Dystopian fiction tells a pretty everyday story for many women


This post is by Hanna Jameson from Books | The Guardian


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Genital mutilation, ‘disaster rape’, invasive control of female bodies ... post-apocalyptic plots may feel far away to some, but they are all too real for many women

A couple of months ago, Twitter user @emrazz asked women what they would do in a hypothetical 24 hours if there were no men around. The responses were depressingly banal: sleeping with the windows open or finishing drinks in our own time, instead of feeling pressured to down them before heading to the bathroom, lest a man slip something in the glass. Going for walks at night was a common answer, bringing to mind Will Self’s piece ruminating on the joys of midnight walks, an “underrated pleasure” few women would seriously consider. These answers illustrate that, given a day without men, women would simply conduct themselves as full participants in the world, free from fear.

The Office for National Statistics said that one ...

Why are so many women writing about rough sex? | Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett


This post is by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett from Books | The Guardian


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After #Metoo, it’s no surprise a new generation of female authors is exploring sexual abuse and dominance

Recently I have found myself wondering about the prevalence of rough sex in new fiction written by women. It’s viscerally present in You Know You Want This, the new short-story collection by Kristen Roupenian (who shot to fame last year with Cat Person, published in the New Yorker): I found some of the scenes so unpalatable that I had to keep putting it down. They (spoiler alert) include a woman strangled to death as part of a sex game; a man who imagines his penis is a knife when he has sex; and a woman who says to the guy she is sleeping with: “I want you to punch me in the face as hard as you can. After you’ve punched me, when I’ve fallen down, I want you to kick ...

Sleeps With Monsters: Epic Fantasy and Feminism in The Women’s War and The Ruin of Kings


This post is by Liz Bourke from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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Who doesn’t like epic fantasy? And feminist epic fantasy, at that?

The Women’s War by Jenna Glass and The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons are both opening volumes in new epic fantasy series. I read them one after the other, and can’t help comparing their approaches to feminism—because both of them set themselves within oppressive societies. And yet, though The Women’s War spends more of its time with female main characters and sets itself amid a violent struggle for the liberation of (some) women in a rigidly patriarchal society, I found The Ruin of Kings more inclusive and more persuasive—more liberatory—in its approach to a patriarchal society.

The Women’s War stakes out its ground in a society divided by class as well as gender, and its arguments are quite simple: Discrimination against women on the basis of their gender is awful, patriarchy is terrible, and ...

Wild, controversial and free: Colette, a life too big for film


This post is by Aida Edemariam from Books | The Guardian


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Promiscuous in art and love, an early adopter of weightlifting and facelifts ... Colette was way ahead of her time – and no biopic has done justice to her complexity

“Ten thirty … once again I’m ready too soon.” So begins Colette’s 1910 novel The Vagabond, in the immediately compelling voice of Renée Néré, a Parisian music hall artist staring at her made-up face in the dressing-room mirror. “I’d better open that book lying on the make-up shelf, even though I’ve read it over and over again … otherwise I’ll find myself all alone, face to face with that painted mentor who gazes at me from the other side of the looking-glass …” And that, with all the introspection it would bring, would never do. But at last “the first bars of our overture strike up [and] I feel soothed and ready for anything, grown all of a sudden ...

Feminist Library saved from closure as supporters raise £35,000


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


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Redevelopment plans had threatened its future, but donations mean the volunteer-run archive in London can afford to move to new premises

Hundreds of supporters have come together to raise thousands of pounds to save London’s Feminist Library from closure, and help move the collection to new premises.

Founded in 1975 during the second wave of the women’s liberation movement, the archive brings together an extensive collection of feminist literature and “herstories” and is one of only three such facilities in the UK. In 2016 the library, which is a volunteer-run charity, was threatened with eviction from the building in Southwark where it has been housed for three decades, when the council announced it would begin charging rent – increasing its costs from a £12,000 annual service charge to £30,000 a year.

