Tag Archives: Feminism

Tough Mothers by Jason Porath

Overview

Tough MothersTitle: Tough Mothers
Author: Jason Porath
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy readingFeminismHistory
Pace: Slo
Format: Non-fictional text
Publisher: Dey St.
Year: 2018
5th sentence, 74th page: She’d get up at daybreak, work all day long, come back for supper, and then set out again.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

50 women from history – Mothers, Grandmothers, and Godmothers – who lived fully, brashly, and boldly and changed the world… these are Tough Mothers

Thoughts

I loved Rejected Princesses. I loved this. There are no other words for my feelings when it comes to this book. Finally, finally there are some great books out there on the many women in history! The fact that this is one about women who are mothers and also completely kick ass makes it much better. It’s a reminder that we can be mothers as well as politicians, doctors, just women of power and change in general. I actually can’t wait to show these books to my future (theoretical) children – to show them the many different things that they can become. And even the women who have helped to pave the way for this.

I had only one small issue (if you can call it that) with this book – there are a lot of American women in these pages. Now, granted, I almost never see an Australian woman in well, anything (unless she’s some random bikini clad surfer, not sure how we got that rep)… so I wasn’t expecting to see anyone from my country in there (there were 2, I danced around my loungeroom when I read about them). But, I swear Rejected Princesses had a lot more people from the international stage than Tough Mothers. I kind of put it down to the fact that the author is American – there is a lot of amazing history there, and, really, you could write a whole book just about some of those women.

This was the perfect book for me to read while I was trying to slog through some articles for my lit review. Each entry was a quick, interesting read that helped to keep my mind engaged. It was also visually engaging and beautiful, so that made it all the more pleasant and pleasing. I’m actually really disappointed that it’s come to an end…

 <- Rejected Princesses Review Gogo Mama Review ->
Image source: Harper Collins Publishers

Rejected Princesses by Jason Porath

Overview

Rejected PrincessesTitle: Rejected Princesses
Author: Jason Porath
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, Easy reading, FeminismHistory, Non-fiction
Pace: Slow
Format: Non-fiction
Publisher: Dey St.
Year: 2016
5th sentence, 74th page: Suddenly, Ka’ahumanu was running things on her own.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

100 women from the pages of history, literature, and folklore. Fearless, bold, fierce, these are the… Rejected Princesses.

Thoughts

I loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, loved (okay, you get the point) this book! I even informed my partner that this is a perfect book from what to select (our entirely theoretical) future baby girls name from.

The things that I loved about this book:

  • The pictures – it was so pretty and beautifully laid out!
  • The entries were graded – I knew what sensitive topics / maturity levels I was getting into before I started the entry
  • It was short and pithy – every tale got to the point, but was engaging straight away
  • There was no sugar-coating it – these women were tough, and had some interesting stories, but they weren’t princessed up.
  • My mind is opened to the women of history

Not only was this book a great look at some of the amazing women of history (and even how they’ve shaped our futures), it was also just a really fun and beautiful read. The entire message behind this collection is that women are strong and can do anything. But it wasn’t preachy, it was fun, and delivered in such a way that you could give this to the younger generation of girls. Something that can allow us to see that we can all be whatever we want to be.

 <- Black Saturday Review Tough Mothers Review ->
Image source: Amazon

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterley

Overview
Hidden Figures

Title: Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of the African Women Who Helped Win the Space Race
Author: Margot Lee Shetterley
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, FeminismHistoryMemoirsScience
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: William Collins
Year: 2016
5th sentence, 74th page: If Dorothy Vaughn had been able to accept Howard University’s offer of graduate admission, she likely would have been Claytor’s only female classmate, with virtually no postgraduate career options outside of teaching, even with a master’s degree in hand.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

GENIUS HAS NO RACE. STRENGTH HAS NO GENDER. COURAGE HAS NO LIMIT.

The phenomenal true story of the black female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space.

Before John Glenn orbited the earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, some of the brightest minds of their generation, known as ‘human computers’, used pencils and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

Starting in World War II and moving through to the Cold War and the Space Race, Hidden Figures is a powerful, revelatory tale of race, discrimination and achievement in the modern world. Now a major motion picture starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kirsten Dunst and Kevin Costner.

