Contributors Pick the Best of 2013

by | December 28, 2013
filed under Books, Pop Culture

photo of pink and white fireworksEach year I ask the Gender Focus contributors about some of their highlights from the past year. Here’s what they came up with for 2013:

Favourite Movie:

Chanel Dubofsky: I never go to the movies, but I did see American Promise in the theatres. It’s about two middle class black families who send their sons to an elite school in Manhattan. It was spectacular and troubling and all of the good things.

Jarrah Hodge: I saw a lot of good movies this year and I’d have to say it’s a tie between two amazing movies by and about women. The first is Wadjda, a movie about a 10-year-old Saudi girl who pushes the boundaries of her society with humour and joy, directed by Haifa Al Mansour. The second was a fabulous documentary that showed at DOXA: Anne Braden, Southern Patriot. Gender Focus was a community partner for the screening of this inspiring film, which uses one woman’s remarkable life to teach us about interconnections between racial, gender and class equality.

Jessica Critcher: The Heat had a few hang-ups with intersectionality, similar to my critique of Catching Fire (which I also loved). But seeing a female buddy cop movie was a rare treat. I want more of that, with a woman behind the camera as well. Baby steps, I guess. Did anyone else pretend it was a sequel to Miss Congeniality? I want more Sandra Bullock FBI agent movies. I’ll write them myself if I have to.

Roxanna Bennett: 12 Years a SlaveHarrowing but crucial film, based on the real life account of  Solomon Northrup, a free-born Black man in pre-Civil war America who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. Directed by the inimitable Steve McQueen.

Cover of Life After Life by Kate AtkinsonFavourite Book Read in 2013:

Jenni Podolski: I love Morrissey, so I devoured Morrissey’s Autobiography in a weekend. It’s exactly what I expected; witty, smart, and so eloquent. The first 100 pages or so where he describes his upbringing in Manchester were incredibly evocative and real.

Roxanna: Life after Life by Kate AtkinsonCaptivating. The premise of the book, “what if you could live your life over and over again, until becoming conscious of the smallest events that change your destiny” at the outset seemed as though it would make for tiresome prose but instead is riveting. I mulled this book over in my mind for weeks after reading.

Chanel: Remember How I Told You I Loved You? by Gillian Linden. It’s very slim- about 100 pages, I think? It’s gorgeous and reminds me why I write fiction.

Favourite Band/Song:

Jessica Mason McFadden: Annie Lennox wins for this year; she is a politically and humanistically-conscious musician whose work evolves in surprising ways. She’s truly both an artist, a model of compassion and authenticity, and a mentor for civilization.

Chanel:  Lucy Wainwright Roche made a new record called “There’s A Last Time For Everything,” and I’ve been listening to it day after day after every day since it came out.

Jessica Critcher: Kings of Spade are my favorite local band from Oahu, and this year they released their highly anticipated second album with help from Kickstarter backers (like me). They’re urban funk mixed with rock and roll. Their lead singer has a flourescent pink mohawk and ovaries of steel. I can’t wait until they come my way again on tour.

Poster for VEEP with Julia Louis-DreyfusFavourite TV Show:

Jarrah: I got really into re-watching Star Trek this past year and even started a side blog where I analyze Trek episodes from a feminist perspective.

Jenni: I laughed at how ridiculous Veep was,and laughed at how real it seemed at times.

Jessica Critcher: Too Cute. They have it on Netflix now! The Animal Planet has an entire show where they just follow puppies and kittens in their first weeks of development. That’s the entire show. It’s a very good way to de-stress after a long day. But now there’s a puppy-shaped hole in my heart.

Roxanna: Breaking Bad. I’ve never watched a television show with all of North America at the same time, it was a strangely wonderful experience. Excellent, nuanced and satisfying story.

Issue/Cause That Most Inspired You the Most

Chanel: Without a doubt, #soldarityisforwhitewomen. If I’m not thinking about this every day, I’m not doing my job in the world. 

Jessica Mason McFadden: There are so many philanthropic causes to be excited about. I’m always especially inspired when women work together to help other women. In my local community, I’m humbled by the many efforts to serve the community that are being made by congregations and groups, such as our local PADS (Public Action to Deliver Shelter) program and Illinois’ 3Rs Project (aimed at bringing library resources to adult prisoners). I’m inspired by the internationally-impactful Fistula Foundation. Part of the uniqueness of the FF is its all-volunteer board and remarkably small staff body. The impact of this effort, by contrast, is enormous for women in Africa and Asia.

Roxanna: The Idle No More movement.

Jessica Critcher: Hollaback! Boston is doing some great things to combat street harassment. This year they conducted a massive survey throughout the city about people’s experiences with harassment in order to raise awareness and work towards concrete changes. Plus they had a Halloween party that explicitly prohibited cultural appropriation and rape-culture-y costume judgement.

Best Place You Travelled:

Jarrah: I had a couple fun trips to Portland and Seattle this summer but probably one of my most rewarding trips was to Ottawa in October to attend and speak at Niki Ashton’s Women’s Forum 2013.

Roxanna: I spent a lot of time as an outpatient at a psychiatric facility this year so while I wasn’t going very far geographically it has definitely been a journey. And twitter. I dove hard into the dark heart of twitter and was rewarded by learning from so many people I wouldn’t have the opportunity to meet in person.

Jessica Critcher: Montreal! It’s sort of how I imagine France, only you can drive there from Boston in just a few hours. There was so much art and culture and life and amazing food! Eating cupcakes and watching rain fall on the Notre-Dame Basilica will forever stand out as one of my favorite memories.

Best Experience of the Year for You Personally:Jarrah Hodge with Denise Crosby and a Geek Girl Con co-panelist

Jenni: Riding my bike along the coast is about as wonderful as life gets for me, even though I do it often.

Jessica Critcher: I shared an excerpt of my novel with my writing group, and in a workshop. I had never shared fiction with anyone before! I didn’t die like I thought I would. Next step: rejection letters from agents. That’s how it goes, right?

Roxanna: I participated in an interesting poetry project in April called ‘The Pulitzer Remix’ where poets from all over the world were each given the text of a previous Pulitzer prize-winning novel to create ‘found’ poems from. It was a gratifying experience.

Jarrah: After this spring’s B.C. election disappointment, I really needed to do something feminist but also totally fun. Things came together and I ended up speaking on panels on Star Trek, women and feminism at two awesome conventions: Star Trek Las Vegas and Geek Girl Con. I even got to meet George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, and Denise Crosby (pictured at right).

Favourite Blog (other than Gender Focus):

Chanel: Black Girl Dangerous

Jenni: I love blogs like Vagenda that tear pop culture apart, and which don’t feel like they’re covering the same feminist ground other blogs have been covering for ages. Vagenda does that so well, and has a smarter design than most full websites too, which helps.

Jessica Critcher: I love The Hairpin’s sarcastic sense of humor and their focus on issues I care about. Like Beyonce.

Roxanna: Hood Feminism: Life at the Intersection is a new site by Mikki Kendall and Jamie Nesbitt Golden whom you should absolutely be following on twitter if you aren’t already. Two of the most influential thinkers on the internet.


(photo of fireworks by Semnoz via Wikimedia Commons)

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