Monday, April 18, 2011

Book after book book review: Living on a Prayer by Sheila Quigley

My latest book review was just posted over at Book after Book:


Book review: Living on a prayer

By Sheila Quigley
Reviewed by
Natazzz

I'm a fan of crime novels, but picking the right one can sometimes be tricky. A good story combined with a nice paperback cover is sure to get my attention, but it's not until you actually start reading that you notice if it's any good. At that point things can go either way. A crime novel that looked very promising can disappoint, while a novel that you did not really expect too much of can surprise you. Living on a prayer (2006) by Sheila Quigley falls into the latter category.

Read the entire review here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lists are hot: Queer TV characters and storylines I obsessed about as a little lesbian

Lists are hot is a monthly column for all those that love lists. This time I want to share with you some of the queer TV characters and storylines I loved when I was younger.

These days lesBians seem to be on our TV screens everywhere (Grey's Anatomy, Coronation Street, Skins, Glee, Hand aufs Herz), but back in the day when I was a little (closeted) lesbian, lesBian storylines were few and far between. Needless to say, whenever anything remotely queer was shown on my TV, I always got really excited.

And with excited I mean my face would turn bride red, my heart would start thumping in my chest, and I would hope no one would interrupt my private viewing of the most amazing thing in the world. Ah, it feels like a life time ago.

So what kind of TV lesbianism did I get excited about? Pretty much anything and everything involving two women that was more than friendly. Sometimes even just lone female characters who "might be a little gay." Want examples? Ok here's a list of some of these queer TV characters and storylines:

 

1. Ellen Morgan on Ellen (Comedy, US, 1996-1998)

I always loved watching the US comedy series Ellen and I thought the character played by Ellen DeGeneres was great. She was so awesome and cool, and I wanted to be just like her! When around 1997 it became apparent that not only Ellen DeGeneres was a lesbian, but also the character she played, I was shocked and at the same time it totally made sense.

I remember watching each episode wishing something "gay" would happen, and at the same time hoping it would not, just in case my mom would walk into the living room and things would get embarrassing.

2. Zoe Marshall on Pacific Drive (Soap, Australia, 1996)

Pacific Drive was one of those bad daytime soaps that was shown on television in 1996 (or we probably watched in the year after in Europe). One of the characters was Zoe Marshall, a girl questioning her sexuality. This wasn't a main plotline, but during the season I did watch her get seduced by a woman, get confused by her feelings for women, and sleep with her husband Tim (who she married so he could stay in the country) just to make sure she wasn't straight.

I could relate so well to Zoe's struggle with her sexuality (although not so much the having sex with a guy part), and at the same time I thought she was really hot. I wonder if I would've thought that if she hadn't played gay.

3. Dr. Kerry Weaver on ER (Medical drama, US, 1995-2009)

Years before Grey's Anatomy there was already another medical show that everyone seemed to watch and love: ER. When I still lived at home we use to watch that show together every Friday night. I always loved Dr. Kerry Weaver. She was very strict, and not always much fun, but she was fair and she did not care what everyone else thought. That was, until she realized she might be a lesbian.

That storyline totally took me by surprise, and I watched with a bright red face and a beating heart when Kerry wanted to be with the beautiful, hot woman so bad, but she just couldn't. She wasn't ready, it was all too much. Luckily, she got another chance with fire fighter Sandy Lopez (who of course had to die in a fire just as Kerry was about to become really happy for once). This show also featured a young Jorja Fox as lesbian Dr. Maggie Doyle for a while, but she never really held much interest to me.

4. Lesbianish episode of La Femme Nikita (Crime, US, 1998)

I loved La Femme Nikita and it was probably one of my favourite shows during the late nineties. Nikita was so cool and tough, but of course very much in love with creepy Michael. However, I remember feeling very excited when in one episode during Season 2, Nikita seduced a woman. This was probably done in order to win her trust and save the world, or something like that, but I really didn't care. It was so incredibly hot at the time.

