More on Hobby Lobby…

The New York Times Editorial Board present a cogent, succinct argument why this decision limits rights, instead of upholding them. Just a snippet, but read the whole thing, it’s short (emphasis mine):

It was the first time the court has allowed commercial business owners to deny employees a federal benefit to which they are entitled by law based on the owners’ religious beliefs, and it was a radical departure from the court’s history of resisting claims for religious exemptions from neutral laws of general applicability when the exemptions would hurt other people.

Updated to add this useful article: 5 myths about the Hobby Lobby case, debunked. This addresses the most frequent arguments I’ve seen supporting the ruling.


Corporations have rights, women not so much…

So, this is going around Twitter today:

I have seen a lot of comments about the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, such as women can pay for their own birth control or not all birth control methods were excluded, just a few. They are all missing the fundamental point, which is that this decision, and a whole slew of other legislation targeting abortion rights and access to birth control, does not acknowledge that women are fundamentally people.

Women are seen first and foremost as potential baby-making devices. This one biological fact trumps everything else, including other health issues that a woman may have that don’t have anything to do with making babies or women’s ability to make their own decisions about their own health care, without interference from their (male) employers, (male) legislators, or the (male) majority of the Supreme Court.

For example, one of the devices that Hobby Lobby objects to on religious grounds is the IUD. Well, detractors say, women can use the pill instead, or a condom. However, the IUD’s only purpose is not birth control. It has other uses in women’s health beyond birth control, and the pill and condoms cannot substitute in those cases. The IUD is also very expensive, and it requires a medical procedure to put in place. This should be covered under health insurance, like all other medical procedures.

Why should employers or Supreme Court judges, who clearly do not have a medical degree and don’t know beans about women’s health, be dictating what kinds of medical devices women can and can’t have access to? Why do they think they know better than a woman and her doctor? Because babies, that’s why.

Why are women so upset about this decision, even women who don’t work for Hobby Lobby, or who don’t need these medical devices? Because once again it’s been affirmed that beyond making babies, women have no other function. A woman’s rights or medical needs mean nothing in comparison.

Until women are viewed as full people, with agency over every aspect of their lives, bodies, and health, women will not have achieved equality. Unfortunately, it’s all too clear that in this country, despite all our gains, women are still viewed as nothing more than life support systems for wombs.


Beggars in Spain, Nancy Kress


SF Mistressworks has republished my review of the novella Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress, which you can read below.

Originally posted on SF Mistressworks:

beggarsBeggars in Spain, Nancy Kress (1991)
Review by Shannon Turlington

“A man’s worth to society and to himself doesn’t rest on what he thinks other people should do or be or feel, but on himself. On what he can actually do, and do well. People trade what they do well, and everyone benefits. The basic tool of civilization is the contract. Contracts are voluntary and mutually beneficial. As opposed to coercion, which is wrong.”

This review has spoilers and political content. You have been warned.

In the near future, Leisha is one of the first generation of children genetically engineered not to need sleep, and finds herself hated and feared because of the advantages that gives her.

I first read this novel long ago, and I just reread the novella it was based on to refresh my memory, so this review will focus on the novella, which is the opening…

View original 614 more words

On mothers writing about sex…

Interesting post on BuzzFeed of all places: Madonnas And Whores: On Mothers Writing About Sex.

I don’t tend to think of the authors I’m reading as anything but “authors.” That is, I don’t wonder if they are parents or assign them that designation or any other. I do think it’s odd how many people get fiction confused with real life, as if the author cannot write about anything that she hasn’t personally experienced.

Books by women: A reading list

In a recent post, I discussed trying to read books written by women. This led me to consider which women authors I would recommend, and I came up with a list of books by women that I think are entertaining and enlightening reads. Of course, I am not the only person to have come up with such a list, and if you are so inclined, you can find 50, 100, or even 500 more books by women to fill up your “to read” shelf.

