Tag Archives: sexism

10 Things White People Need to do Right Now

15 Nov

Where are we now, where are we now?
The moment you know, you know, you know
– David Bowie

That’s a good question, David.

Where exactly are we?

Everything went wrong. The pollsters were wrong. The newspapers were wrong. I’m not going to analyze what happened because frankly there are much smarter people out there already doing that.

But what I will say is this: Racism won this election.

Read this whole thread (Mom you have to click on the date (15 Nov 2016) in the tweet. You’re welcome.)

White people did this. White women did this. White men did this. Rich ones, middle class ones, poor ones. All of us.

But I want to talk to the white women first.

Remember when we were all #YesAllWomen and some people came at us with #NotAllMen and we went ballistic. Remember how we didn’t like people re-framing our experiences? I want you to keep that in mind when PoC say this is white people’s fault. Because if you come back with “not this white person” you’re doing the exact same thing as “not all men.”

Just own the fact that white women did this. And that as white women we are all complicit. They are our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends and our relatives. Every time we let a racist comment slide we added to what happened on Tuesday. I know it’s hard to hear but life is hard.

WE ARE COMPLICIT.

Sit with that. Own it.

That planet of regret and shame you feel inside you is yours. At some point you start stoking that thing with some righteous anger and you make use of it. You donate to causes that will protect the people who are in harms way. You volunteer. You protest. You vote locally. But what you do not do is try to defend yourself to PoC because guess what? You don’t get a cookie for just being a decent human being.

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Dig your heels in. Do the work, white people. Start here:

  1. Call out sexism and racism every time you see it. Jokes with the boys about homos? Call it out. Uncle Randy has too much to drink and pontificates on The Blacks or The Asians? Call it out. Male colleague makes your female colleague uncomfortable? Call That Shit Out.
  2. Call your representatives in both the House and the Senate. Remember they work for you. Hold them accountable. Make them answer.
  3. Boycott. There are numerous brands associated with Trump that you can easily boycott but before you do – do the research. For instance, I want to cancel my paypal account because while Peter Theil (a Trump Supporter) is not longer the CEO their investors include Carl Icahn who is. BUT the current CEO has Dan Shulman opposed the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act. So you need to weight your decisions.
  4. Donate
  5. Protest
  6. Use your privilege to protect the people that are most in danger. Speak up. I don’t give a shit if you’re wearing a saftey pin or not, just SPEAK UP.
  7. Vote. Midterm elections will be here come 2018. Between now and then you find out everything you can about the people who represent you. Never forget that apathy pulls a lever too. So we come out in numbers. We take the Senate back. We Tea Party their asses.
  8. You talk less and listen more – especially you, white men. You don’t tell marginalized people how they feel. You don’t tell women how they feel. You don’t talk for awhile. You listen. No harm has ever come from listening.
  9. Amplify the voices of PoC. Retweet them. Share their facebook status. Make sure your racist grandma sees it.
  10. And then do that all over again. And again. And again. Until we’ve started to undo what we’ve caused.

What you DON’T do is hand-wringing or apologize for racism or call for unity and love. Real people are hurting. Real people are going to continue to be hurt. Now is not the time for unity. Now is the time to be on the right side of history. Hold tight to your anger. But do not let it become rage. Anger can feed you but rage eats you up.

And remember this – the other side – they don’t get to own the word Patriot. Over time patriot and nationalism have been conflated. Patriots fight and they protest and they hold their country up to a higher standard.

We are Patriots. Act like it, America.

 

Peace, love and starbursts,

Ally

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Boys Don’t Cry: Sexism and Gender Representation in Publishing

15 Aug

I love reading to my niece. It’s one of my favorite things to do and last time I was at her house she picked a new book.

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It is the story of Duncan’s crayons who previously quit due to what they saw as unfair practices by Duncan. In this the crayon’s are all returning with tales of their adventures. We had a blast reading it until we got towards the end and I cringed. All the crayons in this book are clearly boys or otherwise ungendered. There is one exception.

Wait for it……

………….

……………

……………

The unused pink crayon. OF COURSE.

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In the pink crayon’s letter to Duncan she calls herself a “girl’s color” and laments the fact that Duncan has only used her once. Then she congratulates Duncan’s little sister for doing a good job of staying in the lines. Cause, you know, that’s what good little girls do.

They behave.

This is all highlighted in a really amazing article about children’s books on the Washington Post the other day. The whole thing is worth a read but the gist of it is that there a significant lack of girl representation in picture books, and that when there is, they are incredible sexist. The fact that publishing, on the whole, has a significant gender problem.

That J.K. Rowling has no middle initial but they gave her one so they could use just initials because how else were they going to sell a book to boys written by – *gasp* –  a woman!

I thought back to some of my favorite stories growing up and sure, I had Meg in Wrinkle in Time but her utter lack of self-confidence made her more of a pawn in her own story than anything else. In fact it is only through Calvin’s constant affirmations that she overcomes her insecurity. The boy tells her she can do it. So she believes it.

When I first decided to write a story about the last living descendant of Shakespeare, my main character was a boy.

I remember standing in the kitchen talking to my husband as he made dinner about my idea about this boy and his muse named Jonathan and how I wanted to incorporate Shakespare and Greek mythology when he looked at me and said, “Honey, why would you make your main character a boy? Why wouldn’t you make it a girl?”

It took someone else pointing it out before I realized that I had internalized that idea that the Hero is a Boy. So even as  a girl reader who grew up into a woman writer, I still initially went with a boy.

Maybe it’s because I grew up with this:

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and not this:

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But if my neice grows up to be a writer it will be different for her. I certainly hope so.  All the same, feminism fail, Ally.

But I didn’t forget that when I started my next book, This Is Sarah. The story started out as a ghost story – a boy haunted by his dead girlfriend and then warped into something very different – a boy broken by his girlfriend’s disappearance.

To Colin, I gave distinctly  “non-masculine” if not “feminine” traits:

  • He’s was very into his relationship with Sarah, to the point that he alienated friends.
  • She’s basically all he cares about.
  • He cries. A lot. Sobs really
  • He needs to see a therapist because he’s falling apart
  • He gets hysterical
  • And he fails the Bechdel test every single time.

He is raw and tender….traits that are steroetypically female but in actuality, as Wendi pointed out, typically human.

And as Jennie Yabroff said in her Washington Post piece:

As Monfried says, “When we read our children picture books, we’re saying, ‘There’s a world here that will give and give and give for the rest of your life.’ We should want to show our children that anybody can do anything.”

To which I’d add, we should want to show our kids that girls can be anything — and anything can be a girl.

Anything can be a girl. Because ultimately we all laugh and cry and mourn and love in similar ways. Far more similar than they are different.

Peace, love and starbursts,

Ally

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