FEMINIST FRIDAY 2018

When women speak truly they speak subversively — they can’t help it: if you’re underneath, if you’re kept down, you break out, you subvert. We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains. That’s what I want – to hear you erupting. You young Mount St Helenses who don’t know the power in you – I want to hear you.”
Bryn Mawr College commencement speech, 1986,

Ursula K. Le Guin wrote in a genre that was male dominated and lent a gentle feminist perspective and gentle buddhist thought to her writing.  Her creativity will be missed but at least we have her books to read and to give to our children to read and learn a way of thinking about gender that seems finally coming into its own time.

 

Author Ursula Le Guin at home with her cat, Lorenzo, in 1996. The writer’s “pleasant duty,” she said, is to ply the reader’s imagination with “the best and purest nourishment that it can absorb.” Jill Krementz, All Rights Reserved

Ursula K. Le Guin, the immensely popular author who brought literary depth and a tough-minded feminist sensibility to science fiction and fantasy with books like “The Left Hand of Darkness” and the Earthsea series, died on Monday at her home in Portland, Ore. She was 88.

Ms. Le Guin embraced the standard themes of her chosen genres: sorcery and dragons, spaceships and planetary conflict. But even when her protagonists are male, they avoid the macho posturing of so many science fiction and fantasy heroes. The conflicts they face are typically rooted in a clash of cultures and resolved more by conciliation and self-sacrifice than by swordplay or space battles.

Her books have been translated into more than 40 languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide. Several, including “The Left Hand of Darkness” — set on a planet where the customary gender distinctions do not apply — have been in print for almost 50 years. The critic Harold Bloom lauded Ms. Le Guin as “a superbly imaginative creator and major stylist” who “has raised fantasy into high literature for our time.”

“The Left Hand of Darkness,” published in 1969, takes place on a planet called Gethen, where people are neither male nor female.

Ms. Le Guin’s fictions range from young-adult adventures to wry philosophical fables. They combine compelling stories, rigorous narrative logic and a lean but lyrical style to draw readers into what she called the “inner lands” of the imagination. Such writing, she believed, could be a moral force.

“If you cannot or will not imagine the results of your actions, there’s no way you can act morally or responsibly,” she told The Guardian in an interview in 2005. “Little kids can’t do it; babies are morally monsters — completely greedy. Their imagination has to be trained into foresight and empathy.”

The writer’s “pleasant duty,” she said, is to ply the reader’s imagination with “the best and purest nourishment that it can absorb.”

She was born Ursula Kroeber in Berkeley, Calif., on Oct. 21, 1929, the youngest of four children and the only daughter of two anthropologists, Alfred L. Kroeber and Theodora Kracaw Kroeber. Her father was an expert on the Native Americans of California, and her mother wrote an acclaimed book, “Ishi in Two Worlds” (1960), about the life and death of California’s “last wild Indian.”

At a young age, Ms. Le Guin immersed herself in books about mythology, among them James Frazer’s “The Golden Bough,” classic fantasies like Lord Dunsany’s “A Dreamer’s Tales,” and the science-fiction magazines of the day. But in early adolescence she lost interest in science fiction, because, she recalled, the stories “seemed to be all about hardware and soldiers: White men go forth and conquer the universe.”

She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1951, earned a master’s degree in romance literature of the Middle Ages and Renaissance from Columbia University in 1952, and won a Fulbright fellowship to study in Paris. There she met and married another Fulbright scholar, Charles Le Guin.

Author Ursula K. Le Guin in July 1996. Jill Krementz, All Rights Reserved

On their return to the United States, she abandoned her graduate studies to raise a family; the Le Guins eventually settled in Portland, where Mr. Le Guin taught history at Portland State University.

The Earthsea series was clearly influenced by J. R. R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. But instead of a holy war between Good and Evil, Ms. Le Guin’s stories are organized around a search for “balance” among competing forces — a concept she adapted from her lifelong study of Taoist texts.

She returned to Earthsea later in her career, extending and deepening the trilogy with books like “Tehanu” (1990) and “The Other Wind” (2001), written for a general audience.

“The Left Hand of Darkness,” published in 1969, takes place on a planet called Gethen, where people are neither male nor female but assume the attributes of either sex during brief periods of reproductive fervor. Speaking with an anthropological dispassion, Ms. Le Guin later referred to her novel as a “thought experiment” designed to explore the nature of human societies.

“I eliminated gender to find out what was left,” she told The Guardian.

But there is nothing dispassionate about the relationship at the core of the book, between an androgynous native of Gethen and a human male from Earth. The book won the two major prizes in science fiction, the Hugo and Nebula awards, and is widely taught in secondary schools and colleges.

Much of Ms. Le Guin’s science fiction has a common background: a loosely knit confederation of worlds known as the Ekumen. This was founded by an ancient people who seeded humans on habitable planets throughout the galaxy — including Gethen, Earth and the twin worlds of her most ambitious novel, “The Dispossessed,” subtitled “An Ambiguous Utopia” (1974).

