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Great Gifts: Books and DVDs for the Holidays, page 2

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Battling Pornography: The American Feminist Anti-Pornography Movement, 1976-1986

by Carolyn Bronstein

Bronstein is associate professor of Media Studies in the College of Communication at DePaul University. When I was in college, from 1980-1984 at Drake University, the nationwide pornography wars were in full swing. As a journalism student, I faced a dilemma: the objectification of women through student-sponsored hard-core porn fests ( Deep Throat was showing on campus ) vs. my support of free speech. So, I created an alternative festival that showed softer and diverse gay, lesbian and inter-racial erotic films. Since the hard-core fest always sold out, we had a lot of overflow into our screenings, which were accompanied by lectures from well-known anti-censorship feminist leaders. The aim was education by way of erotica. Well, Bronstein takes a detailed look at the anti-porn movement in this well-researched new book. Anyone who lived through those days, or who is curious how the right-wing got into "bed" with feminists for a brief unfulfilling fling, should definitely read this book. Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin were the two most well-known women fighting what they saw as the link between pornography and violence against women, but Bronstein goes back before these high-profile battles, and traces the history of key anti-pornography organizations: Women Against Violence Against Women ( WAVAW ) in Los Angeles; Women Against Violence in Pornography and Media ( WAVPM ) in San Francisco; and Women Against Pornography ( WAP ) in New York. "In reality, anti-pornography was a complex and multifaceted movement made up of diverse and overlapping feminist groups who articulated their own sets of ideas and goals," said Bronstein. "These groups never reached consensus on the best way to fight sexualized media violence and they did not simply fall in line behind MacKinnon and Dworkin." This is a highly recommended look at our recent feminist history.

GOD VS. GAY?: The Religious Case for Equality

by Jay Michaelson

Religious scholar and activist Michaelson argues that religious people should favor gay rights because of religion, not despite it. Weaving in his personal "coming out" story and pointing to scriptures from the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, Michaelson looks at what the Jewish and Christian traditions have to say about sexuality and the holiness of the human relationship. "Homosexuality is natural … put in stark religious terms, sexual diversity is part of God's plan," Michaelson writes. To support his argument, Michaelson points to passages and stories from the Bible, including: The Creation Story—Eve was not created to make children with Adam, but rather to resolve the existential problem of aloneness, the author argues. The story of Adam and Eve is one of "loneliness and love, not procreation and progeny." The Story of Sodom and Gomorrah—Michaelson claims that the story is not about homosexuality at all, but rather speaks to the cruelty and inhospitality the Sodomites showed their guests. Jesus Christ on Homosexuality—Christ never made any statements regarding homosexuality and His silence speaks volumes, the author said. "Jesus wasn't tacit about the values that mattered most," he writes. "If regulation of homosexual behavior were one of them, the Gospels would not be silent."

At Home with Myself: Stories from the Hills of Turkey Hollow

by David Mixner

This new book is based on a survey of nearly 3,500 self-identified transgender individuals and follow-up interviews with more than 400 of the participants, making it one of the largest studies involving transgender people in the U.S. Beemyn and Rankin consider how transgender people experienced their gender identities growing up and how they came to see themselves as transgender. "One of the findings that surprised us was the wide variety of ways that people identified," said Beemyn, the director of Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a transgender person hirself ( a pronoun used by Beemyn to reflect a gender identity that does not fit into conventional male or female gender categories ) . Said Beemyn: "When asked to describe their gender identities, the participants provided more than a hundred different responses." The Lives of Transgender People documents a transgender spectrum of a broad range of identities, including androgynous, gender-nonconforming, genderqueer, transfeminine, transmasculine, and transgender identities.

Bestselling author and renowned presidential campaign adviser ( George McGovern, Bill Clinton, Dick Gephardt, Gary Hart ) Mixner returns with his first book in 10 years. The book chronicles his return to nature at the age of 60. "No longer willing to do the things young people do and having lost most of his closest friends to AIDS, he felt out of place in the big cities that had been his home all his adult life. So he chose a mountainside home as a retreat from the busy world, a place of meditation on the small, daily wonders of pastoral life, including the beauty of nature and its constant evolution," according to the advance promo for the book, which also looks back at his 40-year political career. See .

Doctor Who: The Complete Sixth Series

DVD $79.98, Blu-ray $89.98; 645 minutes, six discs

When my stepdad watched Doctor Who when I was growing up, I pretty much ignored the show. But I am now a big fan, and even can handle the ever-changing cast as they fight the myriad foes of time and space. This perfect gift set combines all 13 episodes of the new season from award-winning lead writer and executive producer Steven Moffat, along with the 2010 Holiday Special, A Christmas Carol, starring Harry Potter's Michael Gambon plus hours of bonus features. The sixth series stars Matt Smith ( the Doctor ) , Karen Gillan ( Amy Pond ) , Arthur Darvill ( Rory ) and Alex Kingston ( River Song ) . Lots of bonuses for true fans, but even if you've never watched a Doctor, this is very enjoyable entertainment. You don't need any back story to escape into the universe created by this wonderful series.

Baby Jane?

Available on DVD

Film Director Billy Clift and Ariztical films present this feature-length campy tribute to the famous psychological thriller that originally starred Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. Featuring drag superstars Matthew Martin and J. Conrad Frank as those twisted sisters Blanche and Baby Jane, Clift's Baby Jane? uses a cast of almost all men playing the female roles. According to Clift, "I wanted to make Baby Jane? a dark comedy, unlike a typical parody playing it only for laughs." See .

West Side Story

50th Anniversary Edition, DVD and Blu-ray

50th Anniversary Edition, DVD and Blu-ray. Limited edition collector's set available featuring two-disc Blu-ray, 
newly restored DVD and tribute CD along with photo book and other collectibles. Our audience probably doesn't need much reminder on how historic this film classic is. The music ( composer Stephen Sondheim, score by Leonard Bernstein ) , the dancing, the drama: It's all here and beautiful for all generations to enjoy and love all over again. With a record-breaking 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Directing ( Robert Wise ) and Best Original Score, the film took home more awards than any other movie-musical in the history of cinema. There are lots of new features to enjoy, including: The Dances of West Side Story—cast members, contemporary filmmakers, dancers and choreographers analyze and illuminate the film's famous dance sequences. A Place for Us: West Side Story's Legacy—a look back at the iconic film and the impact it has had all over the world. Plus song-specific commentary by Sondheim.

Buddy Holly: Listen to Me/The Ultimate Buddy Party

DVD available from PBS

The music didn't die when Buddy Holly died tragically young in a plane crash, but it certainly was stunted. Imagine another 50 years of his creative genius on the airwaves. This new DVD is from a historic concert marking what would have been Holly's 75th birthday. The concert was at the Music Box in Hollywood and among the musicians performing were: Paul Anka, Peter Asher, Michelle Branch, Cobra Starship, Shawn Colvin, Chris Isaak, Lyle Lovett, Raul Malo, Graham Nash, Stevie Nicks, Boz Scaggs and Patrick Stump. There were also special guest appearances by Phil Everly, James Burton and Albert Lee, plus featured tributes by Keith Richards, Ringo Starr, Brian Wilson and Imelda May. Adding to the celebration are other friends and family from Buddy Holly's life, including Holly's widow Maria Elena Holly and Phil Everly, making what may well be his last public musical appearance. This is a fantastic tribute to the legend of Buddy Holly.

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