Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Wednesday Words of Wisdom: Giraffe Man!

You thought I forgot, huh?

Nope - I just fell asleep.

(With my clothes on, btw - including my bra - which made me think of this post by Kalinara. And mine isn't even lace.)

Most of what I've been reading this week has been comics - at work - which are rather difficult to share. So instead I give you this gem from Runaways #15:

I love Molly.

And Gertrude.

And Chase.

The rest of the cast isn't so bad either.

psst - Let me know if you can't read it or it takes too long to load. This picture posting business is new to me and I'm not sure how well everything shows up on other computers.

Cast Your Votes Now!

I was thinking about adding another type of book to my Summer Reading List to round things out - make it an even two books per week rather than 7 per month.

So, should I read and review:

1) a "grown-up" book? (since I'll be reading plenty anyway)

2) a "bad" book? (c'mon, you know you want to know what the Gossip Girls series is really like and which science book for kids you should never ever buy)

3) one of my favorite's? (because I'm sure you'll all dying to know why Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus is the best book for preschoolers ever - or what I think of The Hero and the Crown now that I'm an adult)

4) a "series" book? (there are so many books in both "Young Readers" and "Favorite Series" that I haven't read, it wouldn't be a bad idea to seperate the two)

5) a "baby" or "toddler" book? (I'm not quite sure there's much to say about many of these, but I should be able to find at least three titles worth discussing)

6) something else?

7) go ahead and go for 12 per month/3 per week? (reading that many should be easy - it's writing the reviews I promised that I'm not so sure about)

- feel free to suggest/request specific titles with your votes -

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I'm Feeling Very Paranoid

I was wasting time checking out my blog stats and I discovered that someone who lives in the same town as my sister is reading my blog...and I'm not sure if it's my sister or not.

My mom and sister accidentaly discovered that I have a blog when I first started it, but as far as I know they forgot all about it and have never read it. I have to figure out what browser she and my brother-in-law use - without, um, explaining why I want to know.

Update: Ok, now I'm really getting paranoid - my brother could be reading my blog as well - and all the stats match so there's no way of knowing without striaght up asking.

Because Sometimes Its so Easy You Don't Even Have to Work at It

A comment, left on this post by Cshiana about women, manga, and comics:

All I can speak to is females who enjoy comics:
Females who enjoy comics?
Finding one is rarer than finding a $5 hooker in Beverley Hills.
Gee, I can't imagine why you would have such a hard time finding "females" who enjoy comics.
Believe me, I've tried.
Sadly enough, I do believe you. In fact, I find it quite possible you've spent far too much time trying to find both. Which, as I already implied, may be part of the reason why you can't find the former.
Girls don't get the geek label as often as guys...
This has been my experience also. Us geek girls are usually either called flat out nerds - nothing as cool or sexy as geeks...

...or, more often, our geekiness is ignored by the world at large.
...cuz, no matter what, a female can always be hot no matter what she's doing.
Take a guy and dress him up as Frodo and he's a geek no matter what he looks like.
Take a girl and put her into one of those elf outfits with the shortpants and curly shoes and the male mind starts fantasizing.
Take a guy and dress him like a Klingon and you've got a a big, fat doof whose got no shot of getting laid.
Take a girl and dress her up as a Klingon and the male juices start flowing.
It all comes down to the natural reaction of human beings.
We see a male walking down the street naked and both men and women will start to laugh no matter how hot the guy is.
You see a hot female walking down the street and both men and women start to get aroused.
Simple psychology.
simple minds.....
The good news for online role-playing geeks is that SIMS and WoW have made this hobby no longer geeky. Can't be geeky if everyone does it.
Is that the corollary to "if everyone calls it a duck, then it must be a duck?"
Of the things you listed, I would order their geekyness like this: Most geeky to least geeky--D&D, Star Trek, Comic Books, Video Games.
Of all the arguments you've presented, I would order their idiocy like this: Most idiotic to least idiotic--men are never sexy, all women are lesbians, women are always sexy, male hobbits are always less sexy than female elves. Although, I must admit, its a damn close call.
So stay happy and get your Geek On!!!!
um, yeah


I dreamt this morning that I was about to fly back to the States from England (sigh - I miss traveling) and needed to find some chocolate for the flight. (Six hours without chocolate - unthinkable!)

