Reading through depression and anxiety

I have been very ill with depression and anxiety for the past 17 months. And on the bandwagon which is changing medication, unbearable side effects (gaining 2 stone when I have fibromyalgia which causes severe pain in my ankles and knees was quite unhelpful), and the limit of 6 group classes of CBT (with men), not to mention two incidents of triggered PTSD, has made me somewhat on the wrong side of struggling to work. In November, I decided to change tactics and stopped starring at my computer with fear (and writer’s block). Instead, I went for reading pretty much everything I possibly could whilst not worrying about work (getting PIP was a huge help here). I’m much better and on medication with less horrendous side effects (except dry mouth – my current resemblance to a cactus is also not the most helpful thing).

I’m not very good at the whole asking for help or for even mentioning how I am – my acting skills are far more in the area of pretending to be a manic pixy dream girl (or at least they are in my head) than being honest about my mental health. This article that I came across on FB is what I would say if I could.

So rather than break with tradition of hiding, I’ve made a list of the books that I’ve loved over the past 4 months (the rest are listed here):

 

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#womenwrites

“reflections on writing ‘self’…while free-falling through words and memories” by @MaraiLarasi

Dystopian dreams: how feminist science fiction predicted the future by Naomi Alderman

Thousands of domestic violence victims withdraw support for charges against abusers after Government cuts by Harriet Agerholm

No country for women, on death row for self-defence in the UAE via @WritersofColour

The Radical Feminist Aesthetic Of “The Handmaid’s Tale” via @annehelen

If ‘inclusivity’ is a priority, let men make their washrooms ‘gender-neutral’  via @FeministCurrent

Hysteria, Witches, and The Wandering Uterus: A Brief History via @lithub

What’s the point of a literature festival? | Bare Lit 2017  via @WritersofColour

The Thing about Toilets at Not the News in Brief

#womenswrites: on misogyny, reproductive justice and male violence

Feminism That Doesn’t Challenge Male Entitlement Isn’t Feminism by Caitlin Roper

The third wave’s tokenization of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is anything but intersectional  by 

The Misogyny Of Modern Feminism by Jeni Harvey

Five benefits cuts are being introduced today: how do they affect you? by Frances Ryan

My daughter’s birth via @LucyAllenFWR

Music education is now only for the white and the wealthy by Charlotte C Gill

Why our charities refuse to do have anything to do with the Rape Clause by Sandy Brindley of Rape Crisis Scotland and Marsha Scott of Scottish Women’s Aid

Sisters in law: Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg

sisters in law

This is a great history of the relationship between two very wealthy and powerful women who ended up on the Supreme Court both of whom had powerful husbands who supported their careers through what is, clearly, a legal mafia of rich friends and acquaintances. Both deserved to be on the Supreme Court, but they both got there by dint of class privilege (and, obviously, white privilege). I did raise an eyebrow at Ginsburg hiring only clerks who she knew via her family and friends networks. It’s not exactly a level playing field in hiring practises if you only hire people you came across either socially or through the legal version of AT&T friends and family plans. This is not to dismiss their accomplishments or their activism in legislation that supports women, but recognising that even The Notorious RBG isn’t quite as radical as rap videos suggest.

I was also surprised by the frequency in which the XIV Amendment to the constitution was invoked as the Holy Grail for recognising that sex discrimination was equal to racial discrimination. Clearly they should both be recognised under the Amendment. However, the Supreme Court’s judgments over the past few decades have eroded the supposed protections under the XIV Amendment making it nearly impossible for individuals experiencing racial discrimination to use the courts for legal redress.*  Expanding the legal protections of the XIV Amendment is only helpful if those legal protections actually exist.

Ginsburg’s recent Dissenting Opinions have become the stuff of legend and are worthy of that status. O’Connor’s interesting voting patterns are equally fascinating. This is a history of feminism in action but also a story on how class and racial privilege can mitigate sex discrimination.

*Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, (The New Press, 2012).

#MakingWorkVisible for #IWD2017

https://storify.com/LeStewpot/makingworkvisible-for-iwd2017

#womenwrites – on misogyny, racism, disablism and male violence

Theo and the distinctly sexual flavour of French racism by @KGuilaine  via @WritersofColour

This is not the way Milo Yiannopoulos should have gone down by Natasha Chart

The parallels between Scottish nationalism and racism are clear | Claire Heuchan

Pride, prejudice and pedantry by @wordspinster

Eurostar Tried To Charge This Woman An Extra ‘Luggage’ Fee For Her Wheelchair  via @Fi_Rutherford

‘It wasn’t a home, it was a prison’: Former residents from Tuam mother and baby home react (via @thejournal_ie)

Male Violence Is The Worst Problem In The World  by @caitlin_roper

How should we teach children about contested histories? by @farahelahi via @WritersofColour

How the political correctness debate is being manufactured  via @Slutocrat

‘Gestators,’ ‘hosts,’ and ‘pregnant people’: The bipartisan pact to erase women by RAQUEL ROSARIO SANCHEZ  via @FeministCurrent

On individualist lifestylism and woman-blaming: musings on recent attacks at Liberation is Life

 

Dr. Strange – a review

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Anyone who follows my twitter knows how much my kid loves comics and superhero films. We have watched them all (and she’s read many of them). We skipped this one at theatre due to the whole whitewashing of history and the comics in order to flog the film to a Chinese audience. This week we watched a version that will result in no financial compensation for anyone involved in the production of the film. Below is my thoughtful and considered review.

There is only one scene in the film worth watching, And, it is in the credits. About a completely different film.

