Tag Archives: Feminism

New to the Stacks: 2020

Love in the Time of Cholera by Marquez, Garcia Gabriel
The Shore of Women by Sargent, Pamela – read
When Will There Be Good News? by Atkinson, Kate – read
The Book of Joan by Yuknavitch, Lidia
Out of mesopotamia by Salar, Abdoh
In Search Of The Lost Chord: 1967 And The Hippie Idea by Goldberg, Danny
To Hold Up the Sky by Liu, Cixin
A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by O’Connor, Flannery- read
The Wives of Henry Oades by Moran, Johanna- read
Spirits and Thieves by Rhodes, Morgan – read
The Rush’s Edge by Smith, Ginger – read
The women’s revolution, Russia 1905-1917 by Cox, Judy – read
George Orwell Illustrated by Smith, David
Marx’s Capital by Smith, David -read
The Fire Next Time by Baldwin, James
Sex in the world of myth by Leeming, David Adams
The goddess by Leeming, David Adams
The conspiracy trial of the Chicago Seven by Schultz, John
A People’s History of the United States by Zinn, Howard – reading
The Weight of Ink by Kadish, Rachel – read
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Clarke, Susanna
Thinking in Pictures by Grandin, Temple
My Beloved World by Sotomayor, Sonia
The Sirens of Titan by Vonnegut, Kurt
Super Heroes: A Modern Mythology by Reynolds, Richard – read
The Relentless Moon by Kowal, Mary Robinette
The Language Of The Night by Le Guin, Ursula K.
Trapped in the Mirror: Adult Children of Narcissists in Their Struggle for Self by Golomb, Elan
Watchmen as literature by Van Ness, Sara J.- read
Parable of the Sower by Butler, Octavia E.
Junk City by Boilard, Jon -read
The Music Book by Osborn, Karen – read
Back to the wine jug by Taylor, Joe
Watchmen by Moore, Alan – read
The Nickel Boys by Whitehead, Colson – read
The Water Dancer by Coates, Ta-Nehisi
Dark mirror by Gellman, Barton – read
Playing in the Dark by Morrison, Toni
Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene by Ehrman, Bart D.
Berkeley at War: The 1960s by Rorabaugh, W.J.
Things that can and cannot be said by Roy, Arundhati – read
Cinderella Liberator by Solnit, Rebecca – read
Berkeley: The Student Revolt by Draper, Hal – read
The Books of Earthsea by Le Guin, Ursula K.
Robert Duncan in San Francisco by Rumaker, Michael -read
History as mystery by Parenti, Michael – read
Feminisms redux by Edited by Warhol-Down, Robyn and Herndl, Diane Price
American Audacity: In Defense of Literary Daring by Giraldi, William
A Book of Book Lists by Johnson, Alex – read
Becoming Superman by Straczynski, J. Michael
Howl on Trial by Morgan, Bill and Peters, Nancy Joyce – read
Future Perfect: American Science Fiction of the Nineteenth Century by Franklin, H. Bruce
Legends edited by Silverberg, Robert – read
Six Memos for the Next Millennium by Calvino, Italo
Why I Read by Lesser, Wendy
Side Life by Toutonghi, Steve – read
This is how You Lose the Time War by El-Mohtar, Amal and Gladstone, Max
The Future of Another Timeline by Newitz, Annalee – read
Gideon the Ninth by Muir, Tamsyn – read
Sixteenth Watch by Cole, Myke – read
The City In The Middle Of The Night by Anders, Charlie Jane – read
The Lost War by Anderson, Justin – read
Small days and nights by Tishani, Doshi – read
The Shadow King by Mengiste, Maaza – read
Mickey Mouse: From Walt to the World by Deja, Andreas

To Do List: The Memoir of 7Stillwell

A memoir has been chasing me for years and I’ve kept running.  Recently, like the last three years or so, it keeps popping up in writing assignments or conversations with mentors and teachers.

Today’s revelation by Billy Porter that he’s been living with HIV for 14 years wasn’t stunning.  The things he had to say about shame, and hiding his status because of that shame was stunning.  Little electric thrills ran around my brain.

