I don’t understand the desire to saddle every female character with children regardless of whether they want them as some lazy stand-in for a happy ending, particularly in sci-fi and fantasies. If you’ve earned that with sufficient backstory and evidence, like, FINE. Olivia Dunham and Donna Noble and Scully and Ripley canonically want to have children. Amy Pond, Hermione Granger, Kara Thrace, Katniss Everdeen - these women are all ambiguous about or uninterested in being mothers. So it’s problematic when a head writer or a fan art illustrator or a writer of fanfiction just sticks these women with children as though motherhood is always the inevitable and right and desirable end, even when their characterization directly contradicts that.
Even River Song falls victim to this trope because that is the image Moffat chooses to close on in the Library episodes. River, a woman who has never expressed any desire to raise children or be a mother, someone who (if her arc had allowed for any emotional consequence whatsoever) would likely have had some deep-seated issues with nurturing and parentage and abandonment - is “saved” in a purgatory/afterlife where she is forever caring for these ersatz, computer-generated children. Because children are shorthand for happiness in women’s narratives.
If a novel is divided between Good Women and Bad Women, it is not a feminist novel.
I don’t care whether the Good Woman is a virtuous tower maiden and the Bad Woman has vagina dentata and knows how to use them or if the Good Woman is a sexy Wiccan part-time knight and the Bad Woman a moralizing icicle in skirts. If the women earn their morality by Doing Womanhood Right and Doing Womanhood Wrong, if the author can’t write a Good Woman without showing the malevolence of Bad Women who aren’t like her, the book’s not feminist. The paradigms themselves don’t matter.
“Cooking in Heels: A Memoir Cookbook” by a former sex worker trans woman of color. Hell to the mothafuckin yes.
HOLY SHIT. Former sex worker trans woman of color’s book about food, community, and identity. I AM SUPPORTING THIS. YOU SHOULD, TOO!
ABOUT THIS PROJECT
A family that cooks and eats together, stays together. In Cooking in Heels, first time author Ceyenne Doroshow takes tradition to heart with over 50 recipes designed to be easy and inexpensive for the whole family to enjoy. As a transgender woman who was inspired to write her book while serving prison time for a prostitution conviction, Ceyenne might not seem like the most likely representative of home cooked family values. But her book, which is peppered with good humor and begins with the story of her life, shows that food and love are the ties that bind, and family is what you make it.
Ceyenne Doroshow and Audacia Ray, the founder of the Red Umbrella Project and the editor of the book, were introduced by Ceyenne’s lawyers at the Sex Workers Project in February 2011 and have been collaborating on Cooking in Heels since then. In the early days of our collaboration, Ceyenne showed up with handwritten recipes and lots of stories, and Audacia showed up with an audio recorder to try and capture Ceyenne’s tales. The Red Umbrella Project has been supporting Ceyenne in honing her storytelling and amplifying her voice, and she has shared her talent for storytelling as a frequent performer at the Red Umbrella Diaries storytelling series that Audacia hosts in New York. Ceyenne’s vision forCooking in Heels is certainly bigger than a breadbox, and the Red Umbrella Project has been enthusiastically supporting that dream.
We need your help to create a book that inspires people to cook together, and gets people talking about gender identity, sex work, and struggles for social justice, topics that don’t seem “family friendly,” but that tear apart families and harm individuals when they aren’t discussed. There’s no better place for laughter, comfort, and conversation than the kitchen - and we want to invite you into Ceyenne’s kitchen to see the world through her eyes.
Support her here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/audaciaray/cooking-in-heels-a-memoir-cookbook
I interrupt this blog for a moment of outrage.
Okay, maybe “outrage” is too strong a word, but when I saw the title of this New York Times opinion piece—“Adults Should Read Adult Books”—my first reaction was something like this. It’s no secret that I love young adult fiction and I fully intend to read it until the day I die. After reading the full article, though, it’s clear that this guy Joel Stein is just an idiot, more deserving of my pity than my anger. Still, I feel like I need to chew this thing up and spit it back out before moving past it, so here goes:
The only thing more embarrassing than catching a guy on the plane looking at pornography on his computer is seeing a guy on the plane reading “The Hunger Games.” Or a Twilight book. Or Harry Potter.