As the subtitle implies, “The Dispossessed” contrasts two forms of social organization: a messy but vibrant capitalist society, which oppresses its underclass, and a classless “utopia” (partly based on the ideas of the Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin), which turns out to be oppressive in its own conformist way. Ms. Le Guin leaves it up to the reader to find a comfortable balance between the two.

“The Lathe of Heaven” (1971) offers a very different take on utopian ambitions. A man whose dreams can alter reality falls under the sway of a psychiatrist, who usurps this power to conjure his own vision of a perfect world, with unfortunate results.

Ms. Le Guin always considered herself a feminist, even when genre conventions led her to center her books on male heroes. Her later works, like the additions to the Earthsea series and such Ekumen tales as “Four Ways to Forgiveness” (1995) and “The Telling” (2000), are mostly told from a female point of view.

In some of her later books, she gave in to a tendency toward didacticism, as if she were losing patience with humanity for not learning the hard lessons — about the need for balance and compassion — that her best work so astutely embodies.

At the 2014 National Book Awards, Ms. Le Guin was given the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. She accepted the medal on behalf of her fellow writers of fantasy and science fiction, who, she said, had been “excluded from literature for so long” while literary honors went to the “so-called realists.”

She also urged publishers and writers not to put too much emphasis on profits.

“I have had a long career and a good one,” she said, adding, “Here at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river.”

URSULA K. LE GUIN YOU ROCK!
The information for this post came from the New York Times Obituary written by Gerald Jonas on January 23,, 2018.
Please feel free to leave a link to your blog story about an inspiring woman.  We can never read too many of these stories especially these days.

FEMINIST FRIDAY 2018

“We can have feminist icons, but the real heroines are just quietly doing what is needed”  Osyth

To follow up on Osyth’s quote about real heroines, I was struck when I read this story about Amy Price and knew I had to share it with you.

Mom coordinates free lunch for kids when schools close in cold

Amy Price was not planning to feed more than 100 kids when she woke up on Wednesday morning.

The mother of three from Lorain County, Ohio, was thinking of her eighth-grade son who would be spending the day at home due to schools closing for cold temperatures when she had an idea.

“I was happy for my son to have the day off and the kids who didn’t have to walk in the freezing cold, but then I started thinking about the kids who may not eat,” Price, 41, an attorney and real estate agent, told ABC News. “I remember being a child services prosecutor and caseworkers mentioning sometimes that kids may not eat on snow days when they’re home from school.”

Price took to Facebook and posted a short message, which she shared on her own page and local community pages.

“If you live in the Lorain County area and your kids depend on school-provided breakfast and lunch to be able to eat today and they do not have school please inbox me,” she wrote. “Someone from my company will drop some items off to you. Please feel free to share.”

Price thought she would go to the grocery store and buy some meat for sandwiches and chips and fresh fruit to put in lunch bags but the overwhelming response changed her plan.

“Some people even contacted me for their neighbors and grandchildren and nieces and nephews,” she said. “They just kept pouring in.”

Price received so many messages that she instead called a local McDonald’s and place an order for more than 100 cheeseburgers and French fries.

Price, her husband, with their 13-year-old son in tow, and her adult daughter, with her 4-year-old in tow, then hand-delivered the lunches to homes across five cities.

“We knocked on every door,” Price said. “Some kids were home alone and were taught well and wouldn’t open the door and we’d leave it there and I know they got it because the parents would private message me with their thanks.

“One parent wrote, ‘You would have thought you gave my kid $100 he’s so excited,’” she recalled. “Everyone was just so appreciative and thankful.”

Price’s good deed quickly spread through the community. With schools closed for the rest of the week, other community members organized lunch runs for Thursday and Friday.

Some people donated money while others came in person to help, often bringing along their own kids who were home from school.

Another 100 lunches were delivered on Thursday and Friday, according to Price.

Price, a Lorain County native, said she expected on Wednesday to receive about 20 messages. She called it “heartbreaking and heartwarming” to see both the need in the community and how the community stepped in to help.

“I’m amazed by how much the community came together and I realized how naive I was to the need,” she said. “This was never my intention but I think it brought a lot of awareness in my community to the need out there.”

Around 45 percent of public school students in the state of Ohio are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, according to the most recent figures from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Price said the response from people needing help and wanting to donate help fills her with hope that her work for kids can continue.

“We’ve talked about possibly keeping donations in reserve for future snow days or doing something more large-scale,” she said. “I hope this will lead to something more permanent.”

“The momentum is there,” Price said.

PHOTO: Amy Price Mendez and her family delivered over 100 lunches to children in need throughout Lorain County, Ohio, Jan. 3, 2018.

AMY PRICE YOU ROCK!
The information for this post came from ABC News.
Please feel free to leave a link to your blog story about an inspiring woman.  We can never read too many of these stories especially these days.