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The L-Word is a monthly publication based out of Humboldt County, CA written by and for local queers highlighting local and international events and hot topics.

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Ruth's Review

Rainbow Flower

Ruth Mountaingrove has been reviewing books (and sometimes other media) for the L-Word since 1993. We've put a few of our favorites here, if there are others you remember and would like to see email us at The L-Word and we'll try to get them up

View from Another Closet

View From Another Closet by Janet Bode, Hawthorn Books, Inc. New York 1976, 252 pgs hard bound $8.95

When I was still living in Philadelphia I considered the idea as one with possibilities for me though I was still a heterosexual and had yet to have a sexual experience with a woman. Though I had been deeply in love with a friend of mine, a woman who was 20 years older than I was.

When I became a lesbian and a separatist I was not friendly toward bi-sexual women feeling that as women they could have all the emotional goodies from women and yet have all the patriarchal goodies that come from relating to men. I also felt then that? bi-sexual women would break your heart. In fact I knew a woman or two that had had her heart broken.

Lately having a few friends who do consider themselves bi- sexual I have had to look at my prejudices.

The book was published in 1976 but as with many things, not much has changed. Bi-sexual women feel misunderstood. Many of them are in the closet. They don't discuss their bi-sexuality with parents or only special friends. They feel that when they tell people, those people see the bi-sexual as hitting on them. Actually bi-sexuals pick a partner with the same care as a lesbian does.

They are looked at askance by both hets and les/gays and don't fit anywhere. This makes life difficult but tends to make a woman strong if she can survive the isolation.

Bode has interviewed 8 bi-sexual women in depth. They averaged 28 years of age in 1976 which means that they now would be in their 50's. AIDS is not mentioned because we were still ignorant of its existence.

The women contended that there are a lot more bi-sexuals out there than are willing to admit to it or who are willing to stand up and be counted. And this echoes the queer scene. None of the women knew each other. Some of them were married, most of them were not.

Bode's method, (this is a sociological study) was a six page questionnaire plus personal interview generally lasting several hours. Not deathless prose but if you are looking for information on how these women see their bi-sexuality, it's worth reading.

Bi-sexuality doesn't seem to have come much further than it did in 1976, Urvashi Vaid in Virtual Equality , published 1995, says, speaking about the gay community " We have not claimed,for example, the many millions of Americans who have nonexclusively engaged in gay or lesbian sexual behavior. In other words bi-sexual people may be far more numerous than either gay or straight people acknowledge. Yet neither camp will claim that constituency."

I wonder if the book brought Bode's group together, and what they are doing now twenty years later.

This review from the L-Word March or possibly April, 1997 Ruth Mountaingrove

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The Price of Salt

The Price of Salt by Claire Morgan, Naiad Press, 1984, paperback, 276 pages, $7.95

Some books can be influential in your life. The Price of Salt has been in mine. I first found the book in 1958 in a drugstore in Philadelphia. What made it unique was it had a happy ending. Very unusual in pulps which were mainly written by men. One of the protagonists was either drowned in a flood or committed suicide, or both. Someone had to die because being a lesbian was a sin.

So here was a book for a woman, myself, who had been, as they say, questioning her sexuality for ten years. Who was in love with her best friend 20 years older than herself. Here was a really well written novel about a young woman 19, questioning her identity and a lesbian woman of 36. Hmm.

This was not a good time to be a lesbian. I met my best friend in 1948 when I was 25 and she was 45 - really different life times. She seemed such a wise woman. As Carol, 36, seems to Therese, pronounced Terez, as she tells Carol. Therese is enchanted in the full meaning of the word. All life that has any meaning for her is in Carol, as Therse's boy friend gradually realizes.

Carol and Therese meet at a New York City department store during the frantic last days before Christmas. Therese is working to earn some money to see her through the next couple of months while she designs stage sets for plays in the Village. Carol is there to buy a doll for her five year old daughter.

The book was first published in 1952 and seems to be set in the late forties. I have read it in hard cover and in paperback and read it last, a couple of months ago, in the 1984 reissue by Naiad Press.

Some of my dating of the novel comes from the crude listening devices of the private detective who follows them when they take a trip across country. Carol loses her daughter, as lesbians did in that time, to her ex who she is divorcing.

