Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

28 March 2016

Book Review: Asking for It by Louise O'Neill

CW: This book deals with the aftermath of a sexual assault from the survivor's point of view.


I'm not going to beat around the bush, Asking for It by Louise O'Neill is intense.

O'Neill artfully writes from inside the head of a rape survivor from days before the assault to a few years post. Emma O' Donovan, our protagonist, is not an outspoken feminist activist and for the most part, refuses to even think the word 'rape.' Her life is turned upside down, not just from the rape itself, but the aftermath is almost as tragic. Within feminist circles, we often bemoan the way the mainstream media covers rape cases, but Asking for It shows how feminist sites are eager for rape survivors to tell their side of the story as their own click bait. Emma is equally haunted by op-eds that state she is making it all up as well as the flood of requests from feminist sites and the trending supportive hashtags.

#IBelieveBallinatoomGirl

I don't want to be their champion.
I don't want to be brave.
I don't want to be a hero.

As a YA book, the target audience is the high school and up crowd. I highly recommend this book for everyone who is a parent. And not because I think it will help you prevent the sexual assault of anyone, but because as a parent, the way Emma sees her parents post-assault is heartbreaking. As a parent, you may be tempted to take this book as manual for how to not to trust your daughter or to protect her from the world, but I beg you to read it as a manual on how to be a supportive parent.

When did we all become fluent in this language
that none of us wanted to learn?

Asking for It presents the reader with a very imperfect victim. Emma is not a virgin, while she is still in high school she is 18 and is the quintessential party girl. She is everything that makes up the idea that someone "asks for it." And yet, throughout the book, if you are willing to be open to the idea, you are rooting for Emma to regain her life, triumph over the slut-shaming she endures and watch as her rapists are locked away. I won't spoil the book and say if any of this happens. In light of the recent Ghomeshi trial verdict and how the judge accused the survivors of not acting properly, this book is timely. Emma is not only not the ideal victim due to her sexual past, but she does not play the ideal victim afterwards. 

So many things make this an excellent read. O'Neill sets up Emma as a spoiled party girl, who even commits the sin of slut-shaming herself. In an early scene, she even talks down one of her girlfriend's date rape. She plots about how to bag the next of her trophies. She is beautiful and wields that beauty as a weapon. Knowing that she will be the victim of a rape makes you question all the dislike O'Neill sets up. As a feminist who knows all the tropes and stereotypes that we must fight to end rape culture, I still caught myself thinking all the things: "Don't keep drinking!" "Don't go in there!" Asking for It is a horror flick and you keep yelling at the book hoping to change the ending, but you know it is all for naught.

There were definitely places in the book where I could not stop reading as well as places where I needed to walk away from the book for a bit. This book should not be an after school special warning for young women as to the dangers of excessive partying. Rather this book is a wake-up to those of us who want to support survivors or who are forced to support survivors. Seriously, her parents do this all wrong or at least Emma thinks they do. This book exemplifies why some survivors do nothing but "go on" with their lives. This book will stay with you long after you finish.

Asking for It goes on sale April 5th. Please purchase your own copy of Asking for It from Powells or Indiebound and support Viva la Feminista.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy from a publicist.   

GIVEAWAY

 I have three copies to giveway!

GUIDELINES:

  1. To enter, simply comment with your email address. Seriously, without an email, I can't get a hold of you.
  2. Extra entries awarded if you share this review on Twitter (tag me @veronicaeye) or Facebook (tag me @vivalafeminista).
  3. Once all entries are in, I will number the entries, toss into Random.org and that magical machine will select a winner.
  4. This giveaway is limited to shipping addresses in the USA and sorry no PO Boxes.  
DEADLINE: Thursday, April 7, 2016 at 10 PM Central Time. 

24 March 2016

#WithSyria: CARE Letters to Syrian Refugees [Sponsored Post]

https://ooh.li/db4dc59
Photo by CARE


I was surprised to learn that after World War II CARE was sending care packages from people in the USA to refugees in Europe. And since March 2016 marks the 5th anniversary of the conflict in Syria, a war which has caused the largest refugee crisis since World War II, CARE reached out to some of those original CARE Package recipients who now live in the USA to write letters to Syrian refugee children.

https://ooh.li/db4dc59
Photo by CARE
Reading and hearing the letters sent from WWII refugees is touching. Especially in light of the fact that Syrian refugees are not only fleeing from their war-torn homes, but running towards vast amounts of racism and fear of their religion. So many elected officials fuel the flames of hate and ignoring the fact that refugees are fleeing the same violence we are trying to reduce. CARE continues to support refugees with care packages. And you have an opportunity to write your own letter of hope to Syrian refugees.

My letter to Syrian refugees:
Please know that there are far more good people in the world than not. Sometimes these good people are scared, become scared by the not-so-good people. Many people who can see through the fear are fighting to get your more assistance, to welcome you to our countries. I hope you can feel that support. I hope you find a new and safe home soon. My family, as most people in the USA, has a legacy of leaving ancestral lands for the USA with big dreams and hopes. Hold on to your dreams, never let them go. I'll keep fighting on my end too.   
Of course those letters and care packages can't get there on their own. Please consider making a donation to help CARE send them.