I already had tons of chocolate - but it was all the really expensive good stuff that deserved much better than being wasted on a long flight. (I must say that while my dreamland kept acting unrealistically, I was acting pretty true to character in this particular dream. You should have seen the pile of chocolate I brought back with me from my year abroad.)

So...I set out scouring the large city - that was not actually any real city but rather a generic pseudo-London - for everyday chocolate. Since it was 4:30 in the morning, everything was closed - but I needed something soon, because I had to leave for the airport at 6:30. (I remember the the times quite specifically, probably because I had this dream after waking up at 6:30 and then falling back asleep.)

Oddly, (but typical for dreamland) the first stores that opened up were clothing stores. And I had to fight my way through the crowds rushing in in order to find my way into the Starbucks (huh?) that actually looked at lot more like the Market House at Disneyland than a Starbucks. I did, however, find my candy.

Then I woke up

Monday, May 22, 2006

Summer Reading Challenge

This sounds like a good idea.

(via Sassymonkey Reads)

I could always use more recommendations for customers, so I think I'll make my own goal a bit more specific. Rather than just any books, each month I will read:

1 Beginning Reader
1 Picture book
1 Chapter book
1 Young Reader novel
1 Teen novel
1 Graphic novel for kids
1 Non-fiction book for kids

(Since I'm doing this partly to expand list my of good books, each has to be by an author I haven't read before or a series I am not familiar with)

I will also write reviews for all of them (like I'd always meant to do). That will be a total of 21 books and 21 reviews in three months. That shouldn't be too hard. Which is good, because I'm sure I'll be reading lot's of "adult" books as well.

Speaking of "The Big Stuff"

One of my first thoughts in response to this was that the article just postively reeked of the assumptions that come with privilege - not just in terms of gender, but race and class as well.

The article starts to give lip service to recent news about our always abysmal infant mortality rate, but other than acknowledge the race gap, it doesn't really address the reasons why we fail so utterly at keeping our babies safe and healthy. The obvious and well known fact that a disturbingly large percentage of our citizens do not have access to any kind of medical care other than emergency services gets a mention, but racial discrimination does not - even though it affects not only the quality of care patients recieve, but even the research and knowledge that doctors have access to. Most of the article is about what women and doctors should do to address the problem, but there is very little recognition of the fact that their efforts are hampered by the realities of race and class - and the article includes absolutely no discussion of what we all can do to change this.

Several bloggers have already pointed out the Gilead aspects of the WaPo article. I think monkeycrackmary said it best:

This new 'women should consider themselves pre-pregnant' decree fails to speak to those of us who consider ourselves 'pre-eccentric-lady-with-all-the-cats'.
Over at Women of Color Blog, turtlebella points out that such guidelines also fail to speak to the many women (often women of color) who do not have access to basic medical care and information. The very same women who are at greatest risk of losing their infants. She left this comment on an extremely moving post about racism and motherhood by brownfemipower:
I've been reading...about...the new CDC recommendations for potentially pregnant women and I kept coming back to this post of yours, bfp....[Its] really only a "controversy" among the privileged (read, white?) who have access to information, health care, etc. to begin with. And women of color are punished for NOT having these things...
The WaPo article is really only relevant for upper and middle class women who plan to have children some day. The problem with the article is not that it is only relevant for this small group, but that it conflates this particular group of women with all women. By arguing that all women (of childbearing age) should take care of themselves simply for their unconceived children's sake (and not arguing the same for men) it reduces women to nothing more than baby-makers. By discussing preconception care as if it will somehow make a significant dent in our infant mortality stats, the article is acting as though working-class and non-white mothers do not exist - or are not important. By mentioning the race gap and widespread lack of health care, but not the underlying reasons for it, the article makes it easy for readers to shift the blame onto "those mothers" - so easy, in fact, that one has to wonder if that wasn't the author's intent.

The CDC's guidelines are very reasonable and good, but WaPo has presented them to us through a filter of privilege - distorting the original message and undermining their purpose.

Life is Not Binary

I find it extremely disappointing that one of the leaders of the progressive movement in the blogosphere has chosen to be so willfully shut off from a legitimate discussion about the use of a phrase that is offensive to many of his readers—and that, once again, addressing sexism in progressive blogging is being viewed as an either-or proposition. Either we can talk about Pat Roberts’ opinion of our civil liberties, or we can talk about sexism, but not both.
- from a recent post by Shakespeare's Sister, who spends a lot of time talking about both.

