Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April is the cruelest month

A couple of days ago, right after the bombing of the Boston Marathon, Feminist Peace Network tweeted "Thinking abt how we prioritize terror,what horrifies us,what doesn't but should,how many deaths go unnoticed,others are endless news cycles."

I think I know what she means. There is a certain vulture-like feeding on tragedy that seems to go on among the mainstream media, and endless stream of inconsequential "breaking news" details whenever something like the Boston Marathon bombing happens. And there are so many other situations of great horror that are ignored, maybe because these situations aren't happening in the United States.

Nevertheless, the situation in Boston was sad, and horrifying.

And what I found very helpful in trying to understand the sadness and horror were the following stories on Democracy Now:


Monday, April 15, 2013

So much for "post feminism"

I am sorry to say that I've never heard of Deborah Copaken Kogan before, but I'm glad I saw this excellent post of hers on It's heartbreaking and brilliant. Here's a short sample:
It's 2013, the day I sit down, with trepidation, to write this. The Times's obituary for Yvonne Brill, renowned rocket scientist, winner of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, leads with, "She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children. 'The world's best mom,' her son Matthew said."

The past is not gone. Or as Faulkner wrote, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." Until it is, we should not be expected to get over it.

I'm proud of my nomination for a prestigious if controversial British literary prize given only to women. I'm honored to be mentioned in the same breath as my fellow nominees, whose books I've been tearing through of late with relish and awe. Past winners—Helen Dunmore, Anne Michaels, Carol Shields, Suzanne Berne, Linda Grant, Kate Grenville, Ann Patchett, Valerie Martin, Andrea Levy, Lionel Shriver, Zadie Smith, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Rose Tremain, Marilynne Robinson, Barbara Kingsolver, Téa Obreht and Madeline Miller—include authors whose novels I know well or not at all, but it is for the latter, as a reader, I am most grateful.

The Women's Prize for Fiction—and three cheers for the transparency of its new name—is not a "sexist con-trick" by any definition of sexism that I know. To the contrary, it redresses centuries of literary sexism, exclusion, cultural bias, invisibility. There's a reason J.K. Rowling's publishers demanded that she use initials instead of "Joanne": it's the same reason Mary Anne Evans used the pen name George Eliot; the same reason Robert Southey, then England's poet laureate, wrote to Charlotte Brontë: "Literature cannot be the business of a woman's life, and it ought not to be." In fact, I'm thinking about starting a women's prize here in the United States, to be given out once a year, every year, until gender parity in the arts is achieved.

I figure that should take me from now until my obituary.
Don't you want to read the rest of it now? You can do that right here.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Quidditch and Title 9 3/4

I don't have much time to look at mass e-mails these days, but the message that I recently received from the Harry Potter Alliance, bearing the title "Gender Equality at the Quidditch World Cup," was too intriguing to pass up.

Here's the story. The Quidditch World Cup, sponsored by the International Quidditch Alliance, is taking place this very weekend in Kissimmee, Florida. Inspired by a piece of legislation called Title 9, enacted by the muggle US government, the IQA has developed its own Title 9 3/4. This is the first Quidditch World Cup to be played under Title 9 3/4. Pretty cool, huh?

Well, I think it's cool, but if you're not familiar with the world of the Harry Potter novels, it probably looks like gibberish to you. I don't have time to explain any of this now, but if you'd like definitions of some of these unfamiliar terms, here are links to definitions for "muggle" and "quidditch" from the Harry Potter Wiki.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Julia Penelope

I just discovered the other day that radical dyke theorist Julia Penelope died in January. Author Victoria Brownworth has this remembrance. Here's a small sample:
Julia Penelope was from another era, an era that is truly bygone. Unlike those other theorists, her work was so controversial, so revolutionary, so for lesbians only that what she said often created outrage, even among other lesbians and feminists. Julia Penelope was never an assimilationist, she never approved of assimilation and she built her whole world–a world into which she tried to draw as many other women as possible–around lesbocentrism. She was a lesbian separatist–something anathema in our mainstreaming, assimilationist LGBT world where straight acceptance is often more important than queer freedom.
The entire post is well worth reading.

You can find more of Victoria Brownworth's excellent prose here and here.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Celebrate the rain!

Yesterday marks the 11-year-anniversary of my arrival in Oklahoma City. Over the years, many people have asked me why I left beautiful, lush, green, supposedly progressive western Oregon for Oklahoma. Though the real answer is considerably more complicated, I have often said "To get out of the rain."

As I write this, the temperature is about 38 degrees, and it is raining. It almost reminds me of a winter or early spring day in Oregon, except the rain is merely a gentle drizzle. In Eugene, it did not drizzle, nor did we have rain like the extreme Oklahoma gully-washers that sometimes come in spring. In western Oregon, the rain was hard, steady, cold, relentless and penetrating. And it lasted about 9 months of the year.

Really, it was a relief to get away from it. That was then.

Now, Oregon reportedly "less water and more wildfires." It's called climate change, and we are also experiencing its disastrous effects here in Oklahoma.

So, in the words of singer-songwriter Alice DiMicele, today I am ready to celebrate the rain.