Book Review: The Gilda Stories: Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition, Jewelle Gomez (2016)

Friday, June 17th, 2016

A subversive and exhilarating read!

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free book for review from the publisher. Trigger warning for violence, including rape.)

“Why do you say others may kill and we must not?”

“Some are said to live through the energy of fear. That is their sustenance more than sharing. The truth is we hunger for connection to life, but it needn’t be through horror or destruction. Those are just the easiest links to evoke. Once learned, this lesson mustn’t be forgotten. To ignore it, to wallow in death as the white man has done, can only bring bitterness.”

My love is the blood that enriches this ground.
The sun is a star denied you and me.
But you are the life I’ve searched for and found
And the moon is our half of the dream.

That she hit him with his own whip seemed to startle him more than the pain.

The Girl is just nine when her mother passes away – of the flu, contracted from one of the white women she was caring for in the main house. Scared that she’ll be sold off like her father, she runs away, getting as far as the state line that separates Mississippi from Louisiana before being discovered by a bounty hunter. Gilda finds the Girl in her cellar, shaking and covered in blood – and with the corpse of her would-be rapist at her feet.

As with many girls before her, Gilda takes the Girl in, offering her sanctuary in her saloon/brothel. But Gilda and her lover/business partner, Bird, take a special interest in this girl, teaching her how to read and write in multiple languages; how to grow her own food and run a business; and, eventually, in the ways of their kind. Gilda is a three hundred-year-old vampire, you see, and her days walking this earth are numbered. Tired of the war, hatred, and inequality that surrounds her, Gilda yearns for her “true death,” and hopes to turn the Girl so that Bird will not be left alone in her absence.

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Book Review: Fembodyverse: An Inner-Stellar Adventure into Womanhood, Michele Elizabeth (2012)

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Innerspace meets Our Bodies, Ourselves – in another dimension!

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review at the author’s invitation.

Also, trigger warning for rape.)

“You’re on a mission, Estelle: to know yourself, to become whole, to mature and be who and what you truly are in the external world.”

Seventeen-year-old Estelle Rinoux is on a quest to become a woman – a “real” woman. To Estelle and her peers, this means losing her virginity: in her case, to steady boyfriend Robert Pierson, who is as handsome as he is chauvinist. Unsurprisingly, Estelle’s first time isn’t as nearly as magical as she hoped it would be, and leaves her feeling less connected with both Robert and her own body than she’d been before.

Enter Pudi. An “emufté,” Pudi serves as Estelle’s own personal guide through her inner feminine universe – her “fembodyverse,” if you will. From the tips of her toes up through the top of her head, Pudi introduces Estelle to the “divine cosmos” within. A magical place which exists in the “feeling dimension” (hence the lack of organs and tissue), Estelle’s fembodyverse is comprised of such varied phenomenon as smart skin, the directors, the wisdom center, Mama Party, lost girls, and the Oracle – all of which make up the Body Goddess. In turn, the Body Goddess is connected to Grandmother Gaia, from which she draws strength and power. With Pudi’s assistance, Estelle comes to accept her inner goddess, and to understand that true self-worth comes from within. When women measure their value through external cues – wealth, beauty, social acceptance – they are playing a losing game, one constructed by the patriarchy.

Written in beautifully poetic prose (to wit: “Estelle knelt down upon the toe’s floor, her celestial hair waving like a slow-motion flag.”), Fembodyverse: An Inner-Stellar Adventure into Womanhood has a vaguely ecofeminist feel to it. (That said, I couldn’t help but laugh when Estelle fumed about Robert’s “[bug- and frog-] slaughtering shithead” friend Nathan – all while chowing down on a tuna salad sammie. Oh the disconnect!) Unfortunately, the story also shares in some of ecofeminism’s flaws, such as gendering nature (“Mother Nature,” “Grandmother Gaia”) – nature is no more female than it is male. The idea that women are inherently connected to the land and its nonhuman inhabitants has long been employed as a justification for their oppression (and male dominance). Likewise, equating the mind/rational thought with masculinity – and the body/nature with femininity – does a disservice to those of all genders. (Not to mention, the mind and body are essentially one.) And compassion is a wonderful thing, but it’s a role that women are socialized – not born – into.

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Intersectionality ‘Round the Interwebs, No. 15: BEEF!, Bitches & "Bruised Feelings"

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

BEEF! For Men With Taste

vegansaurus!: BEEF!: nicht für Frauen–unless your Mann gives it to you

In which “beef” has its own magazine (and it’s a gentleman’s magazine, natch!): BEEF! for Men with Taste. Luckily, vegansaurus is all over that shit.

Ida @ L.O.V.E.: Political Correctness, Political Expediency, and Veganism and

Royce @ Vegans of Color: notes on “Veganism Overly Defined”

Ida (taking a break from The Vegan Ideal to guest post at L.O.V.E.) and Royce respond to a guest post at Vegan Soapbox (Veganism Overly Defined) in which the author dismisses an intersectional approach to veganism and animal advocacy as “attach[ing] favorite causes” and “baggage” to “Veganism.” Likewise, vegans who object to human-based “isms” “get so involved in the bruised feelings of some humans that the plight of voiceless animals becomes a marginalized issue.” Emphasis on “bruised feelings.”

Carol J. Adams: Remembering Mary Daly and

jenna @ L.O.V.E.: Feminism and Animals: What You Won’t Find in the 101

Mary Daly, a self-proclaimed “radical lesbian feminist,” recently passed away at the age of 81. While much has been written of Daly’s radfem theology, I didn’t realize that she was also an animal rights advocate and vegetarian until I read a memorial written for Daly by Carol Adams. Herself a former student of Daly’s, Adams’s obit is rather charming and provides a glimpse of what it must have been like to be a young adult attending college in the ’70s.

Unfortunately, Daly was also something of a transphobe, perhaps most famously referring to trans people as “Frankensteinian.” On this point, jenna’s post at L.O.V.E is well worth a read; in it, she illustrates why, as advocates for justice, compassion and respect, it is ill-advised and hypocritical for vegans to leave any marginalized group, human or non, behind. (Also click through the many links jenna provides to The Vegan Ideal, where the intersection of ecofeminism and transphobia is discussed in much greater detail. That is, if you haven’t yet; I’ve included many of these posts in past link roundups.)

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