owlectomy: A squashed panda sewing a squashed panda (Default)
In one of my cursory blog-checks over the past few rushed days, I noticed that Bitch Magazine had published a list of 100 feminist YA books. Now, it seems, they have amended the list, removing Sisters Red, Living Dead Girl, and Tender Morsels because all three books dealt with sexual assault in ways that could be triggering or otherwise problematic.

...In response to which, various YA authors -- including Scott Westerfeld, Justine Larbalestier, Maureen Johnson, and Ellen Klages -- protested their own inclusion on the list.

I've read critiques of all three books and I think they're reasonable. The only one I've actually read is Tender Morsels, and that is a book that I will clutch to my heart and defend against anyone -- while also acknowledging that it has a lot of rape in it, and that not all of it is portrayed in a way that I would sanction as Okay, that I would hedge myself very carefully when recommending it.

I'm okay in principle with Bitch vetting their book list for ideological purity, but if that's what they're doing they need to take a look at half a dozen examples of dodgy race stuff in the other books on the list, and other issues of unexamined privilege. If that's what they're doing, they're going to have a hard time making it to 100 books. Heck, I love Laurie Halse Anderson but for my own peace of mind I will probably never read Wintergirls.

I am trying to find the words for what I want to say that don't privilege stories over the people who are hurt by those stories. That may be impossible.

A list of 100 feminist books ought to pay attention to the diversity of women's experiences and the diversity of feminisms. To me, that means that it can't shy away from anger and sharp edges and the process of turning over parts of yourself and finding something awful inside. I want a book on that list that is as gracefully empowering as Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, but I also want a book as sharply edged as Tender Morsels.

And I don't want that to come at the expense of readers who may be triggered -- but again, I may just be at an impasse there.
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owlectomy: A young silver-haired man knitting with lime green yarn. (knitting)
I do not want to talk about being mad about the election.

I will talk about being mad about knitting!

(Non-mad note: I stayed home sick from work today and made a substantial amount of progress on a cabled sweater. I learned how to fix an improperly crossed cable several rows down, which impresses me very much! I have always been the type to launch myself into projects without being scared of whether I had the skills to complete them -- except for sweaters; they're just too expensive to screw up -- but I have to admit my skills are getting pretty decent there.)

The book that has aroused my ire is Knits Men Want. It is a book of patterns that are supposed to avoid the things that men dislike in knitted gifts: bright colors, gaudy colorwork, lacy stitch patterns, and so on and so forth. Okay, even if I mind the gendered slant, I can admit that there are a lot of people who prefer plainer patterns, myself included. I am knitting a plainish gray sweater now, albeit one with some super-fancy cabling on the sleeves. However.

It's kinda the whole subtext of my book, Knits Men Want. Even if you find it boring to knit, so plain, so monochromatic, if he wants it, knit it anyway.


So, like, it's not enough that I'm hypothetically going to spend weeks and weeks knitting Hypothetical Man socks for his hypothetical large-size feet (and I know how long it takes to knit socks for big feet!) -- I also have to make sure it's the right color and the right kind of pattern, even if that means I spend weeks knitting plain brown or navy socks? I'm not asking Hypothetical Guy to suck it up and wear pink-and-yellow lacy socks, but if he's going to be that picky... he can maybe buy his own socks? Or, heaven forfend, knit his own socks?

I'm all for taking into account people's own likes and dislikes and allergies, and not imposing your own idea that someone would look adorable in a reindeer sweater on someone who doesn't want to wear a reindeer sweater. But for the amount of time invested that a knitted gift represents, I feel like it's just another way of devaluing women's labor to say that the ultimate arbiter of its value is the man who hates the reindeer sweather, rather than the woman who spent so many weeks making it.

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owlectomy

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