It was as easy as breathing to go and have tea near the place where Jane Austen had so wittily scribbled and so painfully died. One of the things that causes some critics to marvel at Miss Austen is the laconic way in which, as a daughter of the epoch that saw the Napoleonic Wars, she contrives like a Greek dramatist to keep it off the stage while she concentrates on the human factor. I think this comes close to affectation on the part of some of her admirers. Captain Frederick Wentworth in Persuasion, for example, is partly of interest to the female sex because of the 'prize' loot he has extracted from his encounters with Bonaparte's navy. Still, as one born after Hiroshima I can testify that a small Hampshire township, however large the number of names of the fallen on its village-green war memorial, is more than a world away from any unpleasantness on the European mainland or the high or narrow seas that lie between. (I used to love the detail that Hampshire's 'New Forest' is so called because it was only planted for the hunt in the late eleventh century.) I remember watching with my father and brother through the fence of Stanstead House, the Sussex mansion of the Earl of Bessborough, one evening in the early 1960s and seeing an immense golden meadow carpeted entirely by grazing rabbits. I'll never keep that quiet, or be that still, again.This was around the time of countrywide protest against the introduction of a horrible laboratory-confected disease, named 'myxomatosis,' into the warrens of old England to keep down the number of nibbling rodents. Richard Adams's lapine masterpiece Watership Down is the remarkable work that it is, not merely because it evokes the world of hedgerows and chalk-downs and streams and spinneys better than anything since The Wind in the Willows, but because it is only really possible to imagine gassing and massacre and organized cruelty on this ancient and green and gently rounded landscape if it is organized and carried out against herbivores.
Christopher Hitchens
In 1996 Dorothy Mackey wrote an Op-ed piece, Violence from comrades a fact of life for military women. ABC News 20/ 20 did a segment on rape in the military. By November four women came forward at Aberdeen Proving Ground, in Maryland, about a pattern of rape by drill sergeants. In 1997 the military finds three black drill sergeants to scapegoat. They were sent to prison and this left the commanding generals and colonels untouched to retire quietly. The Army appointed a panel to investigate sexual harassment. One of the panelists was the sergeant Major of the Army, Eugene McKinney.On hearing his nomination, former associates and one officer came forward with charges of sexual coercion and misconduct. In 1998 he was acquitted of all charges after women spoke (of how they were being stigmatized, their careers stopped and their characters questioned. A Congressional panel studied military investigative practices. In 1998, the Court of Appeals ruled against Dorothy Mackay. She had been outspoken on media and highly visible. There is an old Arabic saying When the hen crows cut off her head.This court finds that Col. Milam and Lt. Col. Elmore were acting in the scope of their duties in 1991-1992 when Capt. Mackey alleged they harassed, intimidated and assaulted her. A legislative remedy was asked for and she appealed to the Supreme Court. Of course the Supreme Court refused to hear the case in 1999, as it always has under the feres doctrine. Her case was cited to block the suit of one of the Aberdeen survivors as well!
Diane Chamberlain
Ella finds this story inside herself: A woman, loved by a man who criticizes her throughout their long relationship for being unfaithful to him and for longing for the social life which his jealousy bars her from and for being ‘a career woman’. This woman who, throughout the five years of their affair in fact never looks at another man, never goes out and neglects her career becomes everything he has criticized her for being at that moment when he drops her. She becomes promiscuous, lives only for parties and is ruthless about her career, sacrificing her men and her friends for it. The point of the story is that this new personality has been created by him; and that everything she does — sexual acts, acts of betrayal for the sake of her career, etc., are with the revengeful thought: There, that’s what you wanted, that’s what you wanted me to be. And, meeting this man again after an interval, when her new personality is firmly established, he falls in love with her again. This is what he always wanted her to be; and the reason why he left her was in fact because she was quiet, compliant and faithful. But now, when he falls in love with her again, she rejects him and in bitter contempt: what she is now is not what she ‘really’ is. He has rejected her ‘real’ self. He has betrayed a real love and now loves a counterfeit. When she rejects him, she is preserving her real self, whom he has betrayed and rejected.Ella does not write this story. She is afraid that writing it might make it come true.
Doris Lessing
Amy turned to Nellie. Can you create a diversion to draw the clerk outside?The au pair was wary. What kind of diversion?You could pretend to be lost, Dan proposed. The guy comes out to give you directions and we slip inside.That's the most sexist idea I've ever heard, Nellie said harshly. I am female, so I have to be clueless. He's male, so he's got a great sense of direction.Maybe you're from out of town, Dan suggested. Wait–you are from out of town.Nellie stashed their bags under a bench and set Saladin on the seat with a stern You're the watchcat. Anybody touches those bags, unleash your inner tiger.The Egyptian Mau surveyed the street uncertainly. Mrrp. Nellie sighed. Lucky for us there's no one around. Okay, I am going in there. Be ready.The clerk said something to her–probably May I help you? She smiled apologetically. I don't speak Italian.Ah–you are American. His accent was heavy, but he seemed eager to please. I will assist you. He took in her black nail polish and nose ring. Punk, perhaps, is your enjoyment?More like a punk/reggae fusion, Nellie replied thoughtfully. With a country feel. And operatic vocals.The clerk stared in perplexity.Nellie began to tour the aisles, pulling out CDs left and right. Ah–Artic Monkeys–that's what I am talking about. And some Bad Brains–from the eighties. Foo Fighters–I'll need a couple from those guys. And don't forget Linkin Park...He watched in awe as she stacked up an enormous armload of music. There, she finished, slapping Frank Zappa's Greatest Hits on top of the pile. That should do for a start.You are a music lover, said the wide-eyed cashier.No, I am a kleptomaniac. And she dashed out the door.
Gordon Korman