You know what, I'm sick of it too.

I'm sick of the idea that by talking about the little things we are somehow saying that the big ones aren't important. The fact is they both are.

I'm sick of the idea that by criticizing offensive language we are somehow automatically saying that the original argument is unimportant or has no merit.

I'm sick of the idea that complaining about certain pervasive portrayals of certain types of people is somehow arguing that one must never have individual characters of that particular type.

When legitimate complaints are brushed aside as not being "important shit" - or not being important enough shit - WE ARE NOT THE ONES WHO ARE STIFLING DEBATE. When you toss around words like "civil liberties" in order to defend your idiotic use of language that assumes different classes of people based on gender, race, sexual orientation, or the like, we are not the one's who can't "keep our eye on the ball."

This isn't about you and what the government is taking away from you. This is about us and what the government is taking away from us. You'd think a group of people that are concerned about the government interfering in the private lives of it's citizens would do their upmost to refrain from relying on the same stereotypes that are often used to justify such transgressions. Apparently not. You'd think people that spend most of their time talking about such transgressions would realize that the government is chipping away at our rights by going after the people on the fringes first. Apparently not. Apparently that's just too damn much to ask for.

Apparently, there are 10 kinds of people in this world....

...those who understand that binary is for computers, and those who don't.

You know maybe, just maybe if I didn't have to deal with even allies using my gender as an insult all the time, I'd read and blog more about the "big stuff." 'Cause maybe, just maybe, I'd believe that my "allies" actually give a shit about sex toys (but not porn) being banned or that women still make less than men for equal work and equal time. But when it's just too damn much trouble for them to even bother to refrain from using me as an insult, I rather doubt they actually care beyond giving it lip service for political gain. When I can't even get them to use respectful language, why should I have any faith that I can get them to do jack shit about all the women whose pharmacists refuse to fill their birth control prescription?

I know I still need to try - I'm just saying that's what I'm doing. I have to factor in not only what is more "important" but what I think I can actually have an affect on. If I can't even convince certain people that being respectful of others is important, I don't see how I'm going to be able to get them to care about things that don't directly affect them. If I can't even convince parents that their infant does not need a "boy" or a "girl" book, I don't see how I'm going to get them to stop acting as if their teen boys are independent minded sex fiends and their teen girls are social butterflies who have no sexual desires of their own. And if I can't do that, how am I supposed to change anyone's minds about "date rape" or abortion rights?

I do think that we have to approach it from both directions. But that's just it, we need to approach it from both directions.


So, somebody put together a script of MST3K doing Serenity. It's funny. Too, too funny.

An excerpt, for lost clown and other fellow Numb3rs fans:

MR. UNIVERSE:  Oh Mal, you're very smart.
TOM:  (as Mr. Universe) Could you do my taxes? I’m not good at math.

(via Whedonesque)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Friday, May 19, 2006

It's All Your Fault

This past couple weeks, I've spent the bulk of my time on the web reading and writing about comics, I've gone into comic book stores on four seperate occasions - probably doubling my the number of times I've ever been in one - I stayed at work for an hour after I clocked out in order to finish reading reading a comic book (the only other time I've ever done that for was Scott Westerfeld's Uglies) and I've spent far too much money (that I don't have) on comic books.

I just want to say that it's all your fault. Completely and totally your fault. I used to be perfectly contect reading just manga and the occasional compilation in the graphic novel section - no longer. So, I repeat: it's all your fault.

Just sayin'.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


My section is getting completely changed around in the next month or so.

(ok, well, not completely)

We are supposed to add a New Release bay to Young Readers. Audio is moving all the way across the room. Dr. Seuss is losing it's bay and getting a huge freestanding fixture that is going who knows where. Workbooks are merging with education (which means I don't have to deal with them anymore - woohoo!). And Teen fiction is losing space (yeah, that's going to work) which I'm insanely pissed about and plan to fight them tooth and nail on.

(See those non-workbook education bays? See that section in trade right across from education that you always complain is half empty? Move them there and leave my teen section alone. It accounts for at least 1% of the total store sales and summer is coming. I can't afford to lose any space right now. Seriously people, if you feel like I have enough room to spare that you're going to make me give Libros para Ninos two bays - even though most months the total revenue for that section is freakin' $0 - you can give me more than a few bays of regular teen fiction, which brings in around $3,000 a week.)

Oh, and kids is getting it's own manga section! yay! Now I have a simple answer to give people when they ask where the graphic novels for little kids (not teens) are. I like things that make my life easier and mean more fun stuff.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wednesday Words of Wisdom: Free David!

There is no nice way to say this: a museum curator who takes this attitude to the exhibits in her charge is a traitor to history, to heritage, and to science. The point of a museum is to spread culture, not restrict it in order to run a penny-ante postcard racket. A museum curator should not accept an unphotographable exhibit of historic interest any more than she should accept an exhibit that comes with the condition that patrons who wish to see it must swear a loyalty oath, view a propaganda film, stand on one foot, or accept any other abridgement of their personal and cognitive liberty.

from the essay Traitors to History by Cory Doctorow

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

If I Ruled the Bookstore

One of these days I'm going to switch around the "boys" and "girls" merchandising displays so that the one titled "Fairies" is full of Peter Pan and Tolkein and the "Superheroes" wall is made up of mostly Wonder Woman comics and Spider-Girl manga.

Dear Customers,

Please try not to break the spines of paperback books before you buy them.

If you simply cannot refrain from doing this, please do it someplace other than directly in front of me while you are asking for my help.



Graphic Interpretations

So, I was trolling online scrapbooks supply stores to get ideas for the blog redesign I want to do, and I stumbled across a line of scrapbook papers inspired by famous authors. How cool is that? It's appropriately called "The Bookshelf" and it's made by American Crafts.

I don't quite get some of them, but I must say Asimov, Alcott, and Cleary are spot on.

(sigh) I miss scrapbooking...but it's a damn expensive hobby.

Monday, May 15, 2006


monkeycrackmary recently requested fans' wish lists for female comic books characters. (hat tip to Ragnell)

I'm still new enough to comics, especially super-hero comics, that I'm a little hesitant to add anything. I emphatically second everything already posted, however, most especially:

"I want the creators of comic books to put themselves in the place of female characters instead of in the place of someone looking at female characters....It's not about the characters being sexy. It's about every other element of the story taking a dive so that the characters can be sexy."

- mildredmilton

"I want characters whose identity cannot be summed up in their bra size."

- storyjunkie

"I want my adolescent power fantasy, same as the boys do. I don't want the female character to be firking "Rescued" all the time."

- Ragnell

"I'd like logical costumes; not everyone's fond of the turtleneck, but can we have a middle ground between 'neck to ankles armor' and 'battle thong'?"

- sollie7

"Don't make all of your female characters look exactly alike except for coloring...More than one female character in a comic is good! Having them actually interact with each other in a way that makes sense for their personality is even better!"

- grey_bard

May television and movie creators take note as well - some may not need the advice, but plenty do.

Monday Rant

Let me explain something about objectification: it isn't about who is the bigger victim- women or any myriad of other "lesser" peoples. Anyone who reads the same rants I've read about objectification and comes to that conclusion is missing the point.

It's about the difference between being treated as an object for someone else's use and being treated as sub-human. The two can overlap, but they aren't the same thing. Slaves and fuck-toys are objects. The nerd being picked on is usually just subhuman.

Physical appearance can be a signifier of being a slave object or certain type of subhuman. Apparent physiology, however, is the essence of being a fuck-toy. Thus picking on someone for looking like a nerd is not the same as objectifying someone sexually. The former may actually be worse than the latter in certain instances but it isn't the same thing. This difference isn't important so that we can figure out who gets the biggest violin, it's so that we can discuss the ways in which people are treated as sub-human intelligently and productively.

In order to fight prejudices effectively we need to remember that the nerd is mainly ridiculed because of his non-physical characteristics. Yes, we create physical stereotypes as a shorthand for identifying and punishing infractions, but the infractions revolve around things that the nerd is capable - or not capable of: strength and intellect being the main characterisitics in question. The point of treating someone as a fuck-toy, on the other hand, is to say that such characteristics don't matter. One can be strong or not, intelligent or not (although "not" is preferred) - the most important thing is being fuckable.

The distinctions are important not because one is always worse than the other, but because fighting attitudes about geekery generally boils down to championing individuality and intelligent thought and rejecting the idea that might is always right. Fighting objectification cannot be done the same way, however, since one can be both strong and intelligent - and a fuck-toy. Instead, fighting objectification is about humanizing what is being objectified in a more general sense, whether it's a slave or a fuck-toy.

