Posts Tagged ‘women’

I love a lot of things, including the Works Progress Administration, kick-ass ladies, secret histories, and libraries. This story combines all of the above and more. How cool is it that?

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Kentucky’s Horse-Riding Librarians | The Kid Should See This

Between 1935 and 1943, the initiative employed around 1,000 book women as mobile librarians. Paid less than a dollar a day, they traveled up to 120 miles a week on mule or horseback over rugged mountains and through fast-flowing creeks in all types of weather… In just one year they reached 50,000 families and 155 rural schools. But book women did more than just leave books on people’s porches…

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The problem with writing a daily blog with a bright-side bent is that not all days are bright. Some days the news is not what you’d hope. And what to say about a society that, despite the wishes of the majority, is on its way to becoming a Margaret Atwood reality show?

But, as I remind myself, there is always tomorrow.

“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves.” 

― Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, 1792 (died 1797 of childbed fever)

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Photo by Vincent Ledvina on Unsplash

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Today in creative women, we have two items you might find interesting. First, a podcast on one of our great science fiction writers: 

Octavia Butler: Visionary Fiction

Octavia Butler’s alternate realities and ‘speculative fiction’ reveal striking, and often devastating parallels to the world we live in today. She was a deep observer of the human condition, perplexed and inspired by our propensity towards self-destruction. Butler was also fascinated by the cyclical nature of history, and often looked to the past when writing about the future. Along with her warning is her message of hope – a hope conjured by centuries of survival and persistence. For every society that perishes in her books comes a story of rebuilding, of repair.

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I was also interested to see this piece on largely forgotten female composers, complete with interactive map. I’m not a classical music buff, but I didn’t even know Amadeus had a sister, much less one who was also a child music prodigy. Now I do, and I’m better for it.

‘They deserve a place in history’: music teacher makes map of female composers

Two siblings, both considered child prodigies, dazzled audiences across Europe together in the 18th century, leaving a trail of positive reviews in their wake. But while Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart went on to be celebrated as one of the world’s greatest composers, the accomplishments of his sister – Maria Anna – were quickly forgotten after she was forced to halt her career when she came of age.

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Here’s to not stopping.

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Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

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The Gender Politics of Pockets by Tanya Basu.

Conditions are ripe for a revolution in pockets for women…

Go ahead and laugh if you like, but if you do I will argue that (imho) you are probably male. In my experience men often don’t realize that women’s pockets can be a total sham. This is why I liberated my father’s 1960s suit from the back of his closet in my teenage years (well, that and my flings with Vespas and British ska). This is why I adore the idea of Saint Harridan‘s suits for women (inside pockets ftw, people!). This is why I spent a not-insignificant amount at my local tailor to have the front pockets in my new jeans boosted to adult size. Yes, I do want to carry more than a tube of lip gloss in there. Crazy talk, I know!

I don’t use a purse.* You wouldn’t either if you spent as much time as I do thinking about disasters and alien invasions and the zombie apocalypse. When that sort of thing happens you just have to run, you know? Can’t be stopping to find your designer bag. And then what? You’re out in the forest with no phone or money or credit cards or keys or hair band (don’t even get me started on women and hair in action movies**). If I must carry larger items I go for the backpack. (And yes, I two-strap it:)

Addendum: For those of you who want more on the long history (and sad demise) of women’s pockets, check out this useful Marketplace article on the subject: Why women’s pockets are useless: A history. Thanks to my mother, who remembers having similar thoughts 40 years ago, for the link.

* I find them a hassle, easy to forget in inconvenient places, tough on the shoulders, and prone to removal by passing ne’er-do-wells. Although I do like saying “ne’er-do-wells.”
** I’ll just mention that when Sarah Connor tied back her hair in Terminator 2, I cheered. Honestly, have these people never tried to fire a rifle on a windy day with long hair? Not recommended.

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I Hate Strong Female Characters

Over at the New Statesman, Sophia McDougall has written a thoughtful piece on female characters in television, movies, and text. Provocatively titled, it is much more complex than one might think at first glance. This isn’t a tear-down or a diatribe, and it’s well worth a read.

I like “sexy kickassery” as much as the next person, but when it comes to characters…

What do I want instead of a Strong Female Character? I want a male:female character ratio of 1:1 instead of 3:1 on our screens. I want a wealth of complex female protagonists who can be either strong or weak or both or neither, because they are more than strength or weakness. Badass gunslingers and martial artists sure, but also interesting women who are shy and quiet and do, sometimes, put up with others’ shit because in real life there’s often no practical alternative. And besides heroines, I want to see women in as many and varied secondary and character roles as men: female sidekicks, mentors, comic relief, rivals, villains. I want not to be asked, when I try to sell a book about two girls, two boys and a genderless robot, if we couldn’t change one of those girls to a boy.

I want her to be free to express herself

I want her to have meaningful, emotional relationships with other women

I want her to be weak sometimes

I want her to be strong in a way that isn’t about physical dominance or power

I want her to cry if she feels like crying

I want her to ask for help

I want her to be who she is

…this list of things is better.

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