Get the Job Done (Later)

Three young women playing around on the beach - West Palm Beach, Florida, 1953.
Women at play

By CMarie Fuhrman

I come from a long line of women who get the job done. No matter if it is making lunch for a haying crew of thirty hungry ranchers, or rallying resources in the last minutes before a Christmas morning gathering to make sure the late additions to our table would have gifts to open after dessert. We accomplish the task. My female friends are equally driven. I’ve been on a crew of five that made all the food for a wedding with over 300 guests. We stayed up all night peeling potatoes for salad and rolling up pieces of lunch meat for the buffet and got up the next morning in time to set it all up, dress the bride, get to the service, and smile in the photographs. My girlfriends and I have cut firewood, branded calves, painted, packed, and proved over and over that no matter the job, we can get it done.

And now many of those same women and I have joined the ranks of our sisters all over the globe to get other jobs done. Together we are marching for change, for peace, for climate, for the environment. I’ve joined sister-friends in democratic calls for action, given a thumbs up on every single photo another friend posts about wild spaces and our need to keep them. And I have sat in a classroom with the wonderful bloggers that I share this space with, and talked about the challenges and the rewards of being female and the best way to showcase those.

And I am tired. Continue reading “Get the Job Done (Later)”

Unwanted Ink

Picture of a neck tattooed with the words: If you're reading this its too late"
Ad for Too Late Drake Tattoo Removal Cream

By CMarie Fuhrman

I love unique, colorful, and beautiful tattoos.  I have one, a dragonfly, that I had tattooed on my lower back 15 years ago, and though I have not sought any others, I have come to admire the art that women have given their skin to.  I also love serendipitous events.  For example, when you are thinking of someone and they call, or in the case of this blog, when you are researching one idea and all of the information leads to the formation of an entirely new project.  Thus is the case while doing research for an article on the word squaw.  I was looking for information for my blog, reading various sites, and articles and books such as: “My Body, Myself” and Reading Native American Women and they all seemed to start to resonate with each other.  It doesn’t stop there. I have been reading essays by Roxane Gay in her book Bad Feminist and in a couple of weeks, I will be teaching a lesson to another class about the poetry of Claudia Rankine, these texts read together, with my own personal interest, made for a choir of excellent reading.

Excellent reading, that along with the information I was gathering about the word squaw (an article I promise to post soon) created an awareness for me of something that I am almost ashamed to admit.  I realized that many women have not had the same experiences with their bodies (at least the reception and expectation of their bodies) as I have as a Native woman.  Though I think that as female we have shared many of the same experiences, such as discrimination based on gender stereotypes or medias portrayal of the ideal, Felly Simmonds’ essay, “My Body, Myself,” made me realize how many of my experiences, mostly negative, have to do with my physical body.

Continue reading “Unwanted Ink”

13 Great Books by Women of Color

By Tess Fox

Currently women of color make up less than 40 percent of the US population. By 2050, this will rise to 53 percent of the population. In 2014, 14 percent of books were by and about people of color.

A pie chart showing the race/ethnic breakdown of books reviewed by the New York Times in 2011. 65% were by Caucasian authors.

Small independent publishing companies, like Nothing But The Truth are attempting to make a dent in these numbers. VIDA tracks the breakdown of women in the literary arts. When authors of color are turned away, a blank spot is left in the history books. Already the United States has lost so much culture and voice by prohibiting certain peoples from publishing. Whatever is keeping these women from being published now is just as devastating.

Regardless of what genre you choose to read, it’s always important to search out new and unfamiliar work. New perspectives can broaden your horizons and make you see things in a different light. One way you can help is to create demand for these little known, yet fabulous authors. This is a list of books by women of color that I encourage you to take a spin through. There is something for everyone on the list!

Continue reading “13 Great Books by Women of Color”

The Clueless Feminist Book Review: “Feminism is for Everybody”

Let clueless feminist2me be up-front: I love bell hooks. I loved her when I was doing my first master’s degree, training as a progressive educator. Back then, I thought the first chapters of her Teaching To Transgress articulated the core of progressive education—everyone has the right to his or her own story, and sharing these stories is the backbone of learning, empathy, and right action—more clearly and succinctly than anything else in the small library of textbooks I accumulated. And after reading Feminism is for Everybody, I love bell hooks even more.