Arguing that physical appearance is not the essence of a person is important in combatting both, and that is where most people get confused.

Getting unasked for comments on one's body is being objectified.

Getting picked on for wearing glasses is not (usually, anyway). Kids don't pick on other kids who wear glasses because the glasses make them look ugly, they pick on kids with glasses because they are different. The fact that they look different is not the important part, simply being different is.

Many physical characteristics fall into a gray area where the difference between being objectified and ridiculed depends on the situation. A large person (man or woman) who gets random "fat" comments on the street is being objectified. A teen who is ridiculed similarly at school may or may not be - it depends on his or her relationship to the person making the comments and why such comments are being made. If it's soley because being over a certain size makes one 'ugly", then it's objectification. If the target is ridiculed about a lot of things - such as wearing glasses or liking comics - simple "otherness" is usually the meaning of the taunts, not objectification.

Of course, sometimes it's both, and often it's hard to tell.

Having been both objectified because I have large breasts and ridiculed for being a nerd quite often throughout high school, I can say with a decent amount of certainty that while the lines were often blurred, there was usually a distinctly different flavor to the two. The most extreme examples of objectification were actually a lot more likely to come from either strangers' - people driving past as I walk down the street, or people I knew intimately, but whose actions would be hidden from public view. In such cases it would often be about something that I had no control over. When it was people I knew casually, it would often be more subtle. Often they were things I had some control, but not complete control over. As far as I can tell, the reason for this is that interacting with people makes it less likely that one can see them only as an object, but that being intimately involved with someone gives people, men and boys especially, a sense of ownership.

All kinds of "friends" would make fun of me for being a nerd, however, while strangers mainly stayed silent. For the most part, this was usually because classmates and friends had more ammunition, since one's nerd status relies on differentness in general, not appearance in particular. Such taunts were more likely to be centered around characteristics and actions that society assumes I have the power to either change or at least hide.

Since gender stereotypes make physical strength the important part of being male, I can see how many men would get confused as to the difference between being punished for breaking gender taboos and being objectified. That doesn't mean that they are excused from figuring this out, however. If they want to know the difference, all they have to do is ponder why my co-workers think it's perfectly normal to talk glowingly about porn for straight men, while they ridicule porn for gay men and straight women. If geek boys were really being objectified on a regular basis, the idea that someone would like to look at men simply because they have a certain physiology wouldn't be such an affront to my (often geeky) co-workers sensibilities.

Fanboys who can respond to cries of female objectification with "but Superman's chest!" don't understand objectifiation at all - neither theirs nor anyone elses. After all, if geeks understand objectification because they get picked on so much, why no mention of Clark Kent's glasses or Peter Parker's slender build? The physical appearance of most male superheros are drawn primarily to proclaim their role as protector. The physical attributes of most female superheros are strongly affected by what is deemed "fuckable." Both rely on gender stereotypes, but one reduces characters to how their body can be used by others, the other simply uses physical attributes to communicate information about a character's place in society. That is the difference between objectification and simply being judged based on physical appearance.

We Know Why You Watch Lost

I've mentioned before that I am quite fond of teen books for girls because they don't shy away from the fact that women like to look at men. It's odd, really, that it's so well understood that teen girls like to look at teen boys, and yet, one of the common counter-arguments that comes up when discussing women's prevasive objectification is that women don't find pictures of men arousing. The mental gymnastics and willfull blindless it must take to keep both of these "facts" in one's head at the same time is simply mind-boggling. (Especially when one adds in the well known "fact" that when women love action movies it's because the guys are hot.)

The way that teen girls interest in the opposite sex is portrayed helps with the mental gynamstics, however. One watches boys, but men look at women. Even when subjected to the female gaze, teen boys are portrayed as being active. When teen girls aren't watching boys, that are boy-gazing staring at them dreamily as one would look at a beautiful sunset or a starry night. The idea of lust is pushed as far to the sidelines as possible, despite the obvious truth that it is the central reason for the "watching" and "gazing."

I adore teen books like Twilight and Tithe, and yes even The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, because they neither pretend that emotions and personalities aren't a big part of sexual attraction nor deny that girls are just as vulnerable to plain old lust as boys are. For the most part though, such honest depictions are limited to teen books and magazines where such content may be kept safely in the teen section - and ouside of the mainstream.

