Swimmers by Amy Bright (Review)

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17-year-old Hunter Ryan is making a long-dreaded return trip home. He takes a Greyhound bus bound for Victoria, British Columbia with his ex-girlfriend Lee and a 12-year-old named Poppy. There’s a reason that Hunter left his parents, his friends, and his sister Bridget behind when he left for Alberta to live with his Aunt Lynne. Now Lee has come to bring him back because it’s time for him to face the real reason that he ran away. Swimmers traces their journey home, revealing Hunter’s past and the precarious, uncertain present in which he now finds himself. -Goodreads

Above all, I found Swimmers to be an honest story. You will not find silly, stereotypical, shallow, after-school-special moments or characters in this tale. The characters in Bright’s novel are realistic and raw, with all their real-world struggles and baggage in tow. I was impressed to read a well-written, YA novel that did not shy away from the harsh truths of young adulthood–parents are not perfect, children are not always “innocent,” and sometimes we lose the ones for whom we care, even the young.

While Swimmers‘ story moves a little more slow than some young readers would prefer, and the transitions between points in time might cause momentary confusion, what lies within is an in-depth look at the life and feelings of a growing boy experiencing a painful, and very real, chapter in his life.

Justice for Cecil the Lion

Cecil the lion – the most famous creature in one of Zimbabwe’s national parks – was killed by an American hunter who has boasted about shooting a menagerie of animals with his bow and arrow, The Telegraph can reveal.

I will never understand the desire to “hunt” this way.

I do not consider luring and trapping an animal, and then shooting it, hunting. That is not hunting. That is just cruelty.

I am a Southwestern, Texan, rancher’s daughter. I understand hunting. I understand protecting livestock by reducing (but not eliminating) predatory threats. I understand preserving the landscape by keeping the wild grazer population under control. I understand consuming what you kill as food.

I do not understand killing for pleasure.

This is pleasure in killing. It’s greed for the money that the animal’s pelt and such will make.

It’s wrong. It’s disturbing. I will never understand it.

Freedom and the Confederate Flag

My opinion on this confederate flag issue isn’t going to be popular, but since I still have the freedom express it, I’m going forward.

I hate the flag, and not just because it is used to represent a historically racist culture.

That flag represents a terrible time in American history. “Brother fought against brother” to maintain a way of life based on the enslavement of an entire race for its economic value. It was a war that quite literally tore this country in half.

More than that, the south, the confederate south (and, no, I will not be capitalizing that), fought to be separate from the Union. They fought to no longer be part of the United States.

Waving that flag proudly, to me, is one of the most un-American things you can possibly do. It is, at its core, anti-United States.

Having said that, however, I do not believe that it should be eliminated entirely.

This is still a free country (how long that will last, who knows). I say that the individual should still have the right to purchase and wave the flag, because it is is his right. As long as he does not force that flag on anyone else, he is within his rights to value it and what it stands for (as much as I loathe it).

Blaming that flag for a white supremacist murderer’s actions is no different than blaming heavy metal for a kid shooting up his school, or rap music for a kid becoming a gangster; it’s finding ways not to address the real, more complicated, causes and issues.

As for state governments flying the confederate flag: absolutely not. Governments, in general, represent the collective, and must do so neutrally. It is not beneficial in any way, shape, or form to fly that flag in a public space. The war is over. The southern states are not independent of the U.S. Get over it!

Take it down, and put it in a museum.

Banning the flag feels like the best thing, instinctively. However, think of the repercussions. Where does it stop? Suddenly, we’re crying for bans on all sorts of things. I’ve already heard arguments for a ban on Gone with the Wind; it began with the flag, and it wasn’t but a few days before someone wanted to ban a book.

I am an American, despite what some more conservative people in my life may think. I believe in the freedom to do what you please so long as you do not infringe on others. No man may tell me what to do with my body, and I may not tell another man what to put on his walls, or in his yard. I will speak on feminism, and he may speak against other races.

“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say ‘You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest.’ Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the ‘land of the free’.”

That quote may be from a Hollywood rom-com, but it stands true. You cannot call this a free country unless you accept that people are free to be something you hate, and you have to let them be that when you cannot change their minds.

I do believe in removing the flag from all government-related public locations. I do not, however, believe in forcing private individuals to give them up, or corporations to stop selling them. Keep the freedom free, please.

 

I’m Angry, too, Jon Stewart

I honestly have nothing other than just sadness, once again, that we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other, and the nexus of a gaping racial wound that will not heal, yet we pretend doesn’t exist… What blows my mind is the disparity of response between when we think people that are foreign are going to kill us, and when we’re killing ourselves.

You’re not alone, Jon Stewart.

I am so sick of murder in this country, like that in Charleston, being blamed on everything except what it is. Does mental illness ever play a part? I have no doubt that it does on occasion. Does a particular culture play a part? Absolutely.

But, stop making excuses for these white male killers by blaming mental illness. It is offensive to those with mental illness, the greater amount of whom try to get help, and live their lives without harming others. It is offensive to the victims who suffered the violence, at the true heart of which is racism, misogyny, homophobia, and a hatred of any culture other than that of the white, male, Christian patriarchy.

I Stopped Watching ‘Game of Thrones’ a Long Time Ago

You don’t have to be a “Game Of Thrones” viewer at this point to be familiar with the show’s history of depicting rape on screen. But a scene that aired last Sunday stirred and upset many fans and casual viewers alike, especially among the feminist community.

