It's time to head back to the nineteenth century, and one Miss Charlotte Brontë. Jane Eyre (1847) is, of course, one of the most widely-read books in the English language. But I wonder about the kinds of readings that are to be had here. And I wonder what I'm getting out of this book that would have gone over the head of Brontë, as a white woman from a colonising nation. These are sensibilities supplied by Jean Rhys' parallel novel Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), as we will see.
It seems only fitting that I'm able to help Bitchtapes ring in the new year. For me, the '00s (I still haven't figured out what I want to call this decade) started with an actual mixed tape from a new friend, who has since been through the ringer with me. And in thinking about it today, I've realized that my very favorite people have won me over with mixes, even recently. So, here is my little gift for all of you to help start off something good.
Rather than do any kind of decade retrospective or theme here, this one is kind of all over the map...a little bit sparkly, a little dark, a little sloppy, with a trumpet here and there. Just what I would hope for in the new year. Friends new and old, cheers to what the next decade will bring...
Discuss the women of crime, that is. Crime fiction is still seen as very much a gentleman's genre, something at which fans of Agatha Christie and Patricia Highsmith, for a start, scoff vigorously (if scoffing can be performed vigorously). It isn't all Arthur Conan Doyle or hardboiled detectives with endless contempt for women (hi there, Raymond Chandler), however—no, indeed. What does it mean for women to be writing crime fiction, in a world where women are subject to so much crime? Writing in a genre, furthermore, in which women characters are often cardboard floozies, or victims, or temptations, or unremarkable?
Jay-Z is arguably the most successful hip-hop artist in the world. He owns a sports team, created a clothing line, ran a record label and then started his own, and last year beat Elvis Presley as the solo act with the most Billboard 200 hits. This year, he decided to add "author" to his long list of titles. Decoded is part memoir, part argument in defense of hip-hop, part lyrical analysis of his work, both well-known and unknown, and part printed self-aggrandizement with expensive-looking art design to match—like a microcosm of hip-hop itself. (But with more avant-garde black-and-white photography.)
As 2010 draws to a close, it's the time of year that nonprofits ask for donations. Bitch Media is no different; we need ongoing financial support. Usually, we would ask you to make a gift after telling you why you should support us. However, Bitch Media is lucky. We don't need to tell you why Bitch is important because we can let our supporters tell their own stories. This week, RMJ, subscriber and contributor, explains why she ♥s Bitch.
Born Chloe Anthony Wofford in 1931, Toni Morrison is one of the most iconic literary figures of the twentieth century. She was born in Ohio, to which her parents, Ramah Willis Wofford and George Wofford, moved in order to escape the racist climate of the US South. I'll be referring to her by the name by which she is known professionally, Toni Morrison, throughout this piece, but I want to point out that Toni is the nickname, and Chloe Wofford preferred. She writes a lot about being denied one's true self, and, as naming is a powerful determinant here, I don't care to be one to let this writer's true self go unacknowledged. Morrison, then, won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993–the eighth woman to be awarded this honour–and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988. Morrison's services to literature have not just been through her own fiction, however; she's edited writers such as Angela Davis, promoting black literature every which way she can.
In the public library I recently came across a really interesting book called Women in Pacific Northwest History. It's a collection of articles about specific women and groups of women who made an impact on the culture and politics of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. I paged through articles about some really amazing people like Abigail Scott Duniway, Oregon settler and suffragist, and Bertha Knight Landes, who was mayor of Seattle in the 1920s and the first woman mayor of a major US city. The Northwest has a rich history of women who worked for positive change, and the book, edited by Karen J. Blair, is worth checking out, especially for all of you famously proud Northwesterners.
One section that particularly stood out to me was an article by Gail M. Nomura about a Japanese-American woman named Teiko Tomita. Tomita was born in Japan in 1896 and worked as an elementary school teacher until her early twenties, when her parents matched her with a man who was working as a farmer on the Yakama Indian Reservation in central Washington state. After a two-year epistolary courtship, the two were married in Japan. Soon after their wedding, they traveled to Washington to farm for a few years, thinking they would earn some money and return to Japan. But the climate in central Washington was harsh, and the Tomitas faced prejudice and isolation. The weren't able to earn enough money to go home. Teiko Tomita stayed in the US until her death in 1990.
We've been following the sexual assault allegations against Julian Assange for the last few weeks, and we're really upset with all of outrageous victim-blaming that's been going on. So, I thought I would compile a book list for those of us who would like to feel more well-versed when talking about rape culture, and for those of us who still have no clue what rape culture is (I'm looking at you, Naomi Wolf). These are books that effectively explain how and why rape is justified and ignored in our culture while also envisioning a future where sexual violence does not exist.
Are there books that helped to shape your understanding of rape culture? Let us know in the comments.