5. Julia Salinger experiments on Party of Five (Drama, US, 1998)

Back in the late nineties/early 2000s I had a huge crush on Neve Campbell. I watched her in just about everything she was in (Scream, Wildthings, boring ballet movies), but before she became a famous movie star she played Julia Salinger on Party of Five. I loved that show, I watched it for years, and I always thought her character was really cool.

She was straight of course, and had a series of cute boyfriends. However, in some of the later seasons when Julia goes to college, there are a few episodes where she experiments a little. Or actually I think there really wasn't that much action, but lots of speculation, and little lesbian me eagerly ate up up every little crumb they gave me.

6. Carol Willick on Friends (Comedy, US, 1994-2001)

The character of Carol on Friends (Ross's ex wife) was one of those recurring characters that did not make me feel nervous or strange, but she just seems to make lesbianism look both cool and normal. I liked having her there on a TV show I loved. Even though it was very clear she was a lesbian, her being gay was not always the most important part about her character, which I appreciated. There were a lot of lesbian jokes though, but then again, it was a comedy show.

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That concludes my list. I know it only has six entries, but trust me, back in the late nineties, these were pretty much all the lesBian characters/storylines that were around. They increased quite rapidly by the time we entered a new millennium, but back in the day we had to make do.

What do you think of my selection? What were some of your lesbian characters and storylines that made an impact on you when you were first coming out? Let me know in the comments.

This post was first published on eurOut.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Studying LesBians: Lesbians make housework fun

Studying lesBians is a monthly column about recent (and not so recent) research involving lesbians. This time I want to talk about studies into lesbian households.

A few weeks ago the results of a survey of part of the Australian population was published, which showed that same-sex couples (read lesbians, not enough male same-sex couples took part) are better at doing housework than straight couples. Or more precisely, they do a better job at dividing the labour.

Even though we live in 2011, in the household of straight couples the housework is unequally divided, with women doing most of it, even when both partners are equally busy with work and other responsibilities.

Not only do women tend to do more of the housework than men, the kind of chores they both do is also based on old-fashioned gender roles. Women usually do the cooking and the ironing, while men take out the garbage and mow the lawn.

According to the research of the Work, Love and Play research project at the Bouverie centre in Victoria, Australia, when it comes to lesbian households a totally different picture emerges. Apparently, we are much better at dividing the housework equally than our straight counter parts. Most lesbian couples in the survey said they had an equal division of chores.

It is interesting to note, that one of the reasons the researchers give for this is that lesbian moms compared to straight moms are less likely to think they should be doing more of the housework than their breadwinning partner. Does this imply that straight women are to blame for their workload, because they feel they have to do more than their husbands and not because men are just lazy, chauvinistic pigs?

Besides having a more equal division of the amount of housework both partners do, lesbian couples, compared to straight couples, are also not burdened by a division of chores based on gender roles and specific expectations. Instead, they decide who does what according to what they both like to do. Shocking, isn't it? I think it's even more shocking not more straight couples do it like that.

I find it very hard to believe all straight women enjoy cooking and cleaning and all straight men like to fix things around the house. When I look at how it works between my girlfriend and I, our distribution of the housework is mainly determined by what we like to do best. Or more correctly, what we hate least. Then again, I think a lot of the chores like cooking and doing the dishes we always do together.

The survey also showed that besides an equal division of the household, most lesbian couples also had an equal part in raising the kids and both mothers tended to work part time. So perhaps some of these differences between straight and lesbian couples are due to the fact lesbian couples both have as much time for housework.

I wonder if all this dividing things equally and fairly is something to do with lesbians or just because you put two women together. It's a shame the survey did not include enough gay male couples for comparison. That way we could see if it's a gay thing, or a male/female thing.

Although, of course, in an ideal world we would see none of this matters and everything is split equally based on what the other likes or dislikes to do. In this ideal world, housework would also be fun, just because we're lesbians. Unfortunately, I might only have to do half of the housework, but that does not mean I enjoy it anymore.

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What do you think of the results of this study, in particular the difference between straight and lesbian couples? How do you and your girlfriend decide who does what around the house? Let me know in the comments.

This post was first published on eurOut.