I was so busy moving and such that I realized I never did a cover reveal for my next release: Fierce Females on Television: A Cultural History.
Coming October 15
A fascinating deep-dive into how shows from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Equalizer have changed the way women are portrayed on television.
The last three decades of television have been a formative and progressive time for female characters, as stronger, more independent women have appeared on screen to guide a new generation of viewers into their own era of power. These characters battle vampires, demons, corrupt government officials, and scientific programs all while dealing with the same real-world concerns their audiences face every day.
In Fierce Females on Television: A Cultural History, Nicole Evelina examines ten shows from the past thirty years to unveil the enormous impact they have had on the way women are portrayed on television. She reveals how Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, Alias, Nikita, Agent Carter, Jessica Jones, Homeland, House of Cards, Orphan Black, and The Equalizer feature extraordinary lead characters who are at the same time utterly relatable, facing surprisingly familiar questions in their everyday lives regarding sexuality, gender, and how to fight back in a patriarchal world.
Fierce Females on Television shows how, even with their captivating mix of melodrama, mystery, magic, and martial arts, these shows nevertheless represent the audience’s own desires and fears. Finally, viewers of science fiction, fantasy, spy, and political shows have strong, modern women to watch, admire, and emulate.
My friend Stephanie Dray asked me to help her spread the word about her new book, Becoming Madam Secretary. Don’t miss out! Her book is now available for pre-order and will be published March 12, 2024.
✭✭✭ ABOUT THE BOOK ✭✭✭
New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Dray returns with a captivating and richly dramatic novel about Frances Perkins, one of the greatest political figures of the twentieth century, and an unsung heroine whose legacy is woven into the fabric of every American life.
Raised on tales of her revolutionary ancestors, Frances Perkins arrives in New York City at the turn of the century, armed with her trusty parasol and an unyielding determination to make a difference.
When she’s not working with children in the crowded tenements in Hell’s Kitchen, Frances throws herself into the social scene in Greenwich Village, befriending an eclectic group of politicians, artists, and activists, including the millionaire socialite Mary Harriman Rumsey, the flirtatious budding author Sinclair Lewis, and the brilliant but troubled reformer Paul Wilson, with whom she falls deeply in love.
But when Frances meets a young lawyer named Franklin Delano Roosevelt at a tea dance, sparks fly in all the wrong directions. She thinks he’s a rich, arrogant dilettante who gets by on a handsome face and a famous name. He thinks she’s a priggish bluestocking and insufferable do-gooder. Neither knows it yet, but over the next twenty years, they will form a historic partnership that will carry them both to the White House.
Frances is destined to rise in a political world dominated by men, facing down the Great Depression as FDR’s most trusted lieutenant—even as she struggles to balance the demands of a public career with marriage and motherhood. And when vicious political attacks mount and personal tragedies threaten to derail her ambitions, she must decide what she’s willing to do—and what she’s willing to sacrifice—to save a nation.
How is possible that the last time I blogged was May 9? Time does fly! I’m now mostly settled in South Bend, Indiana, and lots of things have been happening personally, but I’m here to tell you about two book-related things:
Hi, everyone! Yes, I am still here. I’ve just been quiet because my life has been crazy (in a great way)! If you follow me on Facebook, you already know that I have a serious boyfriend and am moving to South Bend, Indiana, on May 20, to live with him. So that has totally thrown everything for a loop.
But to keep you up to date on book news:
Podcast: I was honored to be a guest on the National Constitution Center Podcast in March, along with Dr. Sara Chatfield, assistant professor of political science at the University of Denver. (If you get a chance to read her new book, please do. She and it are amazing!) I spoke about Virginia Minor and women’s constitutional rights and she spoke about women’s marriage and financial rights in 19th century America.
Event: I have a free book signing and presentation at Bellefontaine Cemetery this Saturday from 2-4 p.m. This will be my last St. Louis event for a while, so please stop by if you can! You can RSVP here, but it is not required.
I can’t believe the month is almost over! It seems like yesterday that it started with my book release. I was supposed to post this way earlier in the month, but things have gone crazy round these parts (in a good way…more on that in a future post) so I’ve had very little time for author stuff.
