Archive for August, 2016


BUSTed: Feminism and pop culture

In Feminism,what i'm reading now. . . on August 28, 2016 by mrsdillemma

This event was one that I was looking forward to albeit tentatively, I would describe myself as a feminist but it is something I hold close to my chest. I’m not entirely sure why I do that and one of the takeaways from this Q & A was the power our voices hold as women and my own desire to raise my voice in support of other women and to shout down the ingrained sexism in our society.

Panelist Debbie Stoller is the co-founder, co-owner and editor of BUST magazine and has been credited with being one of the founders of girlie feminism, the “third wave feminist” strategy in which traditional feminine activities and traits, especially those rejected by feminists of the 1970s as being oppressive, are re-evaluated and often embraced.


Stoller was asked what she had seen in women’s magazines that existed at the time that she wanted to change? She responded that seeing womens primary obsessions depicted as  beauty and fashion was just not what she wanted to read, the negative body image and perceptions of beauty just made women feel bad and she wanted to produce a magazine that made women feel good, a magazine that produced truth and variety.

Stoller talks about the projection of perfection and what that means to us as women and posed the question – why are we supposed to be like that?

During the panel Stoller was asked her opinion about celebrities who deny they are feminists – she explained that she doesn’t understand why they won’t use the feminist label. She phrased it so simply – if there is sexism and inequality in society then we, women, should all be feminists. If they ( the celebrities – Katy Perry, Sarah Jessica Parker ) acknowledge sexism and inequality then why can’t they acknowledge they are feminists.

I am thrilled that during the course of this discussion I was introduced to some new ideas;

  • Gloria Steinem’s “If men could menstruate”
  • President Barack Obama’s Glamour article “this is what a feminist looks like”
  • Time magazine’s “Which word should be banned in 2015”

and last but most importantly, BUST magazine itself. Off to find a subscription. . . .







Margaret Mahy Memorial Lecture 2016 – David Levithan

In YA literature on August 28, 2016 by mrsdillemma

The Christchurch Readers and Writers festival, known as, WORD, is a bi-annual event that brings together a stunning array of left leaning literary types that a humble little geek like me aspires to be. I love to just sit in these amazing venues and gawk at all the wonderful people milling before an event and over analyzing every word afterwards – It is the life I want to live.

The Margaret Mahy memorial lecture was presented by American YA author David Levithan, a ground breaking author who travels everywhere with a small stuffed blue ninja. ( obligatory pause for selfie with audience. . . .  adorable )

Levithan spoke so eloquently, so powerfully and so profoundly I cannot hope to do him justice – but there was one things he said that struck such a chord with me as a bookseller; “Books don’t matter in their own right at all, what matters is what the reader thinks – and we can only do that by putting the books in their hands”. It makes me think that maybe my fill in job ( going on 8 years now. . .  ) might actually be very worthwhile.

Levithan read part of his acceptance speech from the Margaret A Edwards award, which he accepted on June 25th this year in Orlando, Florida – not even 2 weeks after the nightclub shooting.

    “So, here we are in Orlando. And definitely this is a different speech than I would have given two or three weeks ago. The question is, will be, and always has been: What do we do?

Not What can we do? If we get caught in trying to figure out what can we do, we’ll be there forever. Not What do I do? Because the only time change actually happens is when it is a we.

We have to figure out what to do. As writers, as people in publishing, as librarians, as teachers, we have the tools we need to do something. And we do it, every single day.

We vote with our lives. We vote with our choices. We vote with the people we are. We vote with the people we raise. We vote with the opportunities we give to people – those in our lives and those who come into our lives by picking up one of our books or coming into one of our libraries.

We vote with our voices, with our silence or our lack of silence.

And the question right now, of What do we do?

The answer is: We raise our voices.

Not in shouting, but singing.

Not shouting, but telling stories and sharing stories.

Our own stories, the stories that other people have written – this is how change occurs.

And just as important, if not more important: We raise other people’s voices. We must look for the people who are not getting to speak and we must give them the opportunity to speak. We must look for the people who feel like their stories are not a part of the collective story and we must make those stories part of the collective story.

Again, this is not a surprise to you. You do this every day.

We all have the power to empower other people. The amazing thing about that power is that while it costs time and effort, you can do it no matter how much money you make, no matter what position you’re in, whether you want to sit down and write or whether you are helping people to get to the stories they need or to tell the stories they need to tell.

We have to keep fighting.”

