TOMBOY BOOKCLUB- ‘Courage Calls to Courage Everywhere’!!!!!

Hello and welcome to today’s Tomboy Book club!!!! I am going to be giving my humble opinions about Jeanette Winterson’s new feminist manifesto: ‘Courage Calls to Courage Everywhere’ (if you recognize the title- good. It means you are keeping up with your British feminist history).

At only 72 pages this compact but shining gem won’t take you long to read, but it will give you plenty of idea-seeds to plant in your brain for later reflection to keep your brain sap flowing towards gender revolution. Not only is this powerhouse concise, but Winterson has also kept it accessible in the vocabulary she chooses to use. Although it could be more informative in helping introduce people to language used in discussions of trans issues or intersectional feminism addressing race, I think for the size and scope of the book trying to be inspirational and punchy rather than in-depth and educational Winterson has done her best to keep the tone serious yet manageable for people just getting into the feminist spirit. I can’t lie though, I am a little surprised Winterson did not address more the future of transgender rights and gender deviancy away from the binary, considering how huge a topic these issues are ATM and how they will remain important into the near future. I was expecting some acknowledgement of transgender and queer rights, just because Winterson is so known for loving Woolf and the fluidity of gender created in Orlando. Not that loving Orlando makes you an expert on queerness, and Winterson can’t be an expert on everything, it was just a bit of a shame…

BUT- Winterson really does cover many other areas of feminism, and whilst focusing on British history with her celebration of the Suffragettes and Suffragists, her arguments are global in their concern and shouldn’t be limited to the problems faced by one country alone. Politics, domestic violence, social media and business glass-ceilings are all touched upon by Winterson, but her discussions of women in the future of technology, and thus the future of the world as it continues to develop technologically is the most interesting part to me. It made me shiver a bit when she talks of how there are barely any women in charge of making technology, and yet simultaneously many technological advances in the form of AI existing which seek to mimic- or even replace- women. Winterson confronts the issues of sexbots; their male creators’ world views which they program for posterity into non-humans (pretty much the status human women have been given for all of history anyways lol) for their own enjoyment and affirmation of fucked-up gender constructs. Winterson warns how without female input into these technological advances (arguable if sexbots are an advance-but that is another kettle of fish entirely), women will be excluded from the future again before it’s even fully begun. I wish she could go more in depth and quote more studies and people who have thought a lot about this issue of feminism in technology, but again- this isn’t supposed to be a textbook for all the answers, it is supposed to be emotive and punchy to make you wanna get of your arse and do something for humanity.

The only criticism I have is that of criticism, by which I mean Winterson hasn’t really criticised or taken issue with any of the problems internal to mainstream British feminism which it still faces. TBF, Winterson does talk about the problem of difference, criticising the investment many (mostly white) women have with existing governments; in that many feminists want to acquire and yield the same power that the patriarchy uses now to fuel its terrorism- which obviously isn’t gonna do shit. And that women must create new, differing and previously unknown modes of thinking in order to truly defeat the ills of white supremacist heteronormative patriarchy (white men sure have created a world where it is easy to subconsciously hate many people- how wonderful!!!!). However a problem I really do think she should have addressed is that of racism in British feminism, because as much as I adore my foremothers’ fighting and bravery, there can be no mistake who they were fighting for: themselves, not the black and brown women of other occupied colonies who supported white British women in their struggle. For modern feminism to progress, we must not only look for the successes of the past to replicate, but also the failures so we know what weakens us and what to avoid in the future. It really pisses me off that the racism of the suffragettes goes so unnoticed most of the time, because it really should be addressed in order for white women to realise that it’s not a real victory if your victory only serves to continue to hold others down- by ignorance, or wilful cruelty (for the record, ignoring the problems of other people is still cruel). Heck- Sylvia Pankhurst had to eventually abandon the Suffragettes because her mother, the sainted Emmeline (whose speech, ‘Freedom or Death’ is included after Jeanette’s work- pretty sick), said she could never support black people having the vote!!! That is not the sentiment a real revolutionary would have!!! People can revere and celebrate the Suffragettes as much as they want, but no sincere progress will be made until that racism is shown for what it really is: vulgar, with no place in the future of feminism. Especially considering all the racism Britain has been forced to confront recently with Grenfell, Windrush and the ongoing refugee crisis- a manifesto of feminism that doesn’t even mention racism really can’t be said to be that helpful at all.

Overall, this is a great book to fuel a fire for change already burning within, but won’t be the best place to start learning the real facts of ammunition to fight. It is emotive more than informative, and that is great if you’re needing some inspiration to keep fighting this fucked up world. In order to get the best out of it, interrogate each line, each idea, and make the 72 pages grow and grow in potential using your mind! I will stop blabbering on now, but I send my love to all Winterson and feminist enthusiasts out there!!!!! LET HER COURAGE BE YOUR OWN!!!!!

