1. wwnorton:

    THIS IS WHAT A FEMINIST LOOKS LIKE: GILBERT, GUBAR, AND THE FEMININE MYSTIQUE

    On February 28th, the National Book Critics Circle will present their lifetime achievement award to Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar. Their 1979 book, The Madwoman in the Attic, changed the way we think about Victorian literature. And in 1985, they co-edited the indispensable Norton Anthology of Literature by Women, currently in its third edition. Ron Charles at the Washington Post has written a great review of their pioneering work over the years.

    We mention this background simply to convey how incredible it is to see these two brilliant women who have contributed so much to feminist thought over the past four decades discussing The Feminine Mystique as it celebrates its 50th anniversary this month. Watch the video.

    Oh yes.

  2. And that’s the part that disturbs me. The heart of the question implies that if a male character is “strong” that’s to be expected, because boys and men are strong. Normal. Default. Go about your business. But if a female character leads a story, does stuff, has a voice and a purpose and changes her life or others’ lives or starts or stops a war or makes a stand or has power then it’s newsworthy, because that’s not expected, not true to life. Not normal. Not our default assumption about girls. So stop and take note. I know I shouldn’t still be surprised by that question, but I am, every time. When I began writing novels, I assumed I wouldn’t have to prove my right as a woman writer or have to dig out a place for female characters. I thought people who had come before me had already done that, writers like Tamora Pierce, Robin McKinley, Anne McCaffrey, Ursula LeGuin. I felt like I didn’t have the burden of screaming back at the world, “a girl can carry an action story, look, look!” While writing I’d decided that sexism didn’t even exist in my fantasy worlds and I never had to wrestle with it. In my worlds, girls do stuff and nobody thinks two things about it. But it turns out that my books aren’t published in my fantasy worlds. They’re published in this world.

    — From Shannon Hale: squeetus: “Why do you write strong female characters?” (via sdiaz101)

  3. I remember that quandary every time I read an essay about gender in Young Adult literature (which, since I teach it, is often). I see, in the ongoing conversation about Bella and Katniss, our culture pondering whether YA novels support the strong daughters we all want to raise. But as we debate ad nauseum whether, for example, Bella Swan is a dangerous role model for young women, we’ve neglected to ask the corresponding question: what does it tell young men when Edward Cullen and Jacob Black are the role models available to them? Are these barely-contained monsters really the best we can imagine?

    — 

    via the Los Angeles Review of Books - “YA and the End of Boys”

    We’re sure all of our YA peeps will be buzzing about this essay, but rather than trying to show that contemporary YA is FULL of awesome young men, we’re just going to share our list of YA books full of male protagonists.

    (via bookish)

  4. A great obstacle to good education is the inordinate passion prevalent for novels and the time lost in that reading which should be instructively employed. When this poison infects the mind, it destroys its tone and revolts it against wholesome reading. Reason and fact, plain and unadorned, are rejected. Nothing can engage attention unless dressed in all the figments of fancy, and nothing so bedecked comes amiss. The result is a bloated imagination, sickly judgment, and disgust toward all the real businesses of life.

    — Thomas Jefferson, in ”The Education of Women.” I was reminded of after seeing the quote the nice folks at Darien pulled from today’s Slate article on women and reading.

  5. But why? Women today make up more than half of the population, and 80 percent of the fiction market, yet we are still considered a niche. The fact that ladies read is still somehow news, and whenever too many of us pick up one particular book, like 50 Shades of Grey, commentators dissect the contents for clues as to what women (all of them) are thinking. As Jessica Grose detailed in Slate earlier this month, books written by women—like her own debut novel, Sad Desk Salad—are often instantly subjugated as “for-girls-only,” marketed as something lesser-than, and then unfairly scrutinized. “[W]hy, for instance, was a series like Twilight so much more critically derided than Steig Larsson’s Millennium trilogy? Both sets are huge best-sellers, and both are horribly written (unless you like elaborate, repetitive descriptions of sandwiches). But Larsson’s were never painted as embarrassing, pathetic props for bored housewives (or their husbands),” Grose wrote. “Larsson’s weren’t sneered at by the critical class the way that popular books in women specific genres tend to be.”

    — A Brief History of the Beef Against Women Reading (via darienlibrary)

  6. More JK Rowling / Harry Potter gif sets for their joint birthday.

  7. In Memory of Adrienne Rich

    nationalbook:

    Adrienne Rich’s history-making 1974 National Book Award acceptance speech

    "We, Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, and Alice Walker, together accept this award in the name of all the women whose voices have gone and still go unheard in a patriarchal world, and in the name of those who, like us, have been tolerated as token women in this culture, often at great cost and in great pain."

