December 2013 M T W T F S S « Sep 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
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Reading Kate Zambreno‘s latest brilliant book ( and I don’t use the word brilliant very often) HEROINES I am incensed, furious, livid, at what was (and maybe still is) considered an acceptable attitude towards women’s writing of the modernist era.
I can’t put the damn book down – my PhD – the submission of which is fast approaching, imminent in fact! – sits neglected as I devour Zambreno’s deliciously constructed text.
“He writes I imagine, in the tradition of neurotic men who treat women as objects but are forgiven for their insight and sensitivity, in the tradition of falling in love and into beautiful girls. The entire history of Western literature is dominated by absolute pricks, I realize, pricks that can’t get hard but yet ejaculate with such eloquent language, Beckett was a prick with Lucia Joyce (poor Lucia), Scott Fitzgerald was a prick and how does she get revenge? She is always the minor writer.”
Kate Zambreno, Heroines (2013) p. 228.
The only problem being? Now I want to read EVERYTHING she mentions – all of it – the novels, the biographies, the letters, the diaries, the scraps – THE EVIDENCE of the silenced/othered.
I like to think my own heroine, Rebecca West, survived and was artistically successful because she dumped that pompous narcissist H. G. Wells , who tried his damnedest to control her, squirrelling her and their son off to the wilds of Wales and Norfolk to keep her out of sight and away from her career … just in time!
It’s made me more aware of myself as a female, as a writer, as a fractured identity than anything else I have ever read – it speaks to women in the here and now. Claim yourselves! She seems to be saying. Don’t be negated – don’t be sanitised by male expectations!
This author is inspirational.
In other news -
On a more frivolous note – a friend sent me a link to this cheeky little bit of lighthearted fluff … leaving the whole hyper sexualised/objectifications of the female body thing aside for now it’s good to know a fat girl can rock the Pin-up world!
After all I keep saying it
so it must be true FAT is a feminist issue!
Zaftig /zäftig/ adjective: (of a woman) Having a full, rounded figure; plump. Yep – and baby I am not giving up cake for no man!
The deadline for abstract submissions to the Katherine Mansfield Postgraduate Day, which will be held at Birkbeck in London on 23 November 2013, has been extended to 31 August.
Please see the attached CFP for more details.
Worthwhile event for all students/fans of Mansfield's work. Good Luck to all involved in organising the event.
It now seems impossible not to engage with networking sites such as facebook. As more and more family members and friends sign up, facebook offers a way to stay in touch. There are also professional reasons to join. As I discovered recently while working with Moving Stories Theatre on the play of Vanessa and Virginia, networking sites are crucial in spreading the word.
A pertinent commentary on modern social networking and how it interfaces with feminist principles. Especially in light of Sheryl Sandberg's (Facebook's female CEO since 2008) recent comments about feminism and the glass ceiling.
There seems to be a National Day/Week for almost any cause – but I can hear the trees quivering at the thought of this one! Well starting today it is National Stationery Week!
I am a big fan of anything stationery related – BIG FAN! Testament to this is the book shelf that is stuffed (two rows) with EMPTY notebooks – yes that’s right, these are notebooks I have bought because I liked them, and I still have’t used them.
I am currently on the last pages of my huge fat journal that I purchased from Kate’s Paperie in NYC in 2006 – which contains roughly the last 3 and a half years of my life – it took me the best part of 3 years to decide to actually write in it, because for me, notebooks are as much about the aesthetic as about the use! Before that it sat on the shelf looking very, very pretty.
I am also a bit of a fan of the fountain pen – though I do admit to using cartridges not bladders, because I write too much and as a result they are in need of constant filling. The cartridges last longer.
I am due to start a new journal in the next week and I have decided that my 2006 purchase of an antique leather journal (currently nestling in tissue paper in a box underneath my desk) will be the next journal … I’ve become a little less precious about my collection lately and have decided that they are far more interesting if they are actually used for the purpose which they were designed.
