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review 2018-06-04 15:08
Rereading Junot Díaz in light of recent events - the cycle of abuse harms us all
This Is How You Lose Her - Junot Díaz

Men may feel they get the upper hand by treating women poorly, but long before "me too" Yunior told us otherwise in these stories and in the novel.

 

Reread these after recent revelations by both Junot Díaz & women who were victimized by him. I was interested to see how this would affect the reading.

 

If you've missed the fireworks, a quick rundown:

  1. Junot Díaz publishes a personal essay in the New Yorker (The Silence: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma) revealing that he was the victim of repeated childhood sexual abuse by a man in his neighborhood, that he's paid dearly for it, can no longer write and has mistreated women tremendously while trying to hide behind a mask of machismo.
  2. Fairly quickly he is confronted by a number of women, notably women of color, other writers of sexual misconduct and verbal abuse.
  3. He decides (with the full blessing of the committee) not to take his place as Chair of the Pulitzer committee.
  4. Bookstores decide to remove his books from the shelves, others keep him on, nobody knows what the right thing to do is, and everyone picks a side.

 

All of this led to discussions - hell, thousands of discussions - around me, with women, with other survivors, with everyone but writers. I don't know any writers or I'm sure they'd have talked to me too. EVERYONE in the trauma community was afire with this discussion. Eventually some of us got around to his writing, and my response was that I hoped I'd still be able to read it, since I really have been a fan, and it made me sad to read in the NYer that he could no longer write. Then I grabbed these short stories off my shelf and read them. This is where I landed:

 

I loved these the first time I read them. I was just as uncomfortable with the over-flexing of what we now call toxic masculinity then as I was this time. In fact, I think my reaction was pretty much the same: the narrator's toxicity harms him and everyone else in his life, including his great love - but in the end, he's hurt himself badly (some great female writer might want to take the feminine perspective someday.) If only we could get people in real life to own up to how harmful toxic masculinity actually is for everyone.

 

The character in these stories is clear on how he's harmed himself, and while he may use bravado to try and mask his torment, it clearly doesn't work. Everything, including his body, breaks down.

 

Explanations are not Excuses. 

 

This is not to say that these fictional stories should be taken as an indicator of real life, but misogyny is a problem for everyone, and the pain in the voice of these stories spells that out. In fact, I think these stories might be used as an example of how badly misogynistic bullshit works out for everyone. Men may feel they get the upper hand by treating women poorly, but long before "me too" Yunior told us otherwise in these stories and in the novel.

 

As a person who has lived through some stuff, I'm glad to have read these stories the first time and again now. They are excellent, and the message is probably more clear now than it was the first time I read it, though my history hasn't changed at all. I still react badly to the mind games, abuses of power and name calling, AND I appreciate the stories. They have a moral dimension I now see even more clearly, and it's about far more than diversity or a "unique voice." Yunor spells out how harmful his misogynistic buddies and lifestyle are to both the women and the men in his life.

 

Sexual abuse begets pain, anger, confusion, acting out and abuse - sometimes even more sexual abuse. The issue is not on whose side will we fight - we should all be on the side of protecting children and getting everyone (including rapists and child molestors) help before this cycle begins in yet another person. Otherwise we are doomed to an assembly line of horrors. I'd bet that if you spoke to the man who abused Junot Díaz, he'd probably have some horror tales to share about his life. None of this excuses anyone. It does show how harmful it all is for everyone, be it the abused person, the perpetrator or the many people who have relationships with either of them through lifetimes. Abuse is poison. It harms souls. It murders a part of us that we can never regain.

 

When we have no tools for coping with this existential terroristic threat, we often cope in tremendously harmful ways - both to ourselves and those we love. Interpersonal relationships are forever changed, and we're all the victim - everyone in society.

 

This is why "rape culture" and "toxic masculinity" must end. It's killing as many men as it is women. It's a way of acting out, and it's unacceptable, if understandable. It will reach us all eventually, and nobody comes through unscathed.

 

As for the stories, the final line "sometimes a start is all we ever get" rings just as poignantly as it did before I knew so much about Junot Díaz.

