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.
Since the dawn of time, some in the upper echelons of the business world have believed that underlings (especially female underlings) are solely there for sexual pleasure.
#MeToo in the Corporate World: Power, Privilege, and the Path Forward , by Sylvia Ann Hewlett was published in the beginning of the year. In the book, Ms. Hewlett talks about how the #metoo movement has altered the way the sexual assault and sexual harassment has been viewed in the workplace. Using data, interviews with experts and victims, she analyses where progress has been made and where there is still work to be done.
I really liked this book. It is both academic and written for the average person. Two things struck me when I finished this book. The first is that white women are not the only victims. The other is that women are less likely to be given opportunities to climb the corporate ladder due to the fear of potential accusations.
When I was a senior a college, I heard a rumor of a female classmate who accused a male classmate of rape. When the rape allegations were proved to be a lie, the natural sympathy fell on the male classmate who would be forever tainted with the false allegation.
But about the millions of women who are raped and/or sexually assaulted and don’t go to the police because they are afraid of not being believed?
One of the off shoots of the #MeToo movement was the statement “believe all women“. Unfortunately, the lack of credibility of Tara Reade’s accusations threatens the idea that all women who report being raped are telling the truth.
There will always be people who question when a woman reports that is sexually assaulted. That is an unfortunate fact. I hate to say it, but based on what I have read and heard, I’m not sure that she is telling the 100% truth.
It bothers me to no end, but I have go with my gut. For her sake and for the sake of the women who are accused of lying about their own rapes, I hope that the evidence proves that Ms. Reade is telling the truth.
As the #Metoo movement forces our society to face our sexual assault and sexual harassment demons, it has revealed how both complicated and simple the subject is.
In 2017, former Democratic Senator Al Franken was accused of sexual harassment. The result of the accusations was swift and decisive. Franken resigned from the Senate after receiving pressure from female colleagues. Back in 2016, as that year’s election was heating up, you know who, who was then the Republican nominee was himself accused multiple acts of a similar nature.
As of today, it looks like former Vice President Joe Biden has all but sewn up that he will be the Democratic nominee come the fall. In an effort to capture the attention and the vote of American women, he has announced that his pick for Vice President would be a woman. Since that announcement, speculation of who he would choose has been rampant.
But now there is a chink in the armor. Tara Reade, a former congressional aide, accused the former Vice President of assaulting her when she worked for him in the early ’90s.
This is not the first time these kinds of accusations have been leveled against him.
The question is now, how will the Democratic leadership and voters respond? And more importantly, how will they deal with the claim of double standard from the right?
The simple answer is that sexual assault and sexual harassment is wrong and should be punished, no matter who is responsible. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. That being said, given how complicated American politics is these days, the answer to how this resolved will not be easy to obtain.
We all know that for most of human history, women have been at best second class citizens and at worst, property. When it comes to sexual assault and rape, the complaints, if they have been made public have not be received and responded to as they should have.
Believe Me: How Trusting Women Can Change the World is a new compilation of essays edited by Jessica Valenti and Jaclyn Friedman. In their own words, each writer answers the following question: what if we not only we believed women, we took their claims of rape and sexual assault seriously?
The best thing about this book is the variety of writers. Each writer brings his or her own experience into the essay, answering the question in a way that is both personal and profound. By attaching a human face and a unique story to these very difficult topics, these writers are helping to break down the barriers and start a conversation that should have started a long time ago.
For untold generations, women have been told that our beauty is our only asset. But during war, using our looks may mean the difference between life and death.
Cilka’s Journey, by Heather Morris is a follow up to her previous novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz. Based on a true story, Cecilia “Cilka” Klein is just sixteen when she was transported to Auschwitz from her home in Czechoslovakia. She is saved from the gas chambers by her looks and is forced to become a sexual slave. When the war is over, Cilka looks forward to freedom.
Instead, she is accused of willfully sleeping with the enemy and sent to a Siberian work camp. The conditions in the gulag are similar to those in Auschwitz. But there is one difference: the kindness of a female doctor. This doctor gives Cilka the opportunity to work in the camp hospital. This job helps to bring Cilka back to life and show her that love is still possible.
When we talk about the Holocaust and World War II, the subject of sexual assault and #Metoo is a subject that does not come up very often. But I think it is a topic that we should be discussing, especially given our current political and cultural climate.
