French Class

I feel like French class would be a lot easier if we eliminated gendered nouns. Do you know how much less study time I would have to put in if all the nouns were genderqueer?

Just think about it, France. Genderqueer nouns. They are the future.

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“Luna” Is An Awesome Book Please Read It Now

Seriously, Luna by Julie Anne Peters is one of the very best books I’ve read in a long time. It young adult fiction, and it is about a fifteen-year-old girl, Regan, who has to cope with helping her transgender sister (MtF). It is well-written, intelligent, and honestly, just a really, really good story. I’ve read a lot of young adult LGBTQ books that the writing is sort of blah and the plot is predictable and nothing seems really unique besides the fact it has LGBTQ characters. But this book is amazing no matter how you look at it. Go check it out. (it is also an awesome introduction to thinking about the gender binary, because you can never start genderfucking too young*)

The only thing that irritated me about it was the placement in the library.

The first time I ever realized this book existed was a few years ago. I was probably around 8 or so, and looking through the young adult section. I picked up this book, Luna, and read the inside cover. The blurb on the inside is not that great; it doesn’t explain much (then again, transgenderism is complicated and you can’t really explain it in a blurb anyway) so all my eight-year-old mind took away was, “Boys dressing like girls? Yucky.” and I put the book down.

For some strange, strange reason the book stuck in my head. You know how you can never remember your grandpa’s birthday or your best friend’s brother’s name but you remember myriad strange little aspects of life? Well, I remembered that there was a book called Luna about a boy dressing like a girl (not really what it’s about, but hey, I was eight). And recently, having decided that boys dressing like girls is actually pretty badass and not yucky at all, I decided to go check it out. But I could not find the damned book. I literally scoured the young adult section. I can honestly tell you that I slowly checked every spine in the young adult section. And it was not there. I did this multiple times, just in case it had been checked out.

I really wanted to read that book.

So eventually, I did the logical thing and looked it up on the library computer. Why I didn’t do this earlier, I have no idea. My mind works in mysterious (and often inconvenient) ways. Anyway, it turns out I had been barking up the wrong tree (or the wrong lesbian, to quote Betty White from SNL). Luna had been moved to the adult fiction section.

So why the move?

Well, let’s see here. There are plenty of books with lots of sex and sexytimes in the young adult section; in Luna, nobody has sex, and I mean nobody. There is not even heavy petting. Not even a passionate make out scene. The main character has a crush on a guy. Maybe they kiss once, I dunno. Language-wise? That book swears less in the whole book than I do in half an hour.  And the writing is quite obviously aimed at teenagers. So why the hell did the High and Mighty Librarians** move the book?!

My guess is that it’s because it about transgenderism. Because heaven forbid a teenager who feels screwed up and depressed and is wondering why they don’t feel like a boy when they have a dick read a book that might make them feel like maybe someone gives a shit.

People can be such assholes.

*After reading that tumblr Guys Just Wanna Wear Skirts I am super into genderfuckery today. And how fun is the word genderfuckery? Genderfuckery genderfuckery genderfuckery…

**I have nothing against librarians. I wanted to be one, at one point. I just think this move was a total Master Douche act.

What I Did Last Night

Get your minds out of the gutters, my sunny little pumpkin-heads. I went to go see of Montreal with some friends, and let me tell you, it was AMAZING. If you ever have the chance to go see them, take it, or at least get me some tickets.

Since I did so many posts on guys wearing dresses yesterday, it sort of made my day when I got there and there was a huge group of boys (obviously masculine-presenting, they were just wearing skirts) who happened to be wearing a some cool dresses. I hope they didn’t think I was making fun of them because I kept smiling at them, but only because I kept thinking “SCREW THE GENDER BINARY! WOO!”* Also, Kevin Barnes, the singer of of Montreal came on in a skirt at one point, and he was wearing makeup and girl’s clothing (or super-androgynous clothing anyway) the whole time, so it was a Night of Genderfuckery, which is my favorite kind. Anyway, I’m exhausted because I still had to go to school today so here’s a video by of Montreal to tide you over.

*They were also pretty attractive. Tip For Boys: If you want feminists to think you’re cool, wear skirts. That is a badass thing to do and we will give you da respect. Also, it is sort of hot so there.

