There’s so much more to this comic by Razzy, but this is the part which resonates with me. This is changing the conversation. Let’s respect each other and practice listening to what we say to each other. There’s no shame in that.
I found this guy, Rob Brezsny, on the internet, and signed up for his newsletter. Brezsny’s a subversive, trickster character. I’m ambivalent about both astrology and tricksters. Less so the latter because while I don’t like being screwed with (who does?), I can see value in what a trickster brings to the cosmic table.
Brezsny’s weekly newsletter has more than just horoscopes. Sometimes the thoughts in it just seem random, on the edge of making sense. It’s like looking for something out of the corner of my eye and not quite getting it.
But this week reinforced the idea that I’m where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to do. The universe hasn’t let me down yet, I don’t give up that easily.
Many people sincerely think that they will be called before God to account for themselves on Judgment Day. If you yourself have held that belief, you can stop worrying about it. The fact is, according to a survey of over 800 dissident bodhisattvas, urban witch doctors, sacred agents, and undercover geniuses, that you are called before “God” on “Judgment Day” on a regular basis.
Since you still exist, you have apparently passed every test so far. “God” obviously keeps finding you worthy. You shouldn’t get overconfident, of course. But maybe from now on you can assume that although there may be a world of pressure on you, that pressure is natural, merciful, and exactly what you need.
I love lists. Making them, marking things off, adopting others’ lists. When it comes to reading, I don’t go by a list, I go by what’s at the top of the stack. There’s a folder on my desk filled with book lists which I occasionally cross-check with my own reading. It’s interesting to me what books people think are important and how that intersects with what I read.
Mostly, what I’ve learned is that my reading is eclectic and doesn’t fit anyone’s norm but my own. I have a tendency to ignore what’s popping up on popular lists, even those which come highly regarded by people whose taste in books I trust and respect. This does not just apply to books either. Music, tv, movies; I take a step back and wait for the dust to settle. I find I’m not missing out on a whole lot anyway.
But back to the lists. Today I came across a link for Bill Gates’ book blog. Interesting, mostly because there are people in the public’s gaze whom I don’t think of as readers, if I think of them as other than their public front at all. Bill Gates is someone I have mixed feelings about, but they’re shallow feelings because I don’t pay that much attention.
Gates’ blog is interesting because there’s not a lot of crossover from his list to mine. Not that this is surprising, Gates built and ran a very successful software company, so his taste in books runs more toward the technical/business end of life. Mostly non-fiction on weighty topics like the global economy, biographies/memoirs by people like Timothy Geithner. It’s an interesting insight to Gates, and there are very few books on his list I’d be interested in reading.
Then there’s David Bowie’s Top 100 Books list, of which I’ve read 8 and have one queued up to read before the end of the year. It’s probably obvious why I would find more to like on Bowie’s list than on Gates’.
And, if there was any doubt in anyone’s mind that Marilyn Monroe was more than a sexy actress, there’s this list of 430 books in her library, compiled by an online fan club. From scanning the list, it seems Monroe’s reading was fed by what feeds mine; books I think I should have already read (which includes many classics like Dante and Milton) and books about subjects or people who fascinate me.
Monroe did her best to surround herself with smart people, especially men, so it’s not surprising there’s a number of books written by them (Clifford Odets, Henry Miller). And it would be a surprise to me if a lot of books on this list weren’t recommended by those men as a foundation to a good library.
All these lists beg the question, “What is the foundation of a good library?” Is it the Western Canon? 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die? (Full disclosure, I do have this list and use it to mark the intersection of my own reading and what other people think “should” be read. Again, a concept I’m not big on.)
Since I grew up in a family which loved to read, I was exposed to lots of authors and topics. Mom loved mysteries (Sherlock Holmes) and science fiction (Isaac Asimov). Dad’s reading was more eclectic and very often inappropriate for young readers. I read not only what was assigned in school, but what looked interesting in the library. When I reached college, there was more of what was required in class. Aside from that, my reading is probably 85% “oooh shiny” directed by what catches my eye at the moment.
Being unemployed and having little disposable income makes it easier to concentrate on what’s in my personal library. All 42+ boxes of it. Which is like opening gifts to myself all the time. It’s also like an archeological dig, as I sift through the layers of my life remembering when, and why, I picked these books. I know the deeper I go, the more diverse topics I’m going to find. The Hollywood/film student period. The John Grisham period (when I get to that box, they all go outta da house). The folklore period, etc. etc.
One thing’s for sure, as long as I have books, I’ll never be bored.
Jack Kerouac is the gateway drug to The Beats. It seems like everyone comes to them through On the Road. I loved it, and I bought works by these men who sought to change a generation with their new style of writing.
