It’s the season for round-ups of the yr’s cultural highlights, however as an alternative of providing you with our views on the books and movies everybody was speaking about in 2015, we’ve determined to recommend some you may need missed. In different phrases, listed here are just a few of the issues we’ve loved, and suppose our readers will too. Not all our suggestions are from this yr, however they’re pretty latest and all obtainable, and in our opinion they’re all absorbing and entertaining. So, put some feminism into your festive season with the T&S collective’s Christmas checklist.

Books price studying:

Liz Kelly:

My suggestions for vacation studying are two novels written by pals and one which opened up new vistas of sci-fi/fantasy. All of them can be found on Kindle and as an actual guide

Hotel Arcadia, Sunny Singh

Promoted as a thriller, and with quite a lot of glowing evaluations, this can be a novel written by one in all my colleagues. Set in a luxurious lodge which is subjected to a terrorist assault the textual content strikes between two central characters who problem gender stereotypes. Sam, a fearless, but traumatised, conflict photographer, is a girl who seems to in charge of her life, who has her personal ethics and ethical compass. Ahbi, the lodge supervisor and a closeted homosexual man, angsts about having didn’t stay as much as his army father’s hopes and expectations.

The terrorists and the previous are the backdrops towards which the Sam and Ahbi enter a dialog with one another and themselves, though they by no means truly meet. The excessive context creates a state of affairs through which they muse on the non-public within the political, the worldwide for the person. The central part is taught, tense – I discovered myself holding my breath and needed to carry on studying because the writing evoked this small harmful house.

Golddigger, Hilary McCollum

Written by a very long time buddy and radical feminist, Golddigger is within the custom of lesbian historic fiction. The guide traces the early lifetime of Frances Moriarty as she escapes the merciless ty of famine hit Ireland for the promise of the US. The scenes in Ireland are filled with the stolen moments of a primary and forbidden love, the delight and amazement when ladies fall in love with one another, the straightforward pleasure of a glance, a contact and that first electrical kiss. Tragedy strikes and the writing turns to loss and grief, as Frances has to face the problem and journey alone. Unsurprisingly she decides to decorate as a person and while in New York decides to hitch the legions travelling to California to make their fortune within the gold rush. You must learn the guide to seek out out if she makes it. Ultimately this story is a quest, by a poor however decided girl for a life unconstrained by faith, custom and female conformity, of loving and residing towards the grain.

Lagoon, Nnedi Okarafor

The plot line comes straight out of B film science fiction – aliens land on earth and usually are not impressed by what they discover. What makes this completely different is that it’s set in Lagos, which made me realise how a lot of the scifi and fantasy I learn takes the West as its template. More than this how the aliens are realised, and the uncertainty of whether or not they may be saviours or tyrants, presents greater than a late night time film. This coupled with the machinations of assorted groupings to make use of the aliens for their very own agendas – a failing sick president, a corrupt pastor, the bold army man, and a road gang – make for a fancy and at instances chaotic plot. What I most loved, nonetheless, have been the encounters with Nigerian mythology and the chapters which have been written from the attitude of a swordfish, an enormous spider and even a piece of street. Speculative fiction at its greatest, and a part of the brand new style of Afrofuturism.

Debbie Cameron:

Dietland, Sarai Walker

Sarai Walker’s Dietland takes the upbeat, anarchic political spirit of the early Women’s Liberation Movement and infuses it right into a novel with a up to date setting and pop-culture sensibility. Set in present-day New York City, it’s the story of Plum Kettle, an remoted and initially considerably downtrodden girl whose job is answering the anguished letters readers ship to the editor of a teen women’ journal. Plum’s personal downside is that she’s fats in a world the place fats ladies are despised: she’s ready and saving for the bariatric surgical procedure that she thinks will change her life.

