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The banners in the street tell me it's the 107th annual International Women's Day - warm greetings, all international women! 

To mark the day, I went to a theatre show last night based on the eighteenth-century Story of Kieu - or on part of it, because it's a long story, covering fifteen years of the protagonist's various struggles against a very oppressive and anti-woman society.  Cut because of spolier! )

More sombrely, an article about the real-world continuing oppression of women:
The Handmaid's Tale has already come true, just not for western women.

I didn't get to see Arrival over the weekend, as hoped, nor have I yet managed to return to Nirvana in Fire.  :(  And things don't look like letting up for the next two-three weeks.  (I did manage to return to the Narnia Prince Caspian read-through, after a very long absence.)


And now I've checked some of your posts, and found news of the decades-long campaigner for human rights in Manipur, Irom Sharmila Chanu!  Wonderful!  Brilliant!!  More power to her, and achievement of her goals, which are not just for her, but for everybody in Manipur (even the oppressors, who are without question damaged by the wrongs they inflict).  And for women everywhere working for a better world!

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The stuff that's happening in the US - I don't know what to say.  There are so many things happening so fast - and as [personal profile] twistedchick  posted some days back, behind the smokescreen of the more publicly outrageous things, other very damaging things might be happening, like the proposed sell-off of public land, where according to the Guardian, "the sale does not [even] have to make money for the federal government".  (I added the "even" because I think it's a staggering aspect.)

editing to add:  this link spells out the scenarios, much more informedly than I could, what might be behind the "smokescreen" I was talking about.

All honour to those who are making a stand against unethical, illegal or immoral acts, especially the former Acting Attorney-General, who is one of those described in last Sunday's psalm, about those who can't be moved or shaken, who stand by their undertakings, (as she, Sally Yates, stood by her oath to uphold justice) and don't sell out the innocent - for money or a career move or for anything else.  
I said especially her, but I suppose there are others not in the public eye, in humbler positions who dare not go public, but are quietly not selling out the innocent.  All honour to them, and may they one day get their due as people who upheld humanity when the system around them went the other way.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to trawl through mainstream media for good news on a daily basis, following [personal profile] megpie71 's lead.  Not always easy to find things, but I find it useful, to keep afloat.

February means that halfamoon has opened - fourteen days of celebrating women in fandom.  

I'm not feeling any fiction nudging to be written by me, but I'll be contributing by posting about some women characters, anyway, and maybe about a TV series which is crammed with women characters.

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The remarkable women I didn't manage to write about yesterday, and one extra!

The Poet: Hồ Xuân Hương lived in a highly literary, politically tumultuous, patriarchal culture, in late eighteenth-century/early nineteenth century Vietnam. She married twice, the second time as a 'second wife' or concubine to the provincial governor; a position she found uncongenial ("like a maid, but you don't get paid"). Well, but the governor died, and this remarkable woman made a new life for herself as a poet and teacher, defender of women's rights to their own sexuality and tenchant social critic. Her poetry is melodic and allusive and uses simple-seeming metaphors to be very blunt, like someone saying the most startling things with a demure smile - and she said them, too, using the Nom script - a script based on Chinese characters, representing the local colloquial language - her poetry thus contributed to the movement asserting and fostering pride in native Vietnamese culture.

The Prisoner: Irom Sharmila Chanu is a lone and almost unknown satyagrahi - a non-violent protester for the truth - in Manipur, India. She's currently imprisoned on the tenuous charge of attempting suicide, a wilful misinterpretation of her fast protesting the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which guarantees immunity from prosecution for members of the armed forces in Manipur (and other declared zones). Actually, she's also a poet, but I haven't read any of her poetry yet. Here's an article by a journo who wrote book about her. (which I also haven't read! The book, I mean - I'll get to it, I'll get to it!)

