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review 2018-06-07 15:23
Jud Nirenberg (ed): Gypsy Sexuality - Romani and Outsider Perspectives on Intimacy
Gypsy Sexuality - Bill Bila,Jud Nirenberg

It's Gypsy Roma Traveller History Month (#GRTHM) in the UK – quite a fitting time to review this collection of essays, interviews, personal testimonies, and study reports, called „Gypsy Sexuality“. Despite the attention-seeking title, the book deals not so much with the hot and horny stuff than with relationships, questions of equality and Roma self-perception.

 

If you're wondering about the word „Gypsy“ being used in the title: The foreword explains it. In many languages, Gypsy and its equivalents carry racists connotations and negative stereotypes. Many Roma consider it a pejorative. Others don't. Some try to reclaim it, others reject it. My recommendation: Listen to what people are comfortable with.

 

The individual contributions deal with very diverse topics: They examine the objectification and fetishist views of Roma people in Western art; they explore how Romani women of Eastern Europe see themselves and their culture and what they have to say about gender stereotypes and gender roles; they look at the data available about Roma prostitutes. Romani women and men talk about their relationships both with people from their community and outsiders, researchers look at the changing power-balances in Roma communities in the West. The most harrowing report deals with the coercive sterilization of Romani women in the Czech and Slovak Republic happening between the 1970s and 2004 – at least that's the date of the latest reported case. Women where pressured to sign agreements for being sterilized while already in labour; they were threatened with financial and social disadvantages should they reject; or they were coerced through financial incentives, often without any explanation what they were agreeing to. The Czech and Slovak Republics are by no means the only countries where this happened, but it's the example the authors choose to cover.

 

While interesting and informative, the collection would have profited from better editing and proof-reading. Nonetheless, I appreciated the variety of different perspectives presented here, coming from researchers, Roma political leaders, and people with very little formal education alike.

 

Some quotes:

 

While Roma often explain their actions by saying „this is how Roma do things“, this book will show that there is no one way Roma do anything; one Romani community's norm is another's scandal.

 

Maybe those who read the collection, Romani readers included, will be less prone to discuss Gypsies as a set of problems to be solved or victims to be saved and more likely to remember that people, even when discussed as a collective, are individuals and are alike only in our (sic) uniqueness.

 

I cannot stress enough how important the latter statement is.

 

The book concludes with a short biography of Rita Prigmore, German Sinteza and Porajmos surviver. She and her twin sister were experimented on by a student of Mengele; her sister died, Rita suffered lasting health consequences. Rita later went to live in the USA, but continued to visit Germany for educational events. In a book published in 2011, her words ring somewhat prophetic:

 

So much has changed in so many ways, it seems that it is going back to the ways of more racial problems... that will never end completely. It is so hard to understand why nothing has been learnt from the past. […] Bring a man like Hitler... and there will be a second Holocaust... their attitudes don't change deep down.

 

Yep, a pretty gloomy conclusion. The author and editor himself offers a more hopeful look into the future:

 

At least Roma, Sinti and members of other ethnic groups called 'Gypsy' have learned a hard lesson. We have learned what can happen when stereotypes are left unchallenged and bias is left to grow. Today, many Roma know the importance of challenging the stereotypes that can become the foundation for discriminatory treatment. As Rita Prigmore says, 'it is the knowledge that is important'.

 

Well, let's hope he's right.

 

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text 2018-05-05 18:48
Reading Update: I've read 61% of 100%
Gypsy Sexuality - Bill Bila,Jud Nirenberg

Remembering Love Affairs

 

Well, that was incredibly uncomfortable.

 

A Romani guy looking back on past lovers and girfriends, and it's basically one ugly package of exotism, racism, and sexism all around.

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review 2018-03-26 00:01
The Beyonce Effect: Essays on Sexuality, Race and Feminism - Adrienne Trier-Bieniek

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I received a copy of this book through LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.

Overall, it was a good book. It look me a while to get through because some of the essays are a bit dense, but overall it was good.

The essays range in focus from celebrity motherhood and sexual pleasure to the politics of respectability and empowerment. I liked the various lenses that the contributors wrote through. Each had their own view and their own focus, which made for an interesting read. 

For me, there were two minor downsides to the book. One was the grammatical errors. There are quite a few scattered throughout the text. For the most part, the message is still received, but I had to read certain sentences over again to make sure I got what the person was saying beyond the typo. For the most part, they were small errors such as using the plural form of a word instead of the possessive. Small inconvenience, but nothing too major.

The other downside was that even though the essays all focus on different things, the examples they use are pretty much the same. Almost all of the essays referenced Beyonce performing in front of the Feminist sign and bell hooks calling her a "terrorist". Yes, these two things are huge in the discussion of Beyonce and feminism, but reading about them over and over again (along with many other examples) was very irritating. This is not the fault of any of the contributors as they would have no way of knowing what other people were writing, but it made the book pretty repetitive. 

Overall, this was a good read, especially for those interested in Beyonce and her brand of feminism. An interesting look into multiple perspectives of the same topic.

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text 2018-02-21 16:25
[Book Review] Bingo Love
Bingo Love OGN - Tee Franklin, Jenn St Onge
Bingo Love / Tee Franklin, Jenn St-Onge (ill), and Joy San (ill)
 
I... don't even know where to start summarizing this story or reviewing beyond this: you will cry.  This story brings all of the Feels and will rip out your heart.  And you will love it all the more for it.

Buy, read it, add it to your library, it's worth it.

From the publisher:
When Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray met at church bingo in 1963, it was love at first sight. Forced apart by their families and society, Hazel and Mari both married young men and had families. Decades later, now in their mid-’60s, Hazel and Mari reunite again at a church bingo hall. Realizing their love for each other is still alive, what these grandmothers do next takes absolute strength and courage. From TEE FRANKLIN (NAILBITER’s “THE OUTFIT,” Love is Love) and JENN ST-ONGE (Jem & The Misfits), BINGO LOVE is a touching story of love, family, and resiliency that spans over 60 years.

Advance Reader Copy courtesy of Image Comics in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galley and the final edition.
Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2018/02/book-review-bingo-love.html
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review 2017-05-29 21:49
[Book Review] User
User - Devin Grayson

User is the queer coming-of-age on the Internet story I didn't know I was looking for (but really should have been).

I grew up discovering the Internet as it grew from a specialist resource and message board hub into the complex sprawling hodge-podge it is now.  Not that Internet is not still growing and changing, but it's become something a bit more ubiquitous rather than something that's limited special interest or hobby.  There's still a divide in how people view friendships and relationships developed in person and online, but those relationships do occur and can be incredibly meaningful as are the worlds we create with each other.

User is a story about all of that and more.  It's about finding refuge in shared fantasy and friendship, as told by a young woman who discovers text-based online fantasy gaming.  The story is heartfelt and raw, dealing with difficult subjects frankly.  I highly recommend.

Advance Reader Copy courtesy of Image Comics in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galley and the final edition.

Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/05/book-review-user.html
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