A Cup of Tea with The Wife of Bath

A Cup of Tea with The Wife of Bath

Let’s get classical real quick; I’m talkin’ Canterbury Tales classical. I’m sitting down with my copy of Chaucer’s works and a steaming cup of black currant lavender tea from Twinings on Fleet Street in London. (Pardon my posh-sounding situation, I was about five minutes shy of flat broke when I left Europe.)  I was fortunate enough to study abroad in London as a student at KSU during the Summer of 2014, and I got to visit Canterbury with one of my classes. I picked up this copy of Chaucer’s works at a used bookstore in Canterbury to commemorate my visit, along with a few other inexpensive (in terms of international keepsakes) keepsakes. I’m not a huge fan of Chaucer overall, but I do enjoy most of The Wife of Bath’s Tale.

~~~~~

I have some photos of Canterbury Cathedral I’d like to share with y’all before I delve deep into Wife of Bath’s characteristics and her feminist themes.

DSCN0232Canterbury Cathedral c. Mid-July 2014 during some construction.

Getting the chance to visit the famed Canterbury Cathedral, where Thomas Becket was martyred in 1170 was quite surreal. It’s not everyday that you get to travel to the scene of a murder and get excited about it!

IMG_3682
I had lunch at Tiny Tim’s Tea Room in Canterbury and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I did a lot of solo exploring while I was abroad; lunchtime was no different. I decided to splurge at a cute little tea room with a literary theme. I had a plate of finger sandwiches, a pot of tea, and my first slice of Victoria’s sponge cake (which is now my absolute favorite). I really enjoyed the whole trip, and I lingered for quite a while in town before I headed home. Europe is as beautiful as people say it is, and I feel like I should share one last image of a garden I visited before I left Canterbury that day.

DSCN0309.JPG
Like,seriously… Tell me those aren’t the most bodacious hostas you’ve ever seen.
Look at how clear that water is!
You can see the roots of the plants!

I did a lot of solo exploring while I was abroad; lunchtime was no different. I decided to splurge at a cute little tea room with a literary theme. I had a plate of finger sandwiches, a pot of tea, and my first slice of Victoria’s sponge cake (which is now my absolute favorite). I really enjoyed the whole trip, and I lingered for quite a while in town before I headed home. Europe is as beautiful as people say it is, and I feel like I should share one last image of a garden I visited before I left Canterbury that day.

~~~~~

TW: RAPE

On to The Wife of Bath; In class we discussed the Wife of Bath’s character for quite some time, and one of our main points was the fact that she’s a damn good feminist character. Say hello to a woman who unashamedly enjoyed sex, remarried multiple times, and otherwise rocked modernity in a way that most of her peers on the journey frowned upon. Enter current me, cheering on her badassery with no shame whatsoever.

To give you a little background, Canterbury Tales is comprised of prologues and stories told by various people headed on a religious pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral in Canterbury, England. The prologues provide background on the character telling the following story. The characters are telling stories in an effort to pass the time on their journey.

A few facts about WoB (Wife of Bath) from her prologue:

  • Her name is Alisoun (I’m cheating, it’s from the tale she tells, but still).
  • She’s been married five times and views herself as an authority on marriage.
  • She is religious enough to be headed on a pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral, but still questions some elements of the bible.
  • She uses her sexuality as a way to earn prowess in her marriages.
  • Her use of scripture in ways that don’t fit are indicative of Chaucer’s distrust  of clergymen and other higher-ups in church that used scripture to excuse their unsavory actions.
  • Some scholars argue that her playing into misogyny means that she should not be described as a feminist character, but I wholeheartedly disagree.
  • She was a cougar, and married a 20 y/o when she was 40. (Her fifth husband)

Delving into Alisoun’s tale, we hear of a young knight who rapes a maiden in the time of King Arthur. When the court decides that he should be put to death, Arthur’s queen asks to pick his punishment herself. She sends him on a mission and gives him one year to redeem himself. All that the night must do is find out what women want the most in the world. Should he succeed, he may keep his life.

Don’t bother to take a guess, it’s one of those riddles that is so simple that it’s nearly impossible to figure out.