Oh it’s on, Joel Stein. I’m sure you didn’t realize this, but people who proudly declare that they have never read Harry Potter and never will, like it’s somehow beneath them to even crack the cover, are among my very least favorite people in the world. My boyfriend was one of those when we first started dating, and upon learning this I proceeded to read the entire series aloud to him until he changed his mind. For the record, it only took about four chapters for that to happen, but by that point I was a train that would not be stopped until I reached the last sentence of book seven. It was very much a turning point in our relationship.
The only time I’m O.K. with an adult holding a children’s book is if he’s moving his mouth as he reads.
I’d like to believe this is a poorly executed reference to parents reading books to their kids, but I have a sneaking suspicion Stein is actually making fun of people who learn to read as adults. Gross.
I’m sure all those books are well written.
Even when he’s trying to throw the counterargument a bone, he’s still wrong. The Twilight books are probably the four most terribly written novels ever to be published.
shut the fuck up
everyone read whatever the hell you want
YA lit is badass
holy shit wow
w o w this makes me incredibly angry.
TELL ME, MISTER STEIN, WHAT EXACTLY CONSTITUTES AN ADULT BOOK?
IS IT DAN BROWN’S LATEST FAILURE TO UNDERSTAND HOW LANGUAGE AND HISTORY WORKS?
IS IT ONE OF THE CONSTANT STREAM OF PURPLETASTIC ROMANCE NOVELS HITTING THE SHELVES?
IS IT A PULPY SCI-FI NOVEL?
WOW, I DIDN’T KNOW THAT MEDIA AIMED AT ANYONE YOUNGER THAN THIRTY WAS INHERENTLY INFERIOR.
THAT BECAUSE CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS ARE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND AND LEARN FROM A BOOK, IT MUST BE EMBARRASSING FOR AN ADULT TO READ.
IT’S NOT LIKE CHILDRENS’ BOOKS LIKE THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH DISPLAY INCREDIBLY CLEVER WORDPLAY THAT CAN BE APPRECIATED BY ALL AGES.
OR THAT SERIES LIKE ABARAT AND THE OLD KINGDOM ARE WRITTEN WITH SUCH DEPTH OF WORLDBUILDING THAT HALF THE ENJOYMENT IS SEEING HOW THE UNIVERSE EXPANDS AS THE PROSE GOES ON.
I’M SORRY THAT YOU SEEM TO BE UNDER THE IMPRESSION THAT A BOOK, NO MATTER HOW SHITTY THE PROSE, NO MATTER HOW FLAT THE CHARACTERS, NO MATTER HOW CONTRIVED THE WORLDBUILDING, IS ALWAYS A BETTER CHOICE THAN A YOUNG ADULT NOVEL IF IT’S AIMED AT THE ADULT CROWD.
GOOD FOR YOU.
YOU’RE A FUCKFACE.
I’LL TAKE MY ARTEMIS FOWL AND LEAVE NOW.
#THIS IS NOT TO SAY PEOPLE CAN’T ENJOY DAN BROWN/SHITTY ROMANCE NOVELS/PULPY SCI FI #BECAUSE GODDAMN LIKE WHAT YOU WANT JUST ACKNOWLEDGE THE PROBLEMS AND /DON’T FUCKING CLAIM IT’S BETTER THAN ALL YA FICTION EVER/ #OH NO THIS BOOK DOESN’T USE ENOUGH FOUR-SYLLABLE WORDS IT MUST BE FOR BABIES!!!! #FUCK YOU #FUCK YOU FUCK YOU FUCK YOU #YOU ARE THE PROBLEM WITH ACADEMIA TODