Taking One for the Team: How to Choose a Husband – And Make Peace With Marriage by Suzanne Venker

When anti-feminist Phyllis Schlafly died last year, most people’s reaction was, “I thought that old bat died ages ago.”

As many of you know I wrote a review of the late Schlafly’s book the Flipside of Feminism, a book she wrote with her niece, Gen X anti-feminist Suzanne Venker. After Phyllis shoved off this mortal coil, I thought, “Just who is Suzanne going to use to justify her existence now that she can’t ride her more famous aunt’s taint to shame and bitches?”

Alas, I mustn’t be alarmed. Good old Suzanne will soldier on and continue to throw feminism and women as a whole under the bus via her various articles, appearances on FOX News, her “I’d like to speak to the manager,” hair do and her books. Yep, Suzanne has written other books and I just had to review another one for my beloved readers. Hence, my review of Suzanne’s latest opus, “How to Choose a Husband: And Make Peace with Marriage.

Now this isn’t a typical how to find a man and getting him to marry book you’re likely to find in the self-help section of your favorite book store or through a quick search on Amazon. Nope, in this book Venker goes on a totally tizzy about pop culture, the media, education, the household, careers and the workplace, raising children, confused men, bitchy women and her favorite punching bag, feminism.

How to Choose a Husband has two parts. Part One, named “You Go, Girl” contains four finger wagging chapters—The Naked Emperor, Never Rely on a Man, Slutville and Expectations. Part Two offers a 12-step program on how to find a cash register on legs (oops, a husband) and find the only true worthy life for all women, life as a wife and mother. And if you desire any life beyond a wife and mother, well, you are truly an awful person. These steps include the following:

  1. Live an Examined Life
  2. Get Over Yourself
  3. Return to Femininity
  4. Don’t Rely on Love
  5. Get a Ring. Not a Roommate
  6. Reject the Green Grass Syndrome
  7. Marry the Accountant. Not the Artist
  8. Know Your Body
  9. Accept It: You Can’t Have it All
  10. Decide to Stay
  11. Know God, Know Peace
  12. Learn How to Be a Wife: What Do You Bring to the Table

And in the last tiresome part of How to Choose a Husband, Venker provides a list on the “do’s and don’ts” of being a wife.

In “You Go, Girl, Venker pretty much spews out the same rubbish she (and her late Aunt) used to dismiss feminism, while also dismissing the self-esteem movement, pop culture, getting an education and having a career, and recognizing oneself as being a fully sexual human being. Needless to say, you can just read my review of Venker and Schlafly’s book The Flipside of Feminism to get an idea on how I felt about this part of How to Choose Husband.

And in the second part, Venker’s 12 Step program for finding your Mr. Right (Wing) pretty much is summed up in the chapter titles alone. Once again, I don’t have to go into very much detail other than to say Venker spends quite a bit of this book bitching about her first marriage to a man named Chris that ended in a divorce (and Chris probably thanking his lucky stars he was unshackled from Vengeance, I mean Venker), In fact, by the time I finished this part, I knew more about Chris than I know about Venker’s current husband. Damn it, Suzie Spew, get a grip or therapy or a fucking vibrator! This early marriage is dead and buried and now you claim to be in a happy second marriage.

I also noticed another thing while reading this part. Venker doesn’t seem to realize most women know that marriage is more than just being in love, fertility lessens as one gets older, being married to an accountant is probably a bit more secure than being a starving artist (then again a man can be an accountant and an artist, and an accountant can lose his job just as much as an artist can have a successful career as a graphic designer and paint in his free time), and nobody, including men, have it all. And if you ask me, I think “having it all” is more of a media creation than a component of feminism. I also think most women realize they should be committed to their marriage vows and they should bring good things to a marriage.

However, I must take issue with both returning to femininity and knowing God means knowing peace. On the first part, am I less feminine because, unlike Venker, I identify as a feminist? Or am I more feminine because I have long hair past my shoulders and Venker has short hair? I’m just so confused!!!!

I also deplored her step about knowing peace (in a marriage) means knowing God. Right now I can think of two marriages where the partners are quite secular and their marriages are thriving and very happy. I’d rather throw myself off a bridge than be married hardcore religious types like Josh Duggar or Phil Robertson.