The Pirate: [livejournal.com profile] todayiamadaisy has noted Zheng Shi, also known as Ching Shi, as a woman of enormous influence who deserves to be better known, and I can only totally agree. She lived at roughly the same time as the poet above, but far from leading a quietly subversive urban life, this woman oversaw a pirate operation (in Guangdong province of China) so large and so stable that it might as well be called a water-based state. She commanded a major fighting force - some seventy thousand men and women - ruled harshly, but according to known rules - towns and ships which paid their protection money/tax were kept unmolested,for example. Her career is ... a knockout! What other pirate, anywhere, has ended by taking on in battle the combined powers of three major empires (Chinese, British and Portuguese) and winning, to end by being granted a noble title, and an honourable retirement? Strenuously recommended (and thanks [livejournal.com profile] todayiamadaisy. :)

and that's my round-up of awesome women for this year's IWD! Thanks for reading. :)
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Warm greetings to you all, this International Women's Day. Celebrating awesome women,but also proclaiming the right of all women to a fair go, to freedom, and to decent, safe working conditions.

Time has got away from me (what, again?) and I have no long learned post about admirable women to offer, nor especially useful comments to make.

Short notes on five women, anyway.

[personal profile] marmota_b told me here, in the comments, about pioneering aviatrix Božena Laglerová, who ran a brief but exciting barnstorming career from Europe to the Caribbean and back,

and [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume told me about Rowena Simmons, who runs a non-profit helping women to start their lives after imprisonment.

and I found by accident just a short while back about the Lady Anne of Brittany, who held firm her entire life in the struggle to keep Brittany independent from France. She was a queen of France as well, twice over, but as sovereign lady of Brittany it is the title Lady which prevails.  (Her court in Brittany nurtured the most brilliant music and poetry of the time.)

Oh, time has run out!  tomorrow, I promise, two more - a poet and a prisoner!
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Does anyone know where is a recent/current prompt-gathering with a history theme? I saw it in a distracted moment recently, and posted a prompt for Anne of Brittany, and now I don't know where to look for it. (Now answered, thanks to [personal profile] pulchritude; it's historyfest!)

Speaking of whom, it's nearly International Women's Day. :) Is there a woman you'd like to draw to my attention, as being someone I can cheer for on the day? Just a name, or a name and an internet link, if you like, or more, if you like!

The end of the three-sentence ficathon is getting very close - and I'll be losing a day and a half on a worktrip tomorrow and Saturday. I hope I can manage a fill or two more, or a prompt or two more before the end.
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So much is happening!  For starters, the wonderful [personal profile] rthstewart  is running a three sentence ficathon, which is bubbling like crazy, in  a ferment of creativity ranging across more fandoms than you can poke a stick at.  (Moominland!  I'll have to find out about Moominland!)

It's loads of fun, and you don't have to be a member of Dreamwidth to join in, so... :)  now's the time!  
(I've so far posted prompts for Swallows and Amazons, and Wimseyworld, and Hercule Poirot> - any takers?)

And simultaneously there is the halfamoon: 14 days of celebrating women festival happening, with fics nd vids and .... all sorts of fannish female-focussed activity.  In celebration of which, I've just posted a story relating to today's theme, Transformations.  :) 

And as well, there's the Once Upon a Fic Exchange, which is still open for nominations!  I'm not too late!  Hurry, helio, hurry!

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asakiyume has posted on LJ to say that Irom Sharmila Chanu has arrived in Delhi for trial on the charge of attempting suicide - but what she is actually doing is hunger-striking to protest the appalling Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 ) May she be triumphant in her long struggle for the repeal of the Act.

I saw the word 'henchman' and wondered idly what was its etymology. :)  )

I hope all Yuletiding friends all have the most gorgeous and stimulating and fun assignments!. :)

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This first is very, very sad, but it is also a true story, of a woman who died as part of the struggle against Nazism.  I'm putting it up not that I've anything much to say except how hideously sad war is, and how amazing this woman was.  And that her story needs to be more widely known. (But seriously, not a post to be reading if you're not feeling robust.  It can wait.)

And I watched recently a fictional story- the film The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (UK, 1943) which I had seen praised as giving a sympathetic picture of honourable Germans in wartime.  I found it not impressive on that score - how inept and foolish would it be to portray all the members of the other side in war as irredeemably evil, especially when there's been a long history of social and cultural crossover between combatants?  In fact, I found it very straight-down-the-line in terms of what I'd think a wartime propaganda film would be - it's targeted at British (especially the middle class?) with qualms about actions like the destruction of the French navy, or worse.  And I won't go into that here. 