I’ll skip the nifty mythological elements of the tale (old hag turns into beautiful young maiden and somehow the rapist gets a young hot wife????). I have issues with it. Large, vast issues.

What women want most in the world is to have authority and the ability to make choices for themselves. Chaucer wrote this in the 1300’s. Yes, literally 700 years ago.

 

Some VERY Exciting News! 

Alright, expect your regularly scheduled posting later this evening or tomorrow afternoon because…

I GOT INTO GRAD SCHOOL!!!!! 

I’ll be attending Georgia College and State University in the Fall for a Master’s of Fine Arts in Poetry. 

Also, I had my license testing at 2:00 today which meant that I didn’t get to writing quite as early as I’d planned. 

BUT I GOT MY LISENCE! 

 ALSO, meet Buffy the duck. Buffy likes to get in my hair and stand on my shoulder. I’m not sure why, but I certainly don’t mind it. 

I’ll be posting about The Wife of Bath’s Tale from Canterbury Tales next. 

ReadCOLOR Easter Kindle Sale! 

ReadCOLOR is having an Easter flash sale on a few Kindle books. 

  

Image Credit: Twitter 

If you didn’t catch them free the last time, go ahead and pick them up super cheap today! They are excellent books of poetry by wonderful writers. 

Book 14: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

I’m not a bad feminist, but I am terrible at keeping up with pop-culture/mainstream feminism. It took me way too long to pick up this book. The title drew me in, and I recall making a mental note to pick this book up when I was a college sophomore. Yet, here I am, all graduated and inhaling books like my life depends on it.

TW: transphobic language, rape jokes, comedic antisemitism, race jokes.
Also: Multiple uncomfortable Cosby references (not Kaling’s fault).

As I previously mentioned, I have Bossypants on my shelf to read this year, but my lack of knowledge on the current generation of famous feminists like Kaling and Fey makes it harder for me to pick up these books with much excitement. I stayed engaged throughout the book, but I didn’t get nearly as wrapped up in this book as I’d hoped.

I’m not in love with Kaling, but I do find her to be quite amusing. I enjoyed her ability to laugh at herself and the many blunders she’d had as a college grad trying to make it big in NYC. As a broke girl from Georgia, I lived vicariously through Kaling.

 

aqImage credit: Amazon.com

I’m not a comedy person, though I do enjoy a good laugh that isn’t a tasteless, cheap shot that has been taken hundreds of times before. Speaking of cheap shots, Kaling’s mention of the rape joke she and her former coworker made was… uncomfortable. Most of her humor was palatable, and her choice to poke fun at a bus route that made her uncomfortable was fine, though I didn’t enjoy her method for doing so. Most of Kaling’s humor is tasteful, and I did have some genuine laughs while reading this book.

I was NOT laughing when Kaling used transphobic language in All About the Office. I’m not one to make excuses for people, and I won’t even attempt it here. Rape jokes, not ok. Transphobic language, not ok.

My favorite section was probably the very first chapter, Chubby for Life, especially since I’m in the middle of an annoying dietary change. I adore Kaling’s body positivity, and her ability to tell her story in a way that shows younger generations of girls that bing chubby isn’t wrong, it’s normal and healthy. Her body positivity was very subtle, something that I suck at (I’m about as subtle as a gaping wound). We need more Kaling’s in that respect.

I hoped that this book would be more of a memoir, not so much a random dabbling of essays put together for comedic reasons. There were several instances in which Kaling mentioned issues in a way that was advice-like and useful, but comedy overtook the book. That’s not a definite con, I’m probably being more judgemental because of my less than comedic personality. Without the context of having seen The Office, I wasn’t in on all of the jokes (which is my fault, not Kaling’s). I do need to hop on the train and give it a watch sometime soon. I can imagine I’d have liked the book a great deal more had I been more familiar with Kaling’s style.