From a very young age, women are socialized to the idea that their main asset (if not their only asset) is their beauty. But we are also penalized when we use our looks to get by. From the instant we meet her, Cilka is a character that I admired and I wanted to hug. Many would have not lasted as long as she did in the same set of circumstances. But Cilka did and for that alone, she deserves as much recognition as she can get.
For decades, there were whispers within Hollywood about producer Harvey Weinstein. But as soon as reports surfaced of allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault, they were put down as mere rumor. That is until Kantor and Twohey started digging. That digging opened a Pandora’s box of truth, lies and the people who would do almost anything to close that box again.
This book reads like a fictional thriller instead of a real story. It is a heart pounding roller coaster ride until the very end of the book. We know how the story ends, but there were so many blockages for Kantor and Twohey that I started to wonder if justice would finally prevail. When I finally finished the book, I was relieved that Weinstein was finally getting what was coming to him.
The thing that strikes me about this book and this story is that it is universal among women. The women who come forward in this book tell the same story, with minor details changed for their specific narrative. They range from Hollywood A-listers to fast food workers to teenage girls assaulted by their drunk male classmates. If nothing else, I think that this book and others of this nature are a starting point for a conversation that is more than overdue.
*This post contains spoilers about this season of Grantchester. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the entire season.
Women have been experiencing sexual assault and sexual harassment since the beginning of time. It is only in the past few years that the #Metoo movement has forced the hand of lawmakers and leaders to stop and/or prevent such acts.
This season of Grantchester tackled the issue as only this show can.
After having her children and spending quite a few years at home, Cathy Keating (Kacey Ainsworth) is ready to go back to work. It’s supposed to bring in additional income and give her something to do outside of the traditional roles of marriage and motherhood.
But like many women across the centuries, Cathy has more than the standard workload on her hands. Her lecherous colleague, Anthony Hobbs (Christian McKay) has wandering hands and the idea that his female colleagues are there for his sexual pleasure. The preview of the scene starts at :11.
There are two ways to resolve a story line of this manner: the easy way and the hard way. The easy way would have been that upon finding out about Mr. Hobbs, Cathy’s husband, Geordie (Robson Green) would have jumped into the car, driven to the store where his wife works and give Mr. Hobbs a beating he will never forget.
The hard way is for the women to stand up and use their brains to stop this man. Cathy enlists Mrs. Chapman (Tessa Peake-Jones) to help her get rid of Mr. Hobbs without relying on on her husband.
I won’t give away the ending of this narrative thread, but I will say that it felt satisfying, despite the frustration of Mr. Hobbs not being exposed for the predator that he is.
Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a little creativity to ensure that these men are treated as the criminals that they are. Especially when too many women still experience sexual harassment and sexual assault on a daily basis.
There are many myths about feminism and the fight for true equality.
The new book, Feminism Is… sets out to tell the truth of feminism, examine the issues that fall under the feminism label and tells the stories of some of the women who helped to create the feminist movement.
The book starts with a forward written by Roxane Gay. It then walks the reader through the issues of feminism (such as pay parity and the #Metoo movement). Also included in the book are profiles of women such as Sojourner Truth and Emmeline Pankhurst.
Though this book is meant for young readers, I feel like it appeals to everyone who is interested and/or knowledgeable about the feminist movement. It speaks of the movement in such an open and honest tone that I hope that anyone who reads it at the very least, gains an understanding of what it is to be a feminist.
In an ideal world, the justice system would not be swayed by money and power or the lack thereof. Every defendant would be treated equally. But we live in an unequal world in which money and power can sway the justice system in the favor of the accused.
In 2008, billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was accused of sexually abusing underage girls. Those charges were dropped, but new charges were leveled against him this week. If convicted, he faces spending up to 45 years in jail.
He though he could hide behind his powerful friends. But powerful friends, like money and power cannot hide the truth of what he did to those young girls.
One of the aspects of this story I think surprises no one is that the current Secretary of Labor, Alex Acosta, who back then was working as a lawyer, arranged for a sweetheart deal that reduced the sentence. Mr. Acosta’s boss has been accused of similar crimes, but unlike Mr. Epstein, he continues to get off scot free.
Only time will tell if Mr. Epstein gets what he deserves. I hope he gets what he deserves and much more.