Which is why I love The N's ads for Summerland. The gist of all the ads are "Summerland = Jessie McCartney, so watch Summerland on The N." The absolute best one shows a few minutes of a particular episode - pared down into less than one because all the parts without Jessie are fast forwarded through. One particular scene where his shirt is off is rewound then replayed. The voice over says something like "We know why you love Summerland. Watch Summerland on The N blah blah blah."

I seriously could not stop laughing the first time I saw it.

Yes, the ads are still restricted to non-mainstream TV, but they are on TV and they don't try to pretend that lust isn't the motivating factor. I mean, we all know girls and women will be "swooning" over Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp in Pirates this summer, but the trailers and print ads aren't going to focus on that. Chances are they won't even mention it - unlike the marketing for Serenity, Aeon Flux, Resident Evil or just about any other action movie with a woman in a lead role.

If only we could have more ads like this for adult women, maybe more people would understand the difference between "sexy," "objectified," and "demeaning."

Bottle Rockets, Bookbinding, and Electric Cars: Oh My!

I'm, like, a year late, but I'd like to announce that the coolest magazine ever is Make. I so want a subscription, but that's not happening anytime soon, so I'll have to make do with the official blog and strips from work instead.

Manga Chapter Books Arriving in Stores Fall 2006

Super cool!

You have no idea how many times I get requests for kid (not teen) friendly graphic novels. Unfortunately, once they've gone through Bone, I don't have much to offer other than the crappy cine-manga titles or a helping hand in finding kid-friendly super-hero comics in the adult section. Looks like that will be changing soon - Hurray!

(via The Beat at Comicon)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Brave New World

Talk about reaching the tipping point - Del Rey is publishing a new Shannara novel - in comic form.

And best, best, best of all - it will feature Brin and Jair.

Graphic novels featuring Anita Blake, Kinley MacGregor story, and my two favorite characters from the series I positively devoured in middle school? Someone likes me. They really, really, like me.


It scares me how excited I am about this:

Kinley MacGregor to adapt the first five novels in her highly anticipated fantasy and romance series, LORDS OF AVALON....SWORD OF DARKNESS will be produced as a monthly 22-page comic starting this fall, with a script expertly penned by Roynne Gillespie (THE BURNING MAN) and illustrations by an artist soon to be announced. A graphic novel edition should be available in bookstores by Spring ’07.
On the surface, it looks like it's just feeding into stereotypes - like the Harlequin series recently published by Dark Horse. The article's gives us an overly simplistic description of what "guys" and women want as the justification for the deal: women want romance and depth, and men want just the gore.

I think that Kinley MacGregor's books will translate very well into comic books - in part because they generally involve a decent amount of violence as well as romance. The mix of these two is what makes her books so popular, and I don't doubt that there is a huge potential audience for comic books like this. Really, I'm excited because I think it has the potential to be a fun read and because, more than anything I've seen so far, it has the potential to blast away some of the stereotypes that the article relies on - for both men and women. Which is needed if we are to continue the push for graphic novels to be defined as a medium that has a variety of genres within it, rather than a medium that is practically synonymous with one specific genre because it's (supposedly) dominated by a homogeneous audience. I like superhero stories, but I think all comic books will benefit from comics being seen as a medium rather than a genre.

My WOW craft playing, Romance junkie co-worker is going to flip when I tell her. And how did I miss that The Anita Blake series is coming out in comic book form as well? Talk about an idea that's long overdue. Although (snort) I do wonder how far they plan on going and what they plan on including. I'd love to see certain scenes rendered by a competent artist - but many of them would make the comic "adult only" at the very least. They'll make debates about what constitutes objectification in comics a hell of a lot more interesting, though.

(via When Fangirls Attack)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Wednesday Words of Wisdom: Retail

" all true booksellers, she felt incomplete outside of a community of book lovers. Tedious day-to-day work is a small price to pay for the joy of matching a book with its ideal reader; slender profits don't matter when readers hurry back to tell you how much they loved your recommendations."

from The Bookseller's Daughter by Pam Rosenthal

Monday, May 08, 2006

Why Feminism? (Part 13)

Rape is a Weapon

The feminism I found in college gave me strength, confidence and courage. It started to reassure me that I was not crazy, and teach me that my experiences were part of something larger.

However, it is the more radical feminism that I've found in the blogosphere over the past few years that has helped me really put the pieces altogether.