I feel so lucky to have heard him read this aloud, to have heard him give this lecture, to have been in his presence, I feel blessed.  #starstruck

There were a number of audience questions and responses that stood out and are worth repeating; An audience member asked about hope in YA – the YA content she had come in contact with appeared to be very grim, so she wanted to know where was the hope? Levithan’s reply was two-fold; yes, a lot of YA is grim but then so is the real world, the hope comes in the reader’s ability to see that change is possible and to desire it. Two of his favorite novels, M.T. Anderson’s Feed and Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War are both very bleak  but the hope is in the readers ability to get angry and to try to change things from the inside, to try and prevent humanity from ending up that way.

I will now make it my mission to re-read Anderson, Cormier and all of Levithan’s work, even if it takes me until the next WORD festival. . .











A Feminist Reading List

In Uncategorized on August 28, 2016 by mrsdillemma

We_can_do_itElizabeth Heritage asked for recommended reading lists from each of the people she interviewed in relation to our article on feminist themes at NZ literary festivals. Please feel free to add your own recommended reading at the bottom, and we will incorporate this gradually into the main list.

Our respondents were: Carole Beu, from The Women’s Bookshop, Ponsonby; Matthew Simpson from publisher HarperCollins NZ; Tilly Lloyd, from Unity Bookshop, Wellington; Writer and Lecturer Anna Jackson; Nicola Strawbridge, from Going West Festival; Kathryn Carmody, from NZ Book Council, and Rachael King, from WORD Christchurch.

cv_a_history_of_nz_womenA History of NZ Women, by Barbara Brookes (BWB) Recommended by Tilly Lloyd.
• Animal: The Autobiograpghy of a Female Body, by Sara Pascoe (Faber) Recommended by Tilly Lloyd.
Bad Feminist, by  Roxanne Gay (Little, Brown) Recommended by Tilly Lloyd.
Colour of Food: a Memoir of Life, Love and Dinner

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WORD: Busted – feminism and Pop Culture, with Debbie Stoller and Charlotte Graham

In Feminism,what i'm reading now. . . on August 28, 2016 by mrsdillemma

Event_Busted-Feminism-and-Pop-CultureSome days are better than others for being a feminist. Today, so far, is a good day.

I started my WORD Saturday with Busted; Charlotte Graham interviewing Debbie Stoller, editor in chief of US feminist magazine Bust. The art gallery theatre was full of people – mostly women – I assume mostly feminists – keen to hear her talk.

Bust magazine has recently celebrated its 100th issue. Stoller says they were often not sure there would even be a next issue. “There’s not a lot of money in feminism, and I often do feel like I’m in the feminism business … We have to pull ourselves up by our bra straps every day.” Funding is a constant issue. Selling ads on the website doesn’t work; Bust has to be supported by readers subscribing to the print magazine in order to survive. “Hopefully print will come back like vinyl.”


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WORD: Speaking Out – Tara Moss interviewed by Joanna Norris

In Uncategorized on August 28, 2016 by mrsdillemma

Tara-Moss_Speaking-Out-promo-shot-1At the 2050 session yesterday about climate chaos, panellists spoke about the danger of going from denial to despair. I was thinking about that a lot as I watched author and feminist activist Tara Moss give a presentation on sexism in the media, politics and society. The statistics are unrelenting, and I was too sad to write all of them down: women comprise only 11% of protagonists in top-rating US films; worldwide, fewer than 1 in 4 people we hear from or about in the media is female; a third of women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence. One third. That’s literally billions of us. Christ. She encouraged us to photograph her slides but I was too depressed.

Moss herself was very calm; charming and warm. She is an Australian writer who has moved from writing crime novels to feminist non-fiction. She’s here promoting her latest book, Speaking…

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WORD: The Margaret Mahy Lecture, given by David Levithan

In Uncategorized on August 28, 2016 by mrsdillemma

This was a really special experience. I will move mountains to come to all future Margaret Mahy lectures. I’ll admit that the concept of a named lecture often gives me doubts, but I have read Levithan, and I knew I did not want to miss what he had to say.

Kate De Goldi gave the introduction, saying ever since his first novel Boy Meets Boy, “he has energetically reimagined queer experience.” Levithan has now written, edited, and anthologised more than 20 books. “He has peopled the YA stage with self-aware, thoughtful, engaged teenagers.” The highlight of his books for De Goldi is the concept that we are at our best in relationship to one another: change comes only from connectivity. As well as writing his own books, he is a publisher and editorial director at Scholastic US.

Event_Margaret-Mahy-Memorial-Lecture-David-Levithan-1He opened his talk by speaking briefly to the Orlando shooting: “What…

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