Then things really clicked for me when he spoke about figuring out why he was still alive to tell the story.  I was brought to tears at the bravery and vulnerability he showed.

My journey for several years has been to understand myself and what feminism means for me.  You might recall I wrote about Kameron Hurley‘s book The Geek Feminist Revolution making me ugly cry and having a profound affect on me.  After realizing I can only look at a book through the lens of Feminist theory made me decide to go all in and declare I specialize in SF/F feminism.

There’s a gaping hole in the SF/F community where good critical theory would fit nicely.  There’s an even bigger hole where equal rights should go.  I want to be a part of the fight to make things better for everyone in the community.

Every day, there are little revelations and realizations about the gaping holes in my emotional structure.  The trauma and dysfunction that I somehow survived, and managed to come through.  Healing and understanding is a lifetime process.  It is slow, frustrating, and terrifying.

Given the state of women’s rights around the world, the not so creeping misogyny and sexism, I realized I can’t run anymore.  My memoir insists on being written, and so it shall.  Slowly, frustratingly, and very terrifyingly.

I have much to be grateful for, and today I give a big chunk of it to Billy Porter for being the light.

To Do List: The Shore of Women

The Shore of Women by Pamela Sargeant

Title: The Shore of Women
Author: Pamela Sargent
Published: 2014 (originally published 1986)
ISBN-13: 9781480497382
Publisher: Open Road Media

Publisher’s Blurb: A dystopian tale of a power struggle between the sexes in the post-nuclear future, perfect for readers of Margaret Atwood and Ursula K. Le Guin.

After a nuclear holocaust, women rule the world. Using advanced technology, they’ve expelled men from their vast walled cities to roam the countryside in primitive bands, bringing them back only for the purpose of loveless reproduction under the guise of powerful goddesses.

When one young woman, Birana, questions her society’s deception, she finds herself exiled among the very men she has been taught to scorn. She crosses paths with a hunter, Arvil, and the two grow close as they evade the ever-threatening female forces and the savage wilderness men. Their love just might mend their fractured world—if they manage to survive.

Hailed as “one of the genre’s best writers” by the Washington Post Book World, Pamela Sargent is the author of numerous novels, including Earthseed and Venus of Dreams. The winner of the Nebula and Locus awards, she has also coauthored several Star Trek novels with George Zebrowski.

A dear friend knowing my proclivity for all things feminist in SF/F took some of his hard got by money and bought the ebook for me.

Things in 1986, when it was written, were much different than 2020, when I read it.  But I’m still appalled The Shore of Women would be considered feminist.  My review is part of a larger project I have in mind considering the treatment of women in books I’ve recently read, both in LitFic and SF/F.

To Do List: Who Cooked the Last Supper?

Who Cooked the Last Supper by Rosalind Miles

Title: Who Cooked the Last Supper?
Author: Rosalind Miles
Published: 2001
ISBN-13: 9780609806951
Publisher: Penguin Random House

Publisher’s Blurb:
Who Cooked the Last Supper? overturns the phallusy of history and gives voice to the untold history of the world: the contributions of millions of unsung women.

Men dominate history because men write history. There have been many heroes, but no heroines. Here, in Who Cooked the Last Supper?, is the history you never learned–but should have!

Without politics or polemics, this brilliant and witty book overturns centuries of preconceptions to restore women to their rightful place at the center of culture, revolution, empire, war, and peace. Spiced with tales of individual women who have shaped civilization, celebrating the work and lives of women around the world, and distinguished by a wealth of research, Who Cooked the Last Supper? redefines our concept of historical reality.

Ugh, I really hate the play on words using phallusy in this blurb.  Let’s not make light of the topic at hand.

Rosalind Miles’ Who Cooked the Last Supper? is dense to read at times.  It is well-researched, which does not mean it’s an easy read.  A review will come when I’ve had more time to mull over what she has to say.

To Do List: Feminisms and Womanisms

Feminisms and Womanisms edited by Susan Silva-Wayne and Althea Prince

Title: Feminisms and Womanisms
Author: Althea Prince and Susan Silva-Wayne
Published: 2003
ISBN-13: 978-0889614116
Publisher: Women’s Press

Publisher’s Blurb:  This collection of feminist writings has theory and praxis as its focus. The theoretical underpinnings of feminism, as well as the social action that it fuelled, are given full attention. Feminisms and Womanisms includes writings about First, Second and Third Wave Feminism, the voices of First Nations feminists, and those of feminists of colour. The reader includes chapters by feminist theorists such as Bell Hooks, Linda Briskin, Christine Bruckert, Angela Davis, Patricia Hill-Collins, Tammy Landau, Audre Ldrde, Inga Muscio, Viviane Namaste, Makeda Silvera, Dorothy Smith, Alice Walker, and Naomi Wolfe.

True story.  In the pre-plague times when we were still required to work at the office, I’d befriended a lunch-time buddy because I thought he was a fellow reader.  Turns out his actions showed him to be the sort of man who thinks himself a staunch feminist but really isn’t.  He loved to tell me how I should do things and what I was allowed to talk about.  One day, I’d had enough and told a fib.

“I have deadlines so I can’t eat with you anymore.”  The next day, I sat at a different table reading Feminisms and Womanisms, taking notes.  As he walked past, lunch buddy said, “I hope that pays off for you some day.”  I let all sarcastic comments stay in my head.

Feminisms and Womanisms is a heady collection of excerpts from seminal feminist texts.  It helped me on my journey to my own feminism, and gave me much to think about.

A fuller review will appear here.

Cover Reveal: Out Front the Following Sea by Leah Angstman

Leah Angstman and I met on Twitter after finding her small press Alternating Currents (@altcurrent) which publishes the absolutely fabulous *Footnote; A Literary Journal of History.  I cannot wait to get my hands on this book!

Now, I’m thrilled to be participating in the cover reveal for Leah Angstman’s debut novel, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA, coming January 2022 from Regal House Publishing.


OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA:
A Novel of King William’s War in 17th-Century New England
BY LEAH ANGSTMAN
Publication Date: January 11, 2022
Regal House Publishing
Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook; 334 pages
Genre: Historical / Literary / Epic
**Shortlisted for the Chaucer Book Award**


OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a historical epic of one woman’s survival in a time when the wilderness is still wild, heresy is publicly punishable, and being independent is worse than scorned—it is a death sentence.At the onset of King William’s War between French and English settlers in 1689 New England, Ruth Miner is accused of witchcraft for the murder of her parents and must flee the brutality of her town. She stows away on the ship of the only other person who knows her innocence: an audacious sailor — Owen — bound to her by years of attraction, friendship, and shared secrets. But when Owen’s French ancestry finds him at odds with a violent English commander, the turmoil becomes life-or-death for the sailor, the headstrong Ruth, and the cast of Quakers, Pequot Indians, soldiers, highwaymen, and townsfolk dragged into the fray. Now Ruth must choose between sending Owen to the gallows or keeping her own neck from the noose. Steeped in historical events and culminating in a little-known war on pre-American soil, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a story of early feminism, misogyny, arbitrary rulings, persecution, and the treatment of outcasts, with parallels still mirrored and echoed in today’s society. The debut novel will appeal to readers of Paulette Jiles, Alexander Chee, Hilary Mantel, James Clavell, Bernard Cornwell, TaraShea Nesbit, Geraldine Brooks, Stephanie Dray, Patrick O’Brian, and E. L. Doctorow.

AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER

REGAL HOUSE PRINT | AMAZON KINDLE

AVAILABLE FOR ARC REQUEST
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Out Front the Following Sea hi-res cover reveal

Praise

“With OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA, Leah Angstman reveals herself as a brave new voice in historical fiction. With staggering authenticity, Angstman gives us a story of America before it was America — an era rife with witch hunts and colonial intrigue and New World battles all but forgotten in our history books and popular culture. This is historical fiction that speaks to the present, recalling the bold spirits and cultural upheavals of a nation yet to be born.”—Taylor Brown, author of PRIDE OF EDEN, GODS OF HOWL MOUNTAIN, and THE RIVER OF KINGS

“Steeped in lush prose, authentic period detail, and edge-of-your-seat action, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a rollicking good read. Leah Angstman keeps the story moving at a breathtaking pace, and she knows more 17th-century seafaring language and items of everyday use than you can shake a stick at. The result is a compelling work of romance, adventure, and historical illumination that pulls the reader straight in.”—Rilla Askew, author of FIRE IN BEULAH, THE MERCY SEAT, and KIND OF KIN<

“Lapidary in its research and lively in its voice, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA by Leah Angstman is a rollicking story, racing along with wind in its sails. Though her tale unfolds hundreds of years in America’s past, Ruth Miner is the kind of high-spirited heroine whose high adventures haul you in and hold you fast.”—Kathleen Rooney, author of LILLIAN BOXFISH TAKES A WALK and CHER AMI AND MAJOR WHITTLESEY

“Leah Angstman has written the historical novel that I didn’t know I needed to read. OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is set in an oft-forgotten time in the brutal wilds of pre-America that is so vividly and authentically drawn, with characters that are so alive and relevant, and a narrative so masterfully paced and plotted, that Angstman has performed the miracle of layering the tumultuous past over our troubled present to gift us a sparkling new reality.”—Kevin Catalano, author of WHERE THE SUN SHINES OUT and DELETED SCENES AND OTHER STORIES<

“OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a fascinating book, the kind of historical novel that evokes its time and place so vividly that the effect is just shy of hallucinogenic. I enjoyed it immensely.” —Scott Phillips, author of THE ICE HARVEST, THE WALKAWAY, COTTONWOOD, and HOP ALLEY

“OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a meticulously researched novel that mixeshistory, love story, and suspense. Watching Angstman’s willful protagonist,Ruth Miner, openly challenge the brutal world of 17th-century New England, with its limiting ideas about gender, race, and science, was a delight.” —Aline Ohanesian, author of ORHAN’S INHERITANCE

“Leah Angstman is a gifted storyteller with a poet’s sense of both beauty and darkness, and her stunning historical novel, OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA, establishes her as one of the most exciting young novelists in the country.  Angstman plunges the reader into a brilliantly realized historical milieu peopled by characters real enough to touch. And in Ruth Miner, we are introduced to one of the most compelling protagonists in contemporary literature, a penetratingly intelligent, headstrong woman who is trying to survive on her wits alone in a Colonial America that you won’t find in the history books. A compulsive, vivid read that will change the way you look at the origins of our country, Leah Angstman’s OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA announces the arrival of a preternatural talent.” —Ashley Shelby, author of MURI and SOUTH POLE STATION<

“Rich, lyrical, and atmospheric, with a poet’s hand and a historian’s attention to detail. In OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA, Leah Angstman creates an immersive world for readers to get lost in and a fascinating story to propel them through it. A thoroughly engaging and compelling tale.”  —Steph Post, author of HOLDING SMOKE, MIRACULUM, and WALK IN THE FIRE

“It’s a rare story that makes you thankful for having read and experienced it. It’s rarer still for a story to evoke so wholly, so powerfully, another place and time as to make you thankful for the gifts that exist around you, which you take for granted. OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA is a book rich with misery, yet its characters are indefatigable; they yearn, despite their troubles, for victories personal and societal. Leah Angstman’s eye is keen, and her ability to transport you into America’s beginnings is powerful. With the raw ingredients of history, she creates a story both dashing and pensive, robust yet believable. From an unforgiving time, Angstman draws out a tale of all things inhuman, but one that reminds us of that which is best in all of us.”  —Eric Shonkwiler, author of ABOVE ALL MEN and 8TH STREET POWER AND LIGHT

About the Author

Leah Angstman author photoLeah Angstman is a historian and transplanted Michigander living in Boulder. OUT FRONT THE FOLLOWING SEA, her debut novel of King William’s War in 17th-century New England, is forthcoming from Regal House in January 2022. Her writing has been a finalist for the Saluda River Prize, Cowles Book Prize, Able Muse Book Award, Bevel Summers Fiction Prize, and Chaucer Book Award, and has appeared in Publishers Weekly, L.A. Review of Books, Nashville Review, Slice, and elsewhere. She serves as editor-in-chief for Alternating Current and The Coil magazine and copyeditor for Underscore News, which has included editing partnerships with ProPublica. She is an appointed vice chair of a Colorado historical commission and liaison to a Colorado historic preservation committee.

