Feminist Fridays: March 29, 2013

I’ve never participated in a meme or had regularly occurring feature, but I’m going to give it a shot and see if I can stick with it. I find I’m always interested in feminist perspectives, whether it’s in regards to literature, pop culture, or current events. Feminist Fridays is going to be my forum for discussing these issues, and may come in the form of book (or other media) reviews, link roundups, or my rambling thoughts essays. If you’d like to make a habit of discussing feminist issues on Fridays, join in and leave me a link.

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Feminists at Large is showing the love for Tamora Pierce:

“I learned, along with Alanna, that to love and to sometimes be vulnerable does not make you weak. But we also learned that you have to be strong and stand up for what you believe in, even if it makes you enemies–you have to be prepared to fight.”

I’m starting Alanna this weekend for The Hub Challenge and I hope it meets my very lofty expectations!

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The New Statesman ran a piece titled “Ghost Stories: The ubiquitous anti-feminism of young adult romances” from a former ghost-writer whose now has a book of her own “on submission” detailing the terrible paranormal YA that she was paid by the adjective to write while she was in college but manages to only reference Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey (the latter isn’t even YA) in her analysis.

Dude, I get that that bookshelves everywhere are full of problematic novels with questionable themes, plot devices and characterizations, but I’m so sick of media making broad generalizations. Can we stop talking about Twilight already? Also, no one ever acknowledges that young women are capable of critically reading these texts. I meet young women at the library all the time that might enjoy paranormal romance, but are fully aware that some of the behavior of the characters is maybe not the best decision in the real world.

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In this guest post on Ingrid’s Notes, Rachel Lieberman talks about how writers who are concerned about this can write from a feminist perspective without getting preachy. She still only mentions Twilight as an example of YA literature that might offend feminist sensibilities, but at least she’s looking for a solution!

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Bitch Magazine has this piece today about how “Young Adult Books Too Often Present a World Without People of Color” but only discusses Lauren Oliver’s Delirium trilogy:

“Somehow, curing deliria seems to also have eliminated racial and ethnic diversity. When Lena attends a meeting of Deliria-Free America, the auditorium is filled with 2000 people whom she describes as “rows of half-moon faces, pale, bloated, fearful, and grateful—the faces of the cured.” She does not mention passing anyone with darker skin or ethnic features on the streets. It’s as if people of color have somehow disappeared.”

So there are some sci-fi and fantasy authors who are also people of color and who write books featuring these characters — Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo for example, and I just checked out from the library The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor — but I agree it’s not enough. Still, I hate to write off an entire category on the basis of only one example. Hey, at least it wasn’t just Twilight again?

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I also came across this article by one of the editors of a book published in the UK entitled Fifty Shades of Feminism. Last night in Kansas City at The Midland Theater there was a showing of the musical parody of 50 Shades of Gray — Spank! — and I guess if something is going to gain exposure because of an association with 50 Shades, I’d rather have it be a collection of feminist essays than silly musicals (OK I actually love musicals and parody so I probably would have been entertained by it). I’m interested to see if 50 Shades of Feminism will be published in the US.

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The Guardian had this article on “Why Doctor Who needs more female writers.” Which is true. So does ALL television. Analysis of writers hired for last season’s shows was released yesterday, and  reveals that the numbers for women and people of color writing in television are low across the board.

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On a more personal note, I’ve been thinking a lot about the how feminism is negotiated within Islamic communities. My sister studied abroad in Morocco (working with a women’s organization) and fell in love (even though she’s always been pretty queer) with a Muslim man. There has been a tension in their relationship regarding feminist and queer issues, particularly over how they would raise children. I’ve had to deal with my own internal biases about Muslim culture since they’ve been dating. This fantastic, in depth essay from Aljazeera by Rachelle Fawcett, “The Reality and Future of Islamic Feminism” has a great perspective on the diversity of Islamic feminist thought.

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4 thoughts on “Feminist Fridays: March 29, 2013

  1. When my son was small, one of his best friends in day care was an African-American boy, and Bobby’s mother and I became friends. She was Muslim, and I’ve become friends with others over the Internet. The women I know aren’t beaten down, subservient and docile. Are there Muslim women who are? Undoubtedly, just as there are Christian women who are and Jewish women who are. We cannot judge an entire faith/culture by a few outliers, though it’s always tempting to do so.

  2. I was raised in a Muslim family, and while I don’t consider myself religious, I have cousins who practice and who would probably consider themselves feminists along the lines of what Fawcett describes. Interesting article.

  3. “Can we stop talking about Twilight already?” — Amen. I wish people would stop this already. There are paranormal romances that aren’t like Twilight — where the girl is powerful and in control and the one doing all the saving. International Best Seller Hereafter by Tara Hudson is just like that. I’d like to see more, yes, but there are some really good ones out there. And like you said, teens are smart enough to know that some of the things that happen aren’t healthy — but it’s a good way to explore them, instead of doing it themselves.

    I’m a huge Whovian and really shocked to find out that Doctor Who has no female writers. Amelia Pound, Rose Tyler, Dona (forgot her last name), and his other female companions were always strong, respectable ladies. I hope they use more female writers in the future.

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