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Archive for October, 2013

Whilst searching for my next quote to use for the (feminist) magazine I contribute to, I came across this quote which, while it didn’t fit the theme for the issue I was looking for, was really interesting. It comes from a lady named Foz Meadows, and it is from her blog “Love Team Freezer.” As a side note, I hope all of this information is correct, because I found this on a quote website, not from this actual blog/website.
“Something that’s bothered me for a while now is the current profligacy in YA culture of Team Boy 1 vs Team Boy 2 fangirling. […] Despite the fact that I have no objection to shipping, this particular species of team-choosing troubled me, though I had difficulty understanding why. Then I saw it applied to Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games trilogy – Team Peeta vs Team Gale – and all of a sudden it hit me that anyone who thought romance and love-triangles were the main event in that series had utterly missed the point. Sure, those elements are present in the story, but they aren’t anywhere near being the bones of it, because The Hunger Games, more than anything else, is about war, survival, politics, propaganda and power. Seeing such a strong, raw narrative reduced to a single vapid argument – which boy is cuter? – made me physically angry.

“So, look. People read different books for different reasons. The thing I love about a story are not necessarily the things you love, and vice versa. But riddle me this: are the readers of these series really so excited, so thrilled by the prospect of choosing! between! two! different! boys! that they have to boil entire narratives down to a binary equation based on male physical perfection and, if we’re very lucky, chivalrous behaviour? While feminism most certainly champions the right of women to chose their own partners, it also supports them to choose things besides men, or to postpone the question of partnership in favour of other pursuits – knowledge, for instance. Adventure. Careers. Wild dancing. Fun. Friendship. Travel. Glorious mayhem. And while, as a woman now happily entering her fourth year of marriage, I’d be the last person on Earth to suggest that male companionship is inimical to any of those things, what’s starting to bother me is the comparative dearth of YA stories which aren’t, in some way, shape or form, focussed on Girls Getting Boyfriends, and particularly Hot Immortal Or Magical Boyfriends Whom They Will Love For All Eternity.”

I…LOVE…this. Love it. And surprisingly, I never really thought about this phenomena this way, but everything she is saying is absolutely true. I am going to go ahead and use the “Hunger Games” example, but please note that I have never read or watched them because the idea of it is not really appealing to me and kind of makes me mad for other reasons, but it’s a good example for reasons I will go into. So (and from what I understand), there is the main female character, Katniss. She basically sacrifices herself to save her little sister, something completely admirable. She fights for her life and tries to help her people and to better the situation of most of the world’s population…and what do I mainly see people talking about and/or fighting over? Which guy she should end up with. After reading the above quote, I was thinking…I can’t believe this has never really entered my mind before! It is so stupid! And obviously it is not everyone, and obviously there are people who have an opinion on the romantic “problem” but just as a side-interest to the whole book/movie, but as a whole…most people get completely riled up over who Katniss should end up sleeping with or marrying. Really? You’re not more interested in talking about a world where children are supposed to kill each other for rich people’s entertainment? Or about all the scary political and environmental aspects that can be applied to our society right now?

Even better, and I have mentioned this before somewhere…I love YA books, but why is there this need for a love triangle *all the time*?? Can there not be a main female character that either A.) Doesn’t need a man at all! (Imagine that!) B.) Likes girls (why not?) or C.) Has just one love interest! I know it really does happen in real life, but personally I have never been in love with two people at once. Never in my life have I sat down and had a long discussion with myself or anyone about not being able to choose between two men because my love for them was just so equal. Never. In fact, in *most* instances of talking with friends when they have had two interests, it seems like *usually* they actually really like one of them and are just sexually lusting after the other, and when they realize that, they can decide really easily. Again, I know people will say that falling in love with two people at once can happen, and that’s fine, but seriously…it happens in tons of YA and tons of adult romances. I’m not even saying I would never use that as a subplot at some point in a story, but it would be nice to read some YA books (because I never read romances, lol) in which there isn’t a love triangle.