  8. Zines are an especially important medium for marginalized groups, providing a safe space to have an open discussion. With the so-called war on obesity in full swing, it’s no wonder that an increasing number of fat-activist and body-positive zines are appearing. Fat acceptance often intersects with subjects and interests like feminism, queer studies, social and political activism, history, health, fashion, and even pop culture. The zines reviewed here cover several areas, such as radical queer and transgender fat activism, fat activism history, DIY fat activism, body-positive art and poetry, and clothing design.

Cooper, Charlotte. A Queer and Trans Fat Activist Timeline. April 2011. 34p. ½ size. Distro: Free pdf and audio file. Paper copy sold out.Queer fat researcher Charlotte Cooper (Fat and Proud: The Politics of Size) made this collaborative zine after facilitating a 2010 NOLOSE workshop. At the workshop, she and other participants constructed a queer and transgender fat-activist community timeline by adding their histories and memories to it, and then Cooper turned the timeline into this zine. The physical timeline resides in Hamburg, Germany; copies are housed in several libraries and archives, with a pdf available online. Beginning with the 1967 Central Park Fat-In and ending with NOLOSE 2010, the timeline does a great job not only of presenting an overarching view of the history of the intersection of queer, trans, and fat activism, but also of delineating the issues that historically have been important to members of these groups.
Durden, Krissy. Figure 8. 2007. No. 4. 35p. ½ size. $2–3. Distros: Etsy | ThingsYouSayThe subtitle of this fourth issue, “Refuse to feel shame about your body!” succinctly yet powerfully conveys the raison d’être of body/fat-positive movements. The focus of this particular issue is profiling past and present fat activists, which Durden accomplishes through interviews, personal reflections, and guest contributions. A highlight is “Everyday Acts of Fat Activism,” which lists actions people can take to support themselves and others (e.g., “Write emails to fat bashing companies”). Another essay details the discriminatory treatment of fat people who wish to adopt children, in the United States and abroad. Durden includes innovative artwork by several interview subjects, including fat-girl anime by Sarah Perry and “fat maps” by Stina of the zine Chubbluv.
Hartman, Crystal. Fat Is Beautiful. March 2006. 43 p. ½ size. $3. Distro: The Mimi Zine DistroThis meticulously researched zine on fat acceptance and sizeism provides a plethora of scholarly and commonsense information disputing the popular claim that thinness=healthy and fatness=unhealthy. Hartman utilizes scientific literature to debunk prevailing health myths, e.g., “You can lose weight if you try hard enough” and “Being fat causes heart disease.” The zine includes a number of powerful pieces on combating fat oppression written by other authors. Among these are an excerpt from Nomy Lamm’s brilliant essay “It’s a Big Fat Revolution” and a 1975 article by Laurie Ann Lepoff describing the lack of support and solidarity for fat people in the lesbian community. Hartman makes librarians proud by including an extensive bibliography of recommended reading organized by subject.
Nicci. Fat Girl. 2010. No.15. 22 p. ¼ size. $2.20. Distros: EtsyThis zineaddresses what it’s like to be a fat girl, including the struggle with body image and other issues common among fat women in a sizeist society. Topics covered range from problems shopping for fashionable yet comfortable clothes, to being given a Diet Coke every time one asks for a regular Coke, to the tiring effort to deal with thin privilege. The result is a powerful zine that speaks to a range of experiences. In this issue, Nicci talks about the power the scale wields over many and reflects on her life until she started writing her zine. An artist as well as a writer, she includes body-positive illustrations along with letters and essays. She sums up her work: “FGis a validation, and a decree. FG is an attitude, and a reassurance—it is a battle cry.”
Adderley, Sage. FAT-TASTIC. Winter 2010. 14p. ½ size. $1. Distros: Etsy | SweetCandyThis compilation is a recent project by the zinester behind Sweet Candy Distro. Created as a textual safe space to share fat- and body-positive stories, reflections, and information, Adderley’s zine features artwork, poetry, and experiential pieces by seven contributors. One work that stands out is a poignant letter from Adderley to her body, in which she apologizes for hating it for so long and vows to treat it with love and respect going forward. The zine ends with a useful DIY tutorial for making “positive affirmation cards,” which are intended to foster traits such as strength and happiness in individuals and among friends. As of January 2012, Adderley is accepting submissions for the follow-up issue.

