I should probably do these more often, because whoa I have stored up a lot of tweets…
Although I am a football fan, this isn’t going to be a sports post. Last night’s game was surprising and exciting in many ways — Har-brothers?! Jacoby Jones?! Blackout?! 3 TD comeback?! — but what I want to talk about today are the commercials. And Beyonce’s halftime show. And the way we perceive each of those things.
Basically I was monitoring Twitter the whole night, and aside from superb owls and Puppy Bowl, I noticed a lot of chatter about various ads. More so than the game, in fact. And a lot of this chatter was focused on girls and women.
There was the good…
And there was the not-so-good…
Which made me wonder…
Here are video and pics from Beyonce’s performance, if you missed it.
To be clear: I like her, I like her music, and as a Houston girl, I’m practically required to like Destiny’s Child. My liking the halftime show is not the issue.
Instead, I’m trying to examine why so many folks were unhappy with the way GoDaddy (for example) portrayed a woman’s sexuality, but then cheered for Beyonce’s parading of her own. Why does one stand for misogyny and the other for “girl power”? Is an attractive woman French-kissing a nerdy guy more provocative (offensive?) than an attractive woman dancing in a black leather leotard?
A few friends offered responses to my inquiry — though none of us were trying to claim our comments as definitive answers:
Personally, here’s what I think it comes down to:
Restated for emphasis: Who defines “sexy”?
In other words, did Beyonce decide that 4″ heels, lace, and long wild hair were sexy? Or did she absorb that definition from the male-dominated society she grew up in? (Note: It’s entirely possible that the answer may be both.) While her lyrics boast of “independent women” and “single ladies,” was she gyrating her hips to model sexual empowerment for us? Or to excite the thousands of men watching in the stadium, and millions more on TV? (Again, the answer may be both.)
I don’t ask these questions to make or start an argument. I simply want to examine the issue. And I’m curious, what do y’all think?
PS: As I was finishing up this post, Karen (@TLT16) sent me a link that underscores the importance of asking ourselves these questions, because the work of feminism is not done by a long shot, perhaps especially not when it comes to the world of sports.
This post is going to look massively long already — but most of it is white space! — so I’ll try to keep the intro short.
A couple years ago, Meghan Ward gave me the book THE SECRET MIRACLE, a sort of mass-interview of 60 or so authors. Basically, editor Daniel Alarcón asked a bunch of questions about the process of writing and then organized the answers into a “handbook” for novelists. My copy is riddled with Post-It flags, as if they’re some kind of disease. Honestly, the first part (about reading habits) is a little boring — hence why it took me 2 years to get past it — but once the questions got into the meat of the authors’ thoughts and habits on writing, I couldn’t stop underlining.
While I prefer not to participate in NaNoWriMo, I applaud and encourage those who do, and this year, I thought maybe I could share some of the wisdom from THE SECRET MIRACLE with them via Twitter. Like someone cheering on marathon runners from the sideline, you know?
Not all of my favorite quotes applied, nor would all of them fit in 140 characters, but here is a compilation of the ones that I managed to share:
This past Thursday marked the first ever #NALitChat – a weekly Twitter discussion about New Adult literature (modeled after the popular #YALitChat on Wed nights). Moderators led us through a 5-question agenda — what is NA, who writes it, who publishes it, etc. — and a thoughtful, lively conversation ensued. I’m looking forward to more in the future.
In this post, I want to pull out one thread that is of particular interest to me:
I asked this in response to someone’s comment that parents could be absent in NA lit without it being as weird as in YA lit. But really, is it less weird? Do parents suddenly evaporate when we turn 18? Or, don’t most of us have to learn how to become more independent while also negotiating the shifting dynamics of our family relationships?
(To clarify: I’m not saying that all books should include 2 great parents. That wouldn’t represent the variety of family situations we see in real life.)
Obviously I’m in favor of including parents when possible. Or at least parental figures. Or at least involved adults in some positive capacity? (The standards just keep getting lower and lower…)
I think too many writers “kill off” parents because it has become the norm, and because it’s easier than trying to represent those complex relationships. But talk about a bad message to send. I mean, critics go nuts about whether there’s too much sex and violence in literature for young people. But what about the idea that life would be better/easier/happier/more exciting without parents? That you don’t need your parents? That they’re inept, or trying to control you, or trying to prevent you from having fun or reaching your goals?
Okay, I’m stealing this idea from Sarah, who started doing fantastic Twitter roundups every Tuesday over at We Heart YA. I doubt I’ll do it that often, but maybe a few times a year I’ll share some of my favorite tweets. Here are some that I’ve saved up: