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In which I rant about Breast Cancer awareness.

More specifically, bullshit like the "save the boobies" bracelets and MLS turning their twitter avatar pink for a month.

If you let me play...

Does anyone remember those Nike ads from the 1990's?  The "If You Let Me Play" ads?  I have to admit, I still get chills and all teary eyed when I watch them.  This possibly has something to do with the fact that I was a teen myself when they came out.  (also, that I am a big crybaby.) But it also might be because back in 1996 I actually went out and looked up the statistics used in the ads.

...I will like myself more.

One of the numbers that really stands out is the one about breast cancer.  Because that's a kind of a crazy thing to claim, yes? That if you let little girls play softball they will be less likely to get breast cancer later?

...I will have more self-confidence.

Here's the thing though, the study that these numbers were from looked at teens, specifically.  And all the stats quoted in the ads help paint a theory as to why it is that teenage girls who play sports now have a lower rate of breast cancer later.

If you let me play sports...

Some of it is correlation - girls sports in the US (where the study was conducted) has historically been a largely middle class phenomenon.  Especially when one is talking about playing sports as a teen rather than a younger girl.  Middle class means access to better health services - not to mention less toxic neighborhoods.

...I will be 60% less likely to get breast cancer.

There is a very good chance though, that a certain amount of it also has to do with how we teach teenage girls to view their bodies, how damaging these views often are, and the extent to which serious physical competition helps to undermine those unhealthy ideas.

...I will suffer less depression.

Teen girls are under siege from all sides from people who wish to control their bodies for them. Sometimes for power, sometimes without realizing it, and sometimes even because they think it is what is best for the girls themselves.  There is a lot of documentation that shows that modern teen girls often feel very disassociated from their own bodies and not in control of what happens to their physical selves.  This is part of the reason, after all, for the high rates of eating disorders.

...I will be more likely to leave a man who beats me.

People who feel this way are less likely to take charge of their own health.  They are less likely to see a doctor when something is wrong. They are less likely to believe that they have the ability to affect their own health and the responsibility to do so.  Again, this has been documented.  This is why many experts believe that effective sex education begins when children are small - with teaching them how to recognize the parts of their bodies and to take responsibility for their own heath by washing their hands and the like.

If you let me play...

Teenage girls who play competitive sports though - they learn different lessons about their bodies than just the ones that culture tries to teach them about female bodies in general.  They learn that their bodies are made for doing - not just for having things done to them.  They learn that bodies that are hurt can also heal - and continue to do amazing things.  And they learn how to take care of their bodies so that their bodies will take them where they want to go.

...I will be less likely to get pregnant before I want to.

So my problem with MLS turning their twitter avatar pink - or professional baseball players wearing pink armbands or whatever it is that they do - is not just that it's shallow and trivial.  It's that it actively works against this amazing statistic.  Because men playing sports in order to help save women's bodies directly undermines the evidence based theory that empowering girls and women to see their bodies as their own right and responsibility decreases breast cancer rates.

I will learn what it means to be strong...

MLS, I don't want to see your avatar turn pink.  It doesn't make me think of breast cancer, it makes me wistful for the WUSA.  Instead, want to know what you are doing to encourage women and girls - especially teen girls and younger women - to play competitive soccer.  That's how you will convince me that you care about breast cancer, women, and women's health.

...if you let me play sports.
Yes, I know.  It's been a while, yes?  We'll see how on top of this series I manage to be this time.

Chapter 2 - Bad Faith

Back when I worked at the bookstore, one of my tasks - one of the tasks of every employee - was to greet every patron.  Since, depending on how busy we are, this could meant that an individual customer might be greeted several times - often only seconds apart - as they made their way through the store, they reacted to this with varying degrees of politeness and annoyance.  One lovely day I even had a patron blow up at me and accuse me of…well, I can't remember her specific words anymore, but she clearly thought the employees as a whole were only pestering so that she would leave.

I, of course, was startled, offended, and annoyed in turn at her.  Why would we want customers to leave? Do people not know that we are told to do this?  That we can get fired if we don't?  Does she really think she is so special that we only treat her this way?

Mostly though, I was upset because she was right and I didn't have a solution that would let me not be an asshole and also allow me to keep on my boss's good side. Once I had done my own venting at home, I realized this.  That it didn't matter what my intentions had been, and that - having deliberately employed the very same tactic on visitors that we suspected might be up to no good - I could see why she might think that us constantly asking her if she needed help was a sign that we were keeping an eye on her.  An experience that, being black, she probably had to deal with much more often than I ever had.  And, unlike me, not one that she could avoid merely by switching to carrying a purse rather than a backpack.