So, here’s a good book reviewed just in time for Good Friday. *ba-dum-tiss* Sorry, I couldn’t help myself…

Genre: Comedy/Essays

I give this book a 6/10.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)

Life Update

Alright y’all, it’s time for a new category: About Me. I’m not a popular blogger as of right now, so obviously my following is about 98% friends and family at this point, but for those of you who don’t know me personally I’ve decided to include occasional life updates on my blog.

As of right now, I am still formally unemployed. I am a freelance writer who has yet to be hired (unsurprisingly; outsourcing freelance writing jobs means a huge variance in pricing, and the size of the market makes my being inexperienced quite an achilles heel). For those of you who do know me, you’ll be aware that writing isn’t my only passion. I also spend a great deal of time with makeup. As I began my journey with makeup at the beginning of 2015, I grew a fairly large collection and constantly grew my skills through self-teaching and youtube. I am currently beginning my freelance makeup artistry career. Over the course of the last few weeks I’ve been building my kit and booking work to build my portfolio. If you are interested in my work, you can follow me on Instagram. Please refrain from spamming my email or cell. 

I’m very stressed right now, as I am not only unemployed, but I am also  awaiting a decision from Georgia College and State University for Grad school. Applications were due February first, and I had everything in early, but due to the program that I applied to, it’s a more lengthy decision process. I should find out very soon, and I am optimistic. The most stressful element is not knowing if I need to be preparing to move at the end of Summer.

Another big change in my life right now is my very late ascension into the driving world. As a 21 year old college grad, I still don’t have a driver’s license. I’ve mentioned mental illness before on this blog, and I’ve likely mentioned my anxiety, which has played a massive role in my inability to drive. I made it through college 150 miles from home with no car, but it won’t be an option in grad school or as a freelance MUA. As I’ve recently booked my first wedding and have other reasons to travel more independently, I’m currently in the process of getting more comfortable with driving. I’ve done some lately, and plan to drive through the big traffic-ridden city next week in order to feel comfortable getting my license before the month is out.

As of right now, that’s about all that I have to say for myself. I’m planning to continue towards my 52 book goal, and i’m currently reading an amusing book for Friday’s post. I owe it to myself to continue growing through reading.

I’ll update my previous posts that involve info or updates on my life, and you can expect to see more info about my in the future. Thank you all for taking the time to follow my blog and get to know me.

Book 13: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

Disclaimer: I have the revised edition of The New Jim Crow, any differences between the pre-revision copy and what I mention in this post is due to a difference in materials.

I picked up this book in late December, knowing that I definitely needed the credible scholarly information that Alexander intended for us to use in our arguments. Reading the introduction, I found that this makes me a member of one of her target audiences. If you choose to read this blog post, there’s a good chance you are as well.

Mass incarceration is an issue that I feel strongly about; I am very sternly against the ‘war on drugs,’ and I believe that the prison industrial complex is a means for corporate America to make a profit on cheap labor. I do not believe in the subhuman treatment of prisoners. I do believe that the criminal justice system targets people of color at alarmingly high rates, especially African American men and women. Those beliefs are quite difficult to argue without decent evidence to back it up, and that’s why I picked up this book.

The foreword by Cornel West contains a quote that I felt was extremely telling of the state of race relations in our nation today; “Martin Luther King Jr. called for us to be lovestruck with each other, not colorblind toward each other. To be lovestruck is to care, to have deep compassion, and to be concerned for each and every individual, including the poor and vulnerable.” In this quote West breaches the concept f race and the concept of class in an eloquent and easily understood manner.

Something that stands out to me as impressive is the fact that Alexander wrote this book with three young children in the house. I am grateful for the people who helped her to accomplish such a feat, and even more grateful to her for following through with such a stunning work.

This book has been highly lauded and has won the NAACP Image Award and the Constitutional Commentary Award, and I can definitely see why. Alexander had me gripped within the first few paragraphs of the introduction. Every word she wrote is pointed, useful, and fair. As with any scholarly text, The New Jim Crow is a dense read, but it is well worth the time and focus that it requires.

Book 3

Image credit: Amazon.com

In the Introduction Alexander gives us the rundown on the terminology that is key to understanding the book. Mass incarceration, racial caste system versus social class system, and much more. She also gives the readers a short summary of what each chapter will address along the way, something that gives the reader more background on how the chapters will flow together.

