Saturday, April 11, 2015

Day 101 of Feminist Joys: Reading Havisham

Havisham is the second book by a man that I've read finished recently (the first, of course, was Funny Girl). It is a retelling -- a prequel -- of Great Expectations, focusing on (of course) Miss Havisham. Ronald Frame takes a character that was always somewhat of a caricature and gives her a backstory. He gives her a lonely childhood, and an adult life that's one disappointment after another, making her the bitter old woman in Dickens' novel. Yet she's never as bitter as Dickens portrayed her -- if she is abusive to Estella, keeping her isolated and teaching her to take revenge on men -- it's because the tragedy of her life has deranged her. She is still capable of compassion, even for her best friend who betrayed her, and of love for Estella.

But I found Havisham most satisfying when I wasn't reading it like a prequel to Great Expectations -- as a story of a young woman who has a difficult childhood and grows up to manage her father's alcohol business.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Day 100 of Feminist Joys: Being Undeterred

I'm quoted in this book--Undeterred, by Rania Anderson--on my experience on starting and failing at a business.

The book and Rania's website, the Way Women Work,  are filled with stories of women entrepreneurs and professionals, and explores how they find success.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Day 98 of Feminist Joys: Funny Girl

After trying valiantly to read an excruciatingly boring Murakami (which has long passages about the protagonist getting laid) and then finally putting it away and removing it from my Kindle because of some overt misogyny, I resolved (again) to stick to women's writing. But then I picked up two books by men, both with women protagonists, which made me realize that men can write too. (/sarcasm, for anti-feminists who just can't take a joke (looks like it wasn't / after all))

Anyway. One of those books is Nick Hornby's Funny Girl, about a comedy actress in England who makes it big in the 1960s. Unlike so many women characters created by men, Sophie Straw is a real person, with motivations and feelings I can relate to. She is too pretty to be taken seriously (by misogynists) but is intelligent, ethical, and most importantly, funny, running rings around her more established co-star and earning the respect of the show's creators. The book sags a little around the halfway point, though it picks up again towards the end -- but it's worth reading for its portrayal of Sophie's early days alone.

Day 99 of Feminist Joys: Walk Like a Woman

Check out these cool photos of men taking to the street wearing "women's" clothes, in my very own Mumbai. (This is a Facebook album, and it doesn't show up if you're not logged in, but you don't have to be friends with the poster to see it.)

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Day 94 of Feminist Joys: Rewriting History

Read this amazing story of how inmates at America's oldest prison are researching and rewriting its history, and uncovering cruelties that had long been hidden.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Day 92 of Feminist Joys: Reading Terry Pratchett's Witches Books

I had tried out Terry Pratchett a couple of times, but the books were full of men and I found them very boring. And then, influenced by this, I read Wyrd Sisters and Witches Abroad and they were every bit as good as I'd hoped.

Here are some great things about these books. Caution: spoilers!

  • The heroes are two elderly women and one young woman
  • There are lots of other important women - in both books, (one of) the powerful villains are women
  • There is just one romantic relationship in one of the two books for one of these three main characters
  • Even so, she decides not to live with or marry the guy (the king!) because she prefers her single life
  • None of the women are pretty -- though one had apparently been when she was younger
Read them for more. I'm off to Lords and Ladies.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015