 

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url 2018-05-28 10:30
Applying Wisdom Supported Pure Logic within Chaos
Conscious Parenting: Mindful Living Course for Parents - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Art of 4 Elements - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Mindful Eating with Delicious Raw Vegan Recipes - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Tree of Life - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Chanting Mantras with Best Chords - Nataša Pantović Nuit
A-Ma Alchemy of Love - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Mindful Being - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Conscious Creativity: Mindfulness Meditations - Nataša Pantović Nuit
Spiritual Symbols: With their Meanings (Alchemy of love mindfulness training) (Volume 8) - Nataša Pantović Nuit

Dare you not to Pick Up the Fight

Applying Wisdom Supported Pure Logic within ChaosSelf-DevelopmentConscious ParentingRelationshipsSpiritual DevelopmentAlchemy of LoveConscious MindMindfulnessOnline Life Coaching

 

Quantum Physics and Consciousness Applied

 of  and 

In our journey towards  we Apply  Balance within a Chaotic Day

“Yes, I could have picked up the fight this morning.” Answered my engineer Phd friend (has developed clear defined Ratio within a Yang based) who is also a soul-relationship, we laughed and cried together during the last 25 years, so I can assume truthfulness of his expressed thoughts and feelings, in his 50s married with 2 kids with a young child with disability. Being familiar with my Alchemy of SoulLove and Humanity project, he was curious of how do I attempt to apply my Yin / Yang positive and negative influences theory within the day-to-day life.

"Strange you say it, but I did have a fight with my boyfriend last night and we had no particular reason for it.. What is it the Full Moon?" Said another neigbour.

Applying Wisdom Supported Pure Logic within Chaos ama alchemy evolution quote from Ama Alchemy of Love by Nataša Pantović Nuit

 

 

Wisdom Supported Pure Logic

Source: www.artof4elements.com/entry/219/dare-you-not-to-pick-up-the-fight
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review 2018-02-26 04:10
Adults who refuse to learn...
Girl Unknown - Karen Perry

Much of this book was read in a state of disbelief that two adults who have jobs, raise children and own property could be as naive, insipid, psychologically stunted, and stupid as the couple who co-tells this woeful tale. As they conveniently hid things from each other and themselves "for the sake of the children" I kept saying aloud, "Your children could not possibly be as dumb as you two."

 

Luckily, the children were not as immature as the parents, but they were damaged in other ways. It would be hard to grow up with these parents and not be, actually.

 

Nonetheless, I kept reading, because we have two unreliable narrators telling a similar yet competing tale about a third person (the "girl unknown") who isn't trustworthy either. So I just wanted to see what kind of crash they were foreshadowing from sentence one.

 

I will admit, the crash was different than I imagined. And for that, they get an "it was OK" from me. If nothing else, this is a cautionary tale about trying to keep secrets from those around you and doing the things that make "the neighbors" or the PTA or whoever else you're trying to impress or shield from the truth happy.

 

Finally, one of the best parts of this book was that I kept forgetting who wrote it, and from time to time, I'd think "only a woman" or "only a man would write this." Turns out I was wrong, or maybe right, 100% of the time. "Karen Perry" is the pen name of a male/female Irish writing team who wrote this book together. I won't say the thing about two heads....

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review 2018-01-24 12:55
Historical fiction with a difference. One story, two narrators, two styles, and many questions.
Tearagh't - Craig Newnes

This is a puzzling book. On the one hand, there is the story it tells, that is fascinating but not complex to explain and summarise. The book is divided into three parts, and tells the story of two lovers, living in XVI century Spain, both conversos (Jews who converted to Catholicism, although, at least in their case and that of their families, they remain Jews, only they practice their religion in secret, to avoid the Inquisition and the risk of being expelled from the country). The man, Isidore, enlisted in the Spanish Armada, to see the world, although he was never convinced of the logic of that war. The first part consists of a partial diary of his adventures, both at sea and later in Tearaght (an Irish island, the westernmost of the Blasket Islands), that was recovered by a sailor and translated into English, a peculiar English (that I understand the author acknowledges is his own creation and a reimagining of how the Old English mixed with the original Spanish might have sounded like). The second part is the story of his lover, Beatriz, pregnant when he leaves, and her life back in Spain, constantly wondering where he might be and waiting for his news. In contrast, her story is told in modern English, and is very modern indeed, with plenty of detail of what her life is like, her lifestyle (including going out with female friends, drinking, talking about sex a lot, and thinking about it, later having a baby boy, and being pressurised into a possibly advantageous marriage), and a third part, much shorter, again written by the woman, who must make a decision when she discovers her lover’s diary. Will she go after him and try to find him? Or will she marry a rich man to make sure their son is safe and has the best possible start in life? This brief part is written in a similar style to the first.

Isidore’s story is heart-wrenching. It is a story of adventures, male friendship (international, as there are men from everywhere aboard the ships, and they even meet friendly English men later, and also men from all walks of life such as sailors, soldiers, writers (Lope de Vega makes an appearance, Cervantes is mentioned more than once, and later on Kid and, of course, Shakespeare). Rather than a factual and aggrandising story (HIStory), there is much discussion about emotions, confidences, feelings, and much self-doubt. Although there are funny moments interspersed in the narrative (mostly because it does not follow a chronological order), there are, mostly, terrible times. Death, disaster, and sadness abound, and it seems that all that keeps him alive is his hope to see his beloved again. There are incredibly sad and touching moments in this part of the book, and although, as I said, the language is mock-Ole-English, once we get used to it (saying it out loud in your head helps), it is easy to follow, even taking into account that it is not in the right order and we jump backwards and forward in time. And, although he does refer to his lover often, the style and the discourse seems to be in keeping with what readers would expect of a well-researched historical novel set at that time. However, the style is more intimate and personal, and more emotional, than what we would expect in a male narrative of the period.

