Welcome to the latest installment of Ms. Opinionated, in which readers have questions about the pesky day-to-day choices we all face, and I give advice about how to make ones that (hopefully) best reflect our shared commitment to feminist values—as well as advice on what to do when they don't. This week: To grad school or not to grad school, that is the question.
In 1966, when Jean Rhys was 76 years old, her novel Wide Sargasso Sea was published. The novel, a prequel to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, is told from the perspective of the Caribbean Creole “madwoman in the attic" who was Mr. Rochester's first wife. Her editor, who worked with her on Wide Sargasso Sea,highlights the difficulty of Rhys’ life, saying, “It is impossible to describe briefly the burdens inflicted on her by poverty, loneliness...It remains a mystery how someone so ill-equipped for life, upon whom life had visited such tribulations, could force herself to hang on, whatever the battering she was taking, to the artists at the centre of herself.”
Author and entrepreneur Doreen Bloch wrote in a Feministing guest post, "If women make up 46.8% of the workplace in America (Source: Department of Labor) and 58% of college classrooms (Source: The New York Times), where are the female voices in our business thought-leadership?"
Every now and again I’m struck immobile by the state of our nation. I had wanted to prepare an article on the risks of sex work, real versus imagined, but I’m thinking what the fuck. Why bother. This country sucks. No one’s listening. I turned on the news this morning and they’re rioting at Penn State over the firing of a football coach, a man who played a pivotal role in covering up the actions of a child molester. In the next segment, a Republican audience is booing Maria Bartiromo for questioning their candidate about claims of sexual harassment, two of which extend beyond allegations into the realm of fact, as those cases were settled. Whatever he says, they cheer. This is the same candidate who said that the unemployed and working poor should "blame themselves" and insinuated that a woman who is raped and gets pregnant has exercised a choice. This is the same audience who booed a gay soldier, cheered another candidate’s unparalleled record of execution and supported another candidate's conclusion that an uninsured man be allowed to die. This is not my country, I sometimes think. I don’t belong here.
One theme that comes up over and over again in conversations about the State of Musical Theater Today is the tragic lack of original musicals on Broadway. The way everything is an adaptation of an adaptation of an adaptation. No one's having new and creative ideas anymore!
Well, to be blunt, I kind of think this is bullshit.
Recently, The Guardian asked several successful fiction writers to come up with a top ten list of their personal writing dos and don'ts. Since we've all got a secret novelist lurking within us (don't pretend you haven't fantasized about going on a book tour) here are some of the more interesting tips from the likes of Margaret Atwood, Zadie Smith, Jeanette Winterson, and more.
Welcome to "YA Lit Bitch," a new Page Turner series about my ever-so-slight (or ever-so-obvious) obsession with young adult literature that’s not only good, but represents a wide-open range of teenagers’ lives with a feminist heroine (or 2, 3) thrown into the mix. (Can you say Weetzie Bat?) The series will feature interviews with many YA authors about their work as well as feminism, gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and other issues.
We kick off the series with Sara Zarr, who’s part of a new generation of YA novelists considered the so-called heirs to grand dame Judy Blume. She is the author of Story of a Girl, (that is, a girl labeled the high school "slut"), which was a 2007 National Book Award finalist; Sweethearts, about the divergent paths taken by two social-outcast friends; and the forthcoming Once Was Lost, which chronicles a pastor’s daughter’s struggle with faith.
Page Turner talked with Zarr about teen sexuality, feminism, double standards in the YA world, and her own YA lit loves back in the day as a "smart-girl" teen. Read on for more (and please take two seconds to talk about a YA lit love that you want Bitch readers to know about or Page Turner to feature).
It’s hard to be a consumer of media these days and not encounter the work of author and multi-media journalist Farai Chideya. She founded the online journal Pop + Politics in 1995 (practically a lifetime ago in online years); authored three nonfiction books that chronicle some of the most pressing social justice issues of our time; appeared as a political analyst on CNN and other media outlets; and hosted NPR’s "News and Notes," a daily program about African-American issues that ended too soon in a rash of budget cuts by the organization.
Now Chideya has published her first novel, Kiss the Sky, which is the story of Sophie Maria Clara Lee, a "book-smart black girl from blue-collar Baltimore" who graduates Harvard, achieves rock stardom, and then struggles with love, the music business, family, alcohol, and her own stubborn melancholy.
Page Turner talked with Chideya about her journey to publishing a novel, the autobiographical connections between herself and Sophie, feminism and personal accountability, her decision to talk more openly about her depression, and a crucial question for the next generation of feminists.
Hi there, sports fans. My name is Jonanna Widner, and for the next couple months I’m going to be doing the guest-blogging about the nexus of sports and feminism. Said guest blog will fall under the name "Jock Bitch."
To start, I thought I’d just sort of spell out my relationship to/with sports, which hopefully will explain why I think sports are a feminist subject, and serve as an introduction to the philosophy behind this Jock Bitch.
First off, I am a huge sports fan. I do not qualify as a sports nut, mind you, as that would entail endless hours of trolling web sites for obscure statistics about how many strikes C.C. Sabathia throws per inning when pitching at dusk when the wind is coming from the south, but let’s just say ESPN is often the first TV station I turn to when the TV comes on. Let’s also say I’ve been known to Tivo basketball games to save for later, and that I cry regularly due to some sports-related catharsis or other. Last minute heroics are always good: Show me a walk-off home run and say good-bye to the Kleenex. And that’s only during the regular season.....