“Graffiti on a loo wall in Camden Town: Behind every great woman is a man who tried to stop her.

TOMBOY BOOKCLUB- RESISTANCE, REBELLION, LIFE!

I think I’ve mentioned this book before on @tomboypress instagram before, but instead of giving just mini-reviews there I am revisiting them and allowing the books a ramble here. This lil’ number today is an anthology of 50 poems edited by Amit Majmudar, and all poems are, funnily enough, about RESISTANCE, REBELLION AND LIFE!!!!!

The poems are all by modern day poets, and mainly American, I think, given that that’s where this book was published- so, none of Shelley or Yeats’ sticking it to the man in here. But the lack of a traditional canon does not at all mean these poems are deficient in timeless themes; the feelings of struggle for a better life will always be earthly, whether you were born as a slug in the tudor times or a human in the 19th century. The point of any life is to keep living, and hopefully without struggle. The main themes, though, if I had to be specific would be these: borders, racism, awareness/perspective (of history/the world) and discontent.

Majmudar has also included an introduction on truth, and what it is. Considering that one of the main goals of poetry is to reveal a ‘truth’ (truths if you’re like me, and believe that ‘truth’ as a singular over-arching concept to define reality is bullshit and lazy and exclusive to those whose lifes don’t match that ‘truth’- BUT ANYWAYS!!!) this introduction’s subject matter is spot on. And, with today being flooded with conspiracies and fake-news; just general avoidance of actually being responsible towards helping those who need it, I think Majmudar has chosen a very relavent, in dispute subject. He explores whether poetry is always necessarily for good (because the definitions of what is to be praised VS villified are pretty much always in flux), using the example of Joseph Stalin being a poet to explore where poetry can take us from what it inspires; and whether truth is ever ‘found’, or only ever made from people’s opinions. I have probably missed out other really ‘juicy’ bits (i cringe and hate it when people say this, it reminds me of my history teacher who used to say ‘juicy nuggets’ when refering to informative points in history reading but all it made me think of was chicken nuggets ahah), BUT THATS WHY YOU SHOULD READ THIS BOOK TO FIND OUT MORE!!!!

There are so many memorable images the poems I love in here present; from the death of Captain America, to a border police officer scouting deserts and mothers protecting their children. HOWEVER, there is one specifically I want to mention. It is ‘This Beautiful Bubble’ by Vincent Katz. The bubble he is talking about is one we all have to walk within when we go out into the carnage of human life, and he sets this bubble of personal privacy set upon by other eyes in the subway. Maybe it’s just because I am too curious, but one of my favourite things to do on the tube is to people watch. Try and guess where people are going, and why- who they are going to see and how long for? If it’s a job, do they like it? Did they choose it? Do they go home to a dog, or a cat, or a partner or a friend at the end of the day? Do they hate the tube as much as me? I think the poem is basically about the beginning of love being curiosity- simply caring about strangers means you don’t just exist in a selfish bubble that no other human is allowed to pop. I think it’s wierd now how people feel ashamed, almost guilty when they catch the eyes of strangers in packed train carridges. We are all human, all pissed off and tired, and the least we can do for each other is smile when someone looks our way- not make them feel like they’ve just walked in on us doing something unspeakable.

OBVIOUSLY YOU HAVE TO RESPECT PEOPLES PRIVATE SPACE!!! aha If someone looks visibly upset, of course ask what’s up but if they ask for privacy you gotta give it to them! And equally, you have to protect your own private space- you have to screen people before you properly love them, because who knows what crazies there are out there. SO,  I think Katz is trying to say you have to respect the individual, irreplaceable private view you have on the world before you can expand this, and try to invite other people to visit you inside you inside your bubble!

We all know the world is full of suffering, and suffering is boundless and varied in who and how it choses to wreak its havoc. If you pop that bubble for just one moment, consider who is on the outside of it- then, maybe you won’t just want to imagine about other people’s lives, you’ll want to get involved in how to make that life as wonderful as possible.

I feel like I sound like a church preacher right now which is not the life for me, no offense to any religious people/leaders, but I am too naughty to follow anyones rules ahah I CAN’T EVEN FOLLOW MY OWN! But I hope you’ll try to find the book to seek this poem out, and of course to enjoy the other selected authors inside!!! For now, I’ll just leave you with my favorite quote from Katz (I’ll post the whole poem on @mollygbeale on instagram if you want to see the whole thing, it’s just rather long to type out on here haha) !!! Have a good day, and I hope you find the courage to be rebellious and smile at a stranger who catches your eye next time you’re in with crowds! XOXOXO

“… I am the least difficult of men. 
All I want is boundless love…”