Bitch Planet (Book One): Extraordinary Machine | Story By: Kelly Sue DeConnick | Art By: Valentine De Landro and Robert Wilson IV
This write up won't be so much of a summary as it will be a push for you to go buy this comic. Bitch Planet tells the story of a world that has created an "Auxiliary Compliance Outpost" for non-compliant women. When they break the law or even just act out, they get sent to the better known titular Bitch Planet. The first non-compliant woman whose story we hear is Marian Collins'. Her husband had an affair. When she threatened him, her first infraction, she got sent to Bitch Planet. However, she only got picked up after the authorities arrested Mr. Collins' mistress first, mistaking her for the current Mrs. Collins. We find this out when Mr. Collins comes to Bitch Planet having paid a large fee to retrieve his mistress, Dawn. I'll save the rest of Marian's story for you to read yourself, as notto spoil it.
The next woman we meet is Kam. She becomes our central character as the women of Bitch Planet come together to bring down the system. While Kam is in her cell, an operative named Miss Whitney pays her a visit. After ratings surged when a beloved soldier was killed during a televised Megaton battle, the Fathers think a battle between the prisoners and the guards would bring in a lot of money. After all, it's not cheap to run a prison. The build up to and the fall out of that Megaton battle play out for the rest of the book, and it does not disappoint.
Miss Whitney tries to convince Kam to put this team together because the women in the prison need a purpose. She not so subtly reminds Kam that their conditions aren't great on Bitch Planet, and anything they can do to make it easier on themselves, such as complying, they should. Bitch Planet is a story about non-compliant women. They start fights, they beat the guards, they refuse to be held hostage, and they do it because they can. Reading this book is a completely cathartic experience and I can't wait to continue the series.
My Life on the Road | Written By: Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem's new book My Life on the Road is an autobiographical story about how personal travels made a huge impact on her life as a feminist, activist, journalist, and organizer. From the time Gloria was a little girl, she was on the road traveling with her family (very unconventional for the time). Gloria's nomad-living father influenced her desire to never settle and to explore life by car, plane, or bus. Gloria proves that being a good listener, having an open mind, and living life outside of our comfort zone can bring success and beautiful connection.
It was so appropriate that I read this book while starting this newsletter. The universe definitely had the right idea when I purchased this book at the start of the new year. Gloria is such a beautifully inspiring, balanced human. Not only did she live her life for the well-being of others, she found a way to become such a full person. That is why feMAIL is so important to me. It fulfills a part of my soul that I have yet to awaken. Gloria talks about the importance of talking circles. Her talking circles consisted of feminists, organizers, civil rights activists, journalists, everyday American women, oppressed women in India, and many more. She explains that these talking circles showed her how little she knew and how much she wanted to learn. The impact from the women around her inspired her to be more than a journalist. feMAIL newsletter will act as a one of our talking circles with the hopes of growth, learning, openness, and understanding.
What Happened Miss Simone | Directed By: Liz Garbus
What Happened Miss Simone is a documentary film about the fascinating life of legendary recording artist Nina Simone. The film shows Nina's constant transformation from well trained classical pianist, to jazz club singer, to popular recording artist, to civil rights activist, to celebrated, hall of fame superstar. In the 1960s, Nina used her musical genius to speak up about the apparent racial issues in America during the civil rights movement. Throughout her transformations, the audience sees a self-deprecating Nina who suffers from depression and bipolar disorder. In a life of constant internal struggle, Nina's passion, unique musical ability, brutal honesty, and conviction shined through her talent making her one of the most influential artists of all time.
While watching this film, I couldn't help but be inspired by Nina's sense of purpose. She easily could have coasted on her talent and sold out into popular music, but instead she took radical stands for the African American community during the civil rights movement. She performed civil rights songs that were honest and made the audience think. She never held back who she was, even if her views were not universally accepted. I have such a deep respect for her conviction. One of the commentators said it best, "Most people are afraid to be as honest as she lived."
Enlightened | Created By: Mike White and Laura Dern
I'm a TV person, and sometimes a show just gets you. Sometimes before you even truly get yourself. For me, that was HBO's two season miracle (cancelled tragically early), Enlightened. This will be another push for you to do something. Binge this series, using someone else's HBO GO password, of course.
Meet Amy Jellicoe (Laura Dern), a woman on the verge of a nervous breakthrough. She was sleeping with her married boss, and surprise, it didn't work out. Then, when that imploded, the rest of her life followed suit. So she goes on a retreat at a holistic treatment facility. When she returns, she's ready to get her life back on track. She moves in with her somewhat estranged mother Helen (Diane Ladd | Laura Dern's real life mother) and tries reconnecting with her ex-husband Levi (Luke Wilson) who are both skeptical of her newfound state of being. She goes back to work, but has been demoted to a basement job in data processing. As she tries to be an "agent of change", Amy intends to better herself and those around her. However, she has very little regard for what those around her think is best for themselves. Needless to say, she runs into many people who aren't very keen on her new way of thinking. This leads to nuanced arguments about what a person's purpose is versus what it should be, and who's really to say which is more virtuous. Also, Mike White (who wrote every episode solo, and also plays Tyler, Amy's desk mate), writes some of the most beautiful monologues. Usually read by Amy in voice over as episodes end, they leave you thinking not just about whether or not she's on the right track, but whether or not you are. You can watch one of my favorites called "The Ghost is Seen" here. It's one of the rare monologues read by another character, this time by Mike White as Tyler, and it makes me cry to this day.
P.S. The song played at the end is Esme by Joanna Newsom. I played it on repeat for days after hearing it there.