Showing posts with label feminism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label feminism. Show all posts

Monday, February 13, 2012

New Book: Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile

I just started reading the eBook version of Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile by Julia Fox and wanted to put it on your radar.

I've always been fascinated by both Queen's tragic lives and I'm glad someone finally wrote about Juana La Loca.

Via Goodreads:
The history books have cast Katherine of Aragon, the first queen of King Henry VIII of England, as the ultimate symbol of the Betrayed Woman, cruelly tossed aside in favor of her husband’s seductive mistress, Anne Boleyn. Katherine’s sister, Juana of Castile, wife of Philip of Burgundy and mother of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, is portrayed as “Juana the Mad,” whose erratic behavior included keeping her beloved late husband’s coffin beside her for years. But historian Julia Fox, whose previous work painted an unprecedented portrait of Jane Boleyn, Anne’s sister, offers deeper insight in this first dual biography of Katherine and Juana, the daughters of Spain’s Ferdinand and Isabella, whose family ties remained strong despite their separation. Looking through the lens of their Spanish origins, Fox reveals these queens as flesh-and-blood women—equipped with character, intelligence, and conviction—who are worthy historical figures in their own right. 

When they were young, Juana’s and Katherine’s futures appeared promising. They had secured politically advantageous marriages, but their dreams of love and power quickly dissolved, and the unions for which they’d spent their whole lives preparing were fraught with duplicity and betrayal. Juana, the elder sister, unexpectedly became Spain’s sovereign, but her authority was continually usurped, first by her husband and later by her son. Katherine, a young widow after the death of Prince Arthur of Wales, soon remarried his doting brother Henry and later became a key figure in a drama that altered England’s religious landscape. 

Ousted from the positions of power and influence they had been groomed for and separated from their children, Katherine and Juana each turned to their rich and abiding faith and deep personal belief in their family’s dynastic legacy to cope with their enduring hardships. Sister Queens is a gripping tale of love, duty, and sacrifice—a remarkable reflection on the conflict between ambition and loyalty during an age when the greatest sin, it seems, was to have been born a woman.

 Julia Fox was interviewed by NPR, the audio is available on their website.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Isabel Allende: Tales of passion from TED '08

I found this the other day and love her accent and how funny she is!




Learn more here: www.ted.com/isabel_allende.html

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Step Backward for Women

The other day I read that a new fashion magazine for women launched, this new magazine is geared toward modest fashion and features models wearing long sleeved tops and long skirts.

Excuse me, but this doesn't seem very fashion foward to me. It reeks of oppressive anti feminism.

On the Web Eliza: http://www.elizamagazine.com/

Then I saw this article, which coincidently came at the same time my friend introduced to the term "Menergy." Menergy is anti metrosexual, it's what a man's man exudes.

Um, okay but then I read the article below about how women need to get back in the kitchen and I thought to myself what is going on in our society...

From The NY Daily News:


What makes a man a man BY DOLORES PRIDA

A machismo makeover conspiracy is afoot.

An overt salvo was fired last year with the publication of an article titled "In Search of Machismo" in Latina magazine.

The author, Conchita Cortez, bemoaned the fact that too many Latinos were becoming softies and that women had just about had it with men who plucked their eyebrows and had better complexions than them.

The so-called "metrosexuals" were becoming a bore and women were ready to welcome back a "new machismo."

The latest effort to rehabilitate this much-maligned male behavior, is the book "Huevos y la Mujer Latina: The De-masculinization of the Macho" (Floricanto Press, $19.95) by Julián Camacho Segura.

It's the kind of book that makes you scream, "Why am I reading this?" every few pages. This Macho Camacho calls for women to get back into the kitchen so men can watch Sunday night football with their amigos then go out to drink and chase other women.

He blames white women for the current state of affairs — including the "abominable" sexual harassment laws — and decries that young Latinas have followed suit and become too independent and assertive.

This "emasculation" is responsible, along with racism, for the enormous high school dropout rate of young Latino males. Men must get back in touch with their huevos to make the world right again, he concludes.

For him the world began to crumble one evening in the late 1970s when, as a 10-year-old kid, he watched an episode of "Charlie's Angels" in which one of the Angels, wearing high heels, kicked a man.

"Even if they were criminals, I could not tolerate visually these women assaulting the male species," he writes.

It makes you wonder why, in our culture, men do not fear being gored by a bull at the plaza de toros, but tremble at the mere thought of being kicked in the groin by a woman wearing stilettos.

This poorly written Huevos monologue could easily be dismissed as a tirade born of too-many-Tecates if it weren't for Floricanto Press issuing it as part of its La Mujer Latina Series. What were they thinking?

Are Latinas being bamboozled back to the old ways, to aid and abet in the preservation and protection of the fragile macho ego? To feel guilty about their success?

Perhaps the confusion is all a matter of semantics. Huevos means eggs. A fragile metaphor, indeed. It is a mystery why men use it at all to refer to the perceived repository of their manliness.

"Macho man" is just the theme of a tacky song. Cojones is really the equivalent of chutzpah. And there's nothing good about machismo, whether "new" or old. It's unadulterated male chauvinism and it has nothing to do with masculinity.