Intent is something that is brought up a lot in discussions about harassment, sexist writing, bigoted jokes, and well - just about anything really.  It's often said that intent doesn't matter.  I don't think this is true, I think intent can help determine who is capable of change and inform the arguments used.  What intent does not do, however, is trump the harm being done or mean that the person having done harm should be shielded from the consequences of what they did.

Intent is not the end of an argument.  It rarely even belongs in the argument to begin with.

"…talk of sexism or racism must distinguish between the sins of commission of the real, active misogynistic  or bigot and vague , half-conscious sins of omission of the decent, ordinary, even good-hearted people, which sins the context of institutionalized sexism and racism makes all too easy."

While short, Russ's second chapter is nevertheless essential for defining the boundaries of the arguments of the book as a whole.  She is not assuming bad faith, nor is she discounting the possibility.  What she is doing is disagreeing with those that would accuse her of bad faith, of assuming that she means that every harm is done deliberately - either because they willfully ignore unintended hurts themselves or because it makes her an easier target…or both.

Tags:

National Geographic's Picture the Seasons

I'm trying to post more - both here at my "professional" blog - so I typed up a review of a series of non-fiction books I really like using for story times. 
Enjoy!Collapse )

Good Things!

Lots of good things!  Or, rather, lots of the same good things.

The Friends of the Library* gave us money to spend on children's and young adult paperbacks and I got to decide what we needed to buy.  So I spent most of this week compiling a list of all the books I keep going to try to grab from the shelves...only to realize we don't have them.  I am ridiculously happy that we will soon have copies of the Fudge series again, as well as bright new shiny copies of the first and last ten titles in The Magic Tree House series.  Also, that we will soon have copies of the first books in various popular teen series - like TTYL, Uglies, Gallagher Girls, Leviathan, The Last Apprentice, Alanna, The Princess Diaries, and Haddix's latest - that I keep going "what? why? how?" when I realize we don't have them.  If the money stretches far enough, we may also have the first in several series that I think our teens would like but that they don't seem to know about (or the ones that do own their own copies) - The Demon's Lexicon, The Monstrumologist, Rot and Ruin, If I Stay, 13 Little Blue Envelopes...and several more that I can't remember that the moment.

(I also ordered copies of a few modern classics that we don't seem to have - like Holes and My Brother Sam is Dead.)

This has put me in a rather good mood and I cannot wait for them to come in.

*In not so good news, I heard several of the Friends, as their last meeting was breaking up, saying stuff like "If they take God out of it I'm gone! And I'm taking all the stuff I donated with me!"  So, frustratingly, it sounds like my complaint about an explicitly Christian prayer at the start of the meeting was brought up - and dismissed with prejudice.  Which, you know, would be why I think it's inappropriate to begin with - because it suggests that this is the kind of reaction anyone can expect if they make it clear they are not part of the in-group.  GAH 

I Rant Because I Cannot Sleep

When I first heard that there was a bit of a kerfluffle on twitter regarding the possibility of a YA category for the Hugos, my first reaction was to be sad that I had missed the entertainment.  My second thought was "why?"  Lots of whys.  Why was one suggested?  Why was it decided against?  Why do the Hugos not have one already?  Why is this coming up now?  Why wasn't this settled a decade ago when all the cool kids were doing it?*

While I admittedly lean more towards having a YA category than not because yay! YA!  I was mostly just...curious.  Because I'm nosy like that.  (not always one of my more attractive qualities, I admit)

Now that I have satisfied this curiosity somewhat, I have a bit more sympathy for the cat.  Because oh dear god, even the good arguments against it make me want to bang my head against a wall.  I could probably write my thesis on why so many of them are so very very wrong (hmmm.....). 

Thankfully, right now, only one is eating my brain.  That would be the complaint that it will just be too complicated to figure out what qualifies as YA and what doesn't.**

GAH.

(and deciding what is SFF and what is never so?)

Even the logical version of this argument - that it's Hugo voters specifically that will have a hard time defining and evaluating YA - is making me roll my eyes at this point.  Because people?  The advantage of YA as a genre is that it is not solely defined by that wishy washy literary stuff.  A certain amount of it comes from understanding child and adolescent development.  Which means that you get to use science! to decide which age genre something belongs in.  Not just those extra girly "soft" sciences like sociology but also the science of how brains work and grow and change.

So every time I hear someone - who apparently has no trouble recognizing SFF in general - say that drawing a line between YA and adult SFF is just too complicated to be practical, my brain translates this into "Science is too hard.  No science!  DO NOT WANT SCIENCE!"

And then I laugh.  And then I cry.  And then I laugh some more.  And then I go back to banging my head against a wall.

*The jokes write themselves on that one, but please feel free to amuse us all anyway.

**I do get the impression a lot of people saying talking about DRAMA as much as anything.  I can see their point.  But, like a lot of most sensible arguments from the con side, this doesn't really say anything good about the Hugos and the people involved in them.