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Audiobooks, inclusivity and #MeToo … how books changed in 2018


This post is by Alex Clark from Books | The Guardian


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New agents and imprints, Northern Ireland’s first Man Booker winner … this year, the books world turned towards inclusivity and a broadening of perspectives

“You brought it on yourself, longest friend. I informed you and informed you. I mean for the longest time ever since primary school I’ve been warning you to kill out that habit you insist on and that I now suspect you’re addicted to – that reading in public as you’re walking about.” Such behaviour, the speaker continues, is unnerving, disturbing, deviant, much to the bemusement of the errant flâneuse, who wonders why it’s acceptable for a terrorist to promenade with Semtex, but beyond the pale for her to do the same with Jane Eyre.

The characters are from Milkman, the novel by Anna Burns that scooped this year’s Man Booker prize and lobbed ...

Roxane Gay: ‘Public discourse rarely allows for nuance. And see where that’s gotten us’


This post is by Aida Edemariam from Books | The Guardian


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The writer whose radical honesty has won fans across the globe talks about writing as a cry for help, using books to fight racism and why she rejects ‘identity politics’

There is a story in Roxane Gay’s second collection of short fiction, Difficult Women, in which a big, strong man who works in a quarry goes for a walk on the beach and, seeing an extra glint in the sand, discovers a woman made of glass. He falls in love, marries her, they have a glass child. At meals, he marvels, watching the food travel through their bodies. When he holds her he does so gently, and not just because he must. A quirk of nature – that lightning striking sand can make glass – becomes an inspired vehicle for preoccupations that recur throughout Gay’s work: that love means not being seen through, but seen, and heard for yourself; ...

Donna Zuckerberg: ‘Social media has elevated misogyny to new levels of violence’


This post is by Nosheen Iqbal from Books | The Guardian


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When the academic, sister of Mark Zuckerberg, began exploring online antifeminism, she discovered far-right men’s groups were using classical antiquity to support their views

DDonna Zuckerberg didn’t expect to spend two years trawling through the corner of the internet defined as “the manosphere”, unpicking the grim alliance between pick-up artists, men’s rights activists, incels (involuntarily celibate men), the far right and the most ardent Make America Great Again advocates.

“It started as a curiosity,” she says, as we video call from her home in Silicon Valley, which she shares with her husband and two children. “But it took on a life of its own.” A classicist with a PhD from Princeton, Zuckerberg edits the online journal Eidolon, publishing scholarly essays on the Greco-Roman world from academics and students.

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Malala’s father, Ziauddin Yousafzai: ‘I became a person who hates all injustice’


This post is by Alex Clark from Books | The Guardian


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The activist and former teacher on returning to Pakistan for the first time since his daughter Malala was shot, and his new book, Let Her Fly

Ziauddin Yousafzai founded a school in the Swat valley, Pakistan, where girls and boys were educated together. When his eldest child, Malala, was shot at point-blank range by the Taliban in 2012 in retaliation for her activism, the family relocated to Birmingham. In 2014, Malala was awarded the Nobel peace prize. Let Her Fly is Ziauddin’s account of his life and his fight for the rights of all children to receive equal education, opportunities and social and political recognition.

Your life in the aftermath of the attack on Malala is well known; what did you want to add in this book?
People may think that most of my story was already told, in Malala’s book four years ago, and that was one ...

Drawn from experience: meet the feminist author whose comic strips hit home


This post is by Angelique Chrisafis from Books | The Guardian


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After her comic strip about sharing household chores went viral last year, French graphic artist Emma got a book deal – and a lot of unsolicited advice

In a corner of her bedroom in a Paris suburb, Emma, the bestselling French comic-book artist who started a revolution over household chores, sits sketching on her computer. “I didn’t study art and I never wanted to be an artist,” she shrugs. “Drawing is a way to get my ideas across.”