In Spanish we have another word that is just right: hombría. It means not just manliness but also courage, integrity, honesty and uprightness.

To have hombría, to be un verdadero hombre, is the best compliment a man can receive. Un verdadero hombre is a true hero who overcomes adversity and always does that right thing.

And that's what young Latinos should be taught:

That it takes hombría to finish high school.
That un verdadero hombre doesn't impregnate and run,
but is a real father to the children he brings into the world.
That un verdadero hombre is sensitive
but emotionally strong and
his masculinity is not threatened by cooking and
helping with the dishes.

That's what women want. As for huevos, they know they gotta break some to make an omelet ... preferably while wearing tacones.

Friday, August 24, 2007

"The Myth of Machismo: An Everyday Reality For Latin Women"

Machismo has been on my mind lately, and so while doing some cultural research I came accross this great article in the St. Thomas Law Review, published Thursday, June 26, 2003.

Machismo: An Everyday Reality

I also discovered Marianismo

"Marianismo is the inverse or female equivalent of Machismo in Latin American folk culture, that is it is the embodiment of the feminine rather than the masculine. It is the cult of feminine superiority. Evelyn Stevens states: "it teaches that women are semi divine, morally superior to and spiritually stronger than men."[1] The ideas within marianismo are that of feminine passivity and sexual purity, but are not exclusive to these ideas. There is power in marianismo that stems from the female ability to produce life. This term supposedly derives from Catholic beliefs of Mary as both a virgin and a madonna."

I never even realized there was a term for this idealization of women in the Latin community.
The Maria Paradox by Rosa Maria Gill and Carmen Inoa Vasquez, I'm adding this one to my booklist right now!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tues. Morning Wake Up Call

I’ve never been good at tests, I’ve always been able to get by exceedingly well. That’s not to say I’m not smart or didn’t do my work but I’ve just never had to go that extra mile. In school I could show up, breeze in and easily score an A on a test I didn’t even know was scheduled. The only tests I ever did poorly on were math tests, and my teachers always passed me anyway, because “I was a nice girl.” Even though this bothered my burgeoning principles I accepted it because I needed to pass math, and I refused to cheat.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed the benefits of being a pretty young woman, people always have time to help you, people offer to carry your bags and ease your load, cabs always stop for you and wait until you make it inside the vestibule of your building. I’ve noticed that if you speak softly, people make more of an effort to hear what you say as opposed to blabbing everything out.

I write this today because of a conversation I had yesterday with my coworker, who unfortunately couldn’t catch a cab and he correlated it to being black and male. We discussed the prevalence of stereotypes and racism, and it made me think of my own experiences. Since I have a lighter complexion even for someone from a Sicilian/Puerto Rican background, my battles have often been against being exoticised, especially in hot tamale sort of way. I too have dealt with some racism strangely it almost always been while down South or way after people have ‘discovered’ my Spanishness.

Minority women have a double burden to deal with albeit I think men have it worse. Minority women tend to be seen as hard workers, mules of the world if you will and by the same token as sexual objects, i.e., African Hottentot (African Queen: The Real Life of the Hottentot Venus), Carmen, … Minority men are feared and emasculated, called irresponsible, lazy and unworthy.

I may be oversimplifying things, and please do note that I’m speaking theoretically about Society, I don’t believe everyone feels or thinks or practices these things. I do, however believe that these concepts do infiltrate at least some of our thinking and practices.

I highly recommend the book Ain't I A Woman: Black Women and Feminism by Prof. Bell Hooks. In it she discusses how the effects of the peculiar institution called slavery, has infantilized black men, emasculated them while elevating the women to sexual workhorse status and what she discusses in this book applies to all colonialized people, dark skinned or not.

I wonder what are we doing as individuals on a daily basis to conquer or dismiss these stereotypes? My coworker asked me, “what can we do?” I responded “We can alter the way we look and judge individuals, we can see X as a person, not a label, we can stop perpetuating these beliefs, we can go back to the places we came from and let the young kids know that there are so many avenues available to them, even if they can’t see them right now and lastly, and I think most critically we live our lives as role models. I may not have children yet, but the things I do, I do consciously, leaving a trail so that others especially young Latinas can know that if I did it so can you. I’ve cleared a path for you, you may not follow in my exact footprints, but you may follow my same path, freedom awaits on the other side.

I leave you with a poem by one of my Hunter College peers:

exotic by suheir hammad

don't wanna be your exotic
some delicate fragile colorful bird
imprisoned caged
in a land foreign to the stretch of her wings
don't wanna be your exotic
women everywhere are just like me
some taller darker nicer than me
but like me but just the same
women everywhere carry my nose on their faces
my name on their spirits
don't wanna
don't seduce yourself with
my otherness my hair
wasn't put on top of my head to entice
you into some mysterious black voodoo
the beat of my lashes against each other
ain't some dark desert beat
it's just a blink
get over it
don't wanna be your exotic
your lovin of my beauty ain't more than
funky fornication plain pink perversion
in fact nasty necrophilia
cause my beauty is dead to you
I am dead to you
not your
harem girl geisha doll banana picker
pom pom girl pum pum shorts coffee maker
town whore belly dancer private dancer
la malinche venus hottentot laundry girl
your immaculate vessel emasculating princess
don't wanna be
your erotic
not your exotic

Friday, June 08, 2007

Someone Woke Up

and Smelled the Bustelo!