The other big example I would use is “Twilight.” As a disclaimer, this isn’t just hating on “Twilight.” I would rather watch and read it than “Hunger Games,” actually. In fact, I have read all of the “Twilight” books (back before they were popular, actually), and I did watch the first two movies (books were decent as YA, movies were awful…sorry). The lead female character: Bella. The love triangle men: Edward the Vampire and ItotallyjustblankedonhisnameTaylorLautner the Werewolf. Seriously cannot think of his name. Anyways, the worst part about this series is, and again…I’m not just hating…the books were entertaining…the *only* thing about Bella is that she has to choose between two men! At least with Katniss…she has the whole “I kick butt and survived and love my sister and my people” thing going on. Bella’s main story is that there are two forbidden love interests and she has to eventually pick one. It wouldn’t be as annoying if it was rarer as a whole plot.

Anyways, that’s just my opinion. It’s not going to stop me from reading YA, because I do love it. But just some food for thought.

-AV

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I am a huge fan of Anne Bishop, so it’s not a surprise that I was absolutely in love with this book. Her Black Jewels books are on the top of my favorite books of all time, and this book reminds me of those a lot. However, so far (as there is another one coming out next March and presumably more after that), this series isn’t *as* sexual and violent as Black Jewels or even the Sebastian/Belladonna books. There is violence, and there are sexual innuedos and such, but it’s nothing over-the-top. That being said, like her other books, this is not a young adult books. It is an adult book. There are adult themes and adult language and adult everything in it. I think the way it reminds me of parts of Black Jewels the best is her style. She can have a moment of violence or a really serious moment, and two paragraphs later there is a light-hearted-like moment or banter between characters. I’m not sure how I would really describe that style; I’ve seen other authors try to do it and it comes out immature sounding–but Ms Bishop does it to perfection, I think. There are laughs and tears and tension and friendship and action and drama and all that good stuff.

I hope she writes several of these books. Like Black Jewels, there is a plethora of characters to explore and lots of storylines she could run with. I liked all of the characters (and hated a few because they were supposed to be hated), but there is definitely room for growth in every single one of them, so I am excited to see what she does with them. One slight spoiler: she shies away from any major “good” character deaths, which I like as a reader but sometimes dislike as a writer–however, as it is the first book in an assumed trilogy or series, it didn’t really bother me over all. I know from her other books that she isn’t super hesitant to do horrible things to beloved characters, so part of me was a little relieved that she spared the ones I really liked this time around 🙂

Finally, just a little bit about the book: It is called “Written in Red,” and on the cover it says, “A novel of the Others.” There are humans in this book, and a few of them are major-ish characters, but it is a novel mostly about the “Others.” These Others basically rule the world, with humans living as best as they can beside them. The Others are what we would consider Otherwordly creatures, things that don’t exist, except that in this world, they do exist–and have existed longer than humans have. There are Wolves, Vampires, Bears, Elementals, Hawks, Crows, and more and worse–but these are like “Twilight.” They are the animals, but over time they have developed the ability to shape-shift into human forms. But if you piss one off, it will eat you in a second. No matter how much some of these characters bond with humans (which constantly baffles them, as they constantly remind themselves that they aren’t supposed to bond with their prey/meat), if it comes down to it, any of them would massacre a human town if they thought it needed to be done. In fact, it happened before in this world’s history. The main female character is Meg, and she is a blood prophet who escaped from her Controllers. Simon is a Wolf who is the leader of the Other land that Meg ends up in. And there are a tons of other main and supporting charactes that really flesh out with world.

Definitely encourage fantasy lovers and fans of Anne Bishop to pick up this book! I loved it and cannot wait for the next one coming next March!

-AV

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I love clothes. I wouldn’t say I have a problem, but I feel like I *could* have a problem. I would love to be one of those people who win a $5000 shopping spree at a store. Since this weekend was Columbus Day weekend, every mall around here was running sales. So…I went shopping.

To backtrack a little, I’m one of those people who have fought with my weight since I was little. I’ve always been chubby…there have been times when I have been way overweight, times where I was a just little overweight, and everything in-between. I just have never been skinny by society’s measures or even by doctor’s measures.

Number One Frustration: My wardrobe. What about it? You will literally find anything from a medium to a 1XL in my wardrobe for shirts, anywhere from a 14 to a 20 in pants, and anywhere from a 10 to a 16 in dresses. It is so frustrating. I don’t like to throw anything away, because I’ve learned that I go up and down constantly. I have “skinny” days and “fat” days. I get bloated. I get unbloated. I gain 10 pounds, but then I lose 10 pounds. Gain 5, lose 8. Right now I’m running about a medium in shirts and toeing the line between 14 and 16 in pants. So my hangers and drawer space are crammed with shirts and pants way too big for me and I hate digging through them to find something that fits.