Speaking of reality TV cretins, as much as Venker accuses pop culture of corrupting women’s minds, she wastes no time using pop culture to advance her point. She considers Steve “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” Harvey is an expert on marriage. Well, I guess he is; he’s on his third. She also thinks Christian Grey from Fifty Shades of Grey is an upstanding guy because he asks, doesn’t demand Anastasia Steel to be his controlled, submissive, and masochistic boo. Well, now that you’ve put it that way, Venker:

Finally, after fully exhausting myself reading Venker’s tome of tantrums we get to the epilogue, Venker’s “dos and donts”, the final don’t telling women, “Don’t bitch, be sweet.”

Hmm, after reading How to Find a Husband, Venker might want to take that advice herself.

 

 

Taking One for the Team: Crippled America- How to Make America Great Again by Donald Trump

Crippled_America_-_How_to_Make_America_Great_AgainNow do you really think I could take one for the team without reviewing a book by the GOP’s presidential nominee Donald Trump? Of course not. Initially, I thought of reviewing Trump’s classic The Art of the Deal. But decided to check out Crippled America: How to Make Great Again because this idea of making America great again is Trump’s campaign slogan, and according to the bloviating Cheeto, only he is capable of making the good old US of A great again.

And boy, in Crippled America Trump never fails to remind you of this…

Now I’m not exactly naïve. I know damn well Donald did not write this book; he can barely handle writing a decent Tweet. Most likely he hired a ghost writer to write Crippled America basing this tome on Trump’s speeches, interviews, and yes, his Tweets.  Well, I can say one thing good thing about Trump; he’s keeping ghost writers in business. They can use the paycheck.

Okay, onto the book…

After a preface called “You Gotta Believe”, Crippled America is divided into 17 short chapters focusing on several key issues: 1) Winning Again 2) Our “Unbiased” Political Media (the quotes are in the text of the book) 3) Immigration: Good Walls Make Good Neighbors 4) Foreign Policy: Fighting for Peace 5) Education: A Failing Grade 6) The Energy Debate: A Lot of Hot Air 7) Healthcare is Making Us All Sick 8) It’s Still the Economy, Stupid 9) Nice Guys Can Finish First 10) Lucky to Be an American 11) The Right to Bear Arms 12) Our Infrastructure is Crumbling 13) Values 14) A New Game in Town 15) Teaching the Media Dollars and Sense 16) A Tax Code That Works 17) Making America Great Again

Now I have to give The Donald some credit. He is quite right on certain things that need attending to here is the good old USA, including our schools, our healthcare system, our infrastructure, our economy and our treatment of our returning veterans. However, these are mere talking points and he never gives us solid, key evidence of how he can solve this other than using the Trump Brand.

You might ask yourself, “Okay, Donald. Just what is crippling America?” And unless you’ve been taking a very long nap, what’s crippling America are the very things Donald has been spewing about ever since he threw his hat into the political ring last year. And pretty much what he says are the same things political pundits spew about on everything from FOX News to AM radio to various Sarah Palin’s word salads vented via her social media. They include:

President Obama, Hillary Clinton, most Democrats and other assorted liberals, Congress, Muslims, immigrants, unions, the media, public schools, science and scientists concerned with climate change, and big government (well, any form of government actually)

Not surprising President Obama isn’t Trump’s favorite person. After all, Trump was a total birther who doubted the validity of the President’s birth here in the United States even after Obama presented his long-form birth certificate. He pretty much hates Obama, blaming him for everything from our relations to foreign countries to our healthcare woes to our piss poor public schools.

Other conservative talking points Trump pukes up within the confines of Crippled America is the threat of China’s booming economy and American companies outsourcing jobs to China (like Apple) without taking responsibility for outsourcing many Trump-related products to China. He just says they are good practices for him because they help him save money.

His take on energy is pretty much the same as Sarah Palin’s, “drill baby, drill,” while dismissing various green technologies like solar panels and wind turbines. He is also a denier of climate change and doesn’t seem to give a rip about anything environmentally-sound.

