Between my final semester of law school and allergies (and allergy medicines), I’ve been run rather ragged and therefore haven’t had a lot to say. (Or rather the time to say it, I guess.) I have been collecting some links you should read, where other people say important things really well, so I give you that instead.
Things of Interest I Have Recently (For Some Definitions of Recently) Read
1) Sex and Media
Sarah Rees Brennan on Movies and Sex. (Sarah Rees Brennan is the author of teen sff The Demon Lexicon trilogy. Though I haven’t yet posted my thoughts on the first book, I did give it to my sister for the winter holidays, which is a recommendation in and of itself. I read it last year, but didn’t want to post my thoughts on it because I knew my sister would find it interesting and I didn’t want her buying it for herself before we exchanged gifts.)
Anyway, SRB guest blogged at Justine Larbalestier’s site and she wrote this really smart and funny post about Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Wild Child, The Devil’s Delilah and the way media portrays women who have sex. If you’ve read my The Vampire Diaries episode reviews, you will know I have huge issues with the way sexual women are so frequently punished for being sexual women. (This happens a lot via death in sff and horror, but it happens in other genres too.)
SARAH: I cannot believe I just saw that! Can you believe you just saw that? Can you believe we literally, actually just saw a scene in which the heroine who we’re clearly meant to agree with explicitly says that, pretty much, some women are whores and deserve to be treated like trash! While obviously Matthew McConaughey has made a mistake dealing with these trashy wenches, he is not a trashy wench himself. He’s a dude, so it’s all good, as long as he treats a nice lady right when he’s got one. Because we’re all still divided into ladies and fallen women! Argh!
Now, the heroine of Wild Child is meant to be sixteen or seventeen. I’m not saying ‘People, we need more teenage bangin’!’ Except maybe I kind of am. (Far away in New York City, my editor just had a tiny, tiny stroke. Sorry about that, Karen!) I trust I do not need to tell you guys that the decision not to bang is a totally okay and often wise decision on the part of people of both genders, at all ages.
You should really open this in a new tab and go read it just as soon as you’ve finished looking at these other things I am reccing.
Lili Wilkinson on Sex. (Lili Wilkinson is the author of Scatterheart, Pink, and a couple other books, none of which I have read, but which are now on my To Read list.)
LW also guest blogged at Justine Larbalestier’s blog (there’s a bit of a theme to this set of recs. Well, really there are two: one, people saying awesome, intelligent things and two, guest blogs at JL’s blog. It’s not my fault JL has lots of incredible people guest blogging) and had some really interesting things to say about views on teen sex in Australia media and politics.
Virginity is not a gift. Losing your virginity is an important experience, but it doesn’t define you as a person. It’s like losing your baby teeth. Does anyone ever say “I want the first time I lose a tooth to be really special”?
Sex is a gift. I don’t want to sound like someone’s slightly batty aunty here, but sex is something important that you should share with someone who you trust. It should be fun. It isn’t something that a girl sacrifices for a boy, never to have it back. It is, in fact, the gift that keeps on giving.
People make mistakes. Some of them involve sex. I think if we didn’t place quite so much mystery and awe around the whole thing, this might not happen so much.
Over at Chasing Ray, a group of authors has a discussion about teen sexuality: What a Girl Wants #12: On the Eternally Infamous “Bad Girl”.
What I really like about Chasing Ray is that a number of different authors come together for these discussions, all bringing their various backgrounds and focuses and beliefs with them. It can make for some really intriguing conversations.
On of the most enduring stereotypes about young women is that of the so-called Bad Girl. Based purely on sex – or the suggestion of sex – a teenage girl can ruin her reputation while conversely, for identical, a teenage boy can cement his. It is a troubling double standard that permeates our society and can result in everything from shunning to, in its most dire circumstance, death.
Just because you dare to do it, or even worse perhaps, dare to like it.