The 37-year-old computer science engineer shot to international fame last year after her cartoon blogpost “You Should’ve Asked” went viral. Her drawings showed women submerged under the “mental load”, the invisible burden of constantly having to remember hundreds of tasks, far beyond the already substantial demands of work and ordinary household chores – booking doctor’s appointments, running the family calendar, buying presents, organising contraception, replacing kids’ clothes, the constant ...

Eve Was Shamed: How British Justice Is Failing Women by Helena Kennedy review – a fiercely critical eye


This post is by Caroline Criado Perez from Books | The Guardian


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In this disturbing follow-up to her groundbreaking Eve Was Framed, the emiment QC identifies the flaws in an inadequate legal system that continues to wrong women

I read Helena Kennedy QC’s new book, Eve Was Shamed: How British Justice Is Failing Women, while Dr Christine Blasey Ford was giving evidence before the US Senate judiciary committee. Shortly afterwards, the president of the US led thousands in laughing at Ford as he stood on a stage and mocked her testimony. As I write, Judge Brett Kavanaugh is about to be confirmed to the US supreme court. And all over the world, women are angry.

It’s been almost exactly a year since the spark that ignited what Baroness Kennedy calls the “tsunami” of the #MeToo movement: the Weinstein allegations that rocked Hollywood and led to the downfall of a stream of powerful and abusive men. This movement, writes Kennedy, is “a ...

Women avoid transgender debate in fear of reaction, says Jo Brand


This post is by Mark Brown Arts correspondent from Books | The Guardian


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Writer laments vilification of Germaine Greer and infighting within feminism

Many women are wary of entering feminist debates over transgender issues because they are frightened of the reaction, the comedian and writer Jo Brand has said.

Brand was addressing a debate that has led to feminists such as Germaine Greer and Julie Bindel being no-platformed at some universities.

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In Defense of Power Fantasies


This post is by S.L. Huang from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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Most of the time, I hear the term “power fantasy” used as a criticism.

“That book is such a white boy power fantasy.”

“It’s just the author’s power fantasy.”

“This series is a gross nerd power fantasy with awful female characters.”

Let’s linger on that last one for a moment, and consider that we don’t usually consider a “nerd power fantasy” something that would star a woman as the main protagonist, the geek who gets her due. Instead, the criticism of something as a nerd power fantasy often grows out of the female characters being sidelined or seconded in favor of a less-competent dude (see: Ant-Man, Kick-Ass, The Matrix, and so many more).

As someone who grew up nerd, I understand the geek desire for power fantasies. I well remember feeling the outsider because of the way I read too much, had Star Wars memorized, or made ...

Charlie Jane Anders, Wendy Xu, and More Talk Intersectional Feminism Across Genres


This post is by Natalie Zutter from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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NYCC Women in [Everything]: Intersectional Feminism Across Genres panel Charlie Jane Anders Susana Polo Sam Maggs Jill Pantozzi Wendy Xu Christina "Steenz" Stewart

The key theme of Women in [Everything]: Intersectional Feminism Across Genres, one of the first panels at NYCC, was listening: Susana Polo, Comics Editor at Polygon and founder of The Mary Sue, reflected that the first time that she identified as an intersectional feminist was when she realized that “I better start listening” to queer women (at the time, she identified as straight), to women who didn’t pass as white, and other groups. Comics artist Wendy Xu (Mooncakes) chimed in that “[t]he main thing to do is just listen to people who are different from you, who have different life experiences. Practice active listening.”

We were glad to listen to this panel, which also included io9 Deputy Editor Jill Pantozzi, The City in the Middle of the Night author Charlie Jane Anders, cartoonist Christina “Steenz” Stewart (Archival Quality), and moderator Sam Maggs (...

Topshop axes Penguin pop-up to promote feminist book in store


This post is by Sarah Marsh from Books | The Guardian


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Display for Feminists Don’t Wear Pink was dismantled minutes after assembly, says Penguin

Topshop has apparently cancelled a partnership with the publisher Penguin to promote a collection of feminist writing, with the store dismantling a stall set up at its flagship Oxford Street store in London hours before it was due to open.