I think most readers will wonder why the woman’s story is written in such a different way, as the change feels like a jolt, and at first I wondered if it was set in a different historical period, but as we read on it is evident it is the account of Isidore’s lover, Beatriz.  A common thread of both stories is the need of the protagonists to write. While for the man, although he questions his merits, it is more acceptable (and they even call him a writer), the woman describes how, sometimes, her need to write makes her stop what she is doing, her chores, to write, even if it is only about her chores. She does not have great adventures to write about, indeed. Does that mean she should not write? Both stories also talk about camaraderie, in the case of the men between those defending a mission and a vision, even if they don’t believe in it. The women talk about women’s things. Men, childbirth, marriage, romance, sex… A women’s sphere, especially at the time, was more personal and intimate (although, of course, Elizabeth I was the Queen of England, so there were some, very few, women in high places). The modern style Beatriz’s story is written in and the fact that it contains topics we find difficult to imagine writing about at the time, especially when the writer is a woman, seem designed to challenge our prejudices. Are old-style writing (more in keeping with what we imagine a historically accurate discourse would be like, even when we know it is, at least in part, invented) and a male protagonist immediately given more authority than a narrative of the period written in a modern style by a female protagonist? (The subjects discussed and the openness of the talk about sex between the women gave me pause. I am aware that personal letters, and in this case, a diary written for her lover, can be much more open and direct than we would expect of the period, although I wondered more about some of the other topics, like the fact that single mothers seem fully accepted and she is not short on offers of marriage, even after having had a child out of wedlock). She describes her process of analysis, the way she decides to study her thoughts and feelings, and indeed her lovers, and also mentions that other women do the same, therefore challenging gender expectations (women are supposed to be romantic and not be open or matter-of-fact about love or sex). We also have the writer becoming the reader later on when she gets hold of her lover’s diary. The third part, although penned by Beatriz, is written in the same language as the first. Is this a way of connecting with him, of communicating her official decision, of gaining authority? Knowing the field of study and work of the author (Critical Psychology) one can’t help but wonder. (And, perhaps overanalysing things, as I am Spanish I could not help but think that some of the expressions she uses and discusses in detail, like “falling in love”, that she feels is very apt, would not work in Spanish. Could that mean she is writing it in English, or rewriting it later? Does she indeed go looking for him, even after the ending? Or is it another way the author uses to remind us it is a story and to make us pay attention to the process of reading?)

A book that contains a fascinating story (with a fascinating historical background and some fabulous characters, both real and imagined) written in and an even more fascinating narrating style(s). Although the first part, once one gets used to the language, will grip most readers, quite a few might struggle to see how the two parts fit together (even if the characters do). A novel for those who want to try new reading experiences and check non-conventional types of writing. A word of warning, there is plenty of explicit violence, swear words, and discussions of sexual matters. An author a publisher well-worth keeping an eye on.

Thanks to the publisher and to Rosie’s Book Review Team for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I gladly chose to review. (Authors, if you are interested in getting your books reviewed, check here).

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url 2016-08-11 21:09
The Problem with Female Protagonist

Interesting post in Writer Unboxed. The author, Jo Eberhardt, thinks that there is a disproportionately high number of books with a male protagonist compared to those of a female protagonist, even on the shelves of someone who makes a conscious effort to read books by and about women. 

I scanned my bookshelves. On my bookshelves, the number of books with a female protagonist seem to dominate, but then I own lots of romances and chic lit. Plus I rarely read books by male writers - they don't work for me as well as the books written by women.

Then I looked at my blog here, on BL, at my 10 last book reviews:

 

  1. Saga comic - both male and female
  2. Luanne Rice - female
  3. Jayne Castle - both male and female
  4. Tanya Huff - male
  5. Jane Austen - female
  6. Jonas Jonasson - male
  7. Wen Spencer - female
  8. Lois McMaster Bujold - male
  9. Anne Gracie - female
  10. Isabella Barclay - both male and female

 

The ratio is 7 females to 6 males. I thought the ratio would be much more in favor of women. Is the author of the above post correct? Do we read more about guys than about girls without even realizing it?

 

What about you? Who have been your protagonists in the last 10 books you've read?

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