Feminism ahoy! (part eleventy, and reading)

In handy-dandy bullet-point form because the month is squirrelly…

  • why do they have to be bullet-point?  Why can’t they be, like, gumdrops or something?  Pennies?  Give us suggestions in the comments for what we should call them instead.  Maybe bonbon-point.  Mmmm, bonbons.  (Random bonbons of crap!  on second thought…)
  • Man telling women they are fighting misogyny in the wrong way: ally FAIL.
  • keep on reading YO, is this racist?  Never stop.  (Unless racism and etc. all stop, ha ha)
  • Why are we feminists?  Why not just say ‘humanist’?  (Word to the wise: don’t read the comments.  Don’t.)  Maybe it depends on what type of feminist you are.
  • To hell with ‘skinny’ recipes.  Also, I would really like to eat “Rocket Scientist Macaroni and Cheese” or “Excellent Pal and Confidante Apple Pie”.  Giant middle finger to all body-shame.  ETA:  Down with fat-shaming, and once again don’t read the comments.
  • I’m making an effort to read more women of color in speculative fiction.  I like to read a lot of fantasy but other kinds of specfic are good too.  Suggestions appreciated!  I mostly want novels, not short stories, and I’m not heavily into horror.  (Though a million years ago I read “The House of Dies Drear,” by Virginia Hamilton.)  YA stuff is good, too.
  • For context, I love Lauren Beukes (Zoo City) and totally love N K Jemisin a lot.  I of course have read and appreciated Toni Morrison.  I like some but not all of Michelle Sagara.  I found Nalo Hopkinson to be okay.  I loved Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson!  Perhaps one day I’ll check out L.M. Davis and her Shifters series.  I have read some Dia Reeves and have more on my to-read list.  Also on my to-read list: Nnedi Okorafor, Octavia Butler (should have read her before, mea culpa).
    Things I own, in addition to the above, include:

  • Ooh, here’s a link about global women of color.  Here’s AfroFantasy.
  • Ok, your turn!
  • Update:  See comments for what should have been a separate ranty blog post on PBS Kids.

54 Responses to “Feminism ahoy! (part eleventy, and reading)”

  1. delagar Says:

    Zen Cho is great. She only has one book out, I am pretty sure, but plenty of short stories.

    Also Nisi Shawl. Filter House is the book I’ve read by her — it’s short stories, too, though.

    They also both have plenty of short stories available to read online for free, I think, including some from Crossed Genres. :)

  2. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Ugh, the radio was so full of patriarchy this morning.

    Also, I’m getting kind of annoyed by PBS Kids. They have all these shows with 4 kids, and it’s always two boys and two girls, and one of the boys is always the main character/front-man. (The other characters: the dumb boy, the smart girl, and the extra or pretty girl, depending on if you’re talking about dinosaur train, sid the science kid, super why etc.)

    But what really annoys me is that there’s this new show called Plum Landing or Something and it has FIVE human characters, of assorted race and ethnicity, but the one who almost always starts the episode? The one who is almost always the lead singer? The one who almost always talks for the group? The short white boy. (Note also that when there are 5 characters on PBS Kids, it’s generally two girls and three boys.)

    • Perpetua Says:

      Word about PBS. My kiddo was obsessed with Busytown Mysteries for a while, and I thought it was cute and kinda smart, but Huckle is so douchey, I couldn’t stand it. It’s supposed to be about teamwork, and yet every episode is a celebration of the genius of the male character! (Essentially, he relies on the labor of others, while condescending to them, and then takes all the credit when the mystery is solved!)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Too bad that resembles the grown-up world.

        Remember when PBS tried to change culture for the better rather than just reinforcing stereotypes? Though I guess early Sesame Street really only had Prairie Dawn. Of course, with a lot of those muppets, who can tell gender… (And now, their female muppets are ultra-feminine. Because without the eyelashes…)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Also: I would like to note that boys don’t seem to have any problem keeping the Cam Jansen mysteries perpetually checked out at the library. And Dora the Explorer is pretty darn popular with the under 4 set of either gender.

        PBS, it doesn’t have to be this way. If the show is good, boys will watch it. You don’t have to make your science show that has girls in it just for girls. You could make a science show with girls as main characters and market it to *both* genders. Because if you really want to change culture without a bloody revolution, you have to win the hearts and minds of the people in power too. Not just the insurgents.

    • First Gen American Says:

      Thankfully my boys have me as a role model, not pbs. Interestingly enough I always remember TV as being fake and not based on reality so I can’t say it ever influenced me as a kid in that way. I guess it was because I didn’t know anyone who’s life even remotely resembled what was on TV. I was most influenced by the strong women in my life as I could see being like them someday. I think I was probably more influenced by my friend’s mom than my own at that age as she had less crap in her life at that point.