Taking the Twilight Out of Reading

If you use a thesaurus, you’ll find that the title of this post basically says, “Taking the Shit Out of Reading”. Because I like to read. All my friends like to read. Smart people generally like to read. But for the love of all that is holy I hate ABHOR LOATHE BREATHE FIRE UPON the section in my library known as “the Young Adults” section. In this section, the general formula seems to be that male protagonists get interesting, cool, relatable and well-written books. Female protagonists, however, get a steaming pile of turds wearing the thin disguise of a love story. How to Take the Ex- Out of Ex-Boyfriend, Instant Boyfriend, My Secret Boyfriend, My Fake Boyfriend, My Real Fake Boyfriend (clever, I see what you did there), The Boyfriend War, and, of course, My Best Friend’s Boyfriend are all aimed at young female adults! Yippee! Because what do young female adults love more than focusing their entire lives and fantasy lives around dicks and the men who own them? Absolutely nothing!

Well, some of us have brains. Some of us would prefer not to have to read about ur fke boytoyz. In fact, part of the reason I read is to AVOID this sort of “isn’t-he-cute-he’s-so-hot-I’m-already-planning-our-wedding” mentality. So, just for you, I have prepared a list of YA novels that are not focused around the cultural phenomenon known as “boyfriends”.

Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaught: This is a fun book, more than anything else. Admittedly, the protagonist, Jamie, has a boyfriend who a pretty major part of the storyline focuses around. But it is not focusing around him purely because he is a man and therefore SO COOL. And guess what? Jamie’s fat. The entire book is pretty much what the title suggests; a manifesto against fat-phobia. But it is also well-written, clever, and kind of wonderful. I recommend it for all human beings. Jamie writes a column for her school paper called Fat Girl about what it is really like to be fat, exposing assholes and irritating salesladies through the whole book. She is sassy and cool and intelligent so basically my favorite kind of person. She also sings in her school’s musical, prepares for college and has two cool friends (Freddie and NoNo) who are also complex female characters whom I want to hug repeatedly.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson: Wow. I am kind of in love with Laurie Halse Anderson’s writing, because it is beautiful and sort of fragile-sounding like if you read it too harshly the words might accidentally crack. The book is about a girl who is raped by a boy at her school and doesn’t tell anyone, becoming depressed. That description is really crappy, but honestly, it is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. The ending WILL make you cry, unless you sold your soul to the devil or are dead, but I don’t want to spoil it. Even if you are not a young adult, maybe you’re even old and crinkly and grouchy, you still need to read this because it will cleanse your soul of all impurities. Plus, there’s a movie with Kristen Stewart in it. I haven’t seen it but I can assume her acting will be stiff as usual.

Empress of the World by Sara Ryan: I found this book to be a little bit vanilla, but I like really, really dark stuff. I did enjoy it, though. It’s set at a good-pace, the writing is better than a lot of YA novels, and it has a good plot and believable voice. The basic storyline is that girl goes to summer camp, girl falls in love. With another girl. One thing I liked about it was that it didn’t make a HUGE deal out of the fact they’re both girls. Obviously figuring out that part of your identity is kind of a huge thing, and it doesn’t mention some homophobia they face, but it doesn’t seem to be jumping up and down screaming “LOOK! A BOOK ABOUT LESBOS! AREN’T WE SO INCLUSIVE AND OPEN-MINDED.” which I appreciated. And do you know how hard it is to find books with any kind of girl-on-girl romance? DO YOU KNOW?

Ash by Malinda Lo: Speaking of girl-on-girl romance… I confess– I have not actually finished this book. Actually, it’s laying splayed open behind me as I type this. I am having a hard time getting into it because of the writing, which is not really my thing; it plays out to sound very fairy-tale-ish. HOWEVER I think this would appeal hugely to a lot of people, and it won the Lambda Literary Award, YA fiction category! (That’s the award for LGBTQ literature, if you didn’t know). Overall, the writing is good, and the plot is so far interesting. It is a bit slow moving, but I think pretty good overall. UPDATE: I just finished Ash and boy, does it pick up. I was feeling so-so about it when I wrote this review but now I really love it.