His only solution when it comes to our troubled healthcare system is to completely repeal and dismantle the Affordable Care Act while not offering any valid concepts and ideas on how we can offer good healthcare options that serve the public’s best interests.

At blame for our educational systems is mostly teachers and teacher unions. He blames government interference for our troubled economy, and doesn’t even brooch the issues of Wall Street greed, big business malfeasance and stagnant wages hindering the average American’s spending power. He talks about religious freedom but only how it affects good Christians like himself. As for Muslims? Well, you don’t have to read Crippled America to know how feels about Muslims. And his take on immigration is pretty much “Mexicans suck. Close the borders.” He is a huge fan of the second amendment and brags about having guns and doesn’t even want to discuss the most benign arguments for gun control.

Now how would Trump solve these problems that cripple our Nation? Well, he doesn’t exactly offer any salient policy, thoughtful ideas and solid evidence other than the various buildings and golf courses he has built around the world as if that is the same thing as running the United States. Though he does offer some ideas on making our tax code simpler, you’ve probably heard or read of these ideas elsewhere. Trump hardly breaks new ground.

Trump’s ego is all over Crippled America. He brags about his business acumen, never bringing up the failures of Trump University, Trump Airlines, Trump Vodka and other Trump-related beverages, Trump magazine, Trump’s line at Macy’s, various casinos and not to mention, his bankruptcies. He also brags of his family values, which is rather rich coming from a man on his third marriage and a known adulterer.

Crippled America is pretty much one big brag fest for Trump. As I mentioned offers no policies, ideas, evidence and careful research on how he would truly act if he was President. Furthermore, Crippled America is devoid of any endnotes or footnotes pointing out solid proof of what plagues America and why these issues plague America. If I handed in an essay in college written is such a flimsy manner I would have received a much deserved grade F.

You know, if Trump wasn’t running for the most important job in the world, I would just laugh over this book. But Trump is running for president and this chills me to my tailbone. The President of United States is not the same as being at the helm of a cheesy reality show. It is a job that requires wisdom, an open-mind to differences in race, gender, sexual identity, ethnicity, religious affiliation and differing ideas and opinions, diplomacy and empathy, the ability to see several sides to an issue, the aptitude to handle a crisis, excellent communication skills (especially listening), and other skills Donald just doesn’t seem to have or is willing to develop. Oh, being the President also requires a full understanding of the Constitution and its amendments, the Bill of Rights and how the three branches of government work. Wait, does Trump even know we have three branches of government?

When you think about, running for President is a job interview, the most important job interview I can imagine. Do you think you’d get a job if you spent your entire interview saying horrible things about women, Muslims, immigrants, your competition, or made fun of a disabled person?

I didn’t think so.

Trump sums up Crippled America, not with his tax returns, but with his so-called personal financials, and offers an “about the author” page that goes on for 17 pages. Yes, 17 pages. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount wasn’t 17 pages long.

In the end I can sum up Crippled America in 17 words: I survived reading Donald Trump’s Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again. No liquor was involved.

Book Review: Under the Affluence-Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America by Tim Wise

under the affluenceEvery once in while there comes a book that makes me want to shout from the roof tops, “Everybody, please read this book if you truly care about humanity and society!” Tim Wise’s book Under the Affluence: Shaming the Poor, Praising the Rich and Sacrificing the Future of America, is one such book. And though it may sound melodramatic, I truly think Mr. Wise’s book is an excellent primer on exactly why our nation seems so skewed, confused and messed-up, especially during one of our most scary, yet important presidential election years ever.

Scholar, activist and writer, the aptly named Tim Wise, has focused on societal issues since college and one of his first jobs was working against former KKK grand wizard, David Duke’s presidential bid. Since then Wise has worked on behalf of many progressive causes and has written several books, Under the Affluence being his latest.

In 2016 Wise wonders why do we (as a nation and a society) shame the poor (and let’s face it, anyone who isn’t mega wealthy) while praising the super-rich? And what does that say about us and what impact is this having on society?

Wise calls this detestable movement “Scroogism,” and, yes, based on Ebenezer Scrooge from the Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. And it is a theme that has shaped our thinking about the haves vs. the have-nots and have-lessers, much of it encouraged by big business, Wall Street, billionaires and millionaires, CEOs, the radical right political pundits, the current state of the GOP, conservative Christianity, mainstream media and often, ourselves. And yes, that includes the have-nots and have-lessers. And Wise offers evidence through nearly 40 pages of end notes to give gravitas to Under the Affluence.

