines the spotlight of women of color, Jewish women, female members of the LBGTQ community, and women who actively chose to step out of the boundaries of what was considered to be appropriately “feminine”.

I wish that this book had been around when I was younger. It is one of the best history books I have read in a long time. It is educational, entertaining, and a reminder that there have always been women who have been willing to buck tradition to follow their own path.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

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Pretending: A Novel Book Review

The romance genre has been part of our literary world since the creation of stories. It is therefore, up to every writer to do what they can to make their particular narrative stand out.

Pretending: A Novel, by Holly Bourne was released in November. In her early 30’s, April is living a relatively normal life. But there is one thing she longs for: a boyfriend. Every relationship April has had up this point has ended in heartbreak.

Her way of dealing with this is to create an alter ego: Gretel. Gretel is everything that April wishes she was. Via a dating app, April/Gretel starts chatting with Joshua. After one dating dumpster fire after another, it finally looks like April has the romantic life she has longed for. But, she also knows that she will have to tell Joshua the truth eventually.

Some books hook you right away. Others take a little time to pull the reader in. Pretending: A Novel falls into the second category. I liked this book and I liked the main character. April is not your average “someday my prince will come” romance novel heroine. She is real, complicated, and has a past that is not completely dealt with. Adding elements of the #Metoo movement and mental health issues beefs up the narrative, elevating the overall novel from your typical modern romance.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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I Am Woman Movie Review

It’s easy to get on a soapbox and rail against whatever one feels is wrong with the world. But sometimes, it takes art and music to give that needed change life.

I Am Woman premiered last year. Starring Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Evan Peters, and Danielle Macdonald, the movie tells the story of the late singer Helen Reddy. The narrative begins in 1963. Helen (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) is a single mother with a dream of signing a recording contract. Originally from Australia, she is currently living in New York City. Making a living as a lounge singer, it looks like her dream is just that.

Her fate changes when she meets music journalist Lillian Roxon (Danielle Macdonald) and wannabe talent manager Jeff Wald (Evan Peters). Lillian inspires Helen to write her iconic song “I Am Woman“. Jeff straddles to the dual role of husband and manager.

It looks like Helen has everything she has ever wanted. But fame and the constant grind of work begins to take a toll on her private life. Jeff becomes an addict, forcing Helen to take a hard look at her life.

The thing about a movie or television biopic is that it can feel dry and predictable. The womb to tomb story arc has been done to death. But this movie is neither dry or predictable. It is entertaining, charming, and most of all inspiring. I love that the filmmakers wove in their protagonist’s story with the burgeoning second wave of feminism in the 1970’s.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

I Am Woman is streaming on Netflix.

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