Big Readers Forum Index


Books about sex and gender
Page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Big Readers Forum Index -> Non-fiction categories
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Please Register and Login to this forum to stop seeing this advertising.






Posted:     Post subject:



Back to top
Jen M



Joined: 24 Nov 2008
Posts: 596


Location: Middlesex, UK

PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2015 11:45 am    Post subject:  Reply with quote

I find them interesting, too.  Thank you for educating me.



_________________
Jen
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Chibiabos83
Site Admin


Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3423


Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2015 5:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aw, you guys.

Last night I finished The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard, edited by Tom Léger & Riley MacLeod, an anthology of 28 short stories written by US and Canadian trans writers and featuring trans characters. It won a Lambda Award (I think I was vaguely aware of these – they're the major US awards for LGBT+ books) in 2013, and I thought it would provide a good way of getting into transgender fiction. I've been reading it slowly for the past three or four months.

Predictably, it's a mixed bag, but about half of the stories impressed me enough to make me think I'd read them again, and a handful of them really got to me. Stories of small acts making a big difference, like R. Drew's 'The Café', about a trans man, Sam, often misgendered by people because of his high voice, who is heartened when a patron of the café where he works steps in to correct someone about his gender; or 'Tammy Faye' by A. Raymond Johnson, where a letter written in kindness gives consolation to a woman who has been cut out of her young niece's life.

There's quite a bit of science fiction, some of it excellent. It's not a genre I naturally gravitate towards, but superhero stories give a lot of scope for exploration of the identity shifts that trans people experience in real life. 'Masks of a Hero' by Mikki Whitworth was good in this respect, and I especially loved 'Ramona's Demons' by Susan Jane Bigelow, a mystical, mythical story of a trans woman who believes her power to hunt demons has been diminished by her gender transition. Like the best science fiction, it holds a mirror up to our own world. Also, 'War with Waking Up' by Noel Arthur Heimpel, a powerful, fantastical story about a medical student haunted by an apparition – a body dissected in class? his ex-girlfriend? or is it his other self, discarded in transition? It's rich with metaphor, and quite beautiful.

My favourites, though, tended to be the stories grounded in reality and the everyday, about human relationships, with all their pain and tenderness: 'Saving' by Carter Sickels, 'To the New World' by Ryka Aoki, 'To Do List for Morning' by Stephen Ira, and 'Ride Home Under a Thunderstorm' by Oliver Pickle, which I read last night and immediately read all over again, I identified so strongly with its narrator's neuroses and felt so moved by its cautiously optimistic ending.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 3367


Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2015 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eddie Redmayne as transgender Lili Elbe in his new film 'The Danish Girl'.




Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Chibiabos83
Site Admin


Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3423


Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2015 11:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I suppose I'll watch the film eventually (it's not out for a few months), but at the moment I have mixed feelings about it. Redmayne was cast as Lili Elbe after Rachel Weisz dropped out. People have asked, with some justification, why a transgender actress couldn't have been cast in the role. There's a very interesting article about it here, which suggests the cis people making the film are approaching it with sensitivity: http://thinkprogress.org/culture/...-behind-eddie-redmaynes-new-role/

I fear that it will turn out to be sensitive to trans people but not that good. And of course Eddie Redmayne will get lots of plaudits from the Daily Mail etc. for his bravery in taking on the role, unlike the trans women who live these lives full time, not just for a few weeks on a closed set. Oh dear, I'm becoming so militant.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2979


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2015 8:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read The Danish Girl a while ago and wrote about it here.  Who knows where - the trouble with writing about things in the What Am I Reading threads it is very hard to find them again.  Hopefully I wrote about it in a monthly thread. I thought it was very good. Found it, read in March 2012.

I finally finished the book I have been reading and enjoying today.  It is The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff. I thought, because I hadn't heard of it or him, that it must be a recent book, but it's over ten years old.  The front page says 'homesexuality - fiction' and neither of these is quite correct.  The book is based on a real person in the 1920s who was transexual, if I have the term right.  Einar Wegener was a married man who realised he was meant to be a woman and becomes Lili Elbe, first through his clothing and feelings, then through surgery.  

This book concentrates more on his wife, Greta, who supports him and his changes and loves him both as a man and then as Lili.  It is a story of two people who love each other and care for each other, through very difficult circumstances, and who have to learn to grow apart from each other.  A book of relationships and identity and place.  Greta is a young American widow and artist who rejects her American background and settles in Europe, marrying a Dane.  We see her keen on Einar and then she is forced to leave during the war, and for the rest of the book they are married, with no explanation of how this came about, since Einar thought it for the best they didn't see each other.  

A very carefully written and constructed book, whose language is descriptive and sensuous. Clothing, bodies, rivers, towns, passing strangers are all filled out with adjectives, colours, textures.  "The rest LIli could imagine: the first kidd in the back room; the gentle tumble into the bowl of the stainless-steel vat; the passion in the middle of the night when the chocolate house lay still, when all the mixing arms hung motionless; the sobs of love. How very sad, Lili thought, sitting in her metal chair as the affternoon sun hit the Elbe.  Despite Ursula's current predicament Lili longer for something similar to happen to her.  Yes, she told herself.  It will be like that with me: instant love, helpless, regrettable passion."  The contrast between the confused and awkward Einar and his alter-ego Lili who appears much younger - naive and eager in her emotions - is definite, and means that the portrayal of them as separate people seems quite real.  