Being a lesbian is still dangerous even though there is far more acceptance than there was then. Lesbians can still lose the children they have had in a het marriage. Lesbians still need to keep quiet about their sexual lives. I knew this and kept very quiet about my feelings for my 20 year old friend. Later, during the time my daughter was living with me as a minor, I kept quiet about my lover who was three years younger than me.

Like Carol I had fought a custody battle. Unlike her I had won. It was not fought on the basis of being a lesbian but because I was proposing to take my daughter 3000 miles away from Philadelphia to live in a commune in Oregon. This would inconvenience my ex who was used to seeing her whenever he wished and not seeing her when he didn't.

The judge gave my daughter, then nine, her choice of parents and she chose me. I cannot imagine that that choice would have been given her if it had been known I had a lesbian lover.

While I have said the book has a happy ending, nobody gets killed or maimed for life, the ending is realistic. The Price of Salt is one of those books, like Patience and Sarah, that is part of our herstory. Any lesbian worth her salt should read it.

review 3/98 Ruth Mountaingrove

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Weeding at Dawn

Weeding At Dawn: Lesbian Country Life by Hawk Madrone, HaworthPress Inc., 10 Alice Street, Binghamton, N.Y. 2000, 195 pages, paperback $15.95

In the 1970's quite a few lesbian women moved from the city to the land in Southern Oregon. The land they could afford was up almost impossible logging roads with no access to water, unless trucked in, not electricity, no phone, no central heating, sometimes, no buildings.

Logged over, the land was in their price range. The roads would wash out with the winter storms and have to be restored. Trees would have to be sawed into proper lengths for burning in the only source of heat, the wood stove. Candles and kerosene lamps would be brought into the land to provide light after the sun went down, and springs would have to be found to provide water. How all this can come together is the background to Hawk Madrone's memoirs, Weeding at Dawn.

If you are thinking how romantic it would be to live on your own land and raise your food, this book will provide you with a healthy dose of reality. Yes, you can live in the country but, and it?s a big but, it is labor intensive, meaning doing so takes a lot of work. Nothing is simple.

The stove and staying warm - just as you begin to get cozy the fire needs more wood or you'll be sitting in the cold or having to start a new fire. Before you can make the fire you need to build up a wood pile to supply you with fuel. Dry seasoned wood. Green wood smokes and smolders and refuses to warm you.

As to food and growing your own, you will have to learn gardening. You will have to nourish the land with manure. You will need a truck to bring in supplies.

Most important, you will need a partner or more than one. At one time there were four lesbians loving and living at Fly Away Home. There were women who came to stay, sometimes for two years, and then moved on but Hawk and Bethroot stayed with the land finishing one of the buildings already on the land for Hawk, and then finally building a decadon house for Bethroot. They both have lived there for twenty-five years.

Hawk shares with us the lessons she has learned not just from raising chickens and vegetables but also about relationships. And lessons from her animal friends, the dogs and cats that live with her at Fly Away Home. She has dedicated the book to twelve of these friends who have shared her life. She shares with us her loses as these friends, whose life spans are so much shorter than ours, leave her life.

Hawk lives on woman-only land. When she fell in love with a woman who had a son, it meant that even though she felt the woman was her life mate, her conviction that the land was exclusively for women, lost her her lover.

Living at Fly Away Home, has brought Hawk joy and sorrow, as life does to all of us. You will live some of that life with her as you look at her photographs, read her poems and stories in Weeding at Dawn.

review 1/01 Ruth Mountaingrove

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In the Name of Friendship

In The Name of Friendship by Marilyn French, Feminist Press, 2005, 382 pages, hard bound, $24.95

Depending on your age and your involvement in feminism in the seventies this may not have much interest for you. Marilyn French gives you the herstory of that time through four characters: Maddy, who is seventy-six; Alicia, fifty; Jenny, thirty; Emily, seventy. The time is 2000.

These four friends support each other, give each other advice, and look back at the seventies when women were waking up to the idea that they too could have a life.

Jenny is an artist married to a successful artist. Maddy is a crackerjack real estate sales person married to a retired lawyer. Alicia, a Jew married to a Jewish psychiatrist, is an historian of the area she lives in. She has a gay son. Emily is a composer of classical music and is single.