Speaking of the Lambda Awards… if you are sick of reading books with female protagonists… get off this blog. If you have read a lot of books with strong female protagonists and wish to expand your mind with diversity, check out some books by Alex Sanchez. He has won the Lambda Award multiple times. All of his books are about gay guys, and there are very few ladies in sight, just a warning. But they are still pretty good and queer books are hard enough to find either way. My personal favorite is The God Box which is a great book about a young man’s conflicting identities; his identity as a gay man and his identity as a Christian. Also he meets a cute boy named Manuel who has some great lines about why Christianity doesn’t actually say homosexuality is a sin, which I am definitely going to be using. P.S. the Bible doesn’t ever say homosexuality is a sin. Read The God Box and find out more after the jump.

Girl by Blake Nelson: At my library, this is in the adult fiction section, but I think it should be in YA. It is more for the upper teens though, because there’s a lot of sexuality in it. But this book is mindblowing. The writing is incredible, and yes, it does sound like a teenage girl– but a real teenage girl, not a valley girl. It is about a (you guessed it) teen girl’s coming-of-age in Portland, OR (holla for my hometown) in the nineties. The best part about it is that it feels so real. Even some of the very best books have a thin layer of fantasy– this one completely rips it all to shreds and makes you feel like you’re reading an older sister’s teenage diary.

The Tank Girl comics are technically graphic novels, and O.K., she has a boyfriend. But her boyfriend is a kangaroo named Booga and she rescues him nine times out of ten. Tank Girl is hilarious, raunchy (yeah, really raunchy) and she kicks ass.

And if by this point your eyes have fallen out of your head from all this reading, go watch The Runaways or something. That is an awesome movie*. Promise me you will sing along to “Cherry Bomb”. And if you have any suggestions, leave them in the comments!

*I watch it whenever I’m sick and have to stay home from school. I’ve got Kim Fowley’s “I want an orgasm” speech memorized and I scream along. Which isn’t good when I have a hoarse throat, but oh well. Priorities. Plus, the music is what I’d be listening to anyways, so I can sing along! It’s sort of like High School Musical: Singalong Edition but there are cool rock star girls with guitars who sometimes pee on guitars.

No Homo, Duuuude

Is there anyone in the entire world who possesses half of a thinking receptacle who does not find the phrase “No Homo” to be utterly abhorrent? I heard some idiot say it as he gave his friend a hug today and I nearly spat at his feet and growled. It’s so… desperate. It is the kind of phrase that sexually repressed, asshole, super-macho-man frat boys would come up with so they could “man-hug” each other and grunt, “No homo, hurr hurr, no homo,”. And boys? The word “gay” would cross absolutely NO ONE’S mind if you just gave each other a hug and left it at that. Hugging is O.K. in a platonic relationship! I hug my friends all the time*! Jumping in someone’s lap, humping and then licking their ear might be construed as non-platonic but as long as you can restrain yourself from that you will be just fine.

And it’s sort of… well… I’m not sure if anyone REALIZED this but for actual gay people? It’s a wee bit rude. Just a little, you know, because you’re basically saying that a part of them is so utterly despicable that you have to put a disclaimer between all shows of affection between sexes denying any form of non-hetness? Yeah, just a little bit of a bigoted asshole Prickson & Prick thing to do. Just a little.

*Admittedly, this is generally a ruse to try to plant a bomb on the back of their shirt or to put them in a strangle hold, but hey, a hug is a hug.

How Seventeen is Hindering La Revolution, One Article About Boobs At a Time

DISCLAIMER: This is more like Sexism Today 101 and not for advanced feministers who already know all this b.s., but if you want to rant along in time, feel free.

I’m sad to say I used to like Seventeen magazine. As a paragon of all that is stereotypically feminine and girlish, I too once cooed over floral dresses and tutted over alarmist articles about wild teen sex lives (trust me, the only “wild teen sex life” I know of is… I actually don’t know.) and smiled smugly at the “Love Your Body!” articles. And yes, I still have a subscription, if only because I paid money for that and now I want my money’s worth, even if I’m only going to write feminist criticisms of the smiling models and their accompanying articles.

Unfortunately, some of my friends aren’t as enlightened (or as self-satisfied and smug at their knowledge that they are correct in their worldview) as I am. And while I would not be irritated if they liked to read Seventeen, they have the gall to tell me that I’m overreacting when I point out sexist pig poo.