Interesting book in both its subject matter and its style.


Somewhere else I called it sensitive and sensuous.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Chibiabos83
Site Admin


Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3423


Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2015 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It does sound interesting, Caro. I wasn't really aware of it. I'll add it to the TBR.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 3367


Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Be MILITANT, Gareth.   I used to be but now I haven't the necessary energy.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2979


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Sun Aug 02, 2015 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This long article from the Sydney Morning Herald was printed in the online news site for most of NZ newspapers.  I see from a couple of comments below that not everyone would be happy to see this sort of story.  I suppose there is an element of it saying that people are not always clear about their sexuality or the choices they make.  

http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style...-life-as-a-nonbinary-trans-person


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Chibiabos83
Site Admin


Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3423


Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2015 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Finished this evening, after a few weeks: Fifty Shades of Feminism, edited by Lisa Appignanesi, Rachel Holmes and Susie Orbach. It's an anthology of fifty pieces (well, more than that, in fact, but only fifty are numbered) by women about various aspects of feminism, most of them taking the tack of writing about what feminism means to them. The contributors are a broad selection, with plenty of diversity of age, race and social background, but (getting briefly on my particular hobby horse once more) although a couple of the writers refer to transgender issues, all of them are cisgender, and some make casual references to their bodies in a biologically reductive way, i.e. 'I'm a woman because I happen to have been born with a vagina', which is a way of thinking I find increasingly troublesome, though I know they mean no harm.

It's a great idea for an anthology, but the mini-essays tend to be three or four pages in length, and that really isn't enough space for most of the writers to produce anything meaty enough to get your teeth into. That's frustrating in the case of, for instance, composer Shirley J. Thompson, who only has space to write banal generalities and not to explore her subject in greater depth. While many of the essays for this reason blur into one another in the memory, there's a decent hit rate, and only a handful of duds. The worst offender is Kathy Lette's grossly sexist attempt at humour that falls embarrassingly flat. It reminded me of my mother's indignation at finding a book of 'bloke jokes' in a bookshop, dumb blonde jokes with the genders switched. When I thought about it, I came to feel the same way, and appreciated her anger on behalf of my gender. Still, men hardly get a raw deal in the wide world.

The pieces that stand out are those that offer a perspective strikingly different from the others: Sayantani DasGupta's eloquently expressed essay on the Western perception of womanhood in developing countries; Sharon Haywood's piece about how she only came to own her own feminism when she saw a society (in this case Argentina) as an outsider; Natalie Haynes' investigation of the persistence of an ancient joke; Rachel Holmes' letter to Eleanor Marx, daughter of Karl; Helena Kennedy's and Josie Rourke's expressions of how their womanhood informs their careers, in law and theatre respectively. Sandi Toksvig's essay also stands out simply on account of her being a good writer, sharp and funny. Writers of other pieces I liked: Jane Czyzselska, Laura Dockrill, Lennie Goodings, Linda Grant, Nathalie Handal. There's a piece by Bee Rowlatt on Mary Wollstonecraft that is exasperatingly flippant in tone but makes me think I ought to read MW.

Between every two or three essays there is a little aperçu from a woman writer. Simone de Beauvoir's 'One is not born a woman, one becomes one' is one that pleased me a lot, partly because it feels so relevant to modern gender theory, but by and large they feel desperately empty divorced from their context.

A mixed bag, then. Why did I want to read the book in the first place? Because, as mentioned elsewhere, I am coming to realise that not catcalling women in the street doesn't absolve me of complicity in their systematic oppression. Because although I don't know, in spite of my approving of the basic tenets of feminism, whether I will ever feel I have the right to call myself a feminist, it's important to learn about the ways in which women are treated as an underclass so that I can work out the things I can do, however slight, to help turn the tide. This all sounds po-faced and humourless, doesn't it. So be it. It's not all grim. The best thing that's come out of my reading the book is that it's made me acknowledge the strong female role models I have in my own family: my mother, whose kindness and goodness have influenced me all my life, a creative person, a musician and an artist and a teacher and a carer; my grandmothers, career women both, one a teacher, the other a doctor; my aunt, a National Trust property manager. And of course, teachers, friends, colleagues. How grim my life would have been without them.


Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 3367


Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2015 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Most interesting, Gareth.  Your postings on Feminism and transgender issues are keeping me on my radical toes.  I've met a lot of active Feminists in my time, mostly Lesbians, especially when I was a regular attender at meetings of Northern Gay Writers in Manchester.  They were great fun, and kept my radical self bubbling.  Now it barely simmers.
I'm looking forward to seeing you marching with a banner one of tnese days.



Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Big Readers Forum Index -> Non-fiction categories All times are GMT
Page Previous  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10  Next
Page 3 of 10

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Card File  Gallery  Forum Archive
Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2002 phpBB Group
Big Readers Theme by Mike Alexander
Based on Artemis by Vjacheslav Trushkin
Create your own free forum | Buy a domain to use with your forum