French has some trenchant things to say about marriage and why it isn't working. Through her characters she gives us the herstory of the women's movement in the sixties beginning with Betty Friedan's book The Feminine Mystique. The novel stretches from there into the eighties and nearly into present time.

Alicia is the daughter of an immigrant mother whose family was wiped out in a Nazi pogrom. The mother then thirteen had been sent ahead to the United States and never saw her family again. She marries, has a child. Her husband dies and she remarries her boss for security for her child and herself and money and ensures that Alicia will be sent to college.

All of these women live in Steventon, a mythical small town in the Berkshires and gradually through their friendship begin to find out who they really are and what they really want.

Emily and Maddy are natives of Steventon and have known each other since Emily was in First grade. Maddy has always looked after Emily, the dreamer, except when Emily's father sent her to Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and while she was in Rome studying, or teaching in Boston.

Emily came back to Steventon when she inherited an old Victorian mansion which had been in her family for generations. Maddy also lives in an old Victorian and when she was younger filled it with her children. Jenny lives in a modern house designed by her artist husband. Alicia also lives in a restored Victorian. Jenny and Alicia are outsiders but are welcomed into the circle by Maddy and Emily.

While all the women who are married stay married they have some rough patches to go through. Alicia's challenge is to get her psychiatrist husband to accept his gay son and his son's lover. Maddy's is to accept her damaged son, back from Vietnam. Jenny has to resolve a conflict in herself between the artist and the desire to be a mother. Emily's challenge is to accept her lesbian niece she had a hand in raising, and her niece's partner, a black doctor.

What French is saying is that men are still macho and competitive, having been brought up by their patriarchal society to be that way, just as women are still accepting second place. This is what is destroying marriage.

Some men do change: the psychiatrist accepts his gay son and son's lover even though it means that he will never have a grandson to carry on the tradition. The artist who made Jenny promise never to have a child, he has children by his former marriages, relents and even enjoys being a father.

Jenny has an exhibition of her paintings. So we can have a child and go on creating? Yes. Emily accepts that her work as a composer is just as good, if not superior to men.

This book is really a sequel to The Women's Room, her first novel. You might want to read that one too. That was published in 1977 and is still in print. In the Name of Friendship was first published in Holland three years ago. No US publisher wanted it. Having been published in Holland, Feminist Press could then publish it in the US.

French is noting that the ferment has gone out of feminism and speculates that what might get women out on the streets would be the Supreme Court outlawing abortion.

We are living in a different time. Women do have more opportunities than in the sixties but there is so much yet to be done. French is seventy-seven. Who will pick up the torch of feminism and carry it on for these pioneers?

Reviewed Aug 2006 Ruth Mountaingrove

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Sinister Wisdom: Death, Grief, and Surviving

Death, Grief and Surviving. Guest Editors, Judith Witherow and Sue Lenaerts, Sinister Wisdom, Double issue #68,69, 2006. 256 pages, paperback $9 + $1.50 for shipping.

Where to begin to deal with the subject of death? A subject even more taboo than sex or money. Top of the list of topics no one talks about. But here in Death, Grief and Surviving is a forum for lesbians where we can open up our wounds and through sharing feelings, emotions begin to heal this pain.

There are 230 entries. Some women have contributed more than one with an article and a poem, or an article and a photograph. Article is such a cold word for these writings. Sometimes it is the observer who writes how she feels and sometimes the writer is herself grieving loss of the life she used to know.

Teresa Campbell was diagnosed with MS when she was 34. Her story is a courageous one, as are so many in this book.

Tee Corinne, who herself has been diagnosed with cancer of the liver, celebrates her partner Beverly Brown's life, and death of colon cancer. Both women have survived longer than predicted. Bev wanted to be photographed with her colostomy bag so that others could see what that was like.

Judith Witherow mourns her younger sister's death and has some trenchant things to say about our broken health system. She is responsible, along with Sue Lenaerts for the double issue of Death, Grief and Surviving. It is a beautiful book made out of grieving by the survivors. Any lesbian grieving will be comforted.

Cynthia Rich mourns her long time partner Barbara Macdonald's death who before descent into Alzheimer?s, led OLOC (Old Lesbians Organizing for Change) in the fight against ageism.