I had the pleasure of being asked by my fellow author Janis Daly to participate in her 31 Titles for Women’s History Month promotion. This list is chock full of my friends and writers I admire, like Kate Quinn, Lauren Willig, Susan Vreeland, Sarah Bird, Alison Weir, Marie Benedict, Paula McClain, Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, Tracey Chevalier, Jennifer Chiaverini, Susan Meissner, Therese Anne Folwer and more.
In fact, I’ve read 11 of these books already! I’m making it my personal challenge to read the rest by the end of the year. And to be listed among them is such a great honor! I hope you will take a look at them and find (or more!) that you like.
I’d also like to thank Janis for having me and Madame Presidentess as part of this promotion and to highlight her new release The Unlocked Path, which is about Eliza Pearson Edwards, who was one of the early graduates of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania.
Janis is also taking suggestions for her 2024 list, so if you can think of any, please drop her a note!
Remember, women’s history isn’t just for March! It should be celebrated all year long!
Today is International Women’s Day, which is part of Women’s History Month (post on that coming soon). Today is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.
But it is equally important to look at how far we still have to go. I wrote this last August for Women’s Equality Day (August 26) but never posted it. That means the numbers are slightly out of date, likely still accurate. I have updated dates and the references to “this year” mean 2023.
Women are FAR from equal in the United States. Despite being one of the most advanced and powerful nations on the planet, we rank 51 out of 149 countries in gender equality. To put this in perspective, all of our neighboring countries are doing better than we are: Canada is #16, Cuba is #23 and Mexico is #50.
This is due in part to the fact that white women earn only 82 cents for every dollar men make, and the numbers are even worse for women of color. Black women earn only 70 cents and Latina women, 65 cents for every man’s dollar. In addition, our government is far from equal. In the most gender-equal country, Iceland, women hold nearly 40% of parliamentary seats. In the United States, while we have a record number of women serving in Congress, we are still in the minority, with only 27% of members being female (24 of 100 seats in the Senate and 120 of 435 seats in the House).
Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the ERA–which still hasn’t been passed. The United States is one of only seven United Nations member states who do not have an Equal Rights law in their constitution (193 countries do) or a provision that outlaws discrimination on the basis of sex (115 additional countries do). The other six countries without such a law are Iran, Palau, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Tonga.
Now, you may argue that other laws such as the Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VII and Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment together mean equality for women. But they don’t. Court rulings and interpretations in the years since they were passed make it nearly impossible to prove gender discrimination in a court of law and leaving women open to the repeal or reversal of their rights at any time.
Women in the United States have been fighting to pass an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution since Alice Paul first introduced it in 1923. The fight really gained steam in the 1970s and for a while it looked like it might pass, but the June 30, 1982, ratification deadline saw the ERA three states short of ratification. The ERA was considered dead until it was revived in March 2017 by Senator Pat Spearman. Nevada quickly became the 36th state to pass it, followed by Illinois and Virginia.
As of today, 38 states have ratified the ERA, enough for it to become law, though a few are trying to rescind their ratification. So what’s the holdup? That pesky 1982 deadline, which is not part of the law itself, but was put forth in its proposal. The Senate has voted to drop the arbitrary time limit for ratification and the measure has been waiting in the Senate since March 17, 2021. There has been no sign of movement and given current political trends, despite the need for it being greater than ever, it doesn’t look like the ERA will become law anytime soon.
Unfortunately, the future outlook for gender parity in the U.S. isn’t a sunny one, either. The U.S. loses about 2% in its gender equality score each year due to the factors outlined above, as well as a downward trend in women’s education and low political participation. The World Economic Forum estimates that at this rate, it will take another 208 years to close the gender gap in the United States.
What You Can Do
While this may seem depressing and a reason for apathy, these statistics should actually enliven and fuel us. As with the suffrage movement, it is only when women band together to demand their rights that change takes place. You CAN make a difference. Here are some suggestions to get involved:
The single most powerful thing you can do is VOTE! As we have seen in close elections in previous years, every single vote makes a difference. Whether you are voting for your local school board or president of the United States, you are influencing the future of our government, schools and political environment.
Join women’s advocacy groups like the League of Women Voters, the American Academy of University Women (AAUW), the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) or the YWCA USA. There are local chapters of every national group in most major and some smaller cities.