Han Kang’s The Vegetarian and the labelling of sexualised violence as “erotic” (spoilers)

Screen Shot 2017-02-12 at 11.17.18Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest The Clothing of Books is both an essay on the art of book jackets and  love story of books from the perspective of a reader and a writer. It is beautiful and thought-provoking essay examining the way in which book jackets impact on how a book is understood and marketed. It is a short read at 70ish pages, but also one of my favourite books this year.

I read The Clothing of Books the same day I started Han King’s The Vegetarian, which won the Man Booker International Prize (2016). King’s book is also beautifully written. It also exemplifies Lahiri’s thesis on the complex relationship between writers and their books once the publishing company takes control. And, not in a positive way.

The front cover of my copy of Kang’s book includes both the emblem of the Man Booker Prize and a not quite inappropriate quote from Ian McEwan who calls it a “a novel of sexuality and madness”. Unfortunately, I suspect McEwan believes that the two apply to the same character. They don’t.

The blurb on the back is the following:

A darkly beautiful modern classic about rebellion, eroticism, and the female body. One of the most extraordinary books you will ever read.
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The Vegetarian is an extraordinary book, but it’s not “erotic” unless you view multiple accounts of rape as erotic. The book’s central character is Yeong-hye who, following a dream, becomes a vegan. Her husband, described as a “normal man” is abusive before Yeong-hye’s conversion. His abuse increases when Yeong-hye refuses to capitulate to his demands that she eat meat. He ignores her quite clear mental illness and anorexia and punishes Yeong-hye’s “defiance” by raping her on multiple occasions. Yeong-hye’s father also physically assaults her at a family meal for “shaming” her family. Yeong-hye’s husband abandons her after she is incarcerated in a mental institution; as do her parents. Later we learn that the father has a long history of emotional, physical and psychological abuse of Yeong-hye when she was a child.

The Vegetarian is an incredible, beautifully written book but it is not “erotic” since that which is being deemed “erotic” is rape. Yeong-hye, despite being schizophrenic and having anorexia, is read, by those who wrote the various blurbs on the book, as consenting to “allowing” her brother-in-law to paint flowers on her naked body and then “have sex” with her. The brother-in-law, who is already a lazy and incompetent husband and father, uses his position as a ‘trusted’ family member to target Yeong-hye. It is his sexuality and desire that is responsible for the destruction of his own family. His desire is not “taboo” as another comment on the books suggests. It is criminal. He chooses to sexually assault and rape Yeong-hye because he likes the idea of a birthmark on her bum.

In the end, the only person who stays with Yeong-hye is her sister, yet none of the comments on the book jacket mention sisterhood as a theme within. In-hye does everything that is demanded of a women: she is financially successful, the mother of a son, does all the caring and lifework so that her husband, “the artist”, has no responsibilities. She is the quintessential “good girl”. And, is punished, repeatedly, for being so.

In The Clothing of Books, Lahiri ponders if those designing her book jackets or writing the blurbs actually bother to read her books. Reading The Vegetarian, I too wondered whether or not those writing the blurbs had read the book. Or, if they simply failed to recognise the patterns of male violence and its impact on women. As with Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife, which is described as “deeply romantic” on the book jacket, The Vegetarian,  demonstrates the unwillingness of readers and reviewers to define male violence as violence.

I gave The Vegetarian two stars on Good Reads. As I write this, I wonder if the number of stars is a reflection of the book itself or a visceral reaction to the book jacket’s definition of the book. There is certainly a huge disconnect between my reading of the text and the blurbs on the book jacket.

#womenwrites – on feminism, male violence, the Women’s March and abortion rights

How Michelle Obama expanded the definition of a first lady by Margo Jefferson

Hollywood must realise that Passengers flopped because of its creepy male protagonist BY Amy Jones

New Year’s femicide in Brazil reminds us what feminism is fighting for by Raquel Rosario Sanchez

Star Wars: Rogue One places Asian heroes at the core of its revolution  by @KellyKanayama

A man who didn’t talk to his wife would not be funny. He would be an abuser | Lola Okolosie

The Black Woman’s “Women’s March” Problem: It Ain’t Just White Folks by Ree Walker

Our cynicism will not build a movement. Collaboration will. by Alicia Garza

I’m so glad to spoil this film for you | Victoria Coren Mitchell

The unbearable whiteness of history by @JENDELLA  via @WritersofColour

You Not ‘Bout No Life: The Logical Fallacy of the Anti-Abortion Conservative & The Reason Trump and His Cronies Can Go Choke on a Communion Wafer  via @writermrsmith

#womenwrites

UK judges change court rules on child contact for violent fathers by Sandra Saville

Why do we still make girls wear skirts and dresses as school uniform? by Amanda Merger

Babette Cole, anarchic creator of Princess Smartypants, dies at 66 by Danuta Kean

First Class Racism by Jamelia

Lesbian Anxieties, Queer Erasures: The Problem with Terms Like ‘Subversive Femme’  via @LucyAllenFWR

Generation treat yo’ self: the problem with ‘self-care’ by Arwa Mahdawi

Response to ‘Transgender Kids:Who Knows Best‘  via @fairplaywomen

TRIGGER WARNING by @extreme_crochet http://buff.ly/2jFtCBH

The Importance of Recognizing the Murder of Women as a Hate Crime  by Zoe Holman via @broadly

Me and my accent(s) by Sara Salem

Liberal feminists ushered Ivanka Trump into the White House by by RAQUEL ROSARIO SANCHEZ  via @FeministCurrent