Tag: feminism (Page 2 of 5)

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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IF ONLY by Geri Halliwell

Please note: My “Reading Reflections” are not reviews. They are simply my thoughts in response to certain passages.

If OnlyIn the 6th grade, I heard “Wannabe” on the car radio and asked my mom to turn it up. The lyrics were inane, and yet they also spoke to me on some strange level. I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want. So tell me what you want, what you really really want. I really really really wanna zig-a-zig-ah! By the end of middle school, my best friend Aisha and I were firmly entrenched in Girl Power. We knew every Spice Girls song by heart (even the B-sides) and we sang them (divvying up the parts) while walking home from school, working at my parents’ office, and playing Nintendo.

Over the years, the Spice Girls changed and matured in many ways — as did I. But in reading Geri Halliwell’s book, I was reminded of how much I’m still that girl striving to reach her dreams. And maybe I always will be.

I drew a lot of comfort from these wannabe musters in dance studios and theater foyers because I knew that I wasn’t alone. If my dream was fruitless and foolish, then a lot of other people had the same problem. We couldn’t all be wrong. (118)

Sometimes it seems like everyone I know wants to be a writer. And sometimes that scares me — like how am I supposed to stand out among this crowd?

But then I remember:

1) Publishing is not a zero-sum game. There’s plenty of pie for everyone.

2) These people are my people. They get me. We’re all dreaming the same dreams, and with each other’s help, we can achieve them.

3) I live in a bubble of my own making. All I need to do is step outside of it — talk to people who have no idea what “pantsing” is or how advances work — and I’ll realize that most people want nothing to do with writing books. Bless them.

(Now if only more people were interested in reading books…)

Not all of my grand plans ended in complete disaster. Each time I seemed to make just enough forward momentum to feel that I was still heading in the right direction. It wasn’t so much a case of one step forward and two steps back. More of treading water and hoping the current would take me where I wanted to go. (125)

I think this is just what progress feels like. An endless road — until suddenly you arrive.

(At least, that’s what I’m hoping/assuming!)

The way I figured it, people fell into three major categories. Those who have little ambition, achieve nothing and complain about what a rough deal they get. Those who are comfortable with their lives and feel no need to rise… And finally, there are people like me — restless dreamers. (160)

Okay, there are probably more than just those 3 categories, but I definitely know people in the first and third groups. And personally, I think the world needs more people in the second.

“You do know what your girl power is, don’t you?”

“It’s tapping into your inner resources to help you achieve your goals. If a girl has brains and femininity and most importantly inner strength and determination then, my dears, she has a very deadly weapon.” (179)

I think this is what the new wave of feminism is about. We’re not telling girls, you have to be this or that. We’re telling girls, you don’t have to be anything. You can be this. Or that. Or this and that. Whatever you want. Whatever makes you you.

And most importantly, we’re not defining a girl’s value through her looks. Or her career. No one thing should define a woman. (Or anyone.) It’s a total package kind of equation.

I’d like to be able to tell them that it all comes down to talent, but that’s not true. And I’d like to be able to say that perseverance inevitably pays off, but that’s not true either.

Nor is it about luck, or lottery tickets. You could be the most talented, most dedicated, luckiest wannabe in the world and still not succeed. In reality, it’s all of these things mixed into a cocktail that is never made the same way twice. (384)

And that, my friends, is the truth. There is no secret recipe. There are only the various ingredients, and your willingness to try combining them time and time again.

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