51-4cxw2XEL._SX313_BO1,204,203,200_As a clueless feminist, I was thrilled to hear about this book and—admittedly—even more thrilled to discover it was only 118 pages long. But the treatise surprised me. Firstly, I didn’t understand exactly how 118 pages could take me four hours to read. But they did. More importantly, “feminism is for everybody” doesn’t translate to “everybody can be some kind of feminist” or “you probably already are a feminist.” I believe these ideas, but hooks doesn’t. She asserts that certain convictions—such as the belief that abortion should be legal—should be givens for feminists, and that feminism is a conscious choice that requires vigilant soul-searching and self-critique. For hooks, “feminism is for everybody” means “the feminist movement promotes the good of all people.” Continue reading “The Clueless Feminist Book Review: “Feminism is for Everybody””

Sexuality, Gender, and Representation in Science Fiction

Amber Atalaya Evans Pinel

        For many people science fiction is a genre full of new ideas, futuristic thoughts, innovative design, and political insight. In many ways, science fiction reveals current political climates and cultural ideologies of our time. Some might even call the genre socially progressive due to it’s ability to introduce characters and ideas that don’t fit the “norm.” I can sing praises of all the great things about science fiction all day, but I think it’s time to explore what science fiction television shows are lacking – proper representation for people of the alphabet soup (LGBTQA & etc.), and specifically transgendered and non-binary people/characters.

I don’t want to say there aren’t any LGBTQA characters in science fiction television, because that’s not true at all. In the prequel to Battlestar Galactica (the 2003 reboot), a relatively short series called Caprica (2010), one of the main characters – Sam Adama – is portrayed in a loving and healthy relationship with his husband.

Sam Adama from the series Caprica

Sam Adama is a gang member who came to Caprica with his family some years before the show’s beginning. Sam is a hit man and is portrayed as a very strong, determined, and dangerous character. I think the writers did an excellent job on him and his family’s story, in that they did not make him a trope, nor did they particularly emphasize his relationship with his husband. The fact that he is in a same sex relationship isn’t even mentioned: he’s simply married. Furthermore, Caprica features a group/cooperative/polyamorous family in which one of the main characters, Sister Clarice Willow (the headmaster of a religious private school), has several husbands and wives, and they all communally raise their children and live under the same roof.

However, Battlestar Galactica doesn’t feature any relationships that aren’t heteronormative. And, both shows only have cisgendered characters. Unfortunately, this isn’t exclusive to Battlestar Galactica and Caprica. I have never seen a science fiction or fantasy television show that featured transgendered characters. Science fiction literature tends to be much more liberal with their characters; I’ve read a variety of books that contain lesbian, gay, and bisexual characters. However, even in the literature of one of the most progressive genres that features new ideas and “radical” political views, LGBTQA characters are still a rarity. And, books that feature transgendered characters are even more difficult to find. I wanted to include some titles and authors of books that do feature these characters, but after a lengthy internet search I’m still at a loss. Here’s a list of science fiction books that feature gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters.

It’s true that in recent years lesbian, gay, and bisexual characters have been making it into science fiction television. However, the numbers of those characters are still relatively small and there’s only one I know of who is the main character: Bo in the series Lost Girl. Lost Girl does an excellent job of portraying LGB characters without making them tropes. But even that excellent show lacks transgendered characters (as far as I know, I haven’t seen the whole series yet.)

Why, in the genre of the future, are transgendered characters invisible? Because writers, producers, directors, and screenwriters are not pushing for these characters to exist in their worlds. I cannot stress enough how important it is to put these characters into science fiction literature and television, and media in general. People who do not fit the gender binary do exist in our world; a large part of letting them know that they’re normal, and their experience is natural, is to make sure they see people like them in the media. We gather almost all of our cultural information through the media – especially through television. It is imperative that transgendered characters are written. And, in the futuristic and boundary-pushing genre of science fiction, I’m disgusted there isn’t already ample representation of transgendered characters.