Every writer I know is also here to learn — about spaceships and fall-out shelters and international abduction and horitculture and language and everything. Everything else, everything that makes this world strange and rich and mysterious and ugly and beautiful. Humility in reading and in writing really means freedom, freedom to love things with unbridled enthusiasm. Freedom to critique things thoughtfully, freedom to write about topics you aren’t that familiar with, freedom to admit to your mistakes and learn from them. Humility is freedom.
Even without realizing this was a seriously messed up situation, I was subconsciously drawn to characters like me wherever I found them. In the Babysitters Club series, Claudia was my favorite; not only was she Asian, but she was artistic, as I was. While it was nice to see Sulu on the bridge of the Enterprise, I was more fascinated by Spock, who had grown up caught between two cultures, not belonging fully to neither.
In most stories, I was lucky to see one multicultural character, the so-called token character, and often it seemed like enough as long as the story didn’t resort to racist stereotypes for characterization. We take what we can get; even imperfect representations of ourselves are better than none at all. But as long as this mentality continues and we settle for the bare minimum, damage is being done…
Mainstream popular culture has become, for better or worse, our dominant form of storytelling especially in Western cultures and these stories do have a profound influence on our lives, perceptions, values and belief systems — even if we don’t always like to admit it.
Feminism was actually not part of my life growing up, at least not consciously. My generation has been caught up in an extreme cultural, political and media backlash against women’s rights. I hear far too many young people say, “I believe in the equality of women but I’m not a feminist,” and, to be completely honest, I used to be one of them. It’s a silly nonsensical statement to make, of course, because at its core feminism is about working towards equality through ending the systemic oppression of women in society. Despite this reality there, unfortunately still exists a great many misconceptions and misunderstandings floating around out there about the word. Some of it is just ignorance but some of it is deliberate misinformation spread by regressive forces hell bent on trying to persevere the good old boys club.
If we look at the long and diverse traditions of feminist movements over the past 100 years we find that feminism has fundamentally transformed almost every aspect of our society. So in actuality everyone engages with feminism on a daily bases (especially in the west), but we have just been taught not to think of it as such.