Tag: feminism (Page 2 of 5)

Delightful imperfection, contradiction, my past, and Sailor Jupiter

I’m in the process of fixing a weird bug in my blog (where some posts show as having no comments even though the comments are right freaking there) and that requires checking over a lot of my old posts. It’s kind of fun, amusing, weird, inspiring, and embarrassing all at once.

Sometimes I wonder if I should go back and delete the more ridiculous or random posts. I know people who have done that. I even know one person (cough Sarah cough) who likes to “burn it all down.” Old journals, old blogs, old photographs, everything. She can be sentimental, but she prefers to rely on her own memory. She doesn’t like anyone being able to root through the relics of her past.

I’m the opposite. I love looking back on my history (and the histories of people I care about) in all its delightful mess and imperfection. Oh sure, it’d be nice to have a pristine version of myself presented to the public — but then again, I’m not a pristine person. I’m flawed and ever-changing. Is there a point in hiding that?

(Also, few people besides myself will ever go back into the archives anyway. Why hide what no one’s looking for?)

As with most things, it’s all up to personal preference. Me, I’m leaving my past alone. But I do understand the temptation to delete or obscure.

“How Sailor Jupiter Made Me Who I Am Today” by Amanda C. Miller

I always was drawn to Makoto for her interesting juxtaposition of the masculine and feminine. Her version of womanhood was complex, well-rounded, and unique to anything else I had seen in kids shows before. She was at the same time strong and sweet, badass and gentle. On the one hand, a tough self-sufficient independent woman who had lived on her own for years and answered to no one. On the other, a hopeless romantic who liked crushing on cute boys and secretly dreamed of becoming a beautiful bride someday.

I also remember the episode where she gets a lady crush on Haruka, which was not so much about sexual confusion, but more the fact that she deeply admires how Haruka is confidently able to reconcile the masculine and the feminine parts of herself, and doesn’t apologize for how anyone else receives her. Someone else’s confusion or inability to put her in a box is their problem, not hers.

Sailor Jupiter was my favorite too. There’s a superficial similarity — we’re both brunettes — but this essay helped me articulate the deeper parallels between me and Makoto.

I’ve always loved being “one of the boys.” I even went through a (deeply regrettable) phase of believing that “girliness” was a bad thing. But the truth is that even when I was in denial about my femininity, I had wonderful female friends, strong female role models, and a fair number of “girly” tendencies. Thank goodness for all that.

Now that I’m older and wiser, I’m able to look at my various traits without shame, and without assigning genders. I’m able to see that sensitivity and toughness can go hand-in-hand. I might not be as confident as Haruka about it, but I’m getting there.

You don’t have to sacrifice an ounce of your strength in order to maintain your femininity, and vice versa.

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On being a girl geek, and a new look for the site

“Coding Like a Girl”

It’s one kind of progress for people to agree with the statement “Women can be anything they want.” It combats a kind of sexism called oppositional sexism. But there’s another kind of sexism, traditional sexism, that we’ve made less progress on. You could get more people to agree that women can be anything they want than to agree that femininity is as valuable as masculinity.

• • •

My friend Rose recently blogged about “being a woman in tech.” It’s a great read about her personal experiences with sexism and how she handles it. Also, the article quoted above was found via Rose’s post.

I don’t work in tech, obviously, but like Rose (who I went to high school with) I was a self-taught coder, a female nerd. I still am, actually, and proud of it, even if it’s not at a professional level.

(Edited to add: I too experienced various shades of sexism in regards to my interest in programming, science, or even Star Trek. But I’ve also been admired or embraced by people for those same interests. It’s not all bad, and no one is trying to say it is. Anyway, I didn’t want to go into too much of my own history, because I’d rather you read the two pieces I linked to.)

My computer science journey ended during my sophomore year of college, when I dropped it as a double-major because I was tired of staying up all night on my computer. Between writing stories for my fiction classes and coding for my programming classes, it was non-stop screen-time, and that just wasn’t sustainable for me. Plus, I realized that I had always been more interested in the design side of things, and programming was (mostly) just a means to that end.

Nowadays, I indulge my web design hobby here. It’s perfect, because this space is meant to be a reflection of me anyway. Speaking of which: ta da! In case you hadn’t noticed, things look a bit different around here.

Before

screenshot

After

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 9.05.43 AM

As much as I loved those hand-drawn icons, it was time to go mobile-friendly. The new design is built on the framework of WordPress’s lovely Sela theme, and it should look pretty snappy no matter what kind or size of device you’re reading on.

(If you see anything wonky, it’s probably on accident, so just let me know and I’ll take a look.)

I decided to outsource the bulk of the coding by using a pre-made theme, but I still had to do a lot of tweaking. I got to learn about breakpoints — which mark where and how the design should change for different screen sizes — as well as about the specialized web font Genericons. It’s just too bad they don’t have a character for GoodReads. I had to use a book icon instead of the official logo.

Also, I finally did away with the BlogHer ads. I used to enjoy being part of that network, largely because they did a good job sending traffic around, so there were always new people coming here, and new blogs for me to discover. But that feature hasn’t been around for over a year now, and the ad income only partway covers my hosting costs, so I just didn’t see the benefit anymore.

As with all things shiny and new, the redesign will probably lure me here to blog more often in the coming weeks. Maybe. I hope. Because there’s still more to be said about my trip to Taiwan, not to mention all the thought-provoking media I’ve been watching and reading. Stories. Whether mine or other people’s, that’s what I always come back to.