Thoughts

I bought this book because I’ve seen the ads for the movie. I, as always, wanted to read the book before I watched the movie – there’s just something far more satisfying about reading the words before watching the adaptation. And I was not disappointed in the slightest. Although this is a pretty heavy going book. At least for someone like me, who has almost no knowledge of American history and, more specifically, the challenges faced by African-Americans throughout the past.

I love the world of science and maths, you don’t agree to do an undergrad and postgrad degree in the area if you don’t! NASA, however, has always been a bit of an abstract interest – I’m more into the environmental aspects of science than the physics. But, after reading this, I want to find out more about the contributions that NASA has provided the rest of the world. The fact that it was a great way to break down social and racial stigmas kind of made it all the more appealing. And this is including the role of Langley and its conception in WWII.

One of the things that I loved about this book was that it didn’t just focus on one or two women. Rather, there was a whole slew of women who contributed to the space race, and this is reflected by the telling of their stories. Although three main women continued to appear again and again, there were a number of other individuals who were mentioned and illuminated throughout this story.

For anyone with an interest in politics, equality, science, maths, or just really likes a good story, I would definitely recommend this novel! It certainly opened my eyes (and my mind).

<- The Upside ReviewWild Review ->
Image source: Amazon UK

Puss-in-Boots by Angela Carter

Overview

Puss-in-BootsTitle: Puss-in-Boots
Author: Angela Carter
In: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (Angela Carter)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Classics, Feminism
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Vintage
Year: 1979
5th sentence, 74th page: Mask the music of Venus with the clamour of Diana!

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

In “Puss-in-Boots,” Carter uses to one of the best-known fairy-tale cliches, the imprisoned princess, to examine the objectification and subjugation of women. In the traditional tale, a beautiful and virginal princess is trapped in a remote tower that is guarded by a dragon, which the hero must kill in order to save and marry her. In “Puss-in-Boots,” the beautiful virgin is trapped in a tower in the middle of town

Thoughts

Casanova with a cat sidekick. That’s pretty much what I got from this story. I actually had to start it three times before I was ready to really delve into the story. And, after the first two pages, I was actually entranced.

Yes, this story was Casanova told from the point of view of a lustful cat. And yes, it was a little weird that the cat was so keen to get his Master laid. But, it actually worked brilliantly. The true love of the Master was also completely able to take care of herself, and had a will of her own. Actually, she was a pretty big part in the overtaking of the evil husband (for what story is complete without one?). And honestly, I just loved the happy ending.

 <- The Tiger’s Bride Review The Erl King Review ->
Image source: Artist Daniel Mackie, Artist behind The DM Collection

The Erl-King by Angela Carter

Overview

The Erl-KingTitle: The Erl-King
Author: Angela Carter
In: The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories (Angela Carter)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: ClassicsFeminism
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Vintage
Year: 1979
5th sentence, 74th page: The woods enclose and then enclose again, like a system of Chinese boxes opening one into another; the intimate perspectives of the wood changed endlessly around the interloper, the imaginary traveller walking towards an invented distance that perpetually receded before me.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

A maiden wanders into the woods and is seduced by the sinister Erl-King, a seeming personification of the forest itself. However, she eventually realizes his plans and takes action…

Thoughts

I never know what to expect when I open the page on a new Angela Carter story. It always has a beautifully lilting language. Albeit, one that is a little difficult to follow and understand. And The Erl-King is no different. His slow destruction of the woman he loves is told in the most poetic and enchanting of ways. Until the strongly twisted ending that is.

I thoroughly enjoy reading Carter’s works, but they are a little hard going. And there are so many nuances throughout the words that no matter how many times I read this story, I think that I will find new points that jump out. There is such a strong message of strength beyond love that I melted a little inside. And then covered my mouth in shock at the incredibly twisted ending.

 <- Puss-in-Boots Review The Snow Child Review ->
Image source: Pinterest

Emma by Jane Austen

Overview
Emma

Title: Emma
Author: Jane Austen
Series: World Cloud Classics
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Classics, FeminismRomance
Pace: Slow in part I, but picks up in part II
Format: Novel
Publisher: Vintage Classics
Year: 1815
5th sentence, 74th page: She must abide by the evil of having refused him, whatever it may be and as to the refusal itself, I will not pretend to say that I might not influence her a little; but I assure you there was very little for me or for anybody to do.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Emma is young, rich and independent. She has decided not to get married and instead spends her time organising her acquaintances’ love affairs. Her plans for the matrimonial success of her new friend Harriet, however, lead her into complications that ultimately test her own detachment from the world of romance.

