Egyptian comics character Qahera, a new Muslim superhero who fights street harassment and sexual violence.
At the beginning of September, around the time news broke of Ciudad Juárez's Diana, "Huntress of Bus Drivers," my dad informed me that a female family member of ours living near Mexico City was assaulted while waiting for the bus she took home each evening. So, after reading reports about Diana the Huntress from Mexican news sources like El Diario, I came to embrace the myth-worthy, middle-aged, black-clad vigilante with a shock of blonde hair who was quickly attainting superhero status for killing two bus drivers she alleged were rapists.
The Sapphires is a feel-good film about being "black" in a cross-cultural context. I loved it.
Based on the true story of four Aboriginal women who form a singing group and are invited to Vietnam to perform for American troops during the 1960's, the film has been lazily dubbed "the Australian version of Dreamgirls." But it's a lot more than that. So, when I saw the American DVD cover of the film, I cringed a little. It's at left below, compared to the original Australian cover:
• In notably less-awesome Obama news, the president's unresolved pledge to close Guantanamo Bay has left the naval base with more than 60 inmates still on hunger strike in what is now the sixth month of protests. [Colorlines]
The statistics from the 2011 National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs are grim. Trans people were almost two times as likely to experience injuries than cis people. Transgender people of color were 28 percent more likely to experience physical violence compared to people who were not transgender people of color. And people under 30 were the most likely to experience sexual and physical violence.
2011 was also the year that Shelley "Treasure" Hilliard was horrifically murdered in Detroit. Only 19 years old, Hilliard was an active member in Detroit's LGBTQ youth community, and her death shook the activists, family, and friends around her. But TransParent, a new film, is going beyond the statistics to share the story of Shelley, her mother, and the community around them.
Here in the blog series Reverse Cowgirl, we've looked at everything from women warriors to advertising aimed at horse-loving girls, each getting at this baseline question: what is it about girls and horses? Now, as it's time to hit the trail (sorry, had to), what can we come away with?
Growing up in 4-H, I heard the joke often: girls would rather give up boys than our ponies. When women talk about horses, they often speak of freedom and power, of connectivity and understanding, of trust—often using the same language we use when we discuss intimate relationships with humans.
Based on a true story, the 1991 film Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken tells the story of an orphan girl named Sonora (played by Gabrielle Anwar) whose beloved horse is sold off by her aunt as punishment for Sonora's bad behavior. Sneaking off into the night, Sonora takes to the road in search of a traveling diving horse show. That's right, a TRAVELING DIVING HORSE SHOW!
The 2006 filmFlicka is one of many interpretations of Mary O'Hara's 1941 novel My Friend Flicka, telling the story of a girl named Katy who finds a wild mustang and trains her in the dark of night against her father's wishes. When her father finds out, he is furious and sells the horse to a local rodeo. The story that follows is one of connectivity and identity; one of power and freedom.
But in the novel and early television and film versions of Flicka, the protagonist was a boy.
How does the message change when we swap the gender of Flicka's protagonist? Does the modern version provide space for a more meaningful narrative?
Classic film National Velvet (1944), tells the story of horse-obsessed Velvet Brown (played by a 12-year old Elizabeth Taylor) winning the Grand National on an "untamable" horse with the help of drifter Mi Taylor (played by Mickey Rooney). Based on a novel by Enid Bagnold, the film received positive reviews and earned actress Anne Revere, who played Velvet's mother, an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. More recently, National Velvet was chosen for preservation by the United States National Film Registry in 2003.
Beyond the accolades and awards for being a well-made film, National Velvet is often cited as a great feminist movie for its depictions of the wise and supportive mother and for young Velvet following her dream to compete in the all-male Grand National.
But is this film about a girl overcoming sexism with the help of her exceptional horse and family still relevant nearly 70 years later? Do its depictions of Velvet Brown have anything to offer today's girls and women?
The classic image of a cowboy is a wandering man. Symbolically, the American Cowboy has come to represent large, abstract values: freedom, honesty, bravery. In these stories, cowboys meander and conquer the open range alone with their trusty steeds.
But how do women fit into these pervasive stories of troubled, wandering heroes? Let's take a look at three western films: Shane (1953), Unforgiven (1992) and True Grit (2010).
The women in many classic Western films are rooted to one place: their home. Often in cowboy films, we see women either victimized or punished for venturing out as the cowboys do, serving as a warning to women.
We see the role of women at home very clearly in Jack Shaefer's 1953 classicShane. The title cowboy stays at the house of a homesteading family whose matriarch Marian Starett is firmly grounded in the domestic sphere. While the men, particularly Shane, are out protecting the ranch from cattle rustlin' men, Starett is the one being fought for, not the one doing the fighting. She is not the one wandering—she is the one left behind at home when Shane inevitably sets out for the road again.