Much of the feminist movement has been wrapped in a maternal bow. Suffrage was sold to naysayers as a way to give mothers a say in government, not to mention the view that women would clean up politics. Organizations like Moms Rising and CODEPink appeal to women as caregivers and moms for ending wars and realizing universal healthcare. But a funny thing happened on our way to a feminist society - we also impacted the way boys and men are viewed.
Bitch is proud to announce our new book lovin' blog, Bibliobitch! To kick off our foray into the land of literature, here is an interview with author Kate Walbert by Bitch contributor Sarah Seltzer. Stay tuned for more, you bitchy bookworms, you.
Kate Walbert's new novel "A Short History of Women" follows the women in a single family down through the generations. The official synopsis of the book is: "From a lecture delivered to suffragettes in Victorian England to a playdate on Manhattan's Upper West Side, this provocative work chronicles four generations of women, their aspirations, the limits imposed on them, and the sometimes startling choices they make in the world."
Walbert's fictional family history begins with Dorothy Townsend, who starved herself for the British suffrage movement, and continues through to today. As Dorothy's name reappears in different permutations among her children, nieces and grand-nieces, so does her struggle with "the problem that can't be named," or the problem of how women can find fulfillment in an obstacle-filled environment. Dorothy's daughter devotes herself to science and shuns intimacy, even while serving as a role model for younger women. Her grand-nieces contend with an emptiness and lack of purpose and take that feeling out in myriad ways: trespassing on military property, blogging their feelings, drinking and moving through life as best they can. Walbert has been a finalist for the National Book Award, and the "playdate" chapter of this novel appeared in the New Yorker.
A few months back, Publishers Weekly published my interview with Walbert. However, I also asked her a few extra questions that were near and dear to my heart: namely, about the F-word. Here are her answers.
That journalist Sheila Weller's NYT Bestseller, "Girls Like Us" also features Carole King and Carly Simon is a nice extra, of course. I haven't even finished this book yet, but I just have to gush about it. It's music history, it's women's history, it's American pop culture history...what's not to love?
There are three books about black women and motherhood that rocked my world when I read them: Rise Up Singing: Black Women Writers on Motherhood; I'm Every Woman: Remixed Stories of Marriage, Motherhood, and Work; and a novel, Jump at the Sun. Lucky me, I also got to interview the authors, Cecelie S. Berry, Lonnae O'Neal Parker, and Kim McLarin, respectively. Read on for those interviews and my reviews of the books...
A few years ago, I found a book-length literary magazine, Conditions:Five, amongst the discarded and donated books on the shelves in a local coffeehouse. I skimmed through it that day, just long enough to finish my cup of chai, before placing it back on the shelf. At the time, I had no idea that I'd held such a rich piece of history in my hands.
Feminist bookstores have been closing their doors because of hard economic times. Here's an opportunity for activism to save In Other Words, a non-profit feminist bookstore in Portland, Oregon. If you've got a bit of change to spare, we can ALL help make a miracle happen this month.