      I did find the little people set my kids got once to be unbelievably racist and stereotyped. All the blue collar workers in the village were the minorities. It didn’t even get opened. I tried finding it to link to it but it must be discontinued. Now the village doctor is black, so they must have gotten crap about the older sets and changed things up.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I think my married life has been strongly influenced by 1980s sitcoms. Which is a very good thing. And I’m guessing my life really was changed by the Free to Be You and Me soundtrack. I carry its lessons with me today. Particularly with regard to housework.

        And obviously strong real role models will have more influence than tv shows in most cases. But what about the folks who *don’t* have strong real role models? They’re at the mercy of culture. Especially all those white guys who think it’s always ok to take charge and stomp all over the rest of the team.

        I’ve heard people say they were influenced by the Cosby Show, and I’ve read things saying that Big Bang Theory is partly responsible for cultural shifts towards how “nerds” are treated, and I’ve heard people speculate that Queer Eye (as stereotypical as it was) was partly responsible for the sea-change in how homosexuals came to be viewed as people instead of bogeymen. Not my area of study so I can’t say how true these things are, but culture does affect people’s outcomes.

    • Cloud Says:

      I’m thinking about this a lot with respect the the kids books I’m writing. The one that comes out in the fall has two characters I consider co-leads, and I asked the illustrator to make one some race other than white. I think she chose the one who isn’t the title character. Next time, I will specify. But I’m also thinking of perhaps writing another book with these same characters, and maybe in that one I can have the other girl be the “lead.”

      I am finding that I have to really think about diversity and inclusivity (is that a word? Spell check doesn’t think so) to get things even a little bit better. That is really sad, but I assume that like most things, it will get easier with practice.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I thought it was interesting that Scalzi thought really hard to make sure that half his universe was female in the old man’s war series. And I am glad that he did. Because the outcome really is important. Not just for people like me who are more likely to pick up another Scalzi if it is balanced, but for all the guys who read it and all the writers who might end up adding a few more realistic female characters to their own work.

        We all have implicit bias. As someone raised Catholic, I don’t think it’s wrong to have that bias– we can hardly avoid it given the patriarchy steeped culture. But it is wrong to not check it as frequently as possible. Just like I was raised to believe that thinking about sinning is nowhere near as important as actually not doing the sin. Actions are more important than thoughts. And research shows that for outcomes, it is far better to admit the implicit bias and to correct for it than to deny it exists.

        (Spell-check is wrong. Educate it!)

    • OMDG Says:

      Ditto on Sesame Street. How many female characters can you name? How many male ones? And wait… are there ANY “black” puppets? Not sure if it’s better now, but the episodes they have on Netflix are really bad.

      • OMDG Says:

        Oh nevermind — I posted this before I read this whole thread. I see you ARE aware. :-)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        From my generation, Prairie Dawn and Roosevelt Franklin are the only people muppets I can remember, and one is a white girl, the other a black boy. Prairie Dawn is still around, but wikipedia says Roosevelt Franklin has been retired. He was probably based on stereotypes. :/

  3. Perpetua Says:

    Food is not skinny! I read a great post on just that topic on a food blog recently (not the one you linked to, though I enjoyed it as well), and I immediately thought RIGHT ON. I have too much respect for my body for that.

    I read the comments on the feminism piece, Grumpies! Liberal (white) men are the worst sometimes. Nothing like someone who should be an ally turning out to be a privilege-denying gaslighter.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      “Skinny” “food” is a tool of oppression. Perfectionism is a tool of the patriarchy.

      More and more I’m finding that the right thing to do is never to read comments on the internet. This site excepted, of course! :-)

  4. Cloud Says:

    Hmmm…. I’ve been reading short stories so I don’t have any new novels that I can think of!

    Jim Hines had a nice series of essays on being inclusive in speculative fiction- maybe you could find a new author from them? He’s publishing them as a book, too. Here is the link to the guest post round-up: http://www.jimchines.com/2014/03/guest-post-roundup-and-phase-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=guest-post-roundup-and-phase-2

    The authors who are coming to mind are all men. Boo! Maybe tonight I can go through the authors in the Afro SF short story book I’m reading and see if any of them have novels. Some of those stories are awesome.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Oh yeah, Jim Hines is one of the good ones. I’ll check out that page, thanks. We’ve linked to his stuff before and I’m reading one of his series. Yay allies, I guess.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        #2 thinks Jim Hines’ heart is in the right place, but with the exception of the Goblin books (where the women are generally not human), he hasn’t figured out that women are just *people*. His female characters often don’t quite work, because he doesn’t write them as people first, and he has far too many female characters whose plots are motivated by rape stories. He’s thinking about these issues, and I think he’s learning. (Libromancer is better than the princess books.)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        #1 has *only* read the Libromancer books, so there you go.