Contact your local, state and national representatives. Today it is easier than ever to advocate for change. Email, call or write your representatives, or talk to them on social media. Sign petitions online or when approached. Your representatives are meant to represent you and your thoughts and they can best do that when they know what is on your mind.
Run for office. Not everyone is suited to be in politics, but those who are should toss their proverbial hat into the ring. Even if you only serve on a school board or county council, you are increasing the number of women in politics and setting a positive example for future generations of women and girls.
Advocate for women in your workplace. Don’t forget that doing your best work can get you promoted. By mentoring or being mentored, you’re shoring up the future of Mercy leadership. And don’t forget to consider female candidates (especially those of color) when you’re hiring.
Educate yourself. The more you know, the more of an informed voter you are and the better you can educate your children. You might want to start with current events, then look into the history of how that situation came to be and then brank off into other aspects. Try to get your information form credible sources and always be wary of information you see on social media.
Speak up and speak out. Each one of us has a voice and no matter what our culture says, we have the exact same right to use it as men do. Speak up in meetings; don’t let your male co-workers mansplain or talk over you. If you are active on social media, take a stance when you see injustice being done. (But please keep Mercy’s social media policy in place if where you work is known or can easily be identified.) Attend protests and rallies if you are so moved.
You can even help by joining women across the country who are fighting to get Women’s Equality Day recognized as a National Day of Celebration, the first step toward eventually making it a National Holiday.
As it is said, “Women Hold Up Half the Sky,” which means we also hold half the power in the world. If every woman did her part, together with our male allies we could affect major change.
The book that started with a passing reference in my research for Madame Presidentess and the question of “what else is other there about Virginia?” quickly turned into “why has no one else written about them?” And now it is out in the world!
I’ll be honest with you guys, I’m dreaming big with this book. Some of you have already heard me say that I’ve had a Pulitzer Prize in mind in since I started researching–and I’m holding to that. I’m also nursing a *small* hope I will hit the New York Times bestseller list with this book. (If you want to help out, I’ve got a page with graphics and info on it that you can share. No pressure at all.)
So you want to buy the book? Thank you so much. Here is every buy link that I am aware of:
If you’re store of choice isn’t here, please check their website and put in my name or the book title. If you are going to a brick and mortar store, if they don’t have it, they will be able to order it for you.
Other things you can do to help:
Share information on social media.
If you’re on TikTok, make a brief video using #booktok.
If you’re on Instagram, share graphics using #bookstagram
Encourage your friends and family to buy it.
Write an honest review on Amazon. (One sentence is enough!)
Ask for it at your local libraries, schools, and bookstores.
Recommend it to your book club (I do in person and online visits).
Anything else you can think of to persuade people to buy it.
Thank you all so much for all of your support. I’m very excited that Virginia and Francis are finally getting their due more than 120 years after their deaths. This is the most important work I’ve done to date and I hope everyone finds it as fascinating as I did.
PS – Did you know there is a lot of information that didn’t make it into the book? Check it out here.
Ruth Janetta Temple was born in Natchez, Mississippi on Nov. 1, 1892. She was the second child of Amy Morton and Richard Jason Temple and had five living siblings and two others who died young.
Her parents were both well-educated. Her father was a graduate of Denison University in Ohio and the University of Chicago, where he earned a bachelor of divinity in 1887 and became a Baptist minister. Her mother held a teaching degree from Shaw University in North Carolina. They believed in the value of education for their children and their neighbors, often opening their vast personal library to community members for research.
The philosophy of humanism—which places the emphasis in life on the potential value/goodness of people over the divine or supernatural and seeks rational ways to solve problems—guided the family’s moral code. Her father sought to make their home into a place where people of all faiths were welcome. He once said, “”People will come into our house. All people, all kinds of people, of all race, all creeds, all colors, and all educational backgrounds. Our children will learn love before they learn hate.” Ruth’s mother agreed and often brought those less fortunate to their home to give them food and clothing.
When Ruth was 10, her father died suddenly, leaving her heartbroken, as the two were very close. Two years later her family moved to Los Angeles. The children had previously been homeschooled by their mother, but she had to go back to work to provide for them. Her teaching license wasn’t valid in California, so she became a nurse.