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Stuff worth reading

I’m well beyond the point where I believe that anyone else’s process can offer me a magic path to or through my own. But hearing about how other writers work can still be interesting, informative, and inspiring.

In “Writer’s Block, Schmiter’s Block,” Marissa Meyer offers some really smart strategies to get yourself writing.

Then, in “From Idea to Finished,” she generously details her entire process in 9 posts.

This conversation with Chris Rock is fantastic. It covers everything (comedy, politics, creativity, being a father), and it completely reinforces my belief that being funny requires an incredible amount of intelligence.

(Note: I’m not saying he’s right about everything. Just that he’s thoughtful and smart.)

To say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years. If you saw Tina Turner and Ike having a lovely breakfast over there, would you say their relationship’s improved? Some people would. But a smart person would go, “Oh, he stopped punching her in the face.” It’s not up to her. Ike and Tina Turner’s relationship has nothing to do with Tina Turner. Nothing. It just doesn’t. The question is, you know, my kids are smart, educated, beautiful, polite children. There have been smart, educated, beautiful, polite black children for hundreds of years. The advantage that my children have is that my children are encountering the nicest white people that America has ever produced. Let’s hope America keeps producing nicer white people.

Last but not least, two great rants from my fellow “Wexlerites.” (Meaning that they are also represented by my agent Tina.)

“I See a Book and Get Angry and Write a Thing” by Anne Ursu

As Jensen says in an excellent essay: “Being fat isn’t a disability. Being fat is a physical state of being.”

Nobody tells you this when you’re growing up, but you can be fat and feel good about yourself. You can be fat and healthy. You can be fat and strong. And fat is just a word, that’s all—not an insult, not a feeling, not a moral failing.

What they might not know is the person next to them is sick—that the words they use warp into nourishment for a dormant eating disorder. What they might not know is they’re teaching the girls who listen to hate their bodies.

Your daughters are listening.

“Beware the Bitter Women” by Laura Ruby

When reviewers use gendered terms and expectations to review female writers, they reinforce stereotypes. That women—and their girl characters—should be quiet. That women writers should be non-confrontational. That women writers should be subtle or gentle or funny or absurd or ironic or even ridiculously vague in order not to alienate…well, who exactly?

Art exists not just to entertain—but also to challenge, to provoke, even to disturb. And no matter how funny/satirical/absurd/beautiful/heartfelt your writing is, when you’re asking thought-provoking questions that challenge the status quo—the way a sexist culture demeans girls, the way a racist culture endangers brown people—some readers might be lost in the process. Some might even find your work “hyper” or “preachy” or “strident,” oh my. But what if those readers aren’t the ones you’re writing for?

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Stuff worth reading (YALSA interview edition)

Today I stumbled upon a treasure trove: the “One Thing Leads to Another” interview series at YALSA. Already the series has talked with some of my favorite Young Adult authors. Reading about their journeys — through life, through writing, through publishing — just fills me up with awe, kinship, and inspiration.

Rainbow Rowell:

The big shift for me was fiction-writing, because it was the first time that I was writing for myself – writing what I wanted to write and not getting paid for it,  at least not immediately. That was a very scary thing. And it took an entirely new type of discipline. I had to learn to write even when I wasn’t on deadline.

Maggie Stiefvater:

The most difficult experience I had as a teen hit when I was 17 or 18 — I was suicidal. My family was great, school wasn’t difficult, I was working and managing my time well. But I looked at the adults around me and thought that I didn’t see a single one that I wanted to be when I grew up. I did, however, see a lot of people I didn’t want to be. So I just decided, logically, not to grow up. I know, I know.

I can’t tell you how much it moves me now when teens tell me they see me as a role model, or that they didn’t realize that adulthood could look like this, or that they didn’t know women could act like me.

 Shannon Hale:

Humans tend to make hierarchies out of things. Masculine is better than feminine. See how girls are praised for pursuing traditionally “masculine” things and how boys are shamed for pursuing traditionally “feminine” things. The point of feminism should be that girls can choose how they want to be and not be trapped into a few limiting roles. Feminism loses power if we shame “girliness” or “girlie girls.” If you want to wear pink ribbons or love fashion or want to be a mom more than anything or devour romances (vampire or otherwise), feminism should say, go for it! Just as much as it should encourage the girls who go out for lacrosse or follow car racing or dig technology.

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Jennifer Weiner on writing, feminism, and her daughters

Last month, I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to go see Jennifer Weiner at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. I needed a little pick-me-up, and there’s something so inspiring about watching an author interact with her fans. Especially when the author is as smart, funny, and genuine as Jennifer.

Jennifer Weiner at Joseph-Beth 002

 Highlights:

  • “I think it would probably be easier to get my books made into movies if they were about skinny women falling in love … but that’s just not what speaks to me.”
  • She writes to explore topics and themes, not promote a specific viewpoint.
  • That said, feminism definitely informs her characters. They live “realized feminist lives” — with choices — and those choices have consequences.
  • “We live in a world where, if you’re a woman who expresses a strong opinion, there are 3 possible responses:
    (1) I agree.
    (2) I disagree.
    (3) You should be raped and murdered.”
  • Someone asked Jennifer when she felt that she had “made it.” She said it wasn’t when she got a book deal, or a starred review, or even when she hit the bestseller list. It was when she championed Sarah Pekkanen’s debut and helped Sarah hit the bestseller list. Jennifer said she felt her own success most strongly when she helped others achieve their dreams.
  • “To be a writer, you have to have thick skin, but you also have to be exquisitely sensitive.”
  • Last but not least…

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