Saturday, 2 August 2014

Reading Challenge Update and Women Artists

I've read a lot of books since I posted last, so I'll just list the two best ones:

My Dear I Wanted To Tell You - Louise Young
World war one through the experiences of three women and two men. Very well written.

Towards Another Summer - Janet Frame
A woman believes that she is turning into a migratory bird. I love Janet Frame's writing, try Owls Do Cry or Faces in the Water next.

And, here's a list of, often unknown or unrecognised, modern (ish) female artists. Google them for more information:

  • Shirin Neshat
  • Teresa Margolles
  • Marina Abromavic
  • Tracey Emin
  • Louise Beorgious
  • Kiki Smith
  • Francesca Woodman
  • Kara Walker

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Women Authors Only Reading Challenge

I finished my next lot of books! They were:

Go To Sleep - Helen Walsh
This book was a gritty and fairly terrifying look at a new, incredibly sleep deprived single mother, who just wants her baby to go to sleep. Oddly, while the depiction of the sleep deprived mother is realistic and effective, major plot points are completely unbelievable. For example, a large part of the plot hinges on one of the mother, Rachel's, young clients (she is a social worker) coming to check up on her after the birth. Still, it was good - it was reminiscent at times of Lionel Shriver's We Need To Talk About Kevin, and Sarah Moss's Night Waking.

The Little Black Book of Stories - A.S Byatt
I enjoyed this as I was reading it, but it annoyed me when I actually stopped to think about it. It's a collection of short stories, about everything from evacuees who saw 'a Thing in the forest,' to a woman who turns to stone, to a struggling artist and a (so privileged he doesn't know his own privilege) doctor. A.S Byatt seems to fall into that trap of casting the poor characters as pale, waif like, and skinny. When in fact people living in poverty are more likely to be overweight from eating too many carbs, because carbs are cheap, quick, and they keep without a fridge. But fat people just aren't as romantic as skinny people, are they? And why does the poor, but likeable, character, who happens to be a very talented artist, have to be pale? This story is the most modern of all of them, so it would be completely believable for her to be Somali, say, or Indian, or in fact any race other than Caucasian. But no. It is not to be.
My favourite story was the woman-who-turned-to-stone one.

Joe Cinque's Consolation - Helen Garner
I picked this up at random because I enjoyed Ms Garner's previous work The First Stone. It's not as good as The First Stone, in my opinion, but it's still good.

I'm not sure what will be next... any suggestions?
Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Indigenous Female Authors

This list is fantastic, if way too short. Take a look:

Five Indigenous Female Writers Who Should Be On School Reading Lists

bell hooks Quotes!

I have only read one of bell hooks's books (Feminism is For Everybody) but I loved her practical, down to earth style that she combines with what would be called (I guess??) radical feminism. 
All quotes come from Goodreads. And yes, 'bell hooks' is intentionally not capitalized, as that is how Ms. hooks spells it. 

"I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else's whim or to someone else's ignorance."
- bell hooks

"Love is a combination of care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect and trust."

- bell hooks

"Feminism is for everybody."

- bell hooks (my favourite!) 

"No black woman writer in this culture can write "too much". Indeed, no woman writer can write "too much"...No woman has ever written enough"

- bell hooks

"Being oppressed means the absence of choices"

- bell hooks

"One of the most subversive institutions in the United States is the public library.."

- bell hooks (I love this one too!)

"There will be no mass-based feminist movement as long as feminist ideas are understood only by a well-educated few."

- bell hooks

Interested? If you want to read more of her work, maybe start with Feminism is For Everybody or Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center or Ain't I a Woman? Black Women and Feminism. Try your public library to find them!

Thanks for reading. 

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Letters To Asylum Seekers and Reading Challenge Update


If you're Australian too, you probably know just how terribly our government is treating asylum seekers and refugees. If you want to help, you could do this - write a letter to an asylum seeker! While I haven't done it yet, I plan to today. There are also plenty of protest meets and rallies to go to if you are in a major city; try The Refugee Action Coalition for more information. (

Have you read my earlier blog post about my women authors only reading challenge? If not, these are the rules: a) I record all the books that I read
         b) I only read books written by women
         c) I only read books that I can find for free or for under $5

These are the book titles of my next two reads:

The Silver Dark Sea - Susan Fletcher
I love this one! It's written very beautifully.

Louise Michel: Rebel Lives Series - I'm not sure of the author, but it's more of a compilation than a written account.
I cheated a little with this one - firstly, because I'm not entirely sure if a woman wrote it, and secondly because it was $8. There is a very cool anarchist/feminist bookshop a bus ride away and I found it there. It's a very interesting book, about a woman (commonly termed 'The Red Virgin') who was instrumental in setting up The Paris Commune that Marx and Engels often talk about.