    • Cloud Says:

      I thought of two authors you could check out: Joyce Chng and Melinda Lo. I’ve read and liked one of Chng’s novellas, and I’ve heard a lot of good things about Lo.

  5. Laura Vanderkam (@lvanderkam) Says:

    Two thoughts: #weneeddiversebooks is trending on twitter. Funny HuffPo headline: “People of color do survive the apocalypse.” Why is the dystopian future so white??

    Second: I totally want to eat Rocket Scientist Mac & Cheese too.

  6. Linda Says:

    Well, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m biased in my thinking. I know it’s super hard to overcome what has been crammed into my brain since I was born. I try, but I am only human and I fail a lot.

    This relates to books for me, too. The author of color that came to mind for me is Octavia Butler. I loved Parable of the Sower. It really fed my concerns that our world is going to break down, though (which may or may not be bad…I’m not sure). As a result, I wanted to learn to be more self-sufficient and learned to grow food, preserve it in various ways, and try to turn my (much too large for me) house and yard into a mini-farm/shelter against the apocalypse. I’ve been saying for years that I still need to learn how to sharpen knives/tools, tie knots, and slaughter animals (which has kind of freaked out my partner at times). Selling the house will mean an end to all that. Maybe. I can still learn to do those things, I guess.

    There is some other SF book I read that I think focused on a Latina woman (?) whose consciousness alternated between a future world and the current world. In the current world she was confined to an insane asylum, and the future world was one where there were no gender or racial stereotypes and ecologically was more sustainable. Does this ring a bell for anyone else? I got the book from a free book exchange and it was a tattered paperback. I have no idea what happened to it and can’t recall the author or title.

    • Rosa Says:

      That’s by Marge Piercy. I’m trying to remember the title – it’s not He, She & It, that’s her corporatocracy dystopia. Woman on the Edge of Time?

  7. Linda Says:

    I found the book! Thanks to WorldCat Fiction Finder! :-)


    Apparently the author is not a woman of color, but according to Wikipedia: Woman on the Edge of Time (1976) mixes a time travel story with issues of social justice, feminism, and the treatment of the mentally ill. This novel is considered a classic of utopian “speculative” science fiction as well as a feminist classic.

    Now I think I have to get a copy and re-read it.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I might pick that up. Thanks for tracking it down!

    • Rosa Says:

      I reread it a few years ago and it didn’t really stand up for me – but some of her other novels, which aren’t SF, stand up a lot better. Especially Vida, which is basically a fictionalized story about being a woman in SDS/Weathermen, and City of Light, which is about women in the French Revolution.

  8. becca Says:

    The gender politics of SuperWhy have concerned me a bit, but Red is really quite awesome, and the there is a comparatively sound literature base for the pre-literacy stuff, so on balance it was always on my ‘good’ list. Also, I think how they pretend swear (“Oh my peas!” ect.) is hilarious. I am getting Really Annoyed with Peppa Pig though. I can tell they are trying, but Daddy pig being sad his soccer shirt got turned pink? Ew.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Yes, and Tiny is awesome and whatshername in Sid the Science kid is awesome… but that doesn’t mean that Wyatt, Buddy, and Sid aren’t the main characters. Always. Even if the smart girl is way smarter than the main character.

  9. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    But Skinny Cubans–rum and diet coke–are fucken awesome!

  10. C Says:

    Sofia Samatar! I just read A Stranger in Olondria and it was lovely.

    I also really enjoyed Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice – the author presents as a white woman but there is a lot of interest in the book itself.

  11. CG Says:

    How about WordGirl?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Word girl isn’t aimed at the under 3 set, so other than the theme song (Word up!) we don’t watch it enough for me to make trenchant comments. However, from the bits I’ve seen, she seems to be the *only female* in that *entire universe*. One female super-hero in a universe of men.

      Peg and Cat also has a female main character (Cat seems to be male), but it is so full of squee ohmigod teenagers are sooo cool… (I still like it, because math, just not as much as Square One. Which they should totally sell on DVD because the youtube videos are too grainy.)

      • becca Says:

        “One female super-hero in a universe of men.” isn’t that pretty much the story of our lives though?
        Ok, I may overly-identify with WordGirl. I blame my name. Or wanting my own Captain Huggy Face monkey sidekick.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        That doesn’t mean that children’s television has to portray that as the norm. We’ve got a post somewhere about ideal vs. real in terms of children’s behavior on tv.