When Twisty writes about soft porn images of pre-teen girls, and people's justification for it, I'm not only reminded that I was not being paranoid after all, I begin to understand a bit more about why everyone else around me reacted the way they did. Only in a society in which female=sex could people react to my pain and the injustice being done to these girls in the way that far too many people do.

When commenters at Pandagon discuss rape, and argue over whether rapists are always consciously out to hurt their victims or not, and whether radical feminism hinges on understanding the motivations of the attacker, having empathy for the victim, or both, the light bulb goes off in my head. The idea that I was wronged twice, first by my brother, and then by my parents for not understanding that all this was something done to me - not just something that he did - becomes that much clearer. Understanding the usual motivations for these kinds of crimes also makes his anger at me afterwards make so much more sense.

When women post pictures and stories at HollabackNYC, I know I'm not a crazy bitch for never believing that catcalls are complimentary. I know I'm not crazy for automatically knowing that invading my privacy in order to stare at my naked body is the single most insulting thing my brother has ever done to me. And that the whole question of possible incest is the least of what was wrong about what he did. Which makes it that much easier to see though Volokh's (and other's) bullshit.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

No Screaming Allowed

From an article on the myth of false rape allegations (via Trish Wilson):

But 'unfounded' does not mean lying. Let's see what is means: 200 of the 250 were simple administrative errors. They should never have been called rapes in the first place; for example, a woman phones the station and yells rape. The police car goes out and there's no one home. The next day a detective goes to follow the incident up and the woman says "Oh yes, my boyfriend and I had a fight last night and I yelled "rape"." Why did you yell rape? "Because if I had yelled disorderly conduct, nobody is going to come, but if I yell rape I know damn sure that a cop is going to come in a hurry." That kind of thing is not a false rape charge, but a mild inconvenience to the police.
My sophmore year of college my friends and I took a self-defense class as part of our PE requirement. (Yes, I had a PE requirement in college. It makes more sense than it first appears to.) During our training, our awesomely frightening, petite, female instructor informed us that if we were attacked, we should not only yell - rather than scream - but that we should yell "Rape!" as much as possible rather than just "No!" and "Stop!" and never just "Help!" The yelling was because it sets up a better breathing pattern for fighting back than a scream would - the yells were supposed to serve the same function that the "hi-ya!"s in martial arts do. We were to yell "Rape!" however, because was more likely to bring people running than a simple "No!" or "Stop!" would.

I'm all out of deep thoughts an insights at the moment, but I would like to note that this is a wonderfully vicious cycle: women are taught (both explicitly and by experience) that their pain only matters if it's titilating to others, we consequently learn to use this to make our pain visible to others, the public then turns around and uses this as "proof" that we lie and that we aren't really in pain at all.

But, But....I Was Only Rubbing Your Arm!

Apparently some people are unsure about why one needs permission to touch my breast but not my arm. (hat tip to Pandagon)

Needless, to say, I don't understand why this is so terribly difficult for people to understand.

Maybe it will help these idiots if they realize that the two situations aren't always different, and that, yes, you can get in trouble for simply touching non-sexual parts of my body as well.

For example, I've noticed that guys (even those I barely know) feel perfectly free to put their hand on my back and "guide" me when I'm in their way in a crowded space and they are asking me to move.

Quite frankly, I find this even more offensive than the idiots who order me to smile if I don't happen to be walking around with a silly grin on my face at that exact moment. Even more than that - if it's co-workers that are doing this (and at times it is) it's definitely grounds for a sexual harrassment complaint, even in the absense of my asking them not to (no matter what the stupid policy says about my having to tell them the behavior is wrong first).

Why? Because they'd never think of doing that to their male co-workers, and they never do it to their male co-workers. It's the kind of gesture that you'd make to children, and it's insulting right off the bat. They shouldn't need this to be explained to them. Likewise, letting their hand rest on my shoulder could be considered sexual harrassment (irregardless of if I've complained before) depending on the manner of doing so and who they do (and don't do) it to. Why are these acts considered sexual harrassment? Because it's understood that even if the acts aren't explicitly sexual, they all stem from the attitude that women's bodies exist for men's use. With these gestures, my co-workers are saying that they have as much a right to "handle" me as I have when dealing with a two year-old who is wandering around the store by his or herself. The law, however, says that I have rights and responsibilities the two-year old does not have.