Penguin Books spoke out about what had happened on its Twitter account on Friday morning, revealing that the display had been taken down minutes after being assembled.

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Topshop axes feminist book promotion after Sir Philip Green sees it


This post is by Sarah Marsh from Books | The Guardian


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Store apologises and makes donation to charity after removal of pop-up display

Topshop abruptly cancelled a partnership with the publisher Penguin to promote a collection of feminist writing after the fashion retailer’s chairman, Sir Philip Green, saw an in-store pop-up.

The decision prompted the editor of the collection, Scarlett Curtis, to accuse the store of letting down the teenage girls who shop there.

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Five Books About Girls Who Don’t Care If You Like Them Or Not


This post is by Claire Legrand from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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It’s scary to grow up girl in this world of ours. The constant pressure to maintain a certain standard of beauty, fear of harassment, and the insidious effects of rape culture—as well as consistent dismissal, ridicule, and cruelty directed at women by those in power—mean that we are constantly struggling to make our voices heard and be taken seriously.

This is even more of a predicament for girls and teens. The things they’re passionate about are met with eyerolls. They’re scorned as silly, superficial, and vain, even as they are told, directly and indirectly, through countless advertisements and media, that they are worth only as much as their beauty. I have experienced this struggle in my own life—both when I was a teen and also now that I’m a grown woman. If you’re too ambitious, you’re a bitch. If you’re too nice, you’re reviled as weak, and subsequently preyed upon ...

The Peril of Being Disbelieved: Horror Fiction and the Intuition of Women


This post is by Emily Asher-Perrin from Tor.com Frontpage Partial - Blog and Story Content


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Evil Dead

There is a woman in a forest. Or maybe on a highway by a cornfield. At the doorway of a condemned building.

And she knows that something is wrong.

She is often accompanied by a date, a boyfriend, maybe a few friends. Maybe they’re kissing. Maybe everyone is drinking. Maybe they’re on vacation. And she abruptly stops having fun because something is off. The air is charged, the silence more silent than usual, the dark is full of eyes. But her boyfriend keeps kissing her, her friends are too drunk, the group wants to break into the shuttered old house. She says no, and she is teased or berated for being a buzzkill. She is weak for insisting that something is wrong, that more caution is called for than they would prefer to exhibit. She is making it harder for her boyfriend to investigate, to prove to her that he ...

Night of the Living Dead, Barbara
Michael Jackson, Thriller
Evil Dead, Cheryl
Supernatural, Hell House

How to be a good man: what I learned from a month reading the feminist classics


This post is by Carl Cederström from Books | The Guardian


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A year after the first Harvey Weinstein revelations, how can men show solidarity with women? One Swedish professor decided it was time for some deep reading

“He covered my mouth with his hand and introduced his penis. I thought my last hour had arrived. I had the feeling my stomach was turning.”

These are not the words of a woman testifying as part of the #MeToo movement, and they are not the words of Christine Blasey Ford, who testified against the US supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh last week – although the hand over the mouth, if not the reference to the penis, mirror her words. (Kavanaugh denies the allegations.) This is, instead, the experience of a young woman as recounted by the French feminist and philosopher Simone de Beauvoir in her 1949 classic The Second Sex.

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Jenni Murray picks the best books about history’s forgotten women


This post is by Jenni Murray from Books | The Guardian


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From lesbian lovers in Dickensian England to the British female doctor who lived as a man … journalist and broadcaster Jenni Murray celebrates history’s lesser-known women

It is hardly surprising, considering the nature of my life’s work, that I should favour books, factual and fictional, that retrieve women from the dustbin of history and restore them to their rightful place.

Professor Janet Todd was first in a line of academics who recognised early in their careers that there were great numbers of important women who had been overlooked by historians and embarked on a mission to bring them to light. She has given us biographies of writers including Aphra Behn and Jane Austen. The one I often return to is Mary Wollstonecraft: A Revolutionary Life, which explores the author’s complex psychology and terrible choices when it came to men. It’s compellingly written, too.

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