With her mother away at work, Ruth went to public school and cared for her siblings. When she was 13, Ruth witnessed her brother’s frightening brush with death when a gunpowder experiment went wrong and blew up in his face. He ended up with only a singed eyebrow, but she found her calling: to take away the pain of others. Later, she recalled, “at that time I thought that women were nurses. I didn’t know they were doctors. When I learned that women were doctors, I said `Ah, that’s what I want to be’.”
The Temple family converted to Seventh-day Adventism in 1908 and co-founded the Furlong Track Church, the first Black Seventh-day Adventist church west of the Mississippi. Ruth’s mother spent the next 21 years as a Bible Instructor and went on in 1914 to help found the Watts church, the second black Adventist Church in Los Angeles (now the Compton Avenue church).
In 1908, Ruth transferred to San Fernando Academy, an Adventist boarding school, where she studied pre-med. In 1913, Ruth enrolled in the College of Medical Evangelists (now Loma Linda University). The family couldn’t afford the tuition, but T.W. Troy, a prominent member of the Los Angeles Forum, a black men’s civic organization, had heard Ruth speak and was so impressed, he sponsored her education. Ruth was the first Black woman to graduate from the school in 1918; she got a bachelor’s in medicine and became the first Black female physician licensed to practice in the state of California.
Soon after, she returned to Los Angeles and focused on creating public health services for the medically underserved. Dr. Temple opened the first health clinic in southeast Los Angeles. However, she struggled to find funding for the clinic. In 1908, she married Otis Banks, a real estate broker. Together, they bought a house from which they ran their clinic, Temple Health Institute. There they provided free medical services as well as health education to parents, teachers, and schoolkids, including frank discussions of substance abuse, immunization, nutrition and sex education. This model was later duplicated in communities across the nation in schools, PTAs, YWCAs, churches, synagogues, service agencies, private medical practices, study clubs, and local health organizations.
From 1923-1928, Dr. Temple held an internship in maternity service at the Los Angeles Health Department. Later she was one of only a few Black people on the teaching staff of White Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles where she taught white medical students. In 1941, the Los Angeles Health Department awarded her a scholarship to pursue her master’s degree in public health at Yale University. Dr. Temple worked for the Health Department from 1942-1962, where she was the first female health officer in the city. She was also a member of the American Medical Association, the Women’s University Club, the California Medical Association, the California Congress of Parents and Teachers, and Alpha Kappa Alpha.
In 1948, a portrait of Dr. Temple became the 35th in a special exhibit of “Leading American Negro Citizens” at the Smithsonian. Her work was recognized by Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and several mayors of Los Angeles and other cities, as well as Dr. Milford Rouse, president of the American Medical Association.
Dr. Temple retired in 1962, but continued to work in public health through the Southern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, as director of health services. She spread the word about the benefits of diet, exercise, rest, recreation, and spirituality and promoted Disease Prevention Week, which she had created in 1945. By 1977, it had been introduced as a joint resolution in Congress twice and health care facilities around California were celebrating it in March.
In 1983 the East Los Angeles Health Center was renamed the Dr. Ruth Temple Health Center. She died the following year in Los Angeles at the age of 91.
I haven’t talked much about this book because it will be of interest to a very niche group of readers, but the book I wrote for the St. Louis Metro League of Women Voters is out! We’re celebrating its release this coming Sunday. So if you live in St. Louis, I’d love to see you!
“Raising Our Voices: League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis 1960-2022” demonstrates how League members advocated for change during six decades of tremendous upheaval. As a sequel to Avis Carlson’s history “The First 40 Years,” this book covers the next 62 years of League work. It includes member advocacy on controversial issues such as busing and school discrimination, the Equal Rights Amendment, election and campaign finance reform, voter suppression, and the National Popular Vote.
In addition to these headline-makers, the book chronicles the everyday work of the League to improve the St. Louis community and protect the rights of its citizens. Each decade includes information on League efforts focused on:
Key issues such as education and the environment
In addition, the book profiles more than 20 key League members in honor of their contributions that made a difference in those decades. Not just an essential read for League members, “Raising Our Voices” is an important resource for the entire St. Louis area and will inspire women’s history buffs from coast to coast. Part local history, part collective memoir, it captures the valuable and ongoing work of this organization to educate and empower voters and improve the status of women in the St. Louis area, the state of Missouri, and nationwide.
Buy the book
Please note that all proceeds go to the League of Women Voters of Metro St. Louis.