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Friday, February 26, 2016

New Versions of Victims: Feminists Struggle With the Concept

Prepare to be challenged on your point of view on violence, rape, and victims, as you read the complex and profound views expressed by each of the authors in this collection of essays on the topics dated from 1999.

In Heretical Texts Janice Haaken analyzes "The Courage to Heal" and the Incest Survivor Movement from the 1980s. In the 1980s, repressed memories and recovered memories from hypnosis fueled an epidemic of fear and paranoia about sexual abuse in children. While the authenticity of these memories has been called into question in recent years, Haaken suggest that the authenticity of the memories aren't so important as what they represent in these women's lives: emotional trauma. She further discusses the implications of how this effects girls, women, and society.

When all assaults are taken into account, the amount of domestic violence committed by men and women is about equal. Violence is actually more prevalent among lesbian couples. These statistics have seen little change between this essay's writing and when I write this. Since feminism often poses that men's violence is the main problem Clair Renzetti writes The Challenge to Feminism Posed by Women's Use of Violence in Intimate Relationships to address the discrepancy. Perhaps the most interesting part of the essay to me was how violence in domestic situations is used in different cultures. How in one a woman is more likely to commit suicide than murder her husband. Or how violent defense means different things according to cultural context.

When it comes to rape interviews and questionnaires there is a huge challenge posed in how these questions are asked and who determines if they are rape. Nicola Gavey addresses these concerns in detail in "I Wasn't Raped, but": Revisiting Definitional Problems in Sexual Victimization. This essay provided me with a much better understanding of how the research works and why it is set up the way it is.

In Recasting Consent: Agency and Victimization in Adult-Teen Relationships Lynn M. Phillips provides valuable insight by using quotes from interviews by both younger and older women. In their own words, teens explain why they seek out relationships with older men and how they feel about it, revealing complex reasoning for those choices. Meanwhile, older women express their feelings in hindsight about their reasoning and how they feel different about it with more life experience.

Constructing the Victim: Popular Images and Lasting Labels by Sharon Lamb analyzes how the understanding of the word "victim" is becoming increasingly challenged with many now identifying themselves as "survivors". The change in vocabulary is empowering for some, but it is causing an increasing rift between those who have a shared experience.

After being reassured that her experience would not be used to cast a negative view of living with a mentally retarded mother, Carol Rambo Ronai agrees to be interviewed. Although warned multiple times by friends and family members to cancel the interview, she still goes and discovers what it's like to be In the Line of Sight at Public Eye: when television is In Search of a Victim. It was interesting to me that during the interview the author became so upset when she was asked to clarify what she meant by something she had released in a publicly available article. Although I was sympathetic with the author's experience overall when the interview didn't go as she expected.

Jeanne Marecek compares and contrasts Trauma Talk in Feminist Clinical Practice with typical psychological treatment. With quotes gathered from practitioners the reader gets a first hand descriptions of how and why it works so well. Marecek sees the advantages of this system, but also argues that there can be the same problems as with typical counseling, one of which is projecting the therapists expectations on the client. In my own view, I often see these different systems as being nearly identical with the exception of using different terminology, which is also an observation the writer makes.

While reading Victims, Backlash, and Radical Feminist Theory (or, The Morning after They Stole Feminism's Fire) by Chris Atmore I could not get wholly engaged. A big part of the problem is I do not have enough familiarity with the authors she discusses on either side of this argument to feel like I am getting a clear picture of what the author is expressing. What little I did get from this only made me feel like I don't agree nor can I support either side of this argument.

I had never read any of these essays before, so reading them over 15 years later is a fascinating time capsule. Perhaps the most frustrating part of reading these essays is seeing what little has changed and how it has gotten worse in certain regards. Renzetti, for example, warns that feminists should take control of the research in women's violence so they can control the information, but most importantly put into place programs to help. Now we often see feminists groups ignore or deny these same problems that have remained unchanged. Despite its age, this book remains a worthwhile read for anybody who is interested in feminism and feminist theory.

More by the editor:
The Trouble with Blame: Victims, Perpetrators, and Responsibility
The Secret Lives of Girls: What Good Girls Really Do--Sex Play, Aggression, and Their Guilt
Sex, Therapy, and Kids: Addressing Their Concerns Through Talk and Play

Recommended Reading:
Harmful to Minors- The Perils Of Protecting Children From Sex - Judith Levin
Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets and Remembers - Danile L. Schacter

Friday, February 19, 2016

Baldur the Beautiful - Grace Denio Litchfield

Baldur, the fairest of the gods, is doomed to death. Afraid to lose her son, Frigga goes to every creature making them promise to do no harm to the most beloved of the gods. While she easily receives the agreement from all life, she decides to exclude the mistletoe for it is too young to make such a promise in earnest.

After hearing the news that Baldur is invulnerable, the gods decide to test his strength. Unfortunately, Loki, the mischief maker, discovers the secret and tricks another god into sending the fatal blow. Following Odin and Frigga seek the mercy of Hela to release their son from death. But Hela is vicious and unwilling to release what is hers. She promises to release the beloved, but only if every creature on earth will mourn the loss.

Litchfield's gorgeous retelling of this classic tragedy is filled with lyrical prose sure to please any reader or audience.

Source Material:
Poetic Edda

Friday, February 12, 2016

The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey

First all of the electricity went out, next the coasts were destroyed, after that came the plague, and finally the "others" came to eradicate man. The apocalypse is upon them and there is certain to be another wave of death to follow. Cassie, Cassiopeia, and her family are some of the lucky few to survive and join one of the camps near their hometown. When the military comes to save them, they think all will be well at first, until they're told only the children can come. After disaster strikes, Cassie is determined to save her brother from the interlopers.

If she's lucky, maybe she'll find a little help along her way from people she least expects.

The story is told by three different characters: Cassie, Zombie, and Sammy, Cassie's younger brother. Since we are thrown into the thick of Cassie's mission to save her brother and we only get to know the boy crazy teenage girl through flashbacks, we do not get to see Cassie's transformation to survivor. What we do know is that she had some training in karate, is a good shot with guns, and seems to have a decent idea of how to stay alive. Zombie is not his real name, of course, but it is the name he is given during training to stop the alien invasion. The first two characters speak from a first person point of view. There are only a handful of chapters told by Sammy in the third person limited, which I feel were unnecessary; although, I do understand why the author decided to throw them in to help tie things together at the end.

It was an okay read. Nothing stuck out as particularly good or bad to speak of, but it wasn't compelling enough for me to continue the series.

Similar Reads:
Life as We Knew It - Susan Beth Pfeffer
The Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan

Recommended Movies:
The Live
Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Friday, February 5, 2016

Mr and Mrs God in the Creation Kitchen - Nancy Wood

A long time ago lived Mr. and Mrs. God. In their kitchen in the heavens they set out to create the world and everything in it.

But it would seem that sometimes Mr. and Mrs. have different ideas on what is good for the world. And sometimes they accidentally ruin each others creations. Through laughs, anger, and love, they create an amazing world for children and their parents to experience.