Marjory Nelson tells of her friend Jean who contracted Guillian Barre Syndrome which left her paralyzed. This independent woman who had to have a circle of friends take care of her until she died.

Then there are the lesbians who contemplate suicide, even attempt it but survive. And lesbians who succeed and leave behind their partners, friends, relations to wonder what they might have done to prevent this death. There are lesbians who sons have committed suicide. I am one of them.

There are lesbians who watch their loved ones die of cancer: their mothers, their sisters, brothers, their lovers. There is so much pain in this book that I could only read a few pages at a time.

There are lesbians who grieve their pets. A goat that provided milk for baby lambs whose mothers died in birthing them. Dogs that had been faithful companions for many years.

Lesbians who grieve the loss of their childhood to sexual abuse.

Hawk Madrone has a tender story of her taking care of Beverly Brown called Butch Hug. Hawk insisting she is a whole woman, not butch or femme and Beverly agreeing but insisting that they were both butch, wanting that aspect of lesbians to be honored.

Jean Sirius in How It Was begins with "here's what I think: I think the reason we have hearts is so they can be broken. All the nice stuff, the limerance, the passion: it's all just bait. I think the breaking is what teaches us compassion, moves us along the path to becoming fully human".

And Judy Freespirit in Some Thoughts In Not Dying comes back from death's door to dictate her experience to her circle of friends, to get good health care, to begin to live again.

There are some beautiful poems, drawings, photographs. And as I read the book I kept going back to the contributors to learn more about them. Ask your local bookstore to order it for you.

Reviewed 9/06 Ruth Mountaingrove

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Lesbian Nuns

Lesbian Nuns: Breaking Silence edited by Rosemary Curb and Nancy Manaham, Naiad Press, 1985. 383 pages, paperback $9.95

Reading Lesbian Nuns for the second time I was struck by the age when these women made their decision to become nuns - late adolescence. How often they were Catholics and had been taught by nuns. Nuns who served as role models for these young girls, many of whom were latent lesbians.

Brought into an all women's space they discovered particular friendships frowned upon by the church. That love was for all sisters and primarily for Jesus and God. This conflict within the young women was sometimes resolved by leaving the convent, or being told to leave, or being moved to another convent many states away.

For Catholic women in the 1950's there were two options: marriage or becoming a nun. Women who came from poor blue collar working class families had little hope of going to college no matter how intelligent they were.

The nuns and the convents made this possible. Women were sent to college to be trained as teachers. Some of them went on to Masters degrees and even doctorates.

For some the convents were safe havens from the world. The rules protected them, provided useful work, spiritual food, recreation. For girls coming from poor families they found the convents luxurious, the food far better than they had ever known. For others the Rule and rules were prison bars.

Young women were "called" to be nuns. Some were in love with the music, some with the ritual. Those who entered in the 1960's like Jeanne Cordova were caught in the Catholic churches attempt to bring itself into the 20th century. Latin was being changed to English and folk songs were being substituted for ceremony. Cordova, who was there for the ritual, was disgusted. Habits were out, street clothes were in. Coming from a family of eleven, she and one of her brothers were the only ones to become gay. It was here in the convent she discovered her sexuality. Cordova only lasted a year in this disappointing environment leaving to found and publish Lesbian Tide 1971 - 1980.

Nuns have been in the mother house in very responsible positions, the equivalent of CEO administrators of thousands of women, or in charge of finances. They have been nuns for many years.

What the Catholic church has not been able to do except in a cruel way is accept particular friendships as a normal part of the convent world, leaving some women with a load of guilt. This rule is patriarchal, given by the male side of the church and then left to the nuns to enforce. Women loving women create a tremendous energy that the convents might do well to incorporate rather than repress.

Lesbian Nuns contains 52 articles by nuns who either accommodated to the convent rules and learned to live with them or left the convent. If you are leaning in the direction of becoming a nun this would be a good book to read. You can probably find it in a secondhand bookstore.
Ruth Mountaingrove Oct 06

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Elsa, I Come With My Songs

Elsa, I Come With My Songs, The Autobiography of Elsa Gidlow with Celeste West, editor, Booklegger Press, 1985, paperback,412 pages, $10.95

I had a dream that Elsa gave me the keys to her car.  In my most recent reading of her autobiography she has given the key to me and to all women who are lesbian - independent.