Eventually I will get a weekend like this where I do have some extra cash and there are good sales, and I will buy several shirts and some pants. Not only don’t I have room for them, but I know there will come a time when they won’t fit right anymore.

I hate looking in a dressing room mirror and critizing how jeans look on me. I hate getting dressed for work one week and this shirt looks great, and then the next week all I can see is a little muffin top with the same shirt.

This nation is becoming more and more crazed about body sizes and body images. There are the stars who are teeny-tiny and the weight loss magazines and all the exercise DVDS and commercials about getting healthy…and then there are the websites and blogs and books about loving yourself no matter what. It’s so conflicting and confusing, and I’ve gone back and forth on my thoughts on that.

I want to be healtier. I’m not in shape, even though I weigh less than I typically have in the past. But since I’ve weighed so much before, I’m obsessed with a number on the scale and how I look in clothes. The way clothes fit can make or break my day sometimes. I think there just needs to be one big movement that focuses purely on health and love instead of two extreme sides. You should love yourself, but you should love yourself so much that you want to be healthy and do the right things for the body you will have your whole life. It’s not about being thin. I came to terms with the fact that I will never be a size 2. I will never even be a size 6. I’m sure if I even got to a size 10 I would look super thin, just because I do have wide shoulders and hips and a bigger chest. But I want to be able to jog down the road and not be huffing and puffing.

And I want to stop having so many sizes to look through when I have ten minutes to get ready for work.

–AV

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As I’ve mentioned before on here, I contribute to an online magazine that my friend started about a year ago, and it focuses on feminist issues. This upcoming month’s issue is on the gender binary, and as usual, I did my quote and analysis piece. As I was talking about it, though, I realized that just the stuff popping into my head was a few pages’ worth of material, not just 300-ish words. I thought I would throw up a sneak-peak with my little piece (I just didn’t have the energy to take on an additional bigger piece this month), and if you want to see more great pieces and ideas, it’s called “The Feminist Observer” and can be found here: http://thefeministobserver.biglaunch.net/october-2013.html

“Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short and wear shirts and boots because it’s okay to be a boy; for girls it’s like promotion. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, according to you, because secretly you believe that being a girl is degrading.”
― Ian McEwan, The Cement Garden

Halloween is just past, which means you most likely at some point saw at least one guy dressed up like a girl—because that is just so hilarious. Why is it hilarious? Because it’s a guy dressed up like a girl. Haha? Somehow, though, a girl dressing up like a guy doesn’t usually elicit the same amount of laughter. A lot of that probably has to do with the fact that since the early to mid 1900’s, a lot of women already wore “men’s”clothing—pants, tee-shirt, maybe even topped off with a short haircut…but there really hasn’t been much of a movement for men to start wearing “women’s clothing” like dresses, skirts, and heels. I never really thought about why until reading this quote, and I think it’s pretty spot on: because secretly, deep down inside, there is still that overall mentality that women are inferior to men. Men shouldn’t look like women, because that would be degrading and lessening themselves. Women, however, can pass looking more like a man because they are trying to model themselves after someone thought to be superior. Let it be noted, though, that it is still not generally accepted for women to look too “masculine;” but I would argue that it’s more accepted than it is to see a “feminine” dressed man. A little girl wearing ripped jeans and work boots? Oh, that’s adorable, she’s like a “little working man.” A little boy wearing heels and a floral dress? That is usually met with concern that the boy will grow up to be gay or anger that the parent would allow the boy to do something so “ridiculous.” Fashion, dress codes, and acceptable attire is so ingrained in our heads from the time we were born that most people don’t even realize that it is a huge area of concern for sexism, discrimination, and strict gender roles.