Anyway, thanks for reading! And book suggestions, please leave them in the comments. :)

Friday, 4 July 2014

What Would an Intersectional Menstrual Activism Movement Look Like?

A bit of a mouthful! The menstrual activism movement consists of the combined efforts of Spirtual Menstruationists, and Feminists. Although it is an inspiring movement, it has problems with intersectionality. So, instead of complaining about it, I'll write what a truly useful and intersectional Menstrual Activism movement could look like. If you have suggestions, leave them in the comments!

  • No more cultural appropriation. The spiritual menstruation movement, in particular, seems to labour under the delusion that a) Native American culture is the best example of a female honouring culture ever, and b) native American wisdom and stories can be used by anyone. They can't. Instead of this, let's provide advice to and discussion on the issues surrounding menstruation and women's health to women in diverse communities - for example, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, Native American women, African American women, Latina women, Jewish women, Muslim women, Christian women. 
  • Both parts of the movement are fantastic about providing advice on talking to daughters about menstruation. But the advice needs to be wider than that - providing support and a voice to parents who need to talk to their transgender children, for example, or daughters with severe intellectual disabilities. 
  • The movement should focus on a wide range of issues - menarche, menstruation, birth control, pregnancy, abortion, miscarriage, menopause, post natal and pre menstrual depression, metal health, ovarian and breast cancer, etc. 
  • More support for a wider range of women! This would include support for women in mandatory detention, in prison, homeless women, pregnant teen girls, etc. The movement currently seems geared towards young, white, Anglo, middle class women. 
  • An active campaign presence - the menstrual activism movement is currently centred around the internet. We need leaflets and magazines, talks, lectures, billboards, books, audio books. We need these to be available cheaply or freely in community centres, churches, schools, synagogues, mosques, libraries, etc. 
  • No more Women=body and earth, Men=mind and heaven/sky. The spiritual menstruation does this a lot. This is still sexist, even with good intentions. 
  • More support for women's community initiatives - the Malala fund, Kiva loans, homeless and women's shelters, etc. 
  • More advice aimed at poor and working class women. Advice, especially health advice, tends to suggest things like 'getting plenty of exercise!' 'eating good fats like brazil nuts and avocados!' and 'using cloth pads!' Do they realise how expensive brazil nuts are? And cloth pads, which you first need to buy and then need to wash? I know it's cheaper in the long run to use reusables, but not everyone has the outlay to pay for them to begin with. 
  • Support for transgender women and men. Feminists are generally good about this, but the spiritual menstruation movement tends to ignore the issue. 
So, what else would you add/take away? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Thanks for reading. 

Women Authors Only Reading Challenge

I have set myself a three part reading challenge! You are welcome to use my criteria and do the challenge yourself if you like.
These are the rules: a) I will record all the books that I'm reading
                              b) I will only read books written by women
                              c) I will only read books that I can find for free or under $5
Sound interesting? Here are my first five books.

We Need To Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver
This book was good, plus it passed the Bechdel test. The book is written in first person by Eva, and deals mostly with Eva's relationship with her son Kevin.

Room - Emma Donaghue
This was my favourite of the first lot of books. It is written in first person by Jack, who is five years old, and follows him and his mother ('Ma') during their imprisonment in Room, held captive by 'Old Nick' (who kidnapped Jack's mother when she was 19) and their life after their escape.

The Girl in the Attic - Valerie Mendes
This novel follows Nathan as his parents divorce and he and his mother go to spend Christmas at Cornwall. Nathan meets Rosalie, the mysterious girl in the attic, and together they deal with Nathan's family's break up, Rosalie's abusive alchoholic father, and her mother's death. It's a sweet book, and it's set in Cornwall, which is always a plus.

Between The Acts - Virginia Woolf
I haven't finished this one yet, but I'm liking it so far. Virginia Woolf can be a little dense and difficult to get through, but her writing is beautiful. The book sympathetically portrays the female characters - the spinster, the unhappy wife. It also manages to poke some fun at the upper class.

The Resistance - Gemma Malley
I have not finished this book, and doubt I will. It is the sequel to The Declaration, which I read a few years ago. Despite The Resistance being set in 2140 (a time in which they have created a pill that makes it possible for humans to live forever) the main Authorities, the creator of the Longevity pill and the man who carries on his legacy, and the charismatic leader of the resistance movement are still all men. A quarter of the way through the book there have been 8 named male characters, who all play vital roles in the story, and 1 named female character. Despite the fact that this character, Anna, was the main character in the prequel, her role in this book seems to consist mainly of caring for her brother, Ben, and reading books at home. Anna has appeared in one scene so far. I do not have high hopes.

If you have suggestions for books, please leave them in the comments! :)
Thanks for reading.