    Zines are an especially important medium for marginalized groups, providing a safe space to have an open discussion. With the so-called war on obesity in full swing, it’s no wonder that an increasing number of fat-activist and body-positive zines are appearing. Fat acceptance often intersects with subjects and interests like feminism, queer studies, social and political activism, history, health, fashion, and even pop culture. The zines reviewed here cover several areas, such as radical queer and transgender fat activism, fat activism history, DIY fat activism, body-positive art and poetry, and clothing design.

    Queer Transfat Activism Fat Activism and Body Positivity: Zines for Transforming the Status Quo

    Cooper, CharlotteA Queer and Trans Fat Activist Timeline. April 2011. 34p. ½ size. Distro: Free pdf and audio file. Paper copy sold out.
    Queer fat researcher Charlotte Cooper (Fat and Proud: The Politics of Size) made this collaborative zine after facilitating a 2010 NOLOSE workshop. At the workshop, she and other participants constructed a queer and transgender fat-activist community timeline by adding their histories and memories to it, and then Cooper turned the timeline into this zine. The physical timeline resides in Hamburg, Germany; copies are housed in several libraries and archives, with a pdf available online. Beginning with the 1967 Central Park Fat-In and ending with NOLOSE 2010, the timeline does a great job not only of presenting an overarching view of the history of the intersection of queer, trans, and fat activism, but also of delineating the issues that historically have been important to members of these groups.

    Durden, Krissy. Figure 8. 2007. No. 4. 35p. ½ size. $2–3. Distros: Etsy | ThingsYouSay
    The subtitle of this fourth issue, “Refuse to feel shame about your body!” succinctly yet powerfully conveys the raison d’être of body/fat-positive movements. The focus of this particular issue is profiling past and present fat activists, which Durden accomplishes through interviews, personal reflections, and guest contributions. A highlight is “Everyday Acts of Fat Activism,” which lists actions people can take to support themselves and others (e.g., “Write emails to fat bashing companies”). Another essay details the discriminatory treatment of fat people who wish to adopt children, in the United States and abroad. Durden includes innovative artwork by several interview subjects, including fat-girl anime by Sarah Perry and “fat maps” by Stina of the zine Chubbluv.

    Hartman, Crystal. Fat Is Beautiful. March 2006. 43 p. ½ size. $3. Distro: The Mimi Zine Distro
    This meticulously researched zine on fat acceptance and sizeism provides a plethora of scholarly and commonsense information disputing the popular claim that thinness=healthy and fatness=unhealthy. Hartman utilizes scientific literature to debunk prevailing health myths, e.g., “You can lose weight if you try hard enough” and “Being fat causes heart disease.” The zine includes a number of powerful pieces on combating fat oppression written by other authors. Among these are an excerpt from Nomy Lamm’s brilliant essay “It’s a Big Fat Revolution” and a 1975 article by Laurie Ann Lepoff describing the lack of support and solidarity for fat people in the lesbian community. Hartman makes librarians proud by including an extensive bibliography of recommended reading organized by subject.

    Nicci. Fat Girl. 2010. No.15. 22 p. ¼ size. $2.20. Distros: Etsy
    This zineaddresses what it’s like to be a fat girl, including the struggle with body image and other issues common among fat women in a sizeist society. Topics covered range from problems shopping for fashionable yet comfortable clothes, to being given a Diet Coke every time one asks for a regular Coke, to the tiring effort to deal with thin privilege. The result is a powerful zine that speaks to a range of experiences. In this issue, Nicci talks about the power the scale wields over many and reflects on her life until she started writing her zine. An artist as well as a writer, she includes body-positive illustrations along with letters and essays. She sums up her work: “FGis a validation, and a decree. FG is an attitude, and a reassurance—it is a battle cry.”

    Adderley, Sage. FAT-TASTIC. Winter 2010. 14p. ½ size. $1. Distros: Etsy | SweetCandy
    This compilation is a recent project by the zinester behind Sweet Candy Distro. Created as a textual safe space to share fat- and body-positive stories, reflections, and information, Adderley’s zine features artwork, poetry, and experiential pieces by seven contributors. One work that stands out is a poignant letter from Adderley to her body, in which she apologizes for hating it for so long and vows to treat it with love and respect going forward. The zine ends with a useful DIY tutorial for making “positive affirmation cards,” which are intended to foster traits such as strength and happiness in individuals and among friends. As of January 2012, Adderley is accepting submissions for the follow-up issue.