Saturday, August 16, 2014


Here's a collection of long reads for your weekend pleasure.

Alex Brown at has an excellent piece about the problems with the still-really-awesome Guardians of the Galaxy. And she pretty well nails it!
Here’s the thing. You can’t give me Gamora then spend the whole movie slut-shaming her and locking her into an unnecessary romance, then expect me to be grateful a woman was even allowed a prominent role. You can’t merchandise the hell out of your male (and animal, and plant) characters and skip the female ones altogether. You can’t claim Guardians is the first Marvel movie written by a woman when it was so substantially re-written by a man that everything from the character personalities to the main story arc is entirely different. Marvel as a corporation may be winning the race against DC to be the most socially progressive of the Big Two, but that victory is due less to the increasing insistence on diversity and more to DC eagerly hobbling itself.
Deborah Pless has an in-depth discussion about the characterization of mothers in law in genre fiction in this week's Strong Female Character Friday: Queen Catherine (Reign).
So looking at this, the frustration of this trope, you would think that I really hate Reign's Queen Catherine (Megan Follows). She is, after all, the quintessential poisonous mother-in-law. She is so sure that Queen Mary (Adelaide Kane) will bring disaster on France if she marries Catherine's son Francis (Toby Regbo), that she is willing to attempt assassinations, use magic and fortunetelling, and even hire men to rape Mary. She is not a nice person.

I think she's a brilliant character, though. In fact, I think that the show, without Catherine, would be virtually unwatchable. Mary is all well and good, but the show works because of the way that Mary and Catherine are cast as opposites. Instead of the real conflict between them centering around Francis, their true disconnect is actually about their similarities, and Mary's reluctance to recognize how similar they really are.

Lauren Miller has a guest post on Viva La Feminista where she shares her Reflections on Anita Hill, Twenty-Three Years Later.
However, as Anita: Speaking Truth to Power reminds us, the truth is not easily digested by those unwilling to engage with it—those socialized firmly within a patriarchy that promises, among other things, to allow an otherwise rightfully deserving man to continue toward the prize he has earned. When Anita spoke out, many questioned, “Why could she not simply keep her mouth shut like she had done for so many years?”. One patronizing query from a member of the judiciary committee was, “Why in God’s name” would you ever speak to him again, Anita? This is wounding to listen to.
You probably already know the story of Solomon Northup from the movie 12 Years a Slave, but his story was almost lost to time if it hadn't been for a curious and determined woman named Sue Eakin:The Woman Who Saved Solomon.
What became an exercise in curiosity soon became an obsession. While she juggled her roles as a wife, mother, and freelance journalist, she spent every spare hour researching the life of Solomon Northup. As her eldest son Paul M. Eakin Jr., 71, now says, “We grew up with Solomon—we refer to him as our older brother.”

Afternoons would be spent driving to small courthouses to pore over records that would verify Northup’s story. “Her mission was to authenticate every fact,” says Dr. Eakin, a retired math professor. “Every name, every river, every distance, railroad, bridge, relationship.”

Feliza at Girls in Capes has a great post on The Quiet Feminism of Anne Shirley.
After she’s taken in by the Cuthbert siblings, though, Anne’s value shifts: she starts attending school, where she becomes the intellectual rival of Gilbert Blythe. Though the rivalry stems from a rather childish and vain incident in which he calls her “Carrots,” Anne’s determination brings her to the top of the class, though maybe you could call it her stubbornness instead.

Here, readers start to see concepts of feminism coming into play, though a child would read the book differently. Anne starts to be treated as an individual with worth that goes beyond her ability to take care of babies, and her more unique talents for English and poetry are recognized not only by her teachers and classmates, but the rest of the town as well.
Emma at The F Bomb has a great piece On Being A Role Model for the young women she teaches at summer camp, and that kids are always learning from the words AND actions of the adults around them, not only in the class room, but in every aspect of their time together.
I was thinking, for the first time, about what our campers see in the way we see ourselves. How could I be so careful about what I say and never once stop to think about what it does to my young campers – particularly the girls – when they see me cover up in a towel or hear my coworker say how “disgusting” her arms look.

There are so many things I want my campers – especially my girl campers – to know. That how much fun they have on stage matters far more than how “talented” they are, that they light up our days with their humor, their smiles, their love. That we see, in their moments of deep compassion, patience, and kindness, and the thoughtful and considerate adults they will become. That they already are, and that we hope they always stay, brave and bold.


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