Under the Affluence and its theme of Scroogism is divided into three well-researched, scholarly, yet audience friendly, maddening, heartbreaking and in the end, cautiously hopeful chapters. These chapters include:

  1. Pulling Apart-The State of Disunited America
  2. Resurrecting Scrooge-Rhetoric and Policy in a Culture of Cruelty
  3. Redeeming Scrooge-Fostering a Culture of CompassionIn Resurrecting Scrooge,

Wise carefully researches how in the 21st century the United States is a society that bashes the poor, blames victims, the unemployed and underemployed, embraces a serious lack of compassion and celebrates cruelty while putting the wealthy and the powerful on a pedestal. And Wise examines the origins of class and cruelty in the United States, the ideas of the Social Gospel and FDR’s New Deal, the myths and realities of the War on Poverty from its inception to Reaganism (and how liberals responded), and the concept how culture of cruelty affects who receives justice and who receives nothing at all except horrifically de-humanizing insults, both in rhetoric and reality. It is probably these two chapters that truly stirred my rage, and at times, I had to put Under the Affluence down and take a few deep breaths.But just as I was about to chuck Under the Affluence across the room and spend a week in the corner rocking back and forth, I read the final chapter, and felt a bit of hope. Perhaps, as nation things aren’t as bleak as they seem. In this chapter, Wise reminds us to look for possible roadblocks on the way of redemption. He also mentions that besides facts, use storytelling because behind every fact there is a very human face with a story that must be heard. He behooves us to create “a vision of a culture of a compassion” and how we can help communities to control their destiny.

Now, I am a realist. I know for the most part Under the Affluence is a book that preaches to the choir, especially in 2016. But maybe, just maybe, Under the Affluence will open minds, soften hearts and act an agent for, as Elvis Costello so aptly put it, “peace, love and understanding.” Under the Affluence is not only one of the most important books to come out in 2016; it is one of the most important books to come out in the 21st century.

Wise also takes a look at the world of the working poor and the non-working rich, the myth of meritocracy, horribly mean-spirited remarks, much of it coming from the radical right, including pundits and politicians, excessive CEO and big business pay, the devaluing of work that truly benefits all of society-nursing, teaching social work, protecting the public, improving our infrastructure, creating art, taking care of the elderly and disabled, and so on. And let’s not forget the very valuable work that doesn’t pay-parenting, eldercare, volunteering, etc.

In Pulling Apart, Wise takes a hardcore look at our current state of joblessness, wage stagnation, underemployment and how they affect us in this stage of “post-recession recovering” America. He investigates today’s realities and the long-term effects of income and wealth inequality. Wise contemplates who and what caused these problems and how race, class and economics are involved.

Book Review: Pro-Reclaiming Abortion Rights by Katha Pollitt

proI’ve been a Katha Pollitt fan ever since I discovered her columns in The Nation magazine several years ago. I always found her take on feminism, politics and assorted social issues to be eye-opening and thought-provoking. And I always appreciated her smart, down-to-earth and humorous writing style. Now she’s bringing all of this (and more) with her latest book Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know abortion is one of the most controversial issues in our country, especially since Roe v. Wade was made into law 1973. Those who call themselves pro-life are doing everything in their power to overturn Roe v. Wade.  Even some people who call themselves pro-choice consider abortion to be a tragic choice and one that should only be used as a last resort.

In Pro: Reclaiming Abortion rights, Pollitt claims that if women want to be able to control their lives in the ways they see fit, then they must fully be able to control their reproductive rights. Women must be able to make decisions of when and if they become mothers. Access to abortion and various forms of birth control are a part of making sure women are fully-actualized human beings.

