First, my friend Edi Campbell posted this, which made me ask where this was on Facebook, and she tagged me so that I could participate.
I’ll wait a moment while you read her post.
So then we were all talking about it on Facebook. I got involved because this is my area of activism and because I hate whitesplaining.
Then Kaye wrote this and Debbie wrote this and KT wrote this and lots of people wrote things, which you can find linked on Debbie’s blog (I’m linking directly to the three people who are personal friends or close colleagues, as well as fellow members of marginalized groups of various sorts, but that’s not to say I don’t value the other pieces I read, nor do I know everything about the authors of said pieces except that they are clearly intelligent and good people doing the right thing).
So then I wrote this.
And I hope we’re all still writing about things.
by Flickr user artiseverywhere
You might have heard about this Andrew Smith thing. It sucks. It sucks because it’s just another moment in the daily lives of women being otherized, mocked, shamed, or disregarded. It sucks when I think about how I’m treated like a less-than-human all the time, like last Wednesday when I was walking down the street to go to a yoga class and had a man start following me in his car, yell at me, ask me “Can I be your friend?” and then when I shook my head and kept walking, pulled into the next parking space and got out and shouted that he wanted my number. I hate that I had to be glad that he only did that and didn’t keep following me. I hate that I should be grateful that it didn’t get physical. No one should feel grateful that someone only somewhat harassed them. And, in this Andrew Smith situation, no one should feel grateful that Andrew Smith thinks of women as more of a mysterious, Other Thing than gigantic grasshoppers just because he’s “trying” to be better. Of course he was being facetious when he said his daughter was the first woman in his life – that being nitpicked over is absurd, annoying, and a way of excusing what he actually meant – “I don’t really care about women because I don’t get them and I don’t find them valid” – instead of engaging with it.
No, Andrew Smith is not the biggest jerk in the world or the only person who thinks this way. But he said it, and it’s a chance to engage with sexism, and anyone who says that criticism is the same thing as bullying (see the Stop the Goodreads Bullies movement of a couple years ago for other misinformed idiots who decided that attacking and threatening book critics was somehow righteous) is not helping.
It is an outrage that women are consistently referred to as if they are foreign and invalid. And it is more of an outrage that this has sparked the ridiculous #KeepYAKind movement, and even further that this hashtag seems to be spearheaded by women YA authors. Don’t get me wrong: EVERYONE should be offended by sexism. But to see women working in the very field where we are trying to have a productive conversation about imbalance, about prejudice, about otherizing, about criticism saying, “Hey guys, we think you’re being mean by pointing out that we are treated badly,” makes me really sad. It’s unsurprising – women are socialized to keep things kind and friendly and to accept sexism. But this is a chance to stand up, not to turn fair and warranted criticism into accusations of meanness. This is not the time for kindness. Kindness has nothing to do with sexism or literary criticism. Kindness has to do with playground politics and human decency on a day-to-day level, not societal change. Kindness here is derailing. Continue reading
Some recent purchases (and two borrows) that follow my self-imposed rules.
I am a book-buying addict. Shocker, right? It’s kind of bad, because I own way more books than I could ever read, and it also makes moving really difficult, and I move all the time. And it’s stupid, because I’m a librarian, plus I have a public library card (or four), so it’s not like I don’t have access to just about every book I could ever want to read. I have been trying to be more discerning about which books I keep after I read them, like confining it to things I reread, things I annotate, and a few things that just make me look like a cool person if someone sees them on my bookshelf. Anyway, I don’t exactly make millions of dollars, so I really shouldn’t spend a lot of money on things that I can get for free and enjoy just as much.
In the grand scheme of Hannah Likes to Give Herself Rules and Regulations and Then She Promptly Disregards All of Them Because She Has No Self-Control and/or Expects Too Much of Herself, I am going to impose some rules on my book buying, from now until forever, or at least the next year or so. You know, because maybe by then it will be a habit, not a personal challenge.
So. In order to be allowed to buy a book for myself, it has to satisfy at least one of these criteria: Continue reading