Archive for category Women/ feminism
In the Body of the World by Eve Ensler. Publisher: Metropolitan Books (2013). Memoir. Hardcover. 240 pages. ISBN 978-0-8050-9518-0.
Eve Ensler has long been an advocate for women and women’s bodies. Traveling around the world, she’s empowering women to speak about themselves and value their bodies. Ensler founded V-Day—a global movement to end violence against women and girls. She wrote the award-winning The Vagina Monologues and The Good Body. Ensler writes about cancer in a beautiful, compassionate style that connects her body to the earth and connects her healing process to her plans to help other women to heal. She divides the memoir into scans of her body correlating with her experience creating a learning center/sanctuary for women in the Congo.
As one might expect when someone’s fighting off an aggressive cancer– surgeons removed seventy nodes, fallopian tubes, cervix, ovaries, sections of colon, uterus, rectum and part of her vagina—there are high and low moments. Humor. Love. Giving. Beauty. Anger. Loneliness. Regret. Sometimes this reads like a stream of consciousness diary. She’s extremely candid about uterine cancer and every aspect of her treatment process—from surgery to getting a buzz cut to having a central port line placed to chemotherapy to being surrounded by loved ones to being alone and scared.
“I am a pool of pus on a couch. I have two bags now: One drains the abscess, the other, poop. The infection and the antibiotics and Xanax have made me weak and I have lost my appetite.”
Not only is this a memoir in which a strong women shares her personal journey back from the worst possible experience but it’s a battle cry. It’s an urging to be involved in the community, to do more, to be impassioned, to speak up, to dare, to help others and to be the change within. It will move you beyond anything. I cried when I finished reading it.
“And those of you who can live without will survive. Those of you who can be naked, without a bank account, a known future, or even a place to call home. Those of you who can live without and find your meaning here, here, wherever here is. Knowing the only destination is change. The only port is where we are going. The second wind may take what you think you need or want the most, and what you lost and how you lost it will determine if you survive.”
–review by Amy Steele
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Henry Holt.
Black Butterflies 
Director: Paula van der Oest
Starring: Carice van Houten, Liam Cunningham, Rutger Hauer
–about the volatile life of South African poet Ingrid Jonker
Starring: Gwyneth Paltrow, Daniel Craig
Director: Christine Jeffs
–focuses on relationship between poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes
Starring: Judi Densch, Jim Broadbent, Kate Winslet
Director: Richard Eyre
–lifelong romance between novelist Iris Murdoch and her husband John Bayley from their days as students through her battle with Alzheimer’s disease
Becoming Jane 
Starring: Anne Hathaway
Director: Julian Jarrold
–pre-fame Jane Austen and her romance with a young Irishman
Miss Potter 
Starring: Renee Zellweger, Ewan McGregor, Emily Watson
Director: Chris Noonan
–Beatrix Potter, the author of the beloved and best-selling children’s book, “The Tale of Peter Rabbit”
The Children of the Century 
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Benoit Magimel
Director: Diane Kurys
–love affair between novelist George Sand and author Alfred de Musset
Mrs. Parker and the Viscous Circle 
Starring: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Cambell Scott, Peter Gallagher
Director: Alan Rudolph
–Dorothy Parker and her heyday with the Algonquin Round Table circle of friends
Starring: Judy Davis, Hugh Grant, Mandy Patinkin
Director: James Lapine
–writer George Sand pursues pianist/composer Frederic Chopin in 1830s France
An Angel at My Table 
Starring: Kerry Fox, Alexia Keogh, Karen Fergusson
Director: Jane Campion
–Janet Frame grows up with lots of brothers and sisters in a poor family in 1920s and 1930s New Zealand. She always feels different from others. After getting education as a teacher, she’s sent to a mental institution for eight years. She gains success when she begins writing novels.
Kate O’Flaherty Chopin [1857-1904]
–born to prosperous St. Louis family
–married at twenty-one, lived with her husband in Reconstruction Louisiana on the family plantation in New Orleans for 12 years
–had six children
–her husband died in 1882 and she returned to St. Louis and began writing about her experience in the Bayou.
–she wrote short stories for magazines including Atlantic, Harper’s and Vogue and a novel called At Fault 
–After the publication of her novel The Awakening  with themes of depression, sexual awakening and suicide, she became ostracized and never wrote again.
“There were days when she was very happy without knowing why. She was happy to be alive and breathing, when her whole being seemed to be one with the sunlight, the color, the odors, the luxuriant warmth of some perfect Southern day. She liked then to wander alone into strange and unfamiliar places. She discovered many a sunny, sleepy corner, fashioned to dream in. And she found it good to dream and to be alone and unmolested.
There were days when she was unhappy, she did not know why—when it did not seem worth while to be glad or sorry, to be alive or dead; when life appeared to her like a grotesque pandemonium and humanity like worms struggling blindly toward inevitable annihilation.”
Erin Brockovich 
starring: Julia Roberts, Aaron
directed by: Steven Soderbergh
–Brockovich fought against the US West Coast energy corporation Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) which knew it had been contaminating a small town’s water supply with with hexavalent chromium leading to cancer
The Whistleblower 
starring: Rachel Weisz
directed by: Larysa Kondracki
–a Nebraska cop, serving as a U.N. peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia, outs the U.N. for covering up a sex scandal.
Dangerous Minds 
starring: Michelle Pfeiffer
–an ex-Marine starts teaching at at an inner-city school and ends up changing her students’ lives forever
starring: Hilary Swank, Sam Rockwell, Minnie Driver
director: Tony Goldwyn
writer: Pamela Gray
–a single mom puts herself through law school in order to represent her brother who’s been wrongfully convicted of murder
Gorillas in the Mist 
starring: Sigourney Weaver, Bryan Brown, Julie Harris
director: Michael Apted
–story of Dian Fossey, a scientist who came to Africa to study the vanishing mountain gorillas, and later fought to protect them
03/12 – Brighton Music Hall – Boston, MA
03/13 – Cabaret Mile End – Montreal, QC
03/15 – Horseshoe Tavern – Toronto, ON
03/16 – Magic Bag – Detroit, MI
03/17 – Pyramid Scheme – Grand Rapids, MI
03/18 – Empty Bottle – Chicago, IL
03/20 – Basement – Columbus, OH
03/21 – Mr. Smalls – Pittsburgh, PA
03/23 – Black Cat – Washington, DC
03/24 – Johnny Brenda’s – Philadelphia, PA
03/26 – Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY
Kate Nash will be touring with an all-female band and partnering with the Because I am a Girl charity.
GIRL TALK album out 3/5
Available via pledge music
“The worst stuff that you say sounds better than the best stuff that some other people say.”
“Jessa has HPV, like a couple of different strains of it. She says that all adventurous women do.”
“No one has ever said to me ‘go home and make a baby.’ I have been told several times to go to Planned Parenthood and make the baby go away. Happy Hannukah.”
–Chelsea Handler, 12/12/12
After she’d divorced my deadbeat dad and we’d relocated from Connecticut to Massachusetts, my mom took me to my first NOW meeting when I was in the 3rd grade. She also bought me the album Free To Be You and Me which embraces independent spirits and gender neutrality. I loved this record in elementary school.
A few days ago I heard the podcast of Marlo Thomas on NPR and all the memories of the songs on this album and the importance of this project streamed right back into my mind. Marlo Thomas and her celebrity friends including Alan Alda, Rosey Grier, Cicely Tyson, Harry Belafonte, Carol Channing, Michael Jackson, and Diana Ross created fantastic songs that still resonate as they’re also still relevant and necessary. There’s still rapant sexism, racism and bullying in the United States.
“Free To Be… You And Me” – Music by Stephen J. Lawrence, Lyrics by Bruce Hart, Performed by The New Seekers
“Boy Meets Girl” – Written by Carl Reiner and Peter Stone, Performed by Mel Brooks and Marlo Thomas
“When We Grow Up” – Music by Stephen J. Lawrence, Lyrics by Shelly Miller, Performed by Roberta Flack and Michael Jackson on the special and Diana Ross on the soundtrack CD.