Pro is divided into several well-written and sharply focused chapters. These chapters include reclaiming abortion, finding out what Americans think of abortion, asking “what is a person” and “are women people.” In one chapter Pollitt delves into the six myths of abortion, which include the crazy ideas that women are coerced into having abortions and opponents of abortion would never punish women. In another chapter, Pollitt tells us when it comes to abortion, it’s not necessarily abortion the pro-lifers oppose (spoiler alert: it’s women living their lives by their own standards, ideas, dreams and ambitions). In another chapter Pollitt asks if there can be a compromise on abortion and on another chapter behooves us to reframe motherhood.

Abortion has always been around, long before Roe V Wade. Since the beginning of time women have sought ways to control their fertility. And abortion won’t go away if Roe V. Wade is overturned. However, anti-abortion zealots have done a very good job in stripping away women’s reproductive rights from the closing of clinics to calling women seeking out reproductive control options “sluts” and “prostitutes” to abstinence-only sex education.

Needless, to say, a lot of reproductive rights activists and supporters are disgusted by the pro-life zealots framing the abortion debate. But Pollitt also calls out the pro-choice movement for not standing up to these zealots as effectively as they should. Fortunately, Pro lays out ways the pro-choice crowd can drown out these zealots and ensure women maintain their reproductive rights by focusing on what can happen when women can’t decide when and if they will give birth. These ramifications can affect a women’s whole life, personally and professionally.

Pro is filled with detailed information, and Pollitt includes a list of over 20 books for additional reading on women’s reproductive rights. She also provides interesting personal stories that help frame her ideas and opinions on the abortion debate that are definitely food for thought. Granted Pro might not change any minds when it comes to those on the extreme right when it comes to reproductive rights. And when it comes to the pro-choice crowd, Pro is definitely preaching to the choir, Perhaps, Pro is best to be read by those in the middle who always want to frame abortion as an option that should remain legal but is always one that is clouded in shame and an agonizing choice for most women, when in reality, it may be the easiest choice.

 

Book Marks ***UPDATED***

lets read book mark

 

***Great news. To Kill a Mockingbird author Harper Lee to release second novel later this year!***

Roxanne Gay, author of Bad Feminist and all-around bad ass, is writing a column about working women for Fortune magazine.

Here is Ms. Gay’s first column.

Colleen McCullough’s obit. Sure she was a best-selling author, but too bad she wasn’t a hottie.

Writers, maybe you should just give it up. Hmm, I can think of a few writers who should have taken this advice.

Is Hollywood opening its mind to novelists? Sure, looks that way.

Would you pay money to read the hateful, bigoted screeds of the Thinking Housewife? Nope, I didn’t think so. But apparently some people like hateful, bigoted screeds. FYI, if people don’t pay up the Thinking Housewife she’s going to pull the plug on her blog. I bathe in your tears, bitch, I bathe in your tears.

Book Marks

Je Suis CharlieDarling readers. I was hoping to have a book review up by today, but due to a bit of a head cold, I put that on hold. Hopefully, I will be feeling better soon and have it up next week. Enjoy the following books marks I have found for your reading pleasure.

What happened at the Charlie Hebdo’s offices in Paris chills me to my tailbone. As a reader and writer, I’m a huge proponent of free speech and free expression, even if I disagree with someone or find certain speech ignorant, tasteless or silly. Huffington Post has some good articles on the happenings regarding Charlie Hebdo.

Publisher’s Weekly announce the most promising debut books this upcoming spring.

CBS Sunday Morning’s delightful interview with Jeff Kinney the creator of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.

The 2014 releases Salon book critic Laura Miller chose not to read and why.

Fellow writers, do you need some dos and don’ts when it comes to meeting deadlines? Here is a handy list.

 

 

Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church by Lauren Drain with Lisa Pulitzer

BanishedUnless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Fred Phelps, the founder of the odious gay-hating “church” Westboro Baptist Church, died. When I found out about Phelps’ demise the mash-up, “Get Happy/Happy Days are Here Again,” featuring those two gay icons, Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand, played in my head. Then I thought to myself…

“What’s it like to be a part of church that spreads so much hate and despair in the world?”

Don’t worry faithful readers. I won’t join the Westboro Baptist Church. But, thanks to Lauren Drain, I now have an insider look at this church due to her eye-opening and disturbing memoir Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church (written with Lisa Pulitzer).

