Mama Mia

Curious about the lack of older female characters in fiction and literature or indeed in the culture at all. Where are they? Even when they exist, they may not be so flattering. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice features Elizabeth’s mom as being over the top, desperate to get her daughters married into a good situation. Yet who can blame her? Because the alternative for being a poor spinster in England at that time was dismal at best. She has 5 daughters and no sons who will take care of an unmarried sister. The young women have only their looks and charm and intelligence to help, no fortune.

In fairy tales the mother is just part of the parentage or worse, such as Disney’s version of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. There are older women in the Greek tales and plays: Penelope has alot of action and story given to her in the Odyssey, which is quite beautiful to consider how a wife copes when her husband goes off to war for 15 years or so. When is enough enough?

We saw some really good movies come out of the 1960s and the 1970s that featured real women’s stories, not just “who will I marry” or such. Hollywood has had some good gems despite all the bad examples. Norma Rae is about a woman who helps unionize millworkers and has to cope with raising her children on her own.

Advertisements

American vs British thriller

Why are there no thriller spy novels or crime novels where the Main Investigator is American and ends up in London or vice versa? Cross Atlantic intrigue? Or have I not found them.
Are British thrillers and American plots so different? Americans love a good government conspiracy — this goes back to our roots of how and why we had to leave the Homeland, the Mother Country in the first place (English Civil War, I’m thinking of you mate!).
Not sure if this is so with Britain. Britain has Sherlock Holmes in its cultural background, but James Bond was a post-War invention by Ian Fleming who supposedly did some espionage work with some sort of secret agency. Are British fears / thriller points more about those who want to invade UK from without? As a small island nation, that might be primo in its goings on.

Not that I want to see Sherlock Holmes meet Dashiell Hammet or anything. YET London-Los Angeles stories would be so so interesting because they are polar opposites in so many ways. And yet so similar too.

Western Civ

Western Civ was a college course that was required by many colleges and universities in America throughout the 1900s, as a way to learn about history and literature, from the Greek myths and Sumerian legends through Beowulf and English and European literature. I have my mom and dad’s big tomes that were used in their college courses, and their report cards too.

Our current culture, especially American culture, is based on this.  Thus, the representation of women and men in popular culture has deep roots in the interpretation of Greek myths in particular. The Age of Enlightenment in Europe, in the 1700s with the latter part of that century filled  with men and women wearing white wigs and extravagant clothing, this period idolized what they drew from ancient Greek and Roman culture. Neoclassicism. So we cannot blame the current state of graphic novels, for example, in how they show women, as well as men.

If the Science Fiction genre traces its roots back to HG Wells and his novels in the early 1900s about Brave New Worlds, and children “created” in a lab via test tube. Now gestation via petrie dish is actually not uncommon, and yet those babies are still born from a woman. Yet for HG Wells book, the woman and the mother is inert, unnecessary. We can make new people without a mother. Take that, mom!

Going back even further is the example of Mary Shelley and Frankenstein. She was in fact the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, who advocated for the Rights of Women. Mary Shelley was creating a horror story, perhaps the first horror novel in western literature, where a person is created out of the flesh of dead people, no mother needed here either. And the Professor has no thoughts of tenderness as he works to create a “new” man. It is entirely from his ego, he simply wants to see if it can be done and perhaps to be the first to do it. Yet he doesn’t know what he is doing, and everything goes wrong. Mary Shelley was a young mother who had children die from disease at a young age.

Violence, Media, Fantasy and Science Fiction

I read about the bizarre and disgusting reaction to the woman who went to the con in May and complained about the lack of and the status of women in gaming. How some pipsqueak pimply pasty white boys jerking off in their basement start sending nasty tweets and messages and starting a gang to flame her bigtime. This type of behavior does just make me want to turn off the Internet and go outside and garden, walk, ride a bike, interact with REAL people in REAL time and/or escape back to my own world.
I’ve never really been into science fiction and fantasy nor have I played many computer games except for Solitaire, Prince of Persia back in the day, etc.
So I recently found another thing I’d written a few years ago.
I have faithfully read most of the Star Wars books, but haven’t ever gotten into George RR Martin, for example, or Heinlein or anything else. Then I gave up on the Star Wars books because either I realized that they’ve been like this all along, or it became too much or I realized the books were heading into a world of too much war and hardness, male male masculine. All relationships are based on tactics, as if relationships are too feminine, ‘soft’ weak, as if it has no place in Star Wars.
For example, some people did not like the Mara Jade character, the character created in the books to be Luke Skywalker’s wife. I think they raised holy hell and whether or not Mara Jade was killed off in a book because of that I do not know. She was killed off and Leia Solo – the Princess Leia from the movies – had to train to become a Jedi Knight. Which I was unhappy with because there are many ways to use and rely upon the Force, if the Force is a term for God in the Star Wars universe. I always felt Leia used the Force as much as Luke, but that she used it as a diplomat, negotiator and not in terms of being a military person or soldier. Especially after the end of the 6th movie, Return of the Jedi. But no, Leia must become a ‘warrior woman’ too, because otherwise she is “just” a woman, a leader. Yet look in real life at how much power and strength world leaders have, even the Secretarys of State such as Madeline Albright, Hilary Clinton and Condoleeza Rice.

War War War. If I keep buying books titled ‘wars’ am I furthering war? I wonder if they promote violence as a means, as well as an end.

It sometimes seems that technophilia is so closely connected with misogyny. And represented by both in works of science fiction and such. Because to leave the earth and try to live elsewhere, which is your mother, the nurturer, creator of all things you need to live, eat, drink, breathe, rest, play, work, live, progress, this earth – you need to reject your mother. Does one then try to hate her to make it easier? To deny her, to do ‘better’ than her. To survive without her.
Right now in 2013, we have no other “ship” than Earth Mother. That is why we should take better care of her. Actually I believe she will survive long after we are gone. The Earth is wiser than us.

Gender writing

So the problem with sexism in literature and the publishing world is that the more we emphasize our separateness and drive into little boxes or camps where each of us feels “safe” because we are with people we look like / sound like / think alike / where we can reinforce our separateness, is that we don’t understand or learn about the world.

some people – men ?? – seem to complain about the “feminization” of science fiction. What does that mean? That there are too many female writers writing science fiction? Or too many of the readers are women? or that the writing is going less down the old tried and used tropes of old stories of the STRONG HERO and the WEAK DAMSEL to be SAVED through force or magic or star ships or the military or the big awesome strength and length of the hero’s penis and muscles. oooh ahhh! I just want to have sex with you all the time and do nothing other than exist to have sex with you, to be for you here always just for that purpose because because that is what you deserve. As if every woman in the universe is interested in having sex with you all the time, everytime, in every place.

Grow up.

Men if you are obsessed with sex and think about all the time, you have aproblem. It’s called ego. It’s called narcissism, and pathology and over-identification with your sexual self. Your penis is not You. It is not your true essence of being. That is beyond sexual organs.

Her Fearful Symmetry

Her Fearful SymmetryHer Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

too much of a patchwork for my tastes. Enjoyed the description and development of the feel of the place, the flats near the cemetery.

View all my reviews

Italian Crime Fiction

Donna Leon

Michele Guittari

Andrea Camilleri

Michael Dibdin

Niccolo Ammaniti

Leonardo Sciascia

Iain Pears
Gianrico Carofiglio

http://internationalnoir.blogspot.com/2005/09/french-romans-policiers-in-english.html

Previous Older Entries