Friday, February 26, 2010

Sometimes People Really Piss Me Off

Today's rant comes courtesy of: I am a feminist who not only refuses to apologize for her status, but furthermore, refuses to feel bad about it because people are too stupid to find out the actual definition of a word before denigrating it.

What is a feminist? Is she necessarily someone who hates all men? No. Is she a lesbian? Possibly. (I'm not.) Does she burn her bras? According to this article, women never actually did that. But it's possible.

In my opinion, a feminist is someone who thinks that men and women are equals. On an individual level, sure, men and women are different. Then again, on an individual level, two women are different. That's the thing about people. We've all got our strengths and weaknesses. Overall, however, I think I deserve the same amount of respect as a man.

I am appalled when someone begins talking badly about "feminists" in these broad terms, and obviously has no idea that there is a positive side to feminism. It happens all of the time. It happened the other night in a phone conversation I was having with a white male I happen to know.

Now, during the course of this conversation, this male said he was "sick of being blamed for everything because he's white and a guy." He said that, sure, his ancestors HAD had power for the majority of history and they'd done some pretty shitty things with that power, but then went on, "but that's not me! I, PERSONALLY, didn't do those horrible things. So why am I being blamed?"

Here's the thing. History matters.

I'm not just saying this because I was basically a history major in college. I'm saying it because it's true.

There's that oft-quoted saying: "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it." Yet I think history's importance encompasses more than learning from the mistakes of others. Our history is an essential component of ourselves.

Even if you don't care about history, it affects you. Your ancestors passed down their conception of life along with genes. You not only get your physical appearance from these people whom you've never met, your views are affected by the views of your parents, which were in turn affected by the views of their parents, which were in turn affected by the views of their parents, and so on and so forth.

So if your ancestors were slave owners, just because you know they were wrong doesn't mean we should all just forget about it.

Families share everything. Everything includes history.

If you're white and male you've got a shitload of history backing you up to give you all of these privileges. Because white males have been primarily in power for a long time. Along with these privileges comes the guilt. Because white males have been in power by treating females and minorities like shit for a long time.

Deal with it.

Do not act like I'm odd or crazy or stupid because I'm a feminist. As a feminist, as someone who thinks males and females are equals, and should be treated as such, I am someone who is going against the grain of tradition that humans have worn away over time.

I wish everyone was a feminist. Sadly, they are not. If you're reading this, and you didn't previously consider yourself a feminist, I hope you reconsider.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Differing Perspectives

"The Box," the movie with Cameron Diaz and James Marsden, came out on DVD Tuesday. One of the perks to working at a video store is that you get to watch the movies a little early, so that you can tell inquiring minds/customers your opinion of the new releases.

So there's this female I work with - for the sake of anonymity, we'll call her Napkin. So Napkin watched "The Box" before many of the other employees, and had a little rant about the movie. "They didn't explain anything!" Napkin cried.

I found this surprising, because, if you've seen the trailer, it's quite clear that "The Box" is one of those thrillers with an intricate plot that is supposed to have at least most of the plot lines tied up before the movie ends. "They didn't explain anything?" I asked.
"They didn't explain anything!" Napkin repeated. "At the end of the movie, it's completely unclear what's going on!"

Not that I don't trust Napkin or anything, but I decided to watch the movie anyway.

I was then perplexed.

You see, dear reader, whom I choose to address in the second person though you're probably nonexistent, I thought that pretty much everything was explained, and that furthermore, much was insinuated. I felt a sense of completion at the end of the movie.

This differing of perspectives got me thinking about explanation in writing.

In the movie which I've been using as an example, I feel that the screenwriter showed us the dots, connected most of the lines, and left the filling in of the picture to the reader's intelligence. Not to say that Napkin isn't intelligent, for she is.

It seems to me, however, that Napkin wants everything explained to her. In detail. Whereas I find too much detail excruciating and boring.

As someone who writes (though not as much as she should be, lately), I'm not going to lie - I mostly write for myself. Don't get me wrong, I want other people to like my writing, too. I want to write something I know I am proud of first, though. Then I get too lazy to revise, so, you know, stuff stays the way I wrote it, and people probably think I'm crazy.

Yet I digress. As a writer, I don't want to confuse my readers. But I also don't want to spell everything out for them, and treat them like idiots.

So how much explanation is TOO MUCH explanation? And how do we know when we're giving too little explanation? I realize the obvious answer is to have someone else read your work. It seems to me, however, that opinions on this question can be too varying. For example, my dear, respected co-worker Napkin and I both like each other, but we're on opposite ends of the spectrum.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Benjamin Pratt Book Review

I received an ARC of We the Children, the first book in the Benjamin Pratt & the Keepers of the School book series. These books are written by Andrew Clements, and illustrated by Adam Stower.

Aimed at the age group from 7-10 years old, this book is a quick read. The plot is sort of ridiculous, but fun, and character development is started, but doesn't feel fully fleshed out. Yet. It is clear that the series will need to be read as a whole for completion of the story. This book begins the tale, but feels mostly like exposition. It's setting the scene, giving the necessary background information for the story arc to follow.

To be fair, I don't tend to read books intended for this age group, anymore. At the same time, I wouldn't recommend reading this book yet, because I feel that a book should be more well-rounded on its' own. I might be willing to recommend the book series as a whole, but it's not finished, so I can't really say yet.

I would say this first book is interesting, and I'm curious as to what will happen next. It's a Simon & Schuster book that comes out in April of this year. If you think this book might be for you or someone you know, click the picture above for more information.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My Con, Entered in Holly Black's ARC Contest

I was about eleven or twelve, and I shared a room with my sister, who is six years younger than I am. I am the oldest sibling; my sister is the youngest sibling - we never talked; everything was a quarrel.

One of our recurring fights had to do with keeping our room clean. I, being the older, was blamed if the room didn't meet my parents' standards, which meant that I often had to clean up after my sister, as well. I got tired of my sister's clothes and toys being on the floor pretty quickly.

So one day, my mother went out to run some errands, telling us that our room better be clean by the time she returned home. My sister proceeded to sit down on the floor and watch me clean. I picked up my clothes, yelling at her to do the same; I picked up my books, yelling at her to do the same; she sat in her position on the floor and said: "I am!," though she clearly wasn't.

The year before I had read "Little Women," and I remembered Beth's death scene well. So I put on my "sick voice," you know, the one you use to get out of school but your mother doesn't tend to believe, and I told my sister that I wasn't feeling too well. I asked her to please help me clean, because I had scarlet fever and I was dying. I continued the story, saying that there wasn't a cure, so I was definitely going to die - and that, because there was no cure, I hadn't told our parents about my illness, because it would just make them sad. Therefore, she should help me clean and not tell our parents about my illness.

Turned out, my sister had a heart (who knew?). She told me to lie down on the bed, asked if I needed anything to eat or drink, and proceeded to clean.

Of course, when my mother came through the door, my sister ran to her crying because I was dying. Luckily, my mother had to struggle too hard not to laugh, so I didn't get more than a scolding.

It was kind of mean, and it probably only worked because my sister was only 5 or 6, but it's a pretty hard con to beat.

Directing You to a Contest

If you're not in love with Holly Black's writing, it's probably because you haven't read her work. She's amazing & she's offering ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) of her novel White Cat to certain people who tell her about a con they've pulled. Go here to enter!