Until Lauren was in her mid-teens she lived a pretty standard all-American life. She got good grades in school. She hung out with her friends and flirted with boys. She enjoyed sports and outdoor activities. Then her father Steve (who fancied himself as a documentary filmmaker) decided to focus his camera on the Westboro Baptist Church and the notorious Phelps family.

Initially Steve was going to use his documentary called “Hatemongers” to expose the vitriol, hatred and bigotry of the church. But it wasn’t long before Steve got sucked into the world of Westboro and the Phelps. And what was supposed to be an exposé turned out to documentary in support of the church.

Steve decided to uproot his family, which Lauren’s mom Luci and younger sister Taylor, from their home in Florida to Topeka, Kansas to join Westboro. Steve’s turn from skeptical outsider to true believer is a head-scratcher. To me, it seems as if Steve was directionless soul who needed a sense of purpose. Apparently Westboro gave him that purpose.

Lauren goes from living a normal teenage life to picketing funerals and other events, carrying signs claiming, “God Hates Fags.” Lauren also becomes close to Fred Phelps’ daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper.

You’re probably familiar with Shirley, she with the evil grin and the severely damaged hair. After Fred, Shirley was pretty much the “face” of the Westboro Baptist Church, often interviewed by the media. Banished gives a very multi-dimensional glimpse at Shirley. Yes, Shirley is detestable and intolerant. She’s also very much a control freak, constantly lecturing people and admonishing them how to correct their behavior. But she’s also very human. She had a child out of wedlock, and when her son Josh left the church she became absolutely apoplectic.

However, Shirley was often very kind and maternal towards Lauren, often more so than Lauren’s actual mother who comes across as very subservient and weak. Shirley would give Lauren advice on how to live her life, often using misconstrued passages out of the Bible to extend the church’s message.

Lauren also becomes close to Shirley’s children, especially her daughter Jael. Lauren and Jael later attend nursing school together and work at the same hospital.
Lauren’s account of the church’s activities and how they managed to find so many venues to picket and also get out their message to the media is truly interesting. The church members are hugely well-organized, very disciplined, and experts at multi-tasking. They even put a lot of craft and care into the protest signs they carried. While reading these passages I kept wondering, “If only they could have used their skills for good and not evil.”

Lauren becomes a true believer and feels a sense of belonging amongst her fellow church members. If there is anything an impressionable, vulnerable teenager desires it’s a sense of belonging. At times, I wanted to shake Lauren and shout, “Just what are you doing young lady? Can’t you see how vile these people are?” And at times, I felt a great deal of compassion for Lauren. I know what it’s like to be a teenager just wanting to fit in.

However, Lauren is also an inquisitive sort and likes to ask a lot of questions. And as she got older she began to become less fervent and challenges many the church’s beliefs. She also wanted to find love and settle down. Needless to say, those in the church didn’t want Lauren to get involved with an outsider and let’s just say the pickings amongst the Westboro gang were pretty slim. And when Lauren begins emailing a young man those in the church become outraged and are convinced Lauren is sleeping with him.

Before long Lauren is kicked out of the Westboro Baptist Church; in other words, banished. After she was banished the church did everything to make Lauren’s life miserable, both personally and professionally. Furthermore, Lauren’s family completely shuns her, which by now included younger siblings, a sister named Faith and a brother named Boaz.

Towards the end of Banished Lauren describes the difficulty she had in losing her family, her place in the Westboro Baptist Church and navigating the outside world. Fortunately, Lauren’s determination, intelligence and work ethic allowed her to not only survive, but thrive. Today Lauren lives with her husband in Connecticut where she works as a cardiac nurse. And she has denounced her past and is now supportive of gay rights.

Banished was a fascinating read of a people that uses their “faith” in God to harm not heal. And as much as I hate the Phelps family, I find Lauren’s father an even bigger evil and a total failure as a father. I also believe bringing along former New York Times correspondent Lisa Pulitzer as co-writer was a huge help in writing Banished. Pulitzer co-wrote the best-selling Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs with Elissa Wall. Clearly, Pulitzer is well-versed in religious extremism and without a doubt she had a great deal in shaping Lauren’s story.

Banished is one book that shows how someone can get sucked into religious extremism only to be completely shunned, and ultimately live to tell the tale.