Chapter 1, The Rebirth of Caste, “briefly reviews the history of racialized social control in the United States,”  like slavery and Jim Crow. This builds up historical background for the concept, showing readers the patterns of the birth and death of such racialized social control mechanisms. I learned quite a lot about slavery in this chapter, specifically about the premeditated intent to create a racial divide. Bacon’s rebellion led to a fear of A multi-racial allegiance against the planter elite, leading to a decline in demand for white indentured servants, and an increase in demand for African slaves. The planter elite needed people who lacked the social power that white indentured servants held. They also extended more rights to white indentured servants in an effort to forge more of a racial divide, an effort that was unfortunately successful.

I’ll avoid summarizing the entire text in hopes that you, my audience, will feel more compelled to pick this stunning work of research up and learn for yourselves.

In Chapter 6, The Fire This Time, we see Alexander calling this generation of activists to action. A social movement is key to breaking down this pattern and keeping a new form of socialized racial control from springing up later.

In turn, I would like to call white allies and activists to action; Sociologically, it is proven that poor whites and poor people of color are often pitted against each other by society; racial privilege is hard to understand when you grow up and live without the financial benefit, without the class benefit, etc. that wealthy white people benefit from. I especially appreciated Alexander’s choice to mention this early on, as it is a crucial key to understanding why social interactions between poor whites and POC have remained so tense throughout history. Keeping in mind the poor white folks who lived behind Maya Angelou’s grandmother’s house and various other narratives, we see multiple instances of that form of animosity throughout history, and I see similar examples today. As someone who grew up in the south, I’ve seen time and time again. Poor whites often through people of color under the bus, striving to remain in a social caste higher than someone, in this case POC. I’d like to specifically call to action poor white activists (or white activists who interact with poor white communities); explain to your family, your friends, and the people around you that racial privilege is not simple, but complex. Teach more white people to understand and reject their privilege. Strive to educate the people around you and make changes where they are desperately needed.

In conclusion, I am entirely pleased to have had the opportunity to read and review this book. It is one of the best purchases I have made as of late, a book that will truly stand out throughout history for its honesty and power.  

I give this book a 10/10.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

I would recommend that everyone pick up this book. Cover price is $19.99 but Amazon lists it for $12.80 (with renting options and cheaper used options) and EBay has copies as low as $7.55. If you have the financial resources to pick up a copy, I would (again) recommend that you do. Share it, pass it on, inform the people around you of this critical issue in American society today.

Author Spotlight: Wally Lamb

Wally Lamb is an excellent writer, and he’s a man who writes excellent women. I know, women are complex and interesting just like men, but it’s not often that you find a man who writes women who are as complex and strong as Lamb’s are.

Lamb’s female characters are not all “strong women” in their physical or emotional strength. He writes flawed women, women with skeletons in their closets, and women who face a myriad of feminist issues.

Some of the issues being:
Mental Illness
Eating Disorders
Relationships (Healthy and not)
Family Conflicts
Women’s Prisons
Mass Shootings
and more…

 

WALLY LAMBImage credit: hereandnow.wbur.org

I haven’t read any statements that outright affirm that Lamb is a feminist, but you can find many of his books on feminist lists on the web. I’ve read I Know this Much is True, She’s Come Undone, and The Hour I First Believed. My favorite is definitely The Hour I First Believed, and it was my first. I read it the Summer before my senior year of highschool, and I loved Lamb’s ability to encompass so many issues and themes in one book. His books are generally lengthy, but they’re quick reads because he keeps the reader so enthralled. I love his writing, I love his ability to write such stunning characters, and I love his style.

I’m looking forward to reading We are Water and Wishin and Hopin’ as the year progresses. I’ll read Wishin’ and Hopin’ close to Christmas, but I expect to pick up We are Water much sooner.

I plan on picking up a few of his nonfiction works soon as well. He shares stories from the women of York Prison, something that sparks my interests.

If you’re interested in Lamb’s books, give the following link a click and browse his works on Amazon.

Wally Lamb