The controversial sequence prompted The Mary Sue, a pop culture blog with a feminist point of view, to declare that they’d “no longer be actively promoting the HBO series.”

I stopped watching Game of Thrones several seasons ago. I saw this rape issue coming well before the Cersei/Jaime “incident,” and certainly before Sansa’s wedding night (both of which I did not see, obviously).

I have a hard time watching rape on screen. I acknowledge that, sometimes, it’s genuinely relevant to character development or plot progression. If I really want to see something, I am usually able to fast forward through the rape scenes, or just leave the room until they’re over, and return for the rest of the film. And, I don’t mind doing that under certain circumstances.

However, it became clear to me that the reasons Games of Thrones creators had for adding rape were swiftly falling apart. There comes a point when none of the arguments for their being present hold up.

For example: “It’s revealing the severity of women’s oppression, and just how bad things are for them. Yet, they survive.”

I’ve been reading that argument at lot lately. Here’s the problem: we know. We know how bad things were and are for women, in life and in the show. You’ve established rape is commonplace, and that’s an important thing to understand. However, when you throw in rape over, and over, and over again, increasing the level of violence and taboo each time you do, it becomes pretty clear that you’re counting on that very real horror to draw audiences in by creating controversy. In other words, you’re taking advantage of women’s oppression for the sake of shock value.

Well, it’s working.

Everyone’s talking about it. Hell, here I am and I don’t even watch the show anymore.

None of this surprises me, because it became obvious to me by season two that the show was going to do absolutely anything to be the most “edgy” show on television. The violence, the sex, the language, it was all growing at an incredibly quick rate. It reached gratuitous levels by the end of season two. Thus, I called it quits.

I am concerned about impressionable viewers becoming accustomed to the idea of rape in a problematic way, about people becoming desensitized to the severity of it because they see it all the time. Women experience it, they survive it, and then they move on. All’s normal, right?

Wrong.

What’s to be done? I’m not sure. Game of Thrones is popular enough that, even with the current backlash, I don’t see them making any significant changes anytime soon. But, it’s still a free country (how long that will last, I cannot say). And I have the right to express my opinion, and to choose not to watch the show.

 

Jezebel: Feminist Mad Max

Guess what’s got my large intestine in a septic knot today, MANmerica? The extreme pussification and dude-slicing feminism that has taken Mad Max: Fury Road—a movie that should have been about two greased up male torsos in a UFC fight on the back of on a loud motorcycle—into a crotch-kicking misandrist fantasy starring some dyke named Furiosa who doesn’t even show us her tits. THE BETAFICATION OF AMERICA CONTINUES. MAD MAX HAS BEEN RUINED.

This article is so awesome I’m not going to add to it.

 

Mother’s Day: “Mother” Doesn’t Equal “Better”

Sorry about Mother’s Day, my childfree girlfriends: Moms aren’t any more special (or unselfish) than you

It’s hard for people who’ve lost their moms. It’s hard for those who had crummy moms — and believe me, it hasn’t escaped my notice that in our cultural glorification of motherhood, the fact that a lot of women who’ve had children have done a piss poor of raising them seems to get conveniently left out a lot. And it can also be hard for women who don’t have children, in this season of constant reminders that the best and most important “job” a woman could ever aspire to is motherhood. So to all my female friends who aren’t moms, I just want you to know that I call BS on this garbage too.

Let me be clear; I don’t want to eliminate Mother’s Day. Go on, celebrate mothers!

Well, celebrate good mothers.

I suppose it’s because I’m at “that” age. I’m nearly 30, and most people I know are married, or getting married, having babies, etc. And, that’s great. It’s just not what I’ve chosen to do.

Instead, I, and others like me, have pursued a career, experiences, and dreams. I assume I’ll get married one day, or at least have a permanent, devoted partner. But, it’s not a goal for me. I will contribute to the world in other ways. And, as for children…let’s just say it will have to be by accident or other unforeseen circumstances.

Despite this lifestyle being more common than it once was, society still glorifies motherhood. In fact, it over-glorifies it.

Not all mothers are good mothers.

Mother doesn’t always know best.

Mothers don’t always deserve respect.

Not all women need to be mothers to be fulfilled.

Not all women need to be mothers to be worthy of recognition.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t need a “holiday” to feel like I’ve accomplished something. I just don’t like feeling alienated by this holiday and the culture surrounding it.

Some people don’t have mothers.

Some people had terrible mothers.

Some people will never be mothers.

Some mothers lost their children.

Some mothers have awful children.

Some mothers wish they hadn’t given birth at all.

The list is endless. Can we please celebrate mothers without excluding others? And can we please stop acting like motherhood is the “end all, be all”?

What’s So Erotic in 50 Shades?

Finally, I get the sex in Fifty Shades of Grey

This book is ubiquitously described as “erotic”; something, evidently, is turning people on. But what? It can’t be the sex scenes. They are brief, sporadic and tamer than a Legoland tea party. Basically, there’s a lot of chat about bondage that doesn’t happen. It may seem kinky at first glance, but look again: this is a book that puts the “b” into anal. At one point, a man’s penis is referred to as “his essentials”. It’s so un-erotic, you could read it to sex offenders and call it therapy.

I hate the series, and this article is hilarious.

 

Copyright © 2018 by Erin Dunbar