A Woman's Worth

Before I start to rant, I would like to make it clear that I was incredibly impressed with how Readercon ultimately handled the well-known harassment incident that happened recently.  The final apology from the ConCom, in particular, was excellent and should be held up as an example to all of how to do it right.  I have a lot of respect and awe for a group of people that volunteer so much of their time and talent to create a wonderful place for fans and professionals to come to, and who, when under pressure and subject to vocal criticism of the event they have labored so hard to make a success, listened and responded with decorum, humility, and respect.

That said, there are, unfortunately, some continuing conversations about the incident and final decision that are less than heartening.

“If I’d have done something that had offended somebody, I’d have immediately tried to apologize. We see where that can lead.”Collapse )

News and the Start of Fall

First, an update for interested parties: I did not get the job.  In fact, no one got the job!  They are opening the position up again.  (Which is always a bit insulting.  But hey, if they are that sure they do not want me, it's all for the best, yes?)

**********************

The temperatures around here seem to have moved from hovering around 100+ to dropping all the way to 90+! I guess that means fall is just around the corner?  Or Southern California's version of it anyway.  To celebrate, I went out to Oak Glen the weekend before last and picked up some apples and assorted apple-y goodies.  I paid for an overpriced but yet extremely tasty lunch at a perplexingly colonial themed* "tavern" and decided that it was way too hot to pick my own apples, other people could do that for me.  I also went hiking and ran into a bobcat on the trail.  Fun times!

Speaking of apples, I've been collecting apple recipes on Pinterest because apple flavored desserts, pastries, and other baked goodies, while not as good as dark chocolate, are right up there in terms of Things I Love.  On Monday I put two of the apples to good use trying one of the recipies out.  Well, arguably good use.  The apple pie bites were as easy to make as advertised** - rare! when it comes to me and recipes! - but, well...the apple part is nom but the crust part not so much.  This is the problem with using store bought crust.  I could try making my own, and I plan to eventually, but going to all that trouble seems to defeat the purpose of this particular recipe, which seems to be "as few steps as possible."  Hopefully I will have more luck with the next apple creation.

***********************

In other news, I made a three year old girl cry yesterday.  I know! I am a mean librarian! On the bright side, the next time I tell her that she can hold the flannel board story piece I gave her, or none at all, she might actually believe me.  And stop insisting that I take it back.  And then get all upset when I don't give her the one she wanted instead.

For the record, having 20 or so 1 to 4 year olds help you tell a flannel board story is like a cross between herding cats and watching puppies play.  (""On Tuesday the caterpillar ate two pears."" Ok! so two of you should have a green pear with a hole in it." - all the toddlers stare bewilderingly at the pieces in their hands.  one of them raises theirs up a little and looks at you expectantly  - "You have one? great! ok! come on up and put it on the board!" etc.)

************************

Last of all, I would like to point out that the world is ending.  Slowly, and yet still all too soon.  On the bright side, there wasn't a dead body in the trash bins or on the railroad tracks behind my apartment complex, which I seriously thought might be the case on Monday morning as I went to my car.

************************

*why? wha? huh? Why is there a mini fake WIlliamsburg in Southern California?

**Minus the part where I stood there staring at a round pie crust, trying to figure out how to cut it into sixteen even rectangles. Also, minus the part where I forgot to coat the apple slices in the sugar mixture before wrapping them in the pie crust strips, and instead rolled the already-wrapped-in-pie-crust apples slices in the sugar.

Geek Love - A Tragedy in Three Parts

I stayed up last night writing a take-down of this shitty article - just because it pissed me off that much.  Perhaps, if enough people want to read it, I will post it later.

What I want to do today though is share a story that it brought to mind - because it’s a story that doesn’t often get told.

You see, my friends, I was a once a young, geeky, nerdy little girl.  (You are all shocked, I am sure.)  Not only that! but I was a young, geeky, nerdy, dorky little girl who crushed on nerdy boys - and was repeatedly rejected for other girls who, as far as I could tell, were not geeks at all.


My first geeky crush was on a cartoon characterCollapse )

Something Larger Than Yourself

So, there is a whole mess of messiness going down lately among some of the atheist/skeptic blogs I read.  It's generally the same sexist messiness that has been going on for...well, for ages, but in terms of being publicly discussed...for the last year or so.  Which I bring up here and now simply because rather than just the typical infighting and sexist assholes being sexist assholes, there also seems to be very much a war going on terms of the direction of the culture/movement. 


Which fascinates me for a whole lot of reasons.Collapse )

Moderation in All Things

This post was originally going to be about how very Wrong on the Internet  this New York Times opinion piece is, until I realized that the problem is more that Ms. Hollander is unpersuasive and her argument full of holes, not that she is wrong about everything.


Not that she isn’t trying to be. Wrong that is.Collapse )

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