James Franco’s portrayal of Allen Ginsberg and his reading of “Howl,” in the movie turned me on to Ginsberg. And I fell in love. Now I read Howl and Other Poems (the first collection of Ginsberg poems ever published) at least once a year. This little book never leaves my desk. It never gets tossed in with the other books in my collection.
It’s difficult to explain how much Ginsberg means to me. He’s the first poet whose work I connected with. After years of struggling with what schools had told me were great poems and poets, here was this free-flow of words which hit me right in the gut. “This … this is what I’ve been looking for!” Now I can say I dig poetry. 🙂
The more I read about Allen Ginsberg, the more I wish I had known him. Yes, he was as screwed up as any of them (well, except for William S. Burroughs who was his very own special kind of screwed up). But it seems to me that Ginsberg sought to make himself better, to make those around him better, and was always trying new ways to expand his consciousness.
One biography I read stated in the Introduction that no matter what people felt about Ginsberg, they all universally thought of him and kind and gracious.
About a year ago, I had a dream where I was walking through a crowd of people and came across Ginsberg. He looked at me kindly, and I bowed with my hands together, “Namaste Mr. Ginsberg. I am proud to have met you.” He nodded and I moved on.
So today is one worth noting, not only for the introduction of Ginsberg’s poetry to the public, but for the profound changes he wrought on society through his views on civil rights and the obscenity trial in San Francisco over “Howl,” which changed the very definition of obscenity and censorship.
My friends are all feminists. All of them. Especially the men. And we often get into discussions about the pornification of society and the expectations that for women to be deemed worthy they must adhere to impossible standards of beauty.
One of the communities I used to be active in was science fiction/fantasy fandom. While the people who welcomed me were some of the most accepting people I’d ever encountered, and were willing to teach me the not-so-secret handshake, over the years I noticed the cliques, the gatekeeping (by males), and even more sexualization of women, especially in cosplay.
It’s so sad this happens and people make up excuses for why it’s acceptable, when it isn’t.
In 2012, Jim C. Hines and John Scalzi held a pose-off to raise money for charity. The object, male authors attempting to pose in the same positions in science fiction/fantasy cover art as women are drawn. Of course, they’re drawings, because those positions are impossible to hold by real, actual women.
Today, I came across this on io9: 10 Stupid Arguments People Use To Defend Comic Book Sexism. (I look forward to the day when links and titles to articles no longer have numbers in them. Why couldn’t this have been simply titled “Stupid Argument People Use …”?)
The conversation continues to be the about objectification. Reducing women to only their body, and judging them on the impossible standards of beauty as enforced by society. We feminists rail against this all the time. We don’t want the children of the world growing up to believe that the only worth a girl has is based only on her appearance.
We need to understand that every person we meet is a fully realized individual with talents and interests that don’t show on the surface. It isn’t about sex. It’s about sexualization, and objectification. And those are wrong.
How do we change the conversation? As always, we start with ourselves. When we see someone handsome/pretty, do we think of them as people? Do we wonder what stories they might have to tell? Or do we just think of them only as something shiny and bright that would look good in a picture on our walls?
Changing the conversation means we train ourselves and those around us, especially kids, to see people as people. To see women as people. Seeing women as people means accepting that not every body is the same, and that no matter how much you think they should do something (lose weight, stop wearing stripes, wear tighter/looser clothing, etc.) to look good to you, they are under no obligation to do so.
Every person on this planet has a story to tell that is more than just how their body looks. We all have interesting stories, and we need to be asking about those instead of judging people by their looks.
Where do men get the idea that saying those things to women is acceptable? When called on it, men have said, “I’m just sayin’/I was kidding/Can’t you take a joke?” to me.
Men, it is not a compliment to stare at a woman’s body (in my case, usually my breasts). It’s not nice to stare and whistle. It is especially not good form to say things to women on the street/in bars/etc. you would not want said to your sister/daughter/wife/girlfriend. Why do you think this is okay? Trust me, women don’t respond well to this behavior, and would never date some jerk who said such things to her.
Instead of complaining, which I am really good at, I am going to make a suggestion. It’s one many advocates for girls and women make. Let’s change the conversation. Instead of teaching us how to survive this bullshit, let’s teach men and boys that this behavior is not okay. Let’s teach them that girls and women are more than their bodies, more than their appearances, and do not owe a man anything just because he whistled at her.
We are not bitches/frigid/sluts/etc. because we choose not to engage with you. Most of the time, we are afraid and disgusted by you and do not understand why you won’t just let us be.
It’s really not that hard.