Just a hint, ladies and gentlemen and any other designations: never tell an angry feminist that she/he is overreacting. Never. Your last moments will be more painful than a chainsaw shoved up… Never mind.

So without further ado, my top five reasons that Seventeen should be banned except maybe as toilet paper or a makeshift parachute.

1) Love your body by staying anorexically skinny with huge boobs. This is one of the most obvious. Does nobody find it even the teensiest bit ironic that RIGHT NEXT to the “Body Love” article or whatever is a thousand and one ways to make your boobs look more boobilicious and your thighs skinnier and your spleen more shapely? I dunno, it just seems kind of discouraging to vow to love your body through thick and thin (thick and thin THIGHS! Get it?) and then turn the page and see an itty-bitty model proclaiming that YOU TOO can have Dolly Parton’s ta-tas NATURALLY and your waist can be that of an underfed whippet. Hypocrites.

2) BOYS don’tcha just love ‘em they’re so cute and cuddly and… Bleurgh. I absolutely HATE the “Love Life” section. It is undoubtedly the worst part of the whole magazine. I shit you not, in the last issue there was a part that told me not to be too confident, for fear of scaring off potential penis. Um… welcome back to the 50s, I guess. Because being too confident can come off as bossy. Just gonna put this out there, it’s hard enough to be confident in the first place as a teen, I don’t need people telling me I need to dumb myself down or no one will ever love me. Waaah, if a guy can’t deal with the fact I’m not a doormat he sounds kind of pathetic to me.  Another thing that pisses me off about this section? It is ridiculously heteronormative. The one time they actually mentioned that bisexuality or lesbianism exists at all, it was NOT in the “Love Life” section; instead, it was a tiny, slightly dismissive article about a girl who falls in love with her best (girl) friend. So basically lesbians/anyone not straight doesn’t exist? … Sure, Seventeen. And neither does anyone who is not skinny/white/WASP-y looking. For a magazine targeted at girls, you’d think they realize that a huge section of their magazine is excluding all of their non-het demographic.

3) Lack of diversity. O.K., this shouldn’t come as a surprise to ANYONE, but look through the magazine and count how many white models you count. Now count how many non-white models there are. Noticing anything? A trend, maybe? Yeah.

4) The fashion is boring. I love fashion; I read a s***load of fashion blogs, I read Teen Vogue (which is only slightly better than Seventeen, but hey, no “Love Life” section!) and I like shopping (at Goodwill, but nevertheless). And maybe the fashion has gotten worse, but it’s just boring these days. No fun at all. That wasn’t a feminist critique but it is a valid point; how can I coo over cute outfits if they are pretty much a t-shirt and a skirt on a plain grey background?

5) The perfect girl. Seventeen does such a marvelous job of telling girls everywhere that YES, there is only one right way to exist! If you have any thoughts that this magazine does not address, you are not this beautiful-yet-impossible standard of female beauty that we all must aspire to! I know too many girls who buy into this poop WITHOUT a major magazine encouraging them; I hate seeing my perfectionist friends tear themselves apart because they cannot do everything and still feel and look and act perfect. It’s sad, and it hurts to see people I care about feeling self-conscious because someone is telling them they aren’t good enough because they aren’t perfect.

So, please, even if you MUST read Seventeen (why you must I have no idea) just be aware that it is pretty much a friendly, neighborhood way to oppress young women and girls!

Fashion: Not Just For Skinny White Girls!

I was over at 90swoman (another GREAT feminist blog) and I they had an article about fashion/lack of diversity in it. (big surprise there) Anyway, they had a link to Of Another Fashion, a tumblr dedicated to vintage pictures of women of color dressed in some of the most kickass vintage outfits ever. As a fashion devotee (although I’m more devoted to my huge motorcycle boots than heels right now.) this is awesome. I’m addicted. 

And how gorgeous is this girl? If my hair were still long (it’s chin-length right now) I would try to figure out this hairstyle. Except I would look like a poodle that got caught in a tornado, except instead of going to Oz and having magical adventures, I’d be getting my hair done by Richard Simmons. Which is not nearly as glamorous as the girl above.