I first met Elsa in person at a Country Woman’s festival in my fifties. Later Jean and I would visit her at Druid Heights.

Elsa in her eighties emphasized the importance of good health if we all wanted to be making the world better for women. If we did, then we must take care of ourselves, not smoke or drink to excess.

What an amazing life she lived. Being born in England, moving with her family to Montreal when she was six, no formal education except Catholic Sisters. and before that home schooling by her father.

Starvation for an active, inquiring mind. Elsa had an itch to travel probably starting with her trip across Canada. She looked in Montreal for like minded people - artists. educated friends for good stimulating conversation.

From there she went to New York city, from there to the West coast to San Francisco with side trips to Paris, Germany, England .finally settling down many years later in Muir woods at Druid Heights.

All this time she wrote poetry and in the depth of the Depression did free lance writing, edited some magazines, and eventually through frugality managed to buy a piece of land and a falling down cabin outside of San Francisco and over time to renovate as the money came in.

Her first long time relationship was with Tommy - 13 years ending only with the death of Tommy of lung cancer. Her next was with Vee, and later Isobel. Along the way there were many shorter ones.

Elsa never neglected her family, going back to see Montreal to see her siblings and mother, Eventually she brought her mother to live at Druid Heights the last ten years of her mother’s life.

Elsa was always fortunate in her friendships. In her last years Allan Watts and Lou Harris were good friends. Women of wealth opened their houses and hearts to her. She was a delightful companion.

Elsa is a wonderful storyteller. She takes you with her on her many adventures. She took risks.

After many boring jobs she decided to free lance, earning her money precariously from check to check. She sold her articles to East coast business men who were interested in what was going on on the West coast. She still had some contacts from when she worked in New York city.

Elsa, I Come With My Songs, was published when Elsa was 87, so she lived to see the book. She always considered her poetry as the most important talent she had and she had a number of poetry books published starting with the On a Grey Thread - a book of erotic poetry.

She was a passionate woman but this was balanced with a practical side. She left Druid Heights as a sanctuary for women artists, an opportunity she did not have in her own life.

The Women’s Movement “discovered” her and Celeste West became her editor. While the book is out of print, Amazon has it and so does Powells. Want to know more? I looked it up in wikipedia.

Yes Elsa has given to me and you the keys to her car - her way of being, her way for other lesbians to live in this world.

Ruth Mountaingrove 9/09

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Sinister Wisdom 78/79, Old Lesbians/Dykes II

Sinister Wisdom 78/79, Old Lesbians/Dykes II, 2009, 208 pages, paperback, $10

How to begin with such a feast? So many lesbians  over 60, Some active, some not so.  Some disabled.

Old Lesbians/Dykes II has 70 lesbians telling us how it is to be 60 in 2009, and how lesbians younger help or ignore old lesbians.

Lots of poetry including our own Pat McCutcheon with her poem "Unsanctioned Epithalamium, for Cheryl" a tender salute to her love after 24 years.

Bethroot Gwynn has a celebrating poem to her land partner "For Hawk Madrone at 70" and Madrone’s love of dogs and how they love back. Judy Grahn’s "The History of Lesbianism", reprinted from her book. The quality of the contributors' poetry is high.

There are several articles about OLOC (Old Lesbians Organizing for Change) by lesbians who are part of it like Alix Dobkin. She has a song "New Ground" accompanied by a photo of herself by Christina Vegas.

Another OLOC member, Shaba Barnes, photographed by Cathy Cade of OLOC. Shaba tells a heartwarming story of how her parents realized she was a dyke before she did, having tried marriage twice. On his deathbed her father made her cousin Mary promise to take care of her. Her cousin was gay and taught Shaba how to be a butch. And Shaba learned of all the lesbians in her own family that she had no idea about.

Merle L Woo learns how to write her name in Chinese. There it is on the paper - a revelation - that she can carry with her.

Becoming a Crone, by ila Benividez-Heaster is about a lesbian who comes into her own as an old woman, her celebration.

What is sad about this magazine are the lists of lesbians who are no longer with us, many having died too soon, like my friends Karen Anna and Tee Corinne, Bev Brown and Dorothy Hoogterp. Many who touched my life like Paula Gunn Allen, Elizabeth Freeman, Baba Copper, Kay Gardner, Elsa Gidlow, June Arnold, Barbara MacDonald, Elaine Michels, Shekinah Mountainwater, Betty Shoemaker, Dian Wagner. These are lesbians I talked with about feminist and lesbian politics. Your list would be different.