Switching back to sexual touching, one needs to ask permission for sex, but not to address someone or walk by them on the street. Thus, a tap on the shoulder and an accidental bump are not illegal, but touching that mimics or is normally considered a prelude to sex is illegal without permission. Like assault itself, it all has to to with the physical boundaries that we consider inalienable rights. If I can't kill you because I don't have the right to take your life, then I don't have the right to harm your body either. If I can't rape you because I don't have the right to make decisions about your body for you, then I can't touch you in a sexual way without your permission for the same reason. My arousal (or lack therof) is as irrelevant as your arousal (or lack therof).

There now, really, was that so difficult?

Well, apparently so, since Volokh thinks that can't really be the reason because we wouldn't punish someone who forced hugs on another person - despite their protests - as harshly as someone who touches another person sexually without their permission. Which is complete bullshit because most sexual harrassment policies do state that such scenarious are equal. In fact, most sexual harrrassment policies consider the former to be worse than the latter as long as the unwanted sexual touching is minor enough and an isolated incident. Yes, we are generally more pissed about an actual grab than a brush of the hand, and more pissed about unwanted touching of one's genitals than unwanted touching of one's breast. However, we're generally more pissed about murder than assault, and generally more pissed about beating someone up than a single punch, so, again, not getting the confusion here.

As for the other question someone brought up - why its's a separate category from simple assault - for the same damn reason fraud is different than theft - because they are different crimes and it doesn't make sense to pretend they are the same. It doesn't make sense in terms of sentencing and rehabilitation, it doesn't make sense in terms of writing laws to define what is a crime and what isn't.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Wednesday Words of Wisdom: The Trial Run

Ok, so we've got Friday Cat Blogging, Friday Random Ten, Sunday Garden Blogging, Sunday Battleship Blogging, Monday Baby Blogging and even sporadic Thursday "Left Behind" Blogging.

So, I thought last night, when I ran across an especially quote worthy passage in the short story I was reading, why not Wednesday Words of Wisdom? I can't promise that they will always be wise or even that they will always be posted on Wednesday, but I'm fairly certain that they will all contain words.

So, without further ado, here is your first Wednesday Words of Wisdom:

"Sylvester...claimed the sibling territory midway between Sarah, seventeen, and Jenny, thirteen. It was a lot of leeway, those four years between child and adult, and he roamed obnoxiously in it, scattering his thoughts at will for no other reason than that he was allowed to have them."

- from Jack O'Lantern by Patricia McKillip

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books


(I did mention how much of a complete nerd I am, right?)

I manged to get into talk on teen books as well as the "conversation between" Sara Vowell and David Rakoff. Sara Vowell and David Rakoff were hilarious. So was Mike Lupica. Michelle Serros had some very interesting things to say.

I also spent way too much money buying cds of some of the Saturday sessions that I missed.

I plan to write more about the talks but, unfortunately, my notes are nearly illegible - even to me. (Yes, I took notes. Did you think I was kidding about being a complete nerd?) Once I decipher my own shorthand, I'll try to write something about the talks, even though I'm sure I won't do any of the speakers justice.

Quote of the Day

"Jr. High...exists so that when you finally read Dante's Inferno, you can nod in recognition."

Libba Bray (stolen from one of her recent live journal entries)

(which reminds me that I need to shortlist A Great and Terrible Beauty again. Why? Because the stupid company I work for refuses to model the title at anything higher than zero even though we always sell at least one copy a month whenever we actually have it in stock. )

FYI - I think there is something seriously wrong with me because the knowledge that John Green, Libba Bray, Holly Black, Justine Larbalestier, David Levithan, Rachel Cohn and "thousands" of other* awesome teen fiction authors get together and have drinks every so often fills me with a feeling that ought to be reserved for thirteen-year-olds who learn that their two most favorite bands ever love to get together for jam sessions.

*A certain author's whose first name starts with S and last name starts with W is absent from this list not because he does not attend, but because I am not happy with him at the moment. We got Specials in today, and it was in hardback. I can't afford to buy the hardback at my slightly above minimum wage salary (especially after splurging on stuff at the festival this weekend), and since I already have a book checked out from work at the moment, I couldn't check Specials out. So, I spent the entire day trying not to think about it. It didn't work very well. Since I can't give him the silent treatment by not speaking to him, I'm not speaking about him instead.