Yea, women use gadgets too, duh! Thanks for noticing...it's only 2007!
www.nytimes.com/

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Barbie is a Ho!

It's enough to make a grown girl cry!

I was reading the Economist yesterday evening on the train and came accross their book review for The Real Toy Story: Inside the Ruthless Battle for America's Youngest Consumers by Eric Clark.

According to the book:

"Several decades ago, Barbie's creator, Ruth Handler, saw a Swiss doll called Lilli, voluptuous and wearing heels. She was just what Ms Handler wanted for a blockbuster new doll. Ignoring traditional marketeers—shocked by Barbie's breasts—she began an uphill battle in California to manufacture this sexy creature, so unlike cuddly baby dolls. What she did not know was that Lilli was based on a prostitute in “a German adult cartoon aimed at men.”"

How ironic or maybe just plain sad, that the busty, blue-eyed, plastic icon of so many childhood girl's dreams is modeled on a whore?

What does that say about us, about how society views women, and the message we send our kids through our acceptance of these norms?

I remember that when I read The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, I really understood Pecola Breedlove's desire to be just like her blue-eyed doll because I also dreamed of growing up to look just like my sexy, blue-eyed Barbie - perfect.

But part of me, even as a child, was repulsed by my Barbie's phoney perfection, and I desired a raven-haired doll, one that captured my mother's beauty, a breathtaking, Latina infused version of Elizabeth Taylor and Lynda Carter. When I finally got a black-haired Barbie I found that sadly she just wasn't as "pretty" as my idealized white Barbie.

And, if anyone thinks this has changed today, then they should watch this:




The video was produced by a high school student.

You can watch news coverage of it here:
http://www.youtube.com
Toni Morrison had it right!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Who Needs Men?

I just read this article and it blew my mind! This would revolutionize our lives!

The prospect of all-female conception By Steve Connor, Science Editor

Women might soon be able to produce sperm in a development that could allow lesbian couples to have their own biological daughters, according to a pioneering study published today.

Scientists are seeking ethical permission to produce synthetic sperm cells from a woman's bone marrow tissue after showing that it possible to produce rudimentary sperm cells from male bone-marrow tissue.

The researchers said they had already produced early sperm cells from bone-marrow tissue taken from men. They believe the findings show that it may be possible to restore fertility to men who cannot naturally produce their own sperm.

But the results also raise the prospect of being able to take bone-marrow tissue from women and coaxing the stem cells within the female tissue to develop into sperm cells, said Professor Karim Nayernia of the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Creating sperm from women would mean they would only be able to produce daughters because the Y chromosome of male sperm would still be needed to produce sons. The latest research brings the prospect of female-only conception a step closer.

"Theoretically is it possible," Professor Nayernia said. "The problem is whether the sperm cells are functional or not. I don't think there is an ethical barrier, so long as it's safe. We are in the process of applying for ethical approval. We are preparing now to apply to use the existing bone marrow stem cell bank here in Newcastle. We need permission from the patient who supplied the bone marrow, the ethics committee and the hospital itself."

If sperm cells can be developed from female bone-marrow tissue they will be matured in the laboratory and tested for their ability to penetrate the outer "shell" of a hamster's egg - a standard fertility test for sperm.

"We want to test the functionality of any male and female sperm that is made by this way," Professor Nayernia said. But he said there was no intention at this stage to produce female sperm that would be used to fertilise a human egg, a move that would require the approval of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

The immediate aim is to see if female bone marrow can be lured into developing into the stem cells that can make sperm cells. The ultimate aim is to discover if these secondary stem cells can then be made into other useful tissues of the body, he said.

The latest findings, published in the journal Reproduction: Gamete Biology, show that male bone marrow can be used to make the early "spermatagonial" stem cells that normally mature into fully developed sperm cells.

"Our next goal is to see if we can get the spermatagonial stem cells to progress to mature sperm in the laboratory and this should take around three to five years of experiments," Professor Nayernia said.

Last year, Professor Nayernia led scientists at the University of Gottingen in Germany who became the first to produce viable artificial sperm from mouse embryonic stem cells, which were used to produce seven live offspring.

His latest work on stem cells derived from human bone marrow suggests that it could be possible to develop the techniques to help men who cannot produce their own sperm naturally.
"We're very excited about this discovery, particularly as our earlier work in mice suggests that we could develop this work even further," Professor Nayernia said.

Whether the scientists will ever be able to develop the techniques to help real patients - male or female - will depend on future legislation that the Government is preparing as a replacement to the existing Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.

A White Paper on genetics suggested that artificial gametes produced from the ordinary "somatic" tissue of the body may be banned from being used to fertilise human eggs by in vitro fertilisation.

Making babies without men - a literary view
 
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