There are reminiscences like "Dear Jill" by Runa Magyo remembering how it was thirty years ago when she, Runa, was still in the closet at her work.

Dorothy Fowler in Savesna confronts aging at 81 after heart surgery the previous year reminding me of my own racing heart causing me to slow down at 86 now only 3 months away from 87.

Jess McVey is interviewed by Ida VSW Red. McVey is a sculptor and her turtle is on the back cover. McVey at 92 is dealing with a stroke, thinks there should be classes in growing old. She tells us what she now endures in her article "A Hive of Mad Bees" - what her head is like.

Emma Joy Crone becomes every woman as she lists all the journeys she has taken in the time of the women’s movement. She calls herself R.O.L. (Rural Old Lesbian)

In The Gift of Time and Aging, Jalaina Mar has a deeply thought essay on what it has been to be working class and yet through her talent as painter having received many grants from foundations. At the same time growing up in substandard housing.  An attempt by the moguls to avert Communism.

If you under sixties lesbians wanted to know what is on the other side, you will get a mixed message. Some lesbians are still healthy, but some are dealing with MS, heart, aphasia, stroke - all the problems that come with aging. But more than that the prejudice connected with aging both by the general population and sad to say by the younger lesbian community

We’ll let Marcia Perlstein have the last word. “Time as we know no matter what, proceeds and will bring us to our ultimate destinations... I don’t get scared anymore by my own suicidal thought....each time I offer myself that choice, I re-choose life....That makes it all the sweeter.”

As I said before this is a feast of good writing, good poetry and good art. To get your copy, send $10 plus $2 postage and handling, (only 50¢ per copy for two or more) to Fran Day, Sinister Wisdom, Box 3252, Berkeley, CA 94703 or through Pay Pal at

After you do that go into North Town Books or Rookery Books in Arcata and order it. They will tell you they don’t carry bound magazines. If enough of you request SW they may change their policy.

Ruth Mountaingrove, January 2010

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The Spindle and Other Lesbian Fairy Tales

The Spindle and Other Lesbian Fairy Tales by Carolyn Gage. 2009. Lexington, Ky. 185 pages

At last fairy tales for lesbians, for us. A play, and stories about us. Carolyn Gage has been entertaining us for many years since the seventies.

In this book she has taken the old story of Sleeping Beauty and brought it into our contemporary lesbian world. A world with butches and fems, old lesbians as fairy godmothers and a heterosexual mother who is jealous of her daughter’s beauty. In the play she is called appropriately Beauty.

Beauty has that fresh innocence that men are attracted to.

Now in the original tale Beauty at birth is cursed by an evil fairy who was not invited to the banquet. Her curse is that Beauty will prick her finger and the kingdom will go into a hundred year old sleep. Another godmother counters this with the wish that a prince will wake her with a kiss.

Contemporary ideas around this fairy tale are that young girls in adolescence have their first step into womanhood with the menarche – their first beginning menstruation.

In Gage’s play we have a kitchen maid Doko who has grown up with Beauty and as the play opens these two have lots of plans that they will put in motion as soon as Beauty has her sixteenth birthday.

The day before Beauty’s birthday great preparations are going on in the castle. Also it seems that Milord, Beauty’s father, is coming back from the wars.

The spindle, according to the fairy godmothers, has been banned from the castle and no one except the godmothers knows anything about it. This includes Beauty who will be sixteen, and Doko, who is thirteen.

Gage says “I use the spindle-pricking as a metaphor for incest,,,this ‘sleep’ is the kind of post-traumatic amnesia and dissociation.

Milord is struck by Beauty’s innocence and praises her. She of course is flattered and when he comes later to her bedroom with her birthday present which he has wrapped to give her, he tells her it is a spindle and when she opens it she is marked by the spindle mark The father/daughter incest. Gage says this is the most autobiographical writing she has ever done.

When Milord has put Beauty under his power and elevated Beauty to Queen, her mother, the old queen, laments the loss of her own power as queen and all she has done for her daughter while Beauty was growing up, but she does not stop Milord. This is the situation where the mother abets the father or pretends it’s not happening.