That’s my piece. And as I writing it, I kept thinking…there’s so much idea and thought and deeply ingrained stereotypes and sexism and strict roles for genders put into clothing that I never *really* thought about. I don’t think a lot of people really think about it. Another example: That men can go into public shirtless and it’s no big deal. Women breast-feed with a blanket wrapped around them and a lot of people still freak out. Now, mind you, I wouldn’t go shirtless in public because I’m really self-conscious and insecure and all that good stuff. But…really, why can men can without shirts and it’s acceptable, even expected, but if women were to go shirtless, they would be called sluts, whores, and probably a lot of people would even go so far as to say something horrid like “she’s asking to get raped.” Men have nipples just like women, and I’ve seen men shirtless with bigger breasts than a lot of my female friends. What’s the difference? Why are women *so* *sexualized* and men conceived to be so animalistic that if women go shirtless, it’s expected that someone will rape her? Or that she’s a whore? I actually think the rule should be that no one can go shirtless in public, and that will solve that.

In fact, women would be called whores and sluts and would probably have to deal with sexual harrassment if they went into public in their bras. This idea I find even more absurd…because if you haven’t noticed, the bathing suits that are being produced and worn by young girls, teenagers, and mature women alike are usually smaller than the typical bra. But somehow, that’s okay if you’re swimming or sitting on a beach in it. I think this is worse than the discrepancy between men’s acceptable attire and women’s acceptable attire: discrepancies in just women’s attire alone. Women shouldn’t go out in public in their underwear–that’s being a slut. However, if you want to sit by a pool or be on a beach, you can wear clothing that is even smaller than your underwear and is usually designed to make you look even more sexual than your underwear would. Does this make the kind of the sense that doesn’t to you, also?

And then going with the sexualization theme…look at how men’s clothes are designed as compared to women’s clothing. I have been looking for longer shirts for me to wear to work, because I have to bend over and crouch down a lot, and I don’t like my shirts riding up over my jean waistline. Again, just because I’m a somewhat modest person. I want to be covered at work and in public. Do you know how hard it is to find longer “female” shirts? I eventually found some at Target and Walmart, but they aren’t the greatest of quality, and I want my stuff to last. I figure they aren’t the greatest of quality, because the most expensive one was $6.00. They’re nice, I just figure they will shrink or rip easily. Anyways, fashion goes in and out all of the time, and I think some of the longer fashions are coming back in or were in or something (the only time I really followed fashion was when I worked at White House Black Market), and the boyfriend cut tees have been cropping up here and there. Even still, I want *longer* shirts. Some of the new longer shirts are not like the ones when I was younger. Normal shirts are to your waistline now, so “longer” ones are maybe two inches longer now. I wanted a few that even went to the top or to the middle of my thighs. Know where I can usually find shirts like that? In the men’s section. And some people would be like…then just buy the men’s shirts if you’re so into breaking down gender stereotypes and roles. I have bought men’s shirts or unisex shirts, but even the unisex ones are designed more like men’s shirts, and they don’t tend to fit as well. I am definitely a curvier woman, with my waistline smaller than my chest or hips, and the men’s shirts are so straight up and down that they don’t fit me very well. So I do try to stick to women’s clothing for that reason.

But really, the list goes on and on and on. Shoes: women wear heels and wedges and things that make them taller and their legs look longer, and men wear boots and tennis shoes almost exclusively. on the flip side, women tend to have more freedom in what they wear, because, like I said in my above piece, they can dress “like men” now, but men can’t wear women’s clothing. If you start a new job or are going to school, you will most likely see a dress code at some point. Notice how much longer the women’s section is compared to the men’s, and that is usually just because women have so many more options than men…and with more options, they have more opportunities to wear quote-unquote inappropriate attire…which is mostly what designers are producing for women to wear.

It’s a vicious cycle.

Hair cuts? Short versus long. Not many men can carry off long wavy hair worn just down without getting some comments that they “look like a girl.” If women get super short hair cuts or buzz cuts…well, she “looks like a guy,” and when people say things like that, they don’t usually say them in a complimentary manner. And we’re all guilty of this stuff. I’ve said it before. But if anyone reads this, hopefully it will help to start some thoughts and ideas on how sexist and stereotypical clothing is. It’s not usually one of the big issues that come up with breaking down the sexist wall, but it actually is one of the biggest issues in a way. I think it’s so dangerous because most people don’t even think about it or realize when they think or say something about someone’s clothing that they are being sexist or discriminatory.

Food for thought at 6 AM Monday morning.
-AV

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