Review: Push

[Image description: A book cover with a red background. Vertically and across it is entitled “Push” in bold, black type.]

Author: Sapphire

Link: Amazon

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Relentless, remorseless, and inspirational, this “horrific, hope-filled story” (Newsday) is certain to haunt a generation of readers. Precious Jones, 16 years old and pregnant by her father with her second child, meets a determined and highly radical teacher who takes her on a journey of transformation and redemption.

[TW: Rape, incest, physical and verbal abuse]

What I’ve seen in most one-star reviews of Push is a visceral anger that the protagonist is raped. That she is beaten. That she acquires the AIDS virus. That her mother and father were the source of her abuse. That she becomes pregnant from incest, not once, but twice.

They become incensed that we are asked to be “raped” with Precious Jones. That we are forced to read her flash-backs. Experience her confused and damaged sexuality. That it is an enraging experience and how dare the author subject us to this.

And I think this reaction is based in the fact we are rarely asked to actually empathize with rape and abuse victims.

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TSA Agent Kruze: Was the Pain Worth It?

Yesterday, I was harassed by a group of TSA agents after disclosing my disabled status while seeking the special assistance queue.

My name is Brittany, and I am a woman with an invisible disability.

This article is by a friend of mine that I like everyone to check out. People need to realize the minefield disabled people face just getting from Point A to Point B. As someone with a visible disability I have also been humiliated and bullied by public transport workers.

…they will likely be allowed to continue treating future passengers in this fashion, making more disabled individuals feel less than human, like they are inconveniences, like they deserve the pain and discomfort they feel for existing in the same spaces as able-bodied people, like they are less worthy of respect than the passengers without disabilities who pass through their checkpoint.

Many transportation workers seem to hate the disabled because we are perceived to make their job more difficult, not also passengers trying to get somewhere. Instead of vetting a broken system they turn on the victims instead.

It’s wrong and it needs to stop.

Review: Mosaics

[Image description: A book cover entitled “Mosaics” featuring a mosaic of various women of various ethnicity.]

Author: Various

Link: Amazon

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair review.

 “Mosaics” is an anthology complied for fundraising for the Pixel Project, a charity against violence against women. It features short stories, poems, and essays. It features a wide-range of topics and genres from slice of life, sci-fi, fantasy, and horror.

It is International Women’s Day, today on March 8th, 2016.  It is no coincidence this was the chosen launch day of “Mosaics Vol. I”. The anthology was designed to be an intersectional, embracing work with the theme of “independent women”. Except for a few stumbling blocks I feel it achieved its end.

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You Are Responsible for Your Own Monsters

gatekeepers

[Image description: Black gate with the text “The Gate Keepers” included in the bars]

[TW: Rape and abuse]

In my younger days I participated in fandom. Nowadays it’s an inevitability of new writers. Fandom is so easy to access, and many times it goes hand in hand with the social justice movement. If your audience is under thirty you probably want to give some heed to fandom-dominant sits like tumblr.

Nevertheless I am dismayed at some aspects of tumblr-culture. In this article the policing of who gets to participate in “dark” fandom (using themes of sexual and other kinds of abuse in works). Some blogs go so far as to demand a person lay their personal history of abuse bare to them so they may then decide if they can participate in such creation. Please read that again. Some people believe they are gate-keepers of other people’s personal histories of abuse.

This has got to stop.

My friend wrote this piece recently which mirror my own feelings on “problematic” fiction. (The title of this piece is from her essay, so I recommend you read it.) Nevertheless I do want to even further on the idea of “dark” fiction being a place to confront fears. Of being a safe-place to confront harmful realities of society.

I have a confession to make; I didn’t wake-up one day able to write a fully formed villain who gaslights and abuses his sister, stepmother, stepsister, and everyone else around him. He rapes his mother’s former lover for decades because she cannot ever say “no” to him due to a magical caveat. I didn’t haphazardly come upon the ability to portray not only the abuser but the ruined lives of those he has come into contact with.

I practiced, for years. And where did I practice? In fandom. Yep, I was one of those who would ship “bad” ships. I was always against romanticizing abuse however; I just always wanted one to kill the other. For me it was the ruination, the slow but steady decline into despair and death. How many people however do you think ever asked me why I shipped what I did and instead made assumptions?

And no I would have never, and still never would, tell a stranger about all the fucked-up shit that has happened to me. It is my right to hold within myself things I never want to speak about ever again. It is a basic right. I don’t exist to justify myself to gate-keepers.

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Review: Persepolis

[Image description: Cover of Vol. I. It is red with a black trim. In the middle on a blue background lined by black and gold trim in the drawing of a little girl in a heavy black veil.]

Author: Marjane Satrapi

Link: Vol I and Vol II

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★.

 The collected graphic novel of a young woman born in Iran in 1960, in time to be a young adult during the Iranian revolution. Vol II is concerned with her time in Vienna and her later return to Iran.

“Persepolis” should be required reading. With Iran still seen as the “epitome of evil” we need this humanizing narrative of its people. I was moved to tears several times of what Satrapi’s family loss over the years. Her narrative also contains unflinching accounts of racism in the West and a common theme of conflicted feelings towards one’s traditions and western culture.

There is a lot to unpack about her portrayal of a “an independent and modern woman” being defaulted to a “western woman”. Especially as the Satrapis were apparently wealthy academics. I don’t feel it is my position to comment on this. Nevertheless it is still a backlash to the common idea in the west that third world women are passive victims who never rebel until a white woman shows them how.

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Sitting at the Table

k_h_5882

[Image description: empty white chairs gathered around a wooden table with a few green apples in the center and a laptop off to the left side.]

I am very tired of the mantra “just try harder and you’ll be successful!”

I am of the belief hard work does get you places in life. I attended a college with a grueling commute in order to be educated for my former career. I worked hard to be on the honor roll every quarter. I spent hours on my lunch break reviewing again and again for the licensing board exam. I took hours of practice tests until I was getting a 100% on all sections. I passed my exam on one try. I was good at my job and there was no reason I couldn’t have moved onto even bigger and better things because I worked hard.

And all it took was one distracted eighteen year old running a red light to take all that away from me.

I still work hard. I go to class even when I have awful back pain and it feels like I have a knife in my right hip. I go to class in a wheelchair because though I started the semester being able to walk with a cane my condition has deteriorated so much I can barely walk without hours of pain and exhaustion afterwards. I have been accepted to transfer into a university come Fall. My current class is a condition of my admission.

I missed my class for the first time because I am missing my handicap placard. I was in agony at class time and exhausted after a night of insomnia. The idea I may have to park far from my class and roll for half an hour (because trust me wheelchair use is actually slower than walking most of the time thanks to all sorts of obstacles from uneven ground to inaccessible sidewalks) to get there was just too much. I will however have no choice if I cannot relocate my placard as this class must be passed for my Fall admission.

I work very hard to function in a world not made for me.

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