“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.

WHY DON’T THEY THINK I’M PRETTY

This is a real quote from a real Psychology Today article. I tried to read it but I couldn’t get past the first page because it was so disgusting. If you have a stronger stomach than I, you can check it out.

To understand what it takes to be beautiful, we need to be very clear about what being beautiful means—being sexually appealing to men

Fuck that. What about butch lesbians? The average hetero guy does not find them particularly sexually appealing, but they can still be beautiful. And men? Obviously, straight men (the article doesn’t seem to make any mention of any sexuality other than the straight and narrow) are not going to find men sexually appealing, but there are beautiful men. Oh, but wait– the whole point of the article is that women need to be gorgeous and spend their time becoming gorgeous; and by gorgeous they mean sexually appealing to men. Great, too bad I just chopped most of my hair off*, most guys don’t like that; oh well, even though I love my new haircut I guess I’ll go out and buy a platinum blonde wig because I hear that gentlemen prefer blondes. And the other point of the article is that men don’t need to give a shit, because if they are rich women will automatically become super horny and want to have super-sexy fun-times with them, mainly to access their jumbo-jets and caviar and other stuff rich people have. Oh, and in case the author of this ridiculous piece of elephant excrement that needs to be banished to the bottom of the ocean article hadn’t noticed, NOT ALL GUYS ARE THE SAME. When all straight dudes can only appreciate the blonde/skinny but huge boobs/tall but not taller than them/white/long legs/passive, doe-eyed kind of female it will be a sad day indeed. Because while I do not have anything against people who are naturally blonde/skinny but huge boobs/tallish/white/long legs I do have a problem with overly-passive people in general and I do have a problem with guys who think that is the only acceptably attractive type of woman.

It’s a little insulting to guys to say that that’s all they appreciate, isn’t it? Men are all different. They are not a homogeneous group. Gender isn’t that fucking confining. They won’t all like the same things in a woman, appearance-wise.

And I think personality has more to do with it than she thinks. Someone who isn’t conventionally attractive (or really attractive at all) could still be damn sexy, or funny, or sweet, or cute… And while that doesn’t matter in porn (in case you hadn’t noticed, they don’t do a whole lot of character development), it matters in life. Because HEADS-UP, assholes, porn is not life. And while porn is about getting you off, and therefore about appearances, life is not about getting you off.

If you are pissed off by this and need to hear someone rant about this in more detail, go here.

*This is totally true, you guys. It pisses me off that girls are not supposed to have short hair and boys generally get to have all the fun, because this shit is so much easier to work with.

Women: They’re Just Too Sexy

Fun Fact of the Day: Women are just too sexy for the public. It’s true. That seems to be the super-Orthodox Hasidic newspaper Der Tzitung’s point of view, anyway. Violating guidelines explicitly stated on the official White House flickr page, they decided to go ahead and photoshop the only two women (Hillary Clinton and Audrey Tomason) out of an image of a counterterrorism conference.

Whuh?

Apparently, Hillary Clinton’s yawn or cough or whatever was just too “sexually suggestive” to be seen by the public. Seriously, have you ever seen a picture more pornographic than this? I mean, this is the kind of stuff teenage boys hide under their mattresses. But… what was poor Audrey Tomason doing? Just standing there, looking… like a woman. Come on! You can’t even see their boobs!

The Original Picture

The newspaper eventually printed this crock of shit photoshopped picture instead.

According to the magazine, they don’t believe that pictures of women should ever be printed. I, obviously, have a problem with this.

I understand that many religions have a focus on chastity and modesty. O.K, that’s one thing. But Hillary wasn’t dancing in her skivvies on the table to “Sexyback”. She was not sucking a lollipop and winking seductively at the journalist. NO! She was yawning, or coughing, or something. The fact that merely having women in the picture was too sexually provocative asserts that men are the target demographic (I’m assuming the readers are straight for convenience’s sake. Also, if lesbians ran the world, this would never happen). Out of a group of straight readers, who are the ones who might find Hillary and Audrey provocative? Men. Nobody is complaining that women might get lady-boners from Prez Obama’s intense stare. Because women can’t read! Women aren’t interested in politics! Hahahahaha! What a silly idea. There is a constant double standard in our society; there is one accepted way to be a woman, and myriad different accepted ways to be a man. And guess what? The one way to be a woman? It’s impossible, guys. Nobody can be that thin– but not anorexic. Nobody can be that giggly and sweet– and mean it. Nobody can have perfect hair, or perfect boobs, or always be in a good mood, and nobody WANTS to always defer to men (I hope). And Hillary and Audrey have strayed off that perfect path just by being powerful women in the same room as powerful men. They are just as much a part of history as any of the men in that room. They have just as much of a right to be in that picture. It is the constant portrayal of women as “other” that means people can see a woman as merely a sex symbol, instead of a respected professional. Because if women were truly seen as human beings, then people would see them as politicians, not as constantly sexual.