“Don’t Dress Your Cat In An Apron” – Written by Dan Greenburg, Performed by Billy De Wolfe
“Parents Are People” – Music and Lyrics by Carol Hall, Performed by Harry Belafonte and Marlo Thomas
“Housework” – Written by Sheldon Harnick, Performed by Carol Channing
“Helping” – Written by Shel Silverstein, Performed by Tom Smothers
“Ladies First” – Performed by Marlo Thomas (based on a Shel Silverstein poem
“Dudley Pippin And The Principal” – Written by Phil Ressner, Performed by Billy De Wolfe, Bobby Morse, and Marlo Thomas
“It’s All Right To Cry” – Music and Lyrics by Carol Hall, Performed by Rosey Grier
“Sisters And Brothers” – Music by Stephen J. Lawrence, Lyrics by Bruce Hart, Performed by Sisters and Brothers
“William’s Doll” – Music by Mary Rodgers, Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, Performed by Alan Alda and Marlo Thomas (based on the children’s book)
“My Dog Is A Plumber” – Written by Dan Greenburg, Performed by Dick Cavett
“Atalanta” – Written by Betty Miles, Performed by Alan Alda and Marlo Thomas
“Grandma” – Written by Carole Hart, Performed by Diana Sands
“Girl Land” – Music by Mary Rodgers, Lyrics by Bruce Hart, Performed by Jack Cassidy and Shirley Jones
“Dudley Pippin And His No-Friend” – Written by Phil Ressner, Performed by Bobby Morse and Marlo Thomas
“Glad To Have A Friend Like You” – Music and Lyrics by Carol Hall, Performed by Marlo Thomas
I DON’T CARE.
My name is Amy Steele.
I am a journalist, a nonprofit writer, a volunteer, a vegan, a medical assistant, a feminist, a compassionate individual.
I have major depression, anxiety and non-specified mood disorder.
everyone’s afraid of the truth. it’s easier to judge. to avoid. to stigmatize.
When I was 16, I developed bouts of anxiety when traveling to France –had an incident on the plane– but was fine during the exchange program. In college, I spoke to some therapists about feeling sad but no one ever said I needed medication or I was depressed. When I drove X-Country at 22, it got a bit worse. I felt strange driving in some wide open spaces or when camping but I managed it through visualization and breathing. After my first year of graduate school in Washington, DC, my housemate and I drove South and I just couldn’t make it beyond North Carolina. I went home to Boston and finished my masters degree at Boston University. I went to a psychiatrist and he prescribed Xanax which helped.
I really don’t remember anyone officially diagnosing me with depression but I had an awful time finding the correct medication and a decent psychiatrist. I started meds at age 27. I’ve tried beta-blockers, Zoloft, Paxil, Prozac, Serzone, Abilify, Lexapro, Wellbutrin and many others. I’m now 42 and in the hands of a resident at Brigham and Women’s Hospital department of psychiatry. I’m taking cymbalta for the depression, clonipin for my anxiety and topamax to keep my mood from swinging too far out-of-bounds (don’t want to be yelling or crying too much).
Over the years I’ve gained weight, lost weight and felt crappy. I’ve been briefly and mistakenly hospitalized and lost many friends. I’ve had people unreasonably judge me. I’ve had people who know nothing about me call me “bat shit crazy” or “insane” when I’m not. I’m *still* being harassed online due to my mental illness. I had to change my phone number and email and twitter. I lost my best friend two years ago because I had a breakdown and he cowardly wanted to get married and end our friendship.
People often don’t want to take the time to understand what you’re going through. Those are the people who should feel shame. Those people are despicable. If I had cancer or a physical illness, I wouldn’t be judged at all but because mental illness is just that people think that we have some sort of control over the chemical breakdown of our brains. A guy recently told me it was all “mind over matter” and being on meds was “BS.”
We do the best we can. We need support. We don’t need the stigma. We don’t need to be put into a box and told we’re having a bad day or going off the edge or that we’re crazy or that we’re having a meltdown. Don’t do that to us. You can hug us. You can listen but don’t label us.
I have an illness that I’m managing with a very good therapist (I’ve been seeing him for eight years), an excellent psychiatrist and medication. It’s not easy. I have good days and bad days and better days and worse days. I walk. I eat well. I do yoga.
My name is Amy, and I have No Shame.
Please visit The SIWE Project to share their stories and hear others’ accounts of their battles with mental illness and to check out @thesiweproject on twitter, hashtag #NoShame.