But then she stumbles right into a parallel world. An anti-beauty trade activist who has infiltrated the journal the place she works leads her to Verena, a philanthropist who inherited a fortune from her mom’s slimming enterprise (the Dietland of the title), and is utilizing what she regards because the proceeds of the satan’s work to do the work of feminism as an alternative. She makes Plum a proposal: she’ll pay for the surgical procedure if Plum nonetheless needs to have it after a interval of residing in Verena’s all-female communal family.

Meanwhile, there’s a subplot a few shadowy group calling itself ‘Jennifer’ (the identify has been chosen as a result of it’s so generic, the most well-liked women’ identify of the Nineteen Eighties). Jennifer is basically a terrorist group, and its targets are males who’ve perpetrated violence towards ladies. It kidnaps them and both kills them or makes use of them as leverage to make feminist calls for (such because the elimination of degrading pictures of ladies from public sale).

I received’t reveal the way it all comes out, however the motive I believe it’s an important radical feminist learn isn’t, in any case, the plot. It’s the combination of what you would possibly name political satire and fantasy. Walker is each incisive and uncompromising in her critique of the misogyny of latest ‘post-feminist’ societies. There is sort of no facet of the contempt, violence and hatred ladies are subjected to—by capitalism, by their very own internalized self-loathing, and above all by males—that isn’t touched on sooner or later within the novel. Yet it doesn’t flip right into a horrorfest or a one-note rant; first, as a result of the satire is usually humorous in addition to enraging, and second, due to the fantasy ingredient. The ‘Jennifer’ subplot has ladies rising up and turning the tables on their oppressors: we would not approve of their strategies in actual life, however in fiction this revenge is nice.

In a means Dietland is a (feminist) novel of concepts, nevertheless it’s unlikely to be described as such, as a result of it isn’t a ‘troublesome’ or inaccessible guide, and it’s not geared toward readers who like their writing self-consciously literary. Some reviewers have been a bit sniffy about it for that motive; just a few have gone as far as to check it to chick-lit. Some readers clearly made that assumption too, to guage from their on-line feedback expressing disappointment that the initially sympathetic Plum turned out so ‘unlikeable’.

I’m extra in settlement with the reviewer who described Dietland as ‘an exciting, incendiary manifesto disguised as a seashore learn’. And what you may take pleasure in on a seashore, you may equally take pleasure in throughout the inevitable longueurs of the festive season, or use to lighten the gloom of a British January. Think of it as a feminist various to becoming a member of the health club and occurring a detox weight loss program.

Films price watching

Joan Scanlon:

My suggestions start with two movies which can be extra about pleasure than politics, the primary an elegiac movie about ladies and wine-making, and the second a romantic comedy with a twist.

Les Cabotines: le vin au feminin

Les Cabotines: le vin au feminin (freely translated as: Wine, Women & Friends, which is the English title of the movie) was produced and directed by Fiona Cunningham-Reid. It is the story of Carole Leblanc and Jo Béfort, who began their wine journey eight years in the past in Collias, France. Their dream was to provide wonderful wine. They had no expertise, no skilled help, simply their ardour for wine – and the help of their pals. This fascinating movie follows their wine-making journey and gently explores their relationships with the village and one another. This isn’t a lesbian separatist group; removed from it. Key to the success of their integration within the village is their absolute dedication to make the very best wine, and vice versa. The villager from whom they rent their cellar is totally approving of the standard of their wine, which far exceeds that of the earlier occupant. When requested about their sexuality, he says: “It was talked about, however there’s no downside.” Their sexuality is neither right here nor there, however a outstanding unremarkability nonetheless within the context of village life.