Instead, I was interested in the film as historical document.  It opens in 1902, and thus shows the London and Berlin of that time as reconstructed by people who had actual memory of those locations then.  So the hansom cab bit is how calling up a hansom cab worked, the 'Turkish bath' (ie for gentlemen, in London) is how a 'Turkish bath' was, the German gymnasium is how the German gymnasium looked, and the duel is how the duels worked.  There's plenty of written documentation of those things, of course, but there's so many incidental details that are second nature to those who've lived through something but which are never actually written down - like where the seconds stand in the duel, or the costume of the bath attendant.  The whole movie a classist propagandist fantasy, pretty much, but still based on the real memories of real locations.  So... interesting.  :)

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There are at least three real, serious things I should be doing, besides playing on the internet (and that doesn't count the NFE, which still stretches out like the Uncrossable Swamp).

But I couldn't not share this story of awesome courage and just keeping going, from India.

And while I'm about it, this latest update in the long story of Irom Sharmila Chanu, whose courage and determination in fighting something much crueller and more powerful than a leopard moves me very greatly indeed. 

(Oh, and I've just seen this, too, for more about the legislative "leopard" that Irom Sharmila Chanu is fighting.  She is the one using her own body to fight, but others are using their voices.  More power to them!)

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So, as I was saying, I saw the film The Sapphires. It's not a great movie, but it is a likeable, good movie. Especially I liked... well, the thing I liked first was recognising things in it -- the shower-block with corrugated iron walls and the big shower rose felt really familiar, and I guess the light, and the layout of the country town. It looked so much like rural Australia, or the bottom right-hand quadrant of rural Australia, anyway. But that was just a personal response, the warmth of recognition and I guess identification, to some extent.

The film itself - yes, I liked that, too. I liked its warmth and good-heartedness, and of course its recognition of Aboriginal women's history, and the Cummeragunja community (yes, he's a bloke, not a woman, but it's his mother's country he's singing about. This old-timey singer died last year, the same year the film was released, and is ...ah me! much missed, including by people like me who never met him). I love Deborah Mailman, who plays the group member with the least impressive voice (you know the film's about an Aboriginal girl singing group who head off to Viet Nam in 1968, don't you?) and she gives a sterling performance in this. And I really like the actresses whose names I don't know, who play the older women in the community; they give a really terrific feel for life in an ex-mission community (and also in the city, a bit) in the 1950s and 1960s. It's not hyper historically accurate, the language is more 1990s than 1960s, the Viet Nam aspects aren't really well evoked, but... it's heartening, it's got gumption, it's upbeat, it's smart as a tack (Deborah Mailman!) if not true in every particular, it's true enough in the broad sweep of things, and it's just great to see a movie about (okay, a bit fictionalised) four real and gutsy women. :)

And then there's the other stuff I mentioned in the heading. In order:

1. My, but it's hard to restart a story that has been interrupted. :( Not that I've managed to restart it. Then there's the horrible part when I read things I wrote not all that long ago, and think despairingly "I wish I could write as well as that now". Does that happen to anyone else?
2. Did you see the story about prairie dog language? We are so close to recognising that animals think and feel. And when we do - oh, there should be huge changes!
3. Some months after beginning to use "being human" as a tag, meaning things I was writing about just people being people,and the human condition and .. that sort of thing...I discover there's a television series (two! UK and US) of that name. Apologies to anyone who was misled by the tag. :)
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It's a year today exactly!
... since I first ventured to actually post in the fanfiction world.  I had lurked for a few months, first joining NFFRevolution just as it softly vanished into the night, and then ffnet, which I found a very strange and daunting place.
So I just read and wondered,and especially wondered at some of the malice and savagery that was around.  What spurred me to post at last was reading a call by one of the people there calling for more plain humanity, gentleness, kindness  in reviews, for people to treat each other with respect.  I thought "Yes, yes!  This is what I want to find!  Where is this?" and chased away to find a story by that person.   And read it and loved it.

Yep, it was Food for Thought by rthstewart, (who was the person who had posted the call which showed there was humanity and humaneness in fanfiction, which is something I feel enormously strongly about the need for, so strongly I'm not even tidying up that sentence.  :) )  and she replied so encouragingly that after -- good heavens!  I've just checked! -- after only five days (was I drunk?)  I launched into actually beginning a story of my own!  And foolishly leapt in at the deep end by making it, deliberately planning it, to be a long story.  That is, I planned it to be 20,000 words, ten neat chapters of two thousand words each, but in the end it came out at over 75,000.  That was Resistance, a story about Caspian's Nurse.

