This summer I went on a bit of an Edith Wharton binge after being stuck on a journey without a book and finding a collection of her complete works on Kindle. I think by now I’ve made my way through all the novels and most of the novellas, but I’ve still got thousands of pages of stories, poetry and non-fiction ahead of me. This is my favourite author after all. Which means I will read EVERYTHING by her. Eventually.
So here’s the 2014 addition to the Wharton bookshelf. Now somebody just needs to go and publish shiny editions of all her books. Folio Society, I’m looking at you.
I have about as much love for fairy tales as I have issues with them. In their original, uncorrupted form, traditional fairy tales are simply the best stories in life – as long as you can read all the annoying gender bias as a product of its time. But in their re-imagined form nowadays, most fairy tales are so woefully misunderstood and gender-stereotyped it makes my feminist heart – not to mention my literary one – ache and riot.
Why? Four words: Every Bloody Disney Princess.
Because no matter how quirky, independent and courageous today’s princesses are created by the likes of Disney and Pixar, it still all boils down to the damsel in distress, the evil old witch (emphasis on ‘old’) and the bloody knight in bloody shining armour. Granted, today he often enters the scene as the incapable, clumsy, awkward nerd, but in the end he still always saves the day. And, frankly, the more these film-makers are pushing the point of the ‘strong, independent princess’ – and don’t even get me started on the ‘strong female character’ – the more patronising and agonising the result. “Look! She’s a modern princess. She’s brave, she’s going out there into the world, she can punch a guy’s lights out (preferably with a frying pan).” Well, for the first ten minutes, including the first catchy tune. And then she gets herself into trouble, because she knows nothing of the world and of course she needs to fall in love. Enter The Man. Standard plot ensues.
Over the last ten years or so I’ve been seeking refuge from all this pseudo-empowered bullshit in fiction that takes a different approach to the traditional fairy tale, such as Emma Donoghue’s gorgeously queer collection of re-told tales, Kissing the Witch, Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and some of the works by Robin McKinley. Meanwhile, the movies have largely remained unbearable.
Then along comes Maleficent. Of course I went to see it, because Angelina. Spoilers after the break, so read on at your own risk.
Catching up on BBC2’s crime drama The Fall. Super excited about the character DSI Stella Gibson, and about her feminism especially. So excited I actually laughed and whooped out loud while watching episode 3 in the office at lunchtime.
Favourite Stella Gibson observation so far:
“It’s the one night stand that bothers you, isn’t it? Man fucks woman. Subject: man. Verb: fucks. Object: woman. That’s okay. Woman fucks man. Woman, subject. Man, object. That’s not so comfortable for you, is it.”
Closely followed by this gem of a comeback when she gets scolded by her superior for sleeping with a fellow officer:
Superior: “He was a married man.”
Stella: “He wasn’t wearing a ring.”
Superior”: I’m sure that’ll be some comfort to his wife, when she finds out her husband spent his last night on earth in your bed.”
Stella: “You were a married man when you spent a night in my bed.”
Right back at’cha, double standards!
I have seriously not been this excited about a female character in a drama series since The X-Files and Prime Suspect.
And did I mention that my new feminist hero is being played by my all time favourite actress Gillian Anderson?!
I’ll review The Fall properly at some point. Once my inner fangirl has calmed down a bit.
We were about to get all upset about a really stupid technology/gadget marketing strategy: Eurostar’s ePad Femme.
Because apparently women can only handle a tablet if it comes pre-loaded with yoga, dieting, pregnancy and cooking apps. Ya know, because we don’t need to worry our pretty little heads about anything else. (And it’s pink. Obviously.)
But then we founded a new feminist-scientific-religious movement instead. It is based on the gospel according to Kristina:
It’s only because men are not as evolved as women. Even if looking from the religious point of view – God made the earth, the animals then a man and only women last – as you can see the pattern here is starting from the inanimate to the most intelligent. Argument proved in any situation.
We’re not sure what to call our movement yet, but sacrificial Snickers will play a key role.