And there is just something about the whole idea that reeks of rape apologism. The idea that women, just by existing in a room, can incite lust? Can make men lose control? Like I said, Hillary and Audrey weren’t exactly doing a burlesque routine. They were appropriately dressed and behaving just like all the men in the room. But because they are women, they are too sexual. This kind of mindset just furthers that if men are turned on, they lose control of themselves, they aren’t responsible. The newspaper is just perpetuating the myth that it is the woman’s fault for inciting lust, and that she deserves punishment; in this case, being photoshopped out. In a real life situation, being raped. Not only does this hurt women, it just seems downright insulting to men. It seems a little insulting to say that men are all beasts who have no self control. We are all human– women are not sex symbols, but people. Men are not sex-machines, but people.

Can we all start thinking that?

Oh, and by the way– even if Hillary were to come to work in a cardboard box with eye holes she would get bad P.R. If she’s not sexy enough, they say she’s frumpy and letting herself go. If she’s too sexy, they say she’s inappropriate for a politician. Such is the life of a powerful woman. Hey, even if Hillary was in sweatpants and a sweatshirt she’d look better than that guy right behind Obama, and no one’s yelling at him for letting himself go.

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.

Lucy, I’m Hoooome

I’m so sorry it’s been such a long time since I last posted! I have had so much homework lately, it’s kind of ridiculous. I tried telling my teachers that I am busy defeating the patriarchy and making the world a better place but they ignored me and slapped another grammar packet on my desk. So today’s post is going to be short too, because I have to memorize the collective works of Shakespeare or something. Actually, it’s not going to be much of a post. Here’s an “It Gets Better” video from Gabrielle Rivera, who made the awesome lesbian short film “Spanish Girls Are Beautiful”, which you can check out over at Autostraddle.

In case you have been hiding under a rock/really need to catch up on your LGBTQ news and don’t know what the It Gets Better videos are, I will tell you. They are SHEER AWESOME. Basically, they’re gay people who are All Grown Up and Responsible Adults and are telling the baby gays that it gets better and that the entire world is basically not a sucky place a.k.a. high school. Some celebrities have made them (including Dan Savage, who started the whole shebang, and Adam Lambert who I love because he is adorable and I want him to take me on magical glam adventures). I get all teary-eyed watching them because there is so much passion in them. Watch and weep.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gr5ix1UUnPI&feature=player_embedded#at=58

UPDATE: HOLY SHIZNITS. Kermit the Frog has an It Gets Better video and it made my day. Technically, it’s not about being gay. It’s about being green. But it’s not easy being green and I think we can tack another G into LGBTQ for Green.

The Lesbrary

The Lesbrary linked to Rabbit the Feminist! Go and check them out– they are a book blog that reviews lesbian/bi/etc books, books by queer authors, or both. On their about page they say that they’ll pretty much review any book that falls into the category of “doesn’t identify as a man and is at least some of the time attracted romantically and/or sexually to others who do not identify as a man” which sounds pretty awesome to me. And I spend the vast majority of my non-computer time reading, so this will be great!

It’s Official

I am making it official that I am in love with Ivan E. Coyote. First that awesome video of her (I think she uses female pronouns, let me know if she prefers male or gender neutral pronouns) addressing all the femmes out there, and now this. I am reading her book Bow Grip, and I came across the past two quotes that were too good not to share.

“There is no type of woman that allows a man to hit her. There is only the type of man that would beat his wife.” (150).

How is that for possibly the best way to sum up not blaming the victim in two sentences ever? And my personal favorite,

“Don’t delude yourself into thinking women are the weaker sex, Joseph. They are just expected to tolerate more bullshit than we are.” (150).

These are wise words indeed. Memorize them and use them as a mantra to calm yourself by remembering that sane people do exist when someone says, “Well, she was asking for it” or “She’s such a slut” or “No one’s sexist anymore”.

And then go swoon because Ivan E. Coyote is amazing AND an awesome writer AND speaker, which is too much talent to be fair, and her name is this far from being Wile E. Coyote which is obviously pretty awesome.