The movie was screened at Channel 4 on  twenty third January 2013 on the launch of Stonewall’s feminine supporter initiative, adopted by a wine tasting of Carole & Jo’s newest classic. Long lingering photographs of the Pays du Gard panorama, Jo mucking out a wine press, Carole lyricizing concerning the high quality of the grapes, heat evenings consuming outside with portions of pals celebrating (and consuming) the fruits of their labour. The movie isn’t coy concerning the bodily arduous work concerned in wine-making, however despite this, I doubt there have been many lesbians within the viewers (materially influenced by a glass or two of the very superb Les Dames d’Epicure), who didn’t take into account packing up store and shifting to Languedoc-Roussillon. A latest assessment in G3 journal (principally very optimistic to be truthful), nonetheless argues that: ‘the documentary is at instances nearly sickly candy and idyllic past perception’, and I can’t assist questioning if this isn’t a warning to the readers of G3, Diva et al, that this movie isn’t about energy, hazard and intercourse – it’s purely a movie about pleasure.

To purchase or obtain the movie: or you may merely order a replica of the DVD from Amazon (underneath the English title). Sadly, their wine isn’t obtainable within the UK, however it might scarcely be a hardship to go to the winery and purchase it for your self:


Margarita – a movie by Dominique Cardona & Laurie Colbert – was screened on the closing night time of the London Lesbian & Gay movie pageant, twenty fourth March 2013. Ostensibly a lesbian love story, right here, as in Les Cabotines, sexuality isn’t the problem. Margarita, a younger Mexican nanny, has been residing and dealing in Canada illegally for the earlier six years. She is employed by Gail and Ben, a cash-strapped energy couple (brilliantly acted by Patrick McKenna and Gail Lautier), who’re oblivious to her dependence on them – and theirs on her: she does all the pieces in the home, from cleansing and cooking to constructing upkeep (there’s a really humorous scene the place she seems as a form of superwoman with a device belt strapped to her prepared for any DIY process).

When the couple determine they must make economies, Margarita’s tiny wage is on their hit checklist, though they battle to tell her of this, and their teenage daughter Mali goes into full revolt when she finds out. The movie is splendidly ironic – Margarita is self-consciously portrayed by Nicola Correia-Damude as a Mexican Mary Poppins (the reference is specific). Everyone loves her (not simply the household, however Carlos the gardener, the shopkeepers – and, in fact, her commitment-phobic lover Jane). When Margarita is knocked off her bicycle, and thus delivered to the eye of the authorities and threatened with deportation, Ben and Gail realise they will’t handle with out her, and, since they don’t seem to be married themselves (on precept) every of them in flip suggest marriage to her with a view to preserve her within the nation (and naturally managing their family). These scenes are hilariously humorous – the heterosexual couple satisfied that every of them is making an irresistible provide.

Margarita (à la Poppins) is in fact solely taken with marrying for love, and the movie ends with Jane (lastly) proposing. Do we’ve got a Jane Austen conclusion: all of the social divisions, turmoil and private tragedies, neatly resolved by matrimony? I could also be attributing an excessive amount of satire to the movie, nevertheless it was so constantly self-ironising that I used to be inclined to learn the conclusion in that mild too. We suspect that the relatively shallow Jane might be commitment-phobic no less than partly due to Margarita’s class and race, and I for one didn’t really feel the lesbian marriage conclusion was the top of her struggles. In the top, the movie was extra a feminist movie than a lesbian feel-good film. It isn’t a popping out story; Margarita simply occurs to be a lesbian (and that is merely accepted by all the opposite characters within the movie). Her sexuality isn’t the main focus: the movie is extra involved with problems with social justice (class, race and immigration coverage) and with parenting, heterosexuality, marriage. However, it offers with all these points with a light-weight contact, and was that uncommon factor: a superbly crafted, surprisingly humorous, thought-provoking movie, which I can suggest whole-heartedly.


If you need stir some historical past and politics into your festive viewing, then now you can pay money for a replica of Myriam Fougère’s Lesbiana: A Parallel Revolution. This documentary about lesbian separatist communities in North America within the Nineteen Eighties was screened on the opening night time of the primary London Feminist Film Festival on 30th November 2012. It is now obtainable on DVD from the next web site:

Shortly after the screening, the Trouble & Strife collective mulled over the historical past and significance of lesbian separatism, and you may hear this dialogue on our podcast, downloadable by way of this hyperlink.

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