Born-again sluts

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 Red Light: Superheroes, Saints and Sluts
Female iconography gets a reality check

FEMALE ICONS aboundin mainstream culture:the goddess/saint, the mother(preferably virginal),and the bad girl/slut(most congenial, andsafest, when blessedwith a heart of gold).Composed of impossibleassemblies of select characteristics,the female icon is an archetype, unrealoutside of the conventional collectiveimagination.

The very process of makingor becoming an icon is aboutnaming/being named, about being judgedworthy or not, depending on whateverdominant values reign at a given point intime. What happens when she who isjudged, weighed, compared decides to dosome naming of her own? A book like RedLight happens.

In her brilliantly rebellious introduction, Anna Camilleri lays out her purpose in RedLight: to give voice to the hidden heroines,to shine light on those icons that existbeyond the safety and sanctity of thepatriarchal mainstream. In this wittyanthology of personal essays, poems, art,photography and other forms that refuseto be categorized, 41 women explore abroad spectrum of female iconography,looking behind and to the side of expectedimages and creating new ones basedon the reality and true rituals of growingup female.

While the collection is fresh and even,favourites emerge, including âeoeThe NewBeautiful,âe by McKinley M. Hellenes,which makes us rethink the evil stepmother/wicked witch archetype. âeoeSugarZeroâe is Rima Banerjiâe(TM)s ode to Aileen Wuornos and women like her, and LindaDawn Hammond creatively depicts howpoorly the Virgin Mary might fare if shetried to get welfare in Toronto today.Red Light, like all of Camilleriâe(TM)s books,is brave and bold and in-your-face, abrazen mix of passionate intelligence andstriking sexuality with the power to stironeâe(TM)s inner rebel.âe"Joy Parks

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