Doko would fight to save Beauty and is heartbroken when she loses to Milord. Now Beauty has the spindle mark that all the women in the castle have. The fairy godmothers and Doko leave the next morning to start a new life.

The Spindle is the only play in the book. The Lesbian Thespians, a group of local lesbians that produced and acted in plays a number of years ago might consider this play with permission of course from Carolyn Gage.

The Princess of Pain was written to try to explain the unexplainable. Our heroine is in continual pain and goes on a journey to plead with nine goddesses: Aphrodite. Hekate. Pele, Baubo, Athena, Bastet. Quan Yin, Kali, Yemanja. Some of them offer her what they are skilled at, for example Aphrodite, love, Bastet, compassion. But her pain remains.

The Furies has the idea that one lesbian cannot change the world but a group of lesbians can and plot to do so. In Andrea and Medusa Get Intimate the story deals with the problem of transference in the therapeutic relationship between a young girl and an older woman,

In Becca and the Woman Prince it is time for the Princess to marry but she is not buying the old heterosexual model. She keeps rejecting Princes. The Princess is taken with this Woman Prince and the King allows the Woman Prince to court his daughter. What he had not counted on was that his daughter would fall in love with the Woman Prince.

If you want to know more about this story and other work of Carolyn Gage go to These stories and plays are how Gage earns her living so do not use without her permission but by all means do buy her book.

Ruth Mountaingrove, December 2010

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Pearls, Politics and Power

Pearls, Politics and Power by Madeleine Kunin, 2008, ChelseaGreen Publisher,233 pages. Paperback, $14.95

Would you like this book? That depends on how you feel about politics? How would you like to be Senator Boxer, Diane Feinstein, or Patty Berg? How about a spot on the town council or on the school board?

Well if you’ve been working to repeal 8 so that lesbians and gays can be married you are already in politics. Good for you!

We need many more women, lesbians in positions of power in this country. That’s the message Madeleine Kunin is repeating on every page of Pearls, Politics, and Power.

She feels there is an urgent need to go into politics so that they have the power to change the lives of women in areas of children, abortion, equal pay for equal work.

Madeleine Kunin has been governor of Vermont three times ( a term is two years) She has been an ambassador to Switzerland, when the Swiss banks were being challenged to cough up monies they had been sitting on since World War II

She has worked on education on the national level and has found all hr work in politics exciting. but she warns that being in public means just that. You are subject to public scrutiny – all your life is exposed

There is fund raising, and going from door to door talking to people, negotiating – she feels women are good at that. It helps to have a good friend or mate to support you.

There is help for women – The bipartisan Women’s Campaign Forum and Emily’s List, an acronym for Early Money is Like Yeast with one codicil: you must run as a Democrat and be pro-choice. The Republicans have WISH, Women in the Senate and House. They have the Susan B. Anthony List and you must be pro-life.

Until you get out there and experience what it means to run for office, you will have no idea of the impact on your life, not just you but your husband or significant other, your children if you have any, and many women politicians do have children ranging from 2 years to 18.

You also need your party to back you but that won’t necessarily happen to you. To begin with you are an outsider. Many women she says are outsiders. The Old Boys club takes care of their own.

Madeleine feels it is urgent for women to get into politics. So far there are only 16 women in the Senate and 87 in the House of Representatives. You are never too old to go into politics, some women wait until their children are on their own out in the world.

Some women say it just isn’t the right time or that they are not good in making speeches.

There is a place for you too behind the lines perhaps as a campaign manager or one of the many parts of running a campaign.

She says “Within both parties women are more likely than men to support more liberal or modest positions on a variety of issues, including abortion, hate crimes, civil unions for gay and lesbians and racial preference in job hiring and school admissions.”

What makes women run? Usually it is for a cause. For one woman it began with a traffic light that she thought should be installed on a busy corner for safety’s sake, For others school lunches.

I am obviously impressed with Pearls, Politics and Power and plan to give it to my granddaughter who is 16.

I’ve showed it to a friend who wants to do an interview, and I recommended it to another friend.

Northtown Books ordered it for me and in two days it was in my hands. Booklegger can do the same.

Ruth Mountaingrove, January 2011

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