Thoughts

I can remember reading Emma for my major assignment in Year 12 English Studies. And I’m sure that I wrote many fancy things about the techniques, and the hidden meanings to the story. And just a whole hoop-la of technical jargon that showed what a great piece of writing Emma is. But, honestly, that doesn’t actually tell you if it’s a good story to read or not. After all, something can be technically brilliant, but completely boring (and tedious) to read. But, I digress, rereading this story not only left me thinking about and reminiscing on the joys of English Studies and the hours spent comparing and contrasting very random texts, but it also reminded me of just how much I love the word of Jane Austen.

We are all victims of our own presumptions, and quite often pride, in one way or another. Emma’s journey of blunders and mistakes is on the one hand incredibly entertaining, but on the other, it is startlingly familiar. There are moments in all of our lives that we look back on with regret, and not a small amount of shame – and Emma’s tale just heightens this sense. She is constantly making presumptions and acting under her own volition, without thinking about her own fallibility, or the genuine needs of others. Yet, luckily, as with all good stories, the happy ending of the story leads to the incredibly naïve heroine to recognise her flaws, realise her blunders and find a way to move forward in life as a new, complete woman.

Although I love Emma madly, I do find the story to be a little heavy as far as dialogue is concerned. Especially in those moments when Miss Bates is running off on one of her fancies. Although I’m sure that this was purposeful on the behalf of Austen, it does make the first two volumes of this novel a little more tedious and difficult to stick with. However, as the story progresses, it is easy enough to understand what is happening when the many principal characters decide to have long, and rambling conversations.

Although this story was written in the 1800s, and the idea of marriage for a woman and class systems were very intense, I still find this to be a story about a strong woman and her independence. Emma is determined not to marry, and when she does eventually find someone to whom she can see herself spending her life, it is still done to her terms. Emma’s strength of character and the ability to find a man who loves her all for herself is a really enjoyable read, and a reminder that although there has been over 200 years since this book was published, some of the themes and messages are still relevant today.

<- Hans Christian Andersen TalesMansfield Park ->

Image source: Amazon

In the Limbo of Luxury by Traci Harding

Overview

in-the-limbo-of-luxury

Title: In the Limbo of Luxury
Author: Traci Harding
In: Ghostwriting: Tales of the Supernatural (Traci Harding)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Fantasy, FeminismGhosts
Pace: Fast
Format: Novella
Publisher: Voyager
Year: 2002
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘None of us do,’ Marion added, and all three women raised their skirts and then giggled at Riane’s shocked expression.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Riane finds herself stuck in limbo one snowy, stormy night. And nothing goes as she expects.

Thoughts

The ending of this story was completely different to what I expected – and honestly, all the better for it. Riane’s strength and independence, her very place in the world is placed under strain and, like diamonds placed under pressure, the resulting heroine that is displayed is a gem beyond compare. The haunting ending also hints at many happy events in her future, even though, at the conclusion of the story, and following her final decision, there is no hints as to what this may be.

From the beginning, Riane’s romance with Marcus is both tantalisingly beautiful and eerily unsettling. It is impossible to quite put your finger on just why it doesn’t sit well and there is something that doesn’t quite add up. The storyline tears you in two directions – one part is embracing the luxury and romance of Marcus’ domain; yet another, quieter aspect of the story screams at you that not all is as it seems. This fine balance between the two conditions of Riane’s fast-burning flame makes the entire story impossible to put down. The haunting hints of the bridal waif compound this in a way that is so vivid and spine tingling that this is one of my favourite ghost stories thus far.

The theme of forgiveness followed the overarching idea of being oneself for oneself (rather than sacrificing everything for the sake of love). The very act of forgiveness helped to remove the lingering effects of limbo on the ghosts, and in doing so, allowed Riane to hope for her own future. The closure provided by this picturesque moment will remain splashed across my eyelids for a long time yet.