It’s possible that you’ve missed my love of Mayra’s down to the bone. My GoodReads.com review: I can’t stop rereading this book. I love Laura, the main character who is Cuban and a teenager and a lesbian, and her outlook on life and the way she describes the world around her. She’s sharp and witty and funny, and at the same time her story is sweet and sad. The diversity of the characters is fantastic, and they’re all very well developed. It’s a wonderful, colorful book that is hilarious and heartbreaking and infuriating in turn and always delightful. I’m also a huge fan of Mayra’s blogging, and I think everyone should follow her GoodReads.com blog.
In this post, Mayra talks about the fact that Latino cultures aren’t a monolithic culture but instead are diverse and distinct, and about her problems finding authentic Latina’o middle grade novels.
The words “Latino” and “Hispanic” when talking about books don’t allow children to understand or learn about the rich diversity in our massively different cultures (which can transfer into their desire to learn geography and history).
It’s important for kids to connect with their heritage through literature but we have no authentic MG books that show our varied and unique cultures. Latino kids in the US need to feel pride in their heritage so why don’t we have books for them? Perhaps because they are considered “niche” books that should be left to small, specialty, non-profit presses. . . .
If you haven’t read down to the bone, you really should. I’ve recced it all over the place and have never heard anything but love for it from the people who read it on my recommendation.
Baby Power Dyke on RuPaul, John Mayer, and Black History Month. (I told you I was behind on recommending these posts.)
In another guest blog at Junstine Larbalestier’s blog, BPD talks about Rush Limbaugh slamming health care reform, a Pi Kappa Alpha party to “honor” Black History Month, John Mayer’s interview with Playboy, and RuPaul.
Nownownow, I know what you’re saying, “But BPD, RuPaul’s been around since forever how come it’s taken you so long?” Really, I have no excuse.
From the revelatory, Super Model, with its clarion cry that got me through many a grueling show choir rehearsal (damn you mirrored gym) to the present RuPaul’s Drag Race—which is not about cars1 —RuPaul has given me the balls to get through the tough times. RuPaul has made me the man I am today. And by man, I mean small black lesbian gay-dandy.
Malinda Lo on The Woman Warrior. Malinda Lo is the author of Ash, a retelling of Cinderella with lesbians. (Haven’t read it, it’s on the To Read list, yes, it’s a long list.)
(Sing it if you know the words.) In a guest post at Justine Larbalestier’s blog, Malinda Lo talks about race and representation in young adult books, being given The Woman Warrior to read, and her experiences in high school.
On the other hand, I also grew up as one of only four Asian American kids in my high school class. The four of us knew each other and we had overlapping friends, but we did not group together out of any shared “Asian American” identity. There were too few of us. Instead, I think we all tried to blend in as much as possible. We didn’t advertise our different cultural traditions; we didn’t speak foreign languages at school even if we did at home; we did our best to be normal—to be white.
But Woman Warrior—and the fact that my teacher gave it to me specifically—forced me to acknowledge that I was not like everyone else, and it was an awful feeling.
In high school, we have a lot of chains on our feet. The way you dress; the street you live on; the group you belong to. I didn’t want another one. I was happier ignoring the fact that other people perceived me as different.
Another guest blog at Justine Larbalestier’s blog, RBJr. talks about growing up with a foot in two very different culture camps and the way language does and does not translate between ideas.
Let me correct that some; none of them, were of my Mob. Not too many of these wonderful books brought me the Aboriginal meanings I had come to associate with certain English words. I recognized similar notions in other cultures that weren’t English based and only because the depth associated with the word was often accompanied by descriptions that took my mind along other paths to build the picture I needed. Rather than tell me a concept, my favourite writers showed me. In doing so, I was allowed the room to let MY cultural notion of the words exist without constraint. My understandings of these words were included and—as most people of another Culture in this country already knew—this was a rare experience indeed.
A simple example? Well, in my Mob (and for that of most Australian Aboriginal and Islander peoples) we call all our birth mother’s sisters, ‘Mum’. This is the translation in English of course, although each of the differing nations or language groups have their own term for this, but essentially—the notion of the word ‘Mum’ or ‘Mother’ in English—tends to fit. It’s not as limited in its use within our communities though. We don’t have only ONE Mum—we have many. Yep, I know, we’re just greedy that way.
Though I have many, many more links to share, there is much other work to be done.