And starting from right then! I have enjoyed the plentiful encouragement, and all the fun of the weekly challenges on NFFR-Party, and the 3SF earlier this year, even to the extent of wildly launching into another story (which started from one of those weekly challenges -- the prompt was 'merchants' but the idea needed more than a short story to work out.  :) )

Truly, a lot of fun!  I've written and put up here and on ffnet and on AO3 nearly 130,000 words, and have seen so much in watching and reading through the year, and have learned a lot along the way, even if I've been too caught up, in getting the stories written and pinned down and out there, to remember to put all the learning into practice.  (I've been keeping track of the lessons learned though, in my profile, on ffnet.)

Oh, and had my mind just blown by some of the stories I've read -- brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Truly,there is some absolutely ... well, I said brilliant already.  Staggeringly good writing and thinking going on. (but you all knew that!)  I am really, no kidding, grateful to have had the chance to find and read it. Thanks!

Fixing it

May. 25th, 2013 10:01 am
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Well, I think my Doctor Who catch-up marathon is nearly at an end.  Last night I watched Season 6, Episode 10, The Girl Who Waited, and was totally, totally outraged and Fed Up.

It's been building for a while, what with all the "Do I have your permission to give your wife a hug?" business, and "Ask my parents, if you want to marry me" and "She's a woman" (line tossed off by the Doctor somewhere, to explain irrationality).  But that episode... that took me over the edge.

And so I have written my second, and I think last-ever, Doctor Who fanfic, to fix things once and for all.   It's here.  (Ummm.. and it's violent.)

(The first was also to fix things, and like this one, written in a rush of fury.  :)   That time, it was for Donna and Mercy Hartigan, both of whom got a rough deal, and one of whom needed all the help that the other could give.  And it isn't violent.)
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Well, posted another chapter, more or less, of 'The Ivory Merchants'. I say 'more or less', because it's about half of what I wanted to put into Chapter Five; I'm getting impatient to have those who are going to go, go, and be on their way to meet the Elephants.   But there's a lot of talking and setting up to be done first, about half of which I managed to get done and posted, but about half of which is still needing to be actually written.  :( So, one more talky chapter before I can get to action. Bother!

In other news, I've been continuing on the Great Doctor Who Catch-up, and am now well into Amy Pond, and not very impressed with the scriptwriters (or overall concept makers?  how much say do the scriptwriters actually have?).
I got very fed up with the David Tennant-era Doctor, who thought shouting and brow-beating was the best way to convince any problem at all to go away, and also fed up with the repeated, very transparent, teenaged boy fantasies of simultaneously saving the world and having every woman you meet fall in love with you. Catherine Tate's arrival and heavily stressed refusal to do that made me think I wasn't the only one who had noticed there was a total overdose of the Irresistibleness delusion -- that someone in the management team had said "give us a break,will you?"

But what the scriptwriters did to her in the end was despicable.Cut for spoilers and ranting )

On the other hand, having seen these means I can now read cheerfully all those wonderful fics and crossovers which are set in Ninth and Tenth Doctor time, and those are wonderful! Case in point: by intriKate,  'That Blackbird Grief' a story which made me, as crabby and cynical as I am, want to go back and watch all of Doctors Nine and Ten again, and is a wonderful, wonderful story anyway.  (Did I say "wonderful" more than once?  Will somebody please hand that woman a thesaurus?)
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Yes, a day early for International Women's Day, but I am off tomorrow at about six a.m. for a two-day IWD celebration, and expect to be offline for the duration, so... International Women's Day greetings to everyone out there! :)   ( Tried to make that all come out in colour, but it doesn't seem to be.  Bother! )
Okay, continuing the greetings... I am very grateful for all the women-positive stories that I read by you all; I believe strenuously in the power of literature to shape culture*, and I think all your stories are terrific shapers!  Thank you!

And, not unconnected! -- I know I am often reading things (or watching things!) miles after everyone else, so I expect everyone else has seen this, but I only recently came across this article relevant to women-positive writing -- Seanan's McGuire's post about "Things I will not do to my characters. Ever." (trigger for discussion of use of rape trope in fiction.)

*I also believe in political action, hence the music choice.  :)


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