Tag: feminism (Page 3 of 5)

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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“How to Give Up Writing and Your Dreams, in 1826 Daily Lessons” by Lori Rader-Day

In my experience, that dark moment — that black hour, if you’ll forgive me — isn’t a lightning strike. It’s a slow dwindling of your attention, one decision after another over a series of days, then weeks, then months. Even years. And these decisions aren’t even bad ones. You choose your loved ones, your job, your daily survival and comfort and enjoyment — until the small voice nagging that you should have written today stops saying a word.

We can’t cherry-pick the moments that got us where we are happy to be. We contain our successes, but also our failures.

“The Documented Life” by Sherry Turkle

When you get accustomed to a life of stops and starts, you get less accustomed to reflecting on where you are and what you are thinking.

These days, when people are alone, or feel a moment of boredom, they tend to reach for a device. In a movie theater, at a stop sign, at the checkout line at a supermarket and, yes, at a memorial service, reaching for a device becomes so natural that we start to forget that there is a reason, a good reason, to sit still with our thoughts: It does honor to what we are thinking about. It does honor to ourselves.

“On Feminism, Anti-Feminism, and the Things That Mystify Me” by Kelly Barnhill

I honestly can’t understand how we can be in this world and not be feminist. How can we just not notice inequality and injustice when it is staring us in the dang face? How can we not come up against the blindness of privilege and not want to change? How can we not desire to open our eyes? All social justice movements, in the end, work to remove shadows and blocks. We cannot see injustice if the limits of privilege block the view. If we remove the block we can see unfairness and we can change the world and make it better. Those blocks are removed through experience, through awareness-raising, and, probably most effectively, through story. Story matters.

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“I hate Strong Female Characters” by Sophia McDougall

What do I want instead of a Strong Female Character? I want a male:female character ratio of 1:1 instead of 3:1 on our screens. I want a wealth of complex female protagonists who can be either strong or weak or both or neither, because they are more than strength or weakness. Badass gunslingers and martial artists sure, but also interesting women who are shy and quiet and do, sometimes, put up with others’ shit because in real life there’s often no practical alternative. And besides heroines, I want to see women in as many and varied secondary and character roles as men: female sidekicks, mentors, comic relief, rivals, villains. I want not to be asked, when I try to sell a book about two girls, two boys and a genderless robot, if we couldn’t change one of those girls to a boy.

“The world will end if you write the wrong scene” by Laini Taylor

You will find stuff you weren’t looking for. It’s like sofa cushions. Yeah, there’s money there, and the occasional diamond ring, but there’s also a lot of lint, and probably a half-sucked Life Saver or a used Q-tip you’d rather not deal with. But would you let a used Q-tip stand between you and a diamond ring?

“Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling” as shared by Emma Coats

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“Writing Is Magic” by yours truly

I don’t have a muse; GPS doesn’t recognize “the zone” as a destination; and my words definitely do not materialize from thin air like fairy dust. Every day is a grind. I have to sit at my desk, place my fingers on the keys, and force myself to try and give shape to the thoughts and stories in my head. Usually they come out quite muddy on the first go-round, so I read the lines over and over and over, tweaking here, deleting there, until they get close, and closer, and finally close enough.

I’ve been writing this way for years, but only recently did I realize: Oh hey, that actually IS magic.

Jane Catherine Lotter’s self-written obituary

May you, every day, connect with the brilliancy of your own spirit. And may you always remember that obstacles in the path are not obstacles, they ARE the path.

 “I need terrible female engineers” by Amy Nguyen

I don’t want to combat misogyny by showing people who hate women that there is absolutely nothing to hate. That’s not how you garner acceptance for women  —  that’s how you put some women on a pedestal and put down anyone who isn’t perfect, who doesn’t want to be perfect. This trend of glorifying brilliant women is great for the short-term, but it’s not going to create lasting acceptance for all women.

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Veronica Roth’s speech at Book Expo America 2013:

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.

A guest post at Diversity in YA by E.C. Meyer:

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…

IGN interview with Anita Sarkeesian:

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.

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