Feminism: Something Like a Rant

One of my favorite male writers posted on Twitter recently about learning how his behavior towards women has made them extremely uncomfortable.  He was completely chagrined.  His apology and promise to do better seemed heartfelt.  I only know this author through his books and his presence on Twitter.  It does not come as a surprise that he was unaware of what his behavior towards women really was.

He shared a post he’d written on his blog about owning his mistakes.  This post is not about that.

This post is about what someone said in the comments:

but it’s outright demoralizing for newbie writers who come to a convention to try to network, and they see that the male pros are bro-ing it up as colleagues, and they’re talking to the pretty women (who then have to fend off unwanted advances) … but the women they see as plain are entirely shut out of conversations.

Story.  of.  My. Life.

Shit like this brings me to my knees.  Someone’s saying the thing I’ve been struggling to explain for years.  I have been ghosted, over looked, looked over, looked through, gaslighted, etc. because as Kameron Hurley said, “My body isn’t coded correctly.”

I can’t tell you how many people, especially men, have told me my experience is “not that bad,” or “didn’t happen.”

I’m done with all that.  This behavior has taught me to keep to myself and not seek advice or attention.  Those who chose to treat us like that can just suck eggs right about now.

Once at a holiday party, a male co-worker sat next to me and we had an interesting talk about something.  We talked until he got a better offer from a pretty, vivacious woman across the room.  He would have denied that’s what happened, but I knew.

Another time, a friend and I had just finished dinner.  She was thin and pretty with long curly hair.  A drunk Asian man walked right past me to talk to her.  When he wobbled off, I asked if she knew what had just happened.  She didn’t see it and thought I was being too hard on myself.

No.  There was a time when I once thought there was something wrong with me to be treated that way.  For decades, I fought for recognition as someone who existed and took up space in her own right.  It was exhausting, and led to some really embarrassing and truly terrible events.  I berated myself for being so sensitive and crying over “every little thing.”

Guess what?  Those things weren’t little and they hurt like hell.  My heart was so battered and bruised I couldn’t see it wasn’t my fault.  I was doing nothing to be treated that way.  Nothing.

So men, take a look at your actions around women.  Do you drink a lot and then flirt mercilessly, thinking her many replies of “no” and “go away” are  a game?  Stop that.

Do you stand in the hall at conventions having an interesting conversation with a woman who is less attractive, and then abandon her the second a prettier woman walks past?  Knock it off.

Do you stand at the bar with your male compatriots yucking it up, refusing to acknowledge the woman standing there wanting to ask for you advice about a writing problem or to tell you how much she loves your work?  Seriously, knock that shit off.

Do you hit it off with someone and she doesn’t return your calls?  Ask yourself why.  She’s not the bitch, you probably are.

There are so many other stories to tell about this.  A lifetime of stories.  Doesn’t matter to me if you believe them or not.  My lived experience trumps your expectation of a skewed truth.

Bitter, resentful, angry, desperate, etc.  I’ve been called them all, and more.  So what?  Maybe you could look at your own behavior and think about what might have made me, or a woman of your acquaintance feel that way.

The lowest setting on the privilege scale is cishet white male.   Maybe the reason no one’s telling you about your behavior is because she’s scared to.   A lot of men don’t handle it well and they lash out.

There are moments of agonizing pain because, damn it, that scar just got opened for the 700th time, and someone should pay for the pain they’re causing.  Society trains women to be docile and submissive and then wonders why we’re angry.  Dude, have you met you?

There was a time I didn’t want to identify as feminist because they just seemed so strident.  Then I started reading and listening and learned feminism is about equality.  It’s about my right to exist in my own space and not be hassled by some man who thinks he can, and should.