Here is my list (my absolute favorite books are starred and my favorite women authors are bolded):

  • Kate Atkinson: Life After Life
  • Margaret Atwood: Cat’s Eye; The Handmaid’s Tale*; Oryx and Crake*
  • Jane Austen: Emma; Persuasion; Pride and Prejudice*
  • Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre*
  • Octavia Butler: Lilith’s Brood*; Parable of the Sower*; Parable of the Talents
  • Kate Chopin: The Awakening
  • Daphne du Maurier: Rebecca*
  • Jean Hegland: Into the Forest
  • Patricia Highsmith: The Talented Mr. Ripley
  • Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House*; The Sundial*; We Have Always Lived in the Castle*
  • P.D. James: The Children of Men*
  • Nancy Kress: Beggars in Spain
  • Madeleine L’Engle: A Wrinkle in Time
  • Anne Lamott: Bird by Bird
  • Ursula K. Le Guin: Always Coming Home*; The Dispossessed; The Lathe of Heaven; The Left Hand of Darkness*; The Unreal and the Real; The Word for World Is Forest
  • Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird*
  • Erin Morgenstern: The Night Circus*
  • Audrey Niffenegger: The Time Traveler’s Wife
  • Flannery O’Connor: A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories*
  • Sylvia Plath: The Bell Jar
  • E. Annie Proulx: The Shipping News
  • Mary Doria Russell: Children of God; The Sparrow*
  • Dorothy L. Sayers: Gaudy Night*
  • Sheri S. Tepper: Grass
  • Jo Walton: Among Others
  • Kate Wilhelm: Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
  • Connie Willis: To Say Nothing of the Dog*
  • M.K. Wren: A Gift Upon the Shore*

How to consciously read books written by women…

Before I started journaling my reading, in 2001, I just read whatever caught my eye at the bookstore without any sort of plan whatsoever. Over the decade since I started journaling, I’ve gradually become more purposeful in my reading, and if I look back over my journals (now on LibraryThing), I can see a steady improvement in the books I choose to read reflected in higher ratings and fewer abandoned books. 

At the beginning of the year, I did an exercise where I identified my top 10 favorite books of all time. I noticed that 7 out of 10 books were written by women (and of the 3 on my list written by men, one of those men was gay), but in my general reading, I’m still reading 2 books by men for every 1 book by a woman, according to LibraryThing stats. I decided to get even more purposeful in my reading and read mostly women, choosing books that are similar to my top 7 favorite books/authors. I still have a lot of unplanned reads, but the deliberate planning has been helping me discover new-to-me authors and break out of my ruts. This month, for instance, I’m reading 5 sci-fi/fantasy books all by women I have never read before.

My goals to stretch even further would be to read more women of color and more authors from countries other than the US/Canada/Britain. I would also like to read more gay authors and more authors of color generally. As a former English major, I find that I have about had my fill of the white male voice, even though there are many white male authors whose books I enjoy. But I want to hear from some other voices and open up my world even more.

For further reading:

The Snow Queen, Joan D Vinge


SF Mistressworks republished my review of The Snow Queen.

Originally posted on SF Mistressworks:

snowqueenThe Snow Queen, Joan D Vinge (1980)
Review by Shannon Turlington

The Snow Queen is an epic story set on a distant planet, about the fall of one queen and the rise of another. The novel is based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson and tackles such weighty themes as immortality and the power of knowledge.

The strength of this novel lies in its world building. The planet of Tiamat is a fully realized world, an ocean-covered planet orbiting twin suns. Two tribes live there: the sea-going, island-dwelling Summers, characterized by a fear of technology and a superstitious worship of their sea goddess, the Lady; and the Winters, who live in the Northern regions and the shell-shaped city of Carbuncle, embrace technology and freely trade with the Offworlders.

Tiamat’s culture and history are shaped by the oddities of its planetary and solar system orbits. Every 150 years, it…

View original 553 more words