In other exciting new
(well for me it’s exciting) I will be doing a traditional book-binding course (starting in June!) and I cannot wait … I want to be able to make my own books. I have enjoyed making several starbooks lately for people’s birthday’s etc and they are simple and fun. As someone who spends a lot of time working with words, crafting can be the only way to achieve the empty head feeling it’s either that or alcoholism …
In Other News
I am in the very last stages of writing up my thesis – recent feedback has been a real boost as my supervisor is clearly very pleased with my recent work … so I just have to extend that excellence to the rest of the thesis! Blogging takes a back seat just now too – so entries are sporadic, but I couldn’t let NSW pass by without a special mention!
I am always surprised by women who describe themselves as ‘not a feminist’ … because to me if you are a woman, how can you not be feminist? I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t a feminist, if I am truthful. It isn’t like a religion where a conversion or awakening was needed for the transition to take place. I was just raised to believe in the equality of women.
Notice I used the word equality there … not supremacy! Feminism isn’t about proving women are better than men — it’s about expecting to be viewed, socially, politically and economically, as equal to men. On the same level playing field. It’s about not being treated like a second-rate citizen or accepting a subordinate status.
It’s also not about blaming men for everything or putting men down. Any feminist who does that is as misogynist as any woman-hating man. Patriarchy is a word bandied about by many women as the root of all evil, but let us not forget that as many women as men supported patriarchy. It takes two to tango as the saying goes. Women have historically also been culpable of oppressing women. It isn’t about addressing a sex imbalance as a societal one.
Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is something that both men and women participate in. – Ashley Judd
I found a great quote for a friend of mine who claims not to be political or a feminist (she is actually both) which said
A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men – Gloria Steinem
And for me that is one of the best definitions I have come across. It’s true that the label “feminist”has become pejorative for modern women who cannot identify with the militant, perceived as predominantly gay, feminist movement of the 60s, 70s and 80s. Many modern men, though, have little trouble in accepting the label, and will happily call themselves ‘feminist’ …
So why are modern women so sure that feminism is not something that should concern or worry them or that they cannot identify with? Should we be trying to rehabilitate the ‘label’ or are we working towards an era where labels seek to exist. As Soren Kierkegaard once wrote:
‘Once you label me, you negate me.’
As a scholar in feminism and gender studies I can see the damage that some schools of thought have done, building barriers instead of breaking them down. Feminism should be something that is accessible and that women of all sexualities, ethnicities, cultures and political persuasions can identify with. Yes, a lot of damage has been done, though arguably it was necessary for women today to be enjoying the rights that they do … so has our comfortable status (achieved by the previous actions of other women) made us, as women, apathetic to what are forebears suffered, that we may enjoy equality? (Though that equality is still often arbitrarily bestowed and not world wide – there is still plenty to be fought for, other wise there would be no need for demonstrations such as One Billion Rising.) Can it be argued that feminism has achieved so much that the fear of what previous generations suffered has receded into the annals of the past, and no longer motivates their children?
Is feminism a 21st century issue or a thing of the past? Is it time to redefine ourselves as humanists? Individuals? To forget the sex-divide? I fear that even though progress has been made, the attitude of a society that can still call its females things like ‘slut’ still needs to be changed. A society where a woman is still judged by her sexual history is still prejudicial. A society where the heterosexual norms are still given higher social status than the non-heterosexual needs to change … Any society that imposes judgements on the way a women dresses, and punishes them for non-compliance needs to reassess their priorities. Whether that be in court after being assaulted or in the street for not abiding by an imposed religious or political dress code.
But what we forget is we ARE society. It’s not anyone else. It is each individual that makes a difference. The personal is the political and together, we can affect change. For the better. And maybe there is still a real need for people to be proud to call themselves feminist. I know I am. But even if you eschew labels … be the best person you can be, uphold the values that you value and fight, when necessary, to make the world a better place, regardless of what sex you are or what labels you hang on your sleeve.
And, just incase you were wondering, THIS is what a feminist looks like … I hope you all have a feminist sort of a day!