Thank you to CARE for sponsoring this post!

14 March 2016

Book Buzz: Investigating Lois Lane: The Turbulent History of the Daily Planet's Ace Reporter

Investigating Lois Lane: The Turbulent History of the Daily Planet's Ace Reporter by Tim Hanley is an intriguing look into a character most people consider a sidekick. As someone who has never read any of the Superman comics, my grasp of the mythology is based on the 1980s movies with Margot Kidder as Lois. I always loved her spunk. While I am far from finished with this book, it is already shedding light on not just the origins of Lois, but what the comics industry was like in the 1930s and 1940s.

What I have found the most fun about this book is that it is arranged so each chapter starts with discussing Lois Lane, the character. The subchapter is then focused on the stories of real life people who brought Lois to life.

I'm posting this as a Book Buzz in order to alert Chicagoans that Tim Hanley will be at Women and Children First this Wednesday at 7:30 PM for an all-star panel discussion with Lauren Burke, Caitlin Rosber, Katie Schenkel and my friend Anne Elizabeth Moore. See you there!

Please purchase your own copy of Investigating Lois Lane from Powells or Indiebound and support Viva la Feminista.  

Disclaimer: I received a review copy from a publicist.    

13 March 2016

Remembering Dr. Quentin Young


Dr. Quentin Young left our world last week. While he was 92, it still seems too soon to lose this mighty leader. I doubt that he would have known me from any of the other Chicagoans who stood in awe of his work. But I wanted to mark this moment here. Dr. Young may be best remembered for being a staunch advocate for single-payer healthcare, I saw him at reproductive justice events. One year I MC'd an abortion speak out at Roosevelt University. He came to tell his story of watching women who has attempted self-abortions show up at Cook County Hospital. I wish we had video of that moment because I cannot do justice to his words. Only to say that his words were inspiring.

A few months ago I heard his voice again in an unlikely space - Latino USA. His granddaughter was reporting on growing up Latino and Jewish. It made my heart smile.



So here's to you, Dr. Young! Thank you for not only doing good in the world, but pushing us all to do so ourselves. To be more than we think we can be. I hope Chicago does you proud.

Image from Democracy Now!

08 March 2016

Book Buzz: Because of Sex: One Law, Ten Cases, and Fifty Years That Changed American Women's Lives at Work

Welcome to a newish feature here! I get far more pitches to review books than I have the ability to read & review. That is where "Book Buzz" comes in. This is where I will post about books that I think look worthy of not only me reviewing, but maybe, just maybe you picking up before I give the thumbs up. I've done this a few times, but finally have a name for it! Yay! Let's get to our first official "Book Buzz," shall we?

Because of Sex: One Law, Ten Cases and Fifty Years That Changed American Women’s Lives at Work by Gillian Thomas takes readers through ten landmark sex discrimination cases that helped dismantle a “Mad Men” world where women could only hope to play supporting roles, where bosses’ leers and propositions were as much a part of the air women breathed as cigarette smoke, and where pregnancy meant getting a pink slip. Readers will meet Ida Phillips, denied an assembly line job because she had a preschool-age child; Kim Rawlinson, who fought to become a prison guard—a “man’s job”; Mechelle Vinson, who endured sexual abuse by her boss before “sexual harassment” even had a name; Ann Hopkins, denied partnership at a Big Eight accounting firm because the men in charge thought she needed "a course at charm school”; and most recently, Peggy Young, forced off her UPS delivery route while pregnant because she asked for a temporary reprieve from heavy lifting

Gillian is a Senior Staff Attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project. She previously litigated sex discrimination cases at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Legal Momentum (formerly NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund).

You can read an excerpt at Facebook. I hope to bring you a review in the coming months. 

03 March 2016

American Masters -- Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl


On Friday American Masters premieres Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl. In Chicago it will air at 9:30 PM. Everyone else, check your local listings. I haven't had time to preview this documentary for a review, but I am excited for this! When I was growing up, much of the music in our house was country and western music. My first concert was seeing Kenny Rogers. We watched Hee Haw and Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters. Loretta Lynn was everything back then. I did not realize how revolutionary she was until I was older. I do remember not quite understanding how popular culture reduced women in country music to "Stand By Your Man," when I knew them by Loretta, Dolly and Barbara. If you need evidence of Loretta's feminist ways, take a peek at the clip below. Then check out the full documentary Friday night.

EDITED TO ADD: It has come to my attention that Loretta is a Trump supporter. My heart is crushed. More evidence that even bad ass women are not perfect.



American Masters -- Loretta Lynn: Still a Mountain Girl explores Lynn's hard-fought road to stardom, her struggles to balance her marriage to Oliver "Doolittle" Lynn and six children with her music career, her friendships and collaborations with Spacek, Patsy Cline, Conway Twitty, Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash and music producer Owen Bradley, along with her life on the road, her Nashville and Hurricane Mills communities, her songwriting inspirations and her music's lasting impact on her peers and fans.

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