On a group trip to Canada, I was insulted over my weight.  Aghast, I walked away.  Next morning at breakfast, the very same man walked up behind my chair and put his hands on me.  It took both my friend and I to convince him he needed to leave.  I had no room to maneuver or I would have gotten up and left.  He put his hands on me and he thought it was okay.  Not only that, when I asked him to stop, he wouldn’t.

This is not anomalous behavior.   It happens every day.  Probably to someone you know.  Men, before you get yourself twisted up over some man putting his hands on a woman friend of yours without permission, take a good long hard look at yourself.  Do you walk up next to/behind a woman you vaguely know and touch her?  You may think it’s just an innocent, friendly gesture and you’ll probably never know she flinched when you did it.  We’ve been trained not to let you see us flinch.  But we do.  If you have ever put your hand in the small of her back and she is not a very good friend you have just committed assault.

She knows she’ll get laughed at for even complaining or asking you politely not to do that.  She knows you probably won’t understand because you’re a good guy and you treat women with the utmost respect.  No, you don’t.  You don’t.  And you need to look at your interactions before you pass judgement on women who refuse to be in your presence, or to get close enough for you to touch.

A writer friend completely objectified a woman to me based on her author picture.  The red-headed lass was to his liking.  Sat there, looked right at me as we’d been talking about feminism in speculative fiction and objectified her.  The pain ripped right through me, both because it was obvious he didn’t hear what he was doing, and because he’d just made me feel small and unworthy because I wasn’t a red-headed lass.  I got over the small and unworthy part fast because fuck him.  He’s not the first to look right through me and compliment another, prettier woman.  He probably won’t be the last.

If you don’t know whether you do this, ask your friends.  Especially ask your women friends.  Be prepared for some hard truth.  And then be prepared to do the work to do better.

Don’t treat women like that.  Don’t do it.  We’re not a glass of your favorite whiskey to be sipped at.  We’re not your favorite cigar bought and paid for.  We are people.  We are your mothers, sisters, aunties, daughters, wives, writing partners, and comrades in arms.

Do not make the mistake of thinking we like how you treat us.  And do not make the mistake of thinking that our silence makes your behavior okay.  Knock that shit off and evolve.  To truly be the man you think you are takes honesty and work.  Do that and see how much better all your friendships are.  Do the work.

Review: Cinderella Liberator

Cinderella Liberator by Rebecca Solnit

Title: Cinderella Liberator
Author: Rebecca Solnit
Published: 2019
ISBN-13: 978-1-608465965
Publisher: Haymarket Books
Publisher Blurb:  Rebecca Solnit reimagines a classic fairytale with a fresh, feminist Cinderella and new plot twists that will inspire young readers to change the world.

Fairytales made no sense to me.  Even as I tried to fit myself into what society believed girls should want, which included some fairytale version of finding a husband and having children, it didn’t make sense.  And I didn’t understand why.

I mean, why should Cinderella want to go to the ball so much, and why would she want to marry a prince?  Did that really mean happily ever after?  What if she – what if I – wanted something different?

The appeal of being rescued is certainly be understandable, especially when growing up in a dysfunctional, unpredictable environment.  When your whole life feels hopeless, rescue seems like the best chance.  When one wants to be rescued from misery, there is no understanding about agency.  So, in some ways, Cinderella’s traditional gambit of marrying the prince and leaving behind her wicked steps makes a tremendous amount of sense.  If only there was another way ….

Rebecca Solnit’s Cinderella Liberator begins with the familiar story.   But when the lizards become stagecoach women for Cinderella’s carriage, one sits up and takes notice.   And when Cinderella asks if the lizards want to be human, the reader understands this isn’t the same Cinderella of childhood.

At its base as a political structure, feminism is about the right to make choices based upon personal agency.  Women get to choose what they want to do, or should be allowed to, anyway.  Solnit takes that one step further.  Not only does Cinderella get to choose, but so do the animals who help her get to the ball.  The entire cast gets a makeover.

This more equitable story in which Cinderella opens a cake store and become friends with the prince who wants to work on a farm is one everyone should read.  Especially those with small children entering the world of make-believe and fairy tales.

Solnit’s version is more hopeful and happier, giving children (and adults) space to learn about equality and choice.  It certainly gave me happiness and hope.