<- The Detox Factor Review Curses Review ->
Image source: Harper Collins Australia

Gogo Mama by Sally Sara

Overview

gogo-mama

Title: Gogo Mama
Author: Sally Sara
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves:
Australian authors, BiographiesFeminismMemoirsNon-fiction, Strong women, True stories
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Year: 2006
5th sentence, 74th page: If you go to fetch for water or firewood and people start running, you have left your children and run alone.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Synopsis

I’M SITTING IN A $30 HOTEL ROOM IN UGANDA WONDERING WHAT THE HELL I’VE GOT MYSELF INTO. THIS IS DAY ONE OF GOGO MAMA. I DON’T EVEN KNOW ALL THE NAMES OF THE TWELVE WOMEN WHO WILL FILL THIS BOOK; ONLY THE JOURNEY WILL REVEAL THEM.

Gogo Mama is a journey of discovery into the lives of a dozen very different African women. They include the survivor of a brutal attack by Ugandan rebels; an Egyptian belly dancer turned movie star; an escapee from slavery in Ghana; Zanzibar’s most famous living diva; a former child soldier from Liberia; a grandmother fighting AIDS in South Africa; and a pioneering midwife from Timbuktu. They speak with complete candour both about their astonishing experiences and about the way they live now, in some of the most hostile and exotic parts of the continent.

While introducing these inspiring women, award-winning journalist Sally Sara takes us on a trip across Africa, in all its complexity – from the frenetic townships of Johannesburg, to a clifftop village in Mali; from the horror of the frontline of war in Sudan, to the glamour of Cairo nightclubs.

Gogo Mama is a vivid, illuminating and haunting composite picture of an extraordinary land, in the words of the people who know it best.

Thoughts

This story left me feeling… humbled. Just humbled. These twelve women will touch you in a way that you can’t imagine, and their lives set amidst the beauty of Africa are guaranteed to linger in your mind’s eye for years after you close the cover. It is just an incredibly powerful, moving and honest set of stories. The truth is met unflinchingly and without hesitation. Yet, in all of Sara’s interviews, there is no anger and bitterness, rather, a simple acceptance for what has been suffered and an optimism for what they may face in the future.

From a survivor of the Rwandan genocide to a world-famous belly dancer, each of these twelve stories is different and unique. They are insights into another country, another world. One which I can’t even fathom. The range of stories, from the downright depressing, to the uplifting are a fantastic window through which to view such a varied continent. There is no feeling of repetition or even judgement throughout the stories. Sara manages to shine the light on every single experience, use the nuances and feelings from every single interview to weave a textured tale that you will never forget.

Yet, it isn’t just the tales of Sara’s journey and the women whom she had the pleasure of encountering that makes Gogo Mama such an enthralling novel. It is the vivid descriptions of the African countryside, the daily activities that are undertaken in some of the most picturesque landscapes in the world. Picturesque, yet war-torn. The vividness and beauty of the countries plays a haunting note to the tales which are spun by women who, against all odds, have triumphed in their own lives and found a way to carve out their own reality.

<- Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence ReviewThe Upside Review ->
Image source: Goodreads

Be A Lady

Be A LadyOriginally published by OnDit Issue 84.6 on Monday 30 May 2016.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times that I’ve been told ‘that’s not very ladylike’. And okay, sometimes it’s because I’ve burped epically loudly, or my maxi-skirt has been tucked into my underwear for whatever reason (a very attractive look, I can assure you). But I’ve never really understood exactly what people mean by be a lady. It is just so very, very confusing.

Alright, I know that part of being a lady is to fit into so many of the gender stereotypes that are flaunted and forced upon us – man and woman alike you know – as women, we’re supposed to love rom-coms, never pass wind or swear, and to always, always look like we have spent hours on our look. I honestly don’t know many females who are like this, do you? And regardless of how much of these stereotypes we do manage to accomplish, it’s still almost guaranteed that someone is going to tell you that you need to be a lady. So my question is, what makes a lady? Or, in more general terms, how are we supposed to be “proper” women?

If you ask some of the people that I have grown up with, a woman is someone who looks good, but not slutty (a term which I by the way hate with a firey, firey passion – a rant for another day perhaps…). As a good female, they think that you should also accept any and all behaviour from “your man” and “the menfolk”. Whether this is letting them talk the way they want in public or have boy time whenever and wherever they want. A little archaic at times – and if my boyfriend doesn’t control me, who am I to control his every action? Respect people. Respect. But I digress…

Female FormsThere is a flip side to this kind of attitude – the same boys who expect you to act like this also feel that women are a thing to be treasured. They are protected, shouldn’t be sworn in front of and just generally treated like a princess. And hey, who doesn’t love that? I know that I don’t mind it when I get spoilt and have chocolate bought home for me…

If I listened to the advice on Ladette to Lady, then these very English and very proper ladies would tell me that a lady NEVER swears. She does not raise her voice. A lady never speaks unless spoken to, and she most definitely has impeccable manners. According to this (in my mind) very entertaining and silly show; ladies are to practice their eloquence in the hopes of marrying rich. The end. Now, being a university magazine, I’m going to go out on a limb then and say that this definition is not quite adequate. So what else is there?

A few years ago I read ‘The Politics of Piety’ which delved into the world of Islamic women in Egypt. The ideas of womanhood and feminism is so far removed from my experiences (and even those of the author) that I honestly can’t fathom acting in this way. Wearing a hijab and operating in a patriarchal society in just the right way was a fascinating life to read about, but definitely not something that would fit my experience of ‘womanhood’.

Women.pngSo, what does being a lady mean?

Well, I identify as a lady. A woman. A female. And although every group, culture and subset of people have different ideas on this, I think that it’s our decision to ‘be a lady’. And that is what makes us one. Being a lady is fun – in all it’s guises. So embrace it. Be a lady. Basically just be your wonderful, feminine self. Unless you’re a man. Then you should probably stick to being a man (if that’s what you want…).

Image source: Mery
Image source: Beauties Factory
Image source: Beauties Factory

Isn’t Feminism About Choice?

Feminism

Originally published by OnDit Issue 84.5 on Monday 9 May 2016.

I once told someone to shove it when I was ordered into the kitchen, and I’ve since been called a feminist by my friends and family. I was twelve at the time. I’m proud to claim the title; for me, being a feminist is about equal rights and opportunities. It’s about the fact that my gender (or yours, for that matter) shouldn’t impact how people treat me, what jobs I can pursue or what hobbies I can have. I feel genuinely sorry for some of my more unfortunate associates who have had to stand around listening to me while I’m on my soap box.

But that’s not the soapbox I’m going to get on today. Today I want to talk about choice. As I said, to me women’s rights and the feminist movement are about giving us women equal opportunities to choose our own pathways. The career women and single mothers are obviously strongly supported in this argument – they have chosen a difficult path and stuck to it, heads held high. But what about me? What about the girls who don’t want to follow the difficult paths?

ChoicesI’m very driven and want to get a good career for myself, I’ve never depended on a man to make me feel good, and I have never acted in a specific way because it is expected of me as a woman. But I have spent the last five years defending my relationship to a wide variety of people.

Tyson and I met at a friend’s BBQ and six months later we started dating (actually we just started sleeping together, and decided we’d say it was a relationship). That one night was probably the best decision of my life. I managed to find someone who takes me (with all of my idiosyncrasies and complications) and loves me. Just the way I am. Believe me, I know how rare and special that is… there’s just one issue… he’s “communicationally inept”. Or, as I often call him, he’s a grunt-grunt-scratch-scratch-man.

FeministI’ve been told that he is an asshole because it took him over two years to admit that he loved me. That I’m somehow weak and not at all a strong, independent woman because I’m in a relationship. Or because I’m in a relationship that is with a non-hipster man. Apparently because the guy that I chose fits all the gender stereotypes, I must be a submissive housewife and that it’s somehow a bad thing. If you asked my partner, he would set you straight on that… I’m not housewifey, I’m not submissive, and according to him, I’m just generally crap at remembering to run any errands.

What I want to know is – since when did my relationship choice affect anyone but myself? Since when did mere acquaintances have the right to tell me how they feel about something that makes me happy? If you want to date a man, woman, something in between, go ahead. It’s up to you who to keep in your life to make you happy, and choosing that person doesn’t make you any less, or more, of a feminist. We should all be arguing for our ability to choose what we want, not the ability of others to choose what’s ideal for you.

Image source: The Huffington Post
Image source: Tara Burner
Image source: Pinterest