#YAMatters, Angie Manfredi, Anita Sarkeesian, Ann Aguirre, BEA, Coverflip, feminism, Gayle Forman, gender, Jennifer McCartney, Justine Larbelestier, Kameron Hurley, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Reading Matters, sexism, SFWA, social media, Twitter
My Twitter feed had a lot to say about sexism and feminism this weekend.
During Book Expo America, Jennifer McCartney posted a picture of some troubling titles for kids, the pink Nice and Pretty and the blue Brave and Smart from AZ Books.
Later, she wrote about it for XOJane.
Sexism in YA: "you don't need to be concerned with what's going on in 51% of the population." Our message to boys that books are girl books.—
gayle forman (@gayleforman) June 01, 2013
#Coverflip of course refers to Maureen Johnson’s fantastic challenge:
If you’ve had your head under a rock and haven’t heard about Coverflip, read this HuffPost article, then search #coverflip on Twitter for all the good stuff that came of it.
All weekend, tweets flew over sexism in the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America bulletin. Some, like E. Catherine Toblar, decided to leave the organization over it. Others, like Anne Lyle, are joining up:
Kameron Hurley wrote a great post about the mess and the difference between censorship and criticism. The SFWA has since announced a Bulletin Task Force to address members’ concerns.
That might not have happened at all, and certainly not so quickly, without social media. But as Kameron Hurley says:
Well, welcome to 2013. And the world wide web, where everybody, even those underprivileged nobodies you never had to listen to before, has a chance to be heard.
Unfortunately, speaking out often comes along with consequences. Ann Aguirre posted yesterday about the sexism she’s encountered in the SFF world, and she’s already receiving hate mail in response, which can be found at the end of her post. As she warns, it’s harsh and could be triggering.
Right after reading about the SWFA mess, I read IGN’s excellent feature on Anita Sarkeesian’s “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games.” And even though I’d been warned, I made the mistake of reading the comments.
I felt like this guy:
Anita Sarkeesian is one of my heroes, and she’s endured an online campaign of misogyny, bullying, and hacking. Between reminders of that and reading snippets from the SWFA bulletin, I fell into a (thankfully brief and mild) depression.
One tweet that has stuck with me from these past few days is Justine Larbelestier’s in response to the SWFA hubbub:
Change is too slow. (In the immortal words of Nina Simone.)—
Justine Larbalestier (@JustineLavaworm) June 01, 2013
It so often feels that way, but all of the voices discussing and calling for change have heartened me.
As I was typing this post, came this tweet from Angie Manfredi:
(She was in the midst of calling out an ill-informed article (book promo) titled “How to Write a Feminist Young Adult Novel” in Jezebel, and she wasn’t alone, but you’ll have to visit to Twitter for more on that …)
And here’s another heartening one, from Justine Larbelestier:
And because I'm depressing everyone: the difference now is that many people speak out about it. We fight back. There are other discourses.—
Justine Larbalestier (@JustineLavaworm) June 03, 2013
Change is slow, but it is change. Social media opens the door to rants and trolls and bullying and harassment, but it also provides a forum for conversation, for calling out poor choices, and for empowering young people.
And any “nobody” can join the conversation. So participate. Pay attention. Be critical. Listen. Stay positive. Share.