      • Rosa Says:

        she has a female best friend (and a male one) and a female school nemesis, and her mom is pretty awesome – she’s the district attorney who prosecutes the bad guys Word Girl captures. There’s at least one female supervillain, the knitting grandma, and the brains behind another supervillain (Mr. Big) is his assistant, Leslie. The genius boy (Toby?) has a genius inventor mom whose dayjob is lawyer.

        I miss Word Girl. Kiddo outgrew it but I didn’t.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Well, the random snippets I’ve seen haven’t shown any female characters. Could just be a bizarre coincidence, or it could be that the females get screen-time. An empirical question. (My almost 2 year old isn’t particularly interested in the show.)

      • Rosa Says:

        I actually watched it (mostly by myself. Kiddo sat down for maybe 5 minutes) tonight. One half was an episode where Becky/Word Girl is at Take Your Daughter To Work Day watching her mom get Granny May convicted of theft, then Granny May is sentenced to house arrest and has to serve it at *her* mother’s house (lots of moms, the word for the episode was “dote”), escapes and is arrested by the female cop at the mall where Becky/Word Girl was shopping with her mom. Lots of all-female scenes including one where a store clerk explains to Granny & Great-Granny May that they have Fountain of Youth makeup, not an actual Fountain of Youth.

        Then the second half was more gender balanced, little brother TJ got a Word Girl doll from Mr. Big Industries that is part of a mind control plot. So Mr. Big is in there, and TJ & the dad. But I did notice that Becky & Mr Big’s assistant had a totally Bechdel-test-passing conversation about Leslie’s unhappiness about her job prospects.

        I hadn’t watched it in more than a year, and the first half seemed kind of strikingly female dominated, but it matched my memory otherwise – full of women with jobs, many of them are stereotypically female (Becky’s mom tends to giggle, Granny May pretends to be a sweet old lady so she can rob people) and smart and accomplished at the same time.

        The whitebread maleness of The Announcer and the quiz show host (Beau Handsome) might still make it feel male-dominated, since they’re all over every episode.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I wonder if on average it is 15%, or maybe they’ve strived for more gender equity in later episodes! because all the random snips I have seen have been sausagefests.

        And why isn’t Super Why named Story Boy?

      • Rosa Says:

        I don’t know, I hated Super Why. And my kid LOVED it for YEARS. I guess Red does have sort of a superhero name, doesn’t she?

  12. Steel Magnolia Says:

    I’m not very into speculative fiction, but I’m really into Tananarive Due these days. And I know someone who really likes LA Banks.
    For what it’s worth, I was glad to have the princess in SuperWhy be a person of color; still, I agree with the other points about the show (and Sid). We also liked Doc McStuffins when my children (both son and daughter) were younger.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I think Sid is supposed to be mixed race, though I’m not sure what race his mom is. Usually when they have a group of 5, 3 of the kids are mixed race, but they are just background to the main character. (Exception– wild kratts has three white guys because for no good reason they decided they needed the dumb white guy character in addition to the Kratt brothers. They have one WOC and one white woman, though the engineer seems to be white-Hispanic according to wikipedia. I guess that explains the brown hair, since usually the female character is blonde (unless a WOC)! It’s sad that I don’t even know her name.)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Idea for Kratt Bros episode:

        What If: What if 50% of the characters and 50% of the main characters on shows targeted at both genders were female? What if POC were not back-up singers to the white dude? What if?

      • Cloud Says:

        Sid’s Mom is African American, and his Dad is Jewish. We learn this in the episode where Sid celebrates Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hannukah.

        The girls are Meg and Gabriella. I think Meg is meant to be Asian-American and Gabriella is Hispanic. Gabriella’s mom is a marine biologist.

        Yes, we went through a serious Sid phase at our house.

        My kids are currently obsessed with Doc McStuffins. Soon I’ll be able to describe her whole universe, too….

  13. Cardinal Says:

    Ugh, I had a depressing conversation with my 6-year-olds the other day about Power Rangers. (Teams of PRs usually mixed-gender and multi-racial, but chisel-featured white dude is always Red.) I asked, “Why is the leader always a boy? Couldn’t a girl be the leader?” My son said that it’s because the Red PR is always a boy. Then went even further to claim that if a girl was the red one, then some other colour would have to be the leader. Daughter thought that was dumb but wasn’t really paying attention. Son doesn’t mind wearing pink and loves wearing (sticky) earrings and having his toes painted, and Daughter has short hair and wears only “boy” clothes, but clearly we still have some work to do in identifying and dismantling patriarchy in our house.

  14. Debbie M Says:

    Instead of bullet points:
    * buttons
    * seeds
    * jimmies/sprinkles
    * eyelets
    * dots

    Or maybe you do need to talk about how each thing is a point:
    * buttoned point
    * seeded point
    * jimmied point
    * eyeleted point
    * dotted point

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: