The title of Samantha Geimer's memoir The Girl feels both cynical and right. For the past 35 years, we've known Geimer as "the girl" in the internationally infamous Roman Polanski rape case. She was "the girl" the film director got drunk and assaulted when she was 13, "the girl" who was alternately shamed in headlines for being promiscuous or held up as a powerless victim. Finally, decades after the 1977 assault, Geimer has published her own take on the incident and ensuing media and legal firestorm.
Pessl's salability had been remarked upon over a year before the book itself was published: a conventionally attractive thin young white woman, a Barnard grad, a debut novelist, an "actor, writer, and dancer." It's no wonder, many observed, that Viking paid well into the six-figures for the book.
Historically, the birth control pill is revolutionary. Today, it's nearly mundane. In the 50 years since its approval, the Pill has radically changed contraception, placing it directly in the hands of women, changing the way they plan their lives, the way conduct their relationships, and—of course—the way they have sex; in 1993, The Economist named the Pill one of the "Seven Wonders of the Modern World." Now, it's part of the everyday lives of 10.5 million American women.
That's not to say that the birth control pill is not beyond reproach.
For the last four years I have been researching and writing about abortion rights and access, the latest trends in laws meant to overturn Roe v. Wade, and the politicians and activist groups pushing laws meant to ban abortion and even birth control itself. Frequently, people ask me if I get depressed (yes, sort of), how I keep up with it all (Google, RSS feeds, wine), and how I always know so much about what abortion opponents are thinking.
The answer to that final question is simple: I read right-wing literature. A lot. Everything they write.
If your sexual education was anything like mine, every few years you and your peers were rallied into crowded classrooms, separated by gender, and were schooled on the happenings of your body. By the time you were in high school, you may have been fortunate enough to receive some vague and heteronormative information about STIs and how abstinence is the best (and only) form of birth control. Problematic? Yeah.
Saiya Miller and Liza Bley thought so, too, and compiled a collection of comics over the course of five years to educate others on sexuality in a far more inclusive and honest manner. The comics and stories are frank and real, free of the sugar coating that pervades the typical two-day sexual education courses rampant in U.S. public schools.
Susan Nussbaum is a celebrated disability activist, playwright and novelist. Her poignant and humorous debut, Good Kings Bad Kings tells the intertwining stories of disabled youth living in a Chicago institution and is the 2012 winner of Barbara Kingsolver's PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. I talked with Nussbaum about her visionary novel, disability oppression, and being a "furiously rebellious crip."
Kari Luna's debut young adult novel, The Theory of Everything, is a bright, shiny antidote to the dystopias and vampire love stories that dominate today's YA shelves. The story follows 14-year old protagonist Sophie Sophia on a soul-reckoning journey from the suburbs of Chicago to New York City to find her missing father – an eccentric physicist who left Sophie nothing but a box full of '80s-music mix tapes and a propensity for bizarre visions.
But Defiant Daughters, the new anthology of feminist food politics out this spring from Lantern Books, pushes readers to consider the connection between oppression of women and oppression of animals. It's especially relevant this week as we reflect on the links between meat and American identity: the US consumes an estimated 150 million hot dogs on the 4th of July. Defiant Daughters unravels and explores the identities and big issues wrapped up in rejecting our country's carnivorousness.