To The Ladies of the Discworld (In Celebration, In Memoriam)

It’s International Women’s Day today, and with this Sunday being the second anniversary of Sir Terry Pratchett’s death, I decided it was time for a long-overdue thank you. When I think of the women who’ve most influenced me, it doesn’t take long for my mind to wander to fiction – as it often does – and the many strong female characters I was blessed to encounter throughout my life, especially as a child.

The Discworld has been a part of my life since I was ten, first introduced to me through the subseries following young witch Tiffany Aching, and to this day the series remains the greatest influence on me, both creatively and on a personal level. Unlike many successful male authors, Pratchett understands the relevance of and what makes a realistic, strong female character, and this is evident throughout the many women we see in the Tiffany series – all unique, all three-dimensional.

So, this is a tribute not only to the tragic death of a wonderful author, but the lives of each of the female characters who deserve to be celebrated on International Women’s Day, if only for the impact they’ve had on my life. Each of them taught a young, impressionable girl something different about what a woman can be, and to them I am eternally grateful.

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Fifty Shades of Red Flags (Fifty Shades Darker Book Review 1/2)

(CW: abuse, specifically abusive relationships, suicide mention, rape mention)

Many things are synonymous with Valentine’s Day. Rom-coms, roses, cards and chocolates, stereotypical sentimental evenings… all the staples of the holiday for those who celebrate it. Last year, though, introduced a new player to the field, which so wholeheartedly resents the idea of ideal, fairy-tale love that the holiday hypes up so well.

Fifty Shades of Grey, at this point, is more of a phenomenon than a franchise, infamous for its overwhelming positive AND negative responses, and, of course, its trademark inclusion of BDSM. However, the central relationship is questionable at best, something that’s fairly widely recognised, but also frequently dismissed under the premise of not being accepting of or understanding the BDSM lifestyle. A year and a bit on, with Valentine’s Day well over and with  the sequel in cinemas, I decided that Fifty Shades Darker was the perfect opportunity to do this. Set almost immediately after the first book, where the main couple had split, the story follows Anastasia Steele, as Christian Grey, trying and succeeding to win her back, agrees to forego his BDSM-centric lifestyle to be with her. 

I’ll set aside complaints on the appalling writing, unlikable characters, repetitive sex scenes, and rampant sexism (for now – that’s another post in itself), since those are aspects the film most likely won’t cover or will change. The relationship between Ana and Christian, however, is the driving point of the already shambolic story, and was by far the most painful aspect of the novel, and can’t be overlooked.

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Don’t Call My Daughter Princess. Call Her Madam President.

Don’t Call My Daughter Princess. Call Her Madam President.

Longreads

Sarah Stankorb | Longreads | February, 2017 | 12 minutes (2,917 words)

My daughter Zoe was about 11 months old. Other strange men with silvered brows had referred to her as princess before. I’d read Cinderella Ate My Daughter during my third trimester, and while I deeply feared how the world would subtly limit her options, I usually bit my tongue over the princess thing. But we were on a trip to Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, and maybe it was thoughts of presidents, or the emotional toll of slipping between the fancy house and its slave quarters, or maybe I was just tired. But I looked at the man who’d just called my daughter princess and said, “Not a princess. She’s going to be president.”

He looked at me like I was talking gibberish—he’d just been trying to be nice to a baby—and walked away. I got used to that…

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Beautiful Books 2016 (introducing The Phoenix Initiative)

beautifulbooksbutton

So I’ve been meaning to start posting a lot more frequently now I have a better idea of what I want to do, and I wanted to do something fun, since the only posts I’ve done have been pretty serious. Luckily, earlier today I discovered the Beautiful Books meme by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further, and since I’m ridiculously excited for NaNo, I decided to give it a go!

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“Diversity” Is A Problem

Bitter Gertrude

In theatre and in academia, my two worlds, we talk a lot about “diversity.” In theatre, we talk about diversity in casting, we talk about diversity in programming, we talk about diversity in audiences. In academia, we talk about “attracting and retaining diverse students” and “the diversity of our faculty.” But there’s a massive elephant in the room that we continue to ignore.

Diversity is not enough.

Do not confuse “diversity” with “equity.” I have been in far too many situations where an organization hires a handful of people of color, plunks them into the lowest rung (either by title or by treatment) and then never thinks about them again. I have been in far too many situations where faculty believe they are “working to retain” students of color by designing classes with titles like “Keepin’ It Real: African American Performance,” taught by a fussy middle-aged musical theatre professor, instead…

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Going Under: Part 1

L. Davidson

The first time she summoned me, neither of us realised she had. It was only long after the fact that even I understood how she had called me to her side, and longer still for her to believe it. We did not recognise one another for who or what we were that first time, which was more my mistake than hers. I am as old as time itself; older even. My domain is the dark depths of the ocean, my power as strong as the currents and my strength implacable as the tides. She was only a child of six, living in the human world.

There is a storm ravaged and remote beach along the south coast of England, a place where I had visited a few times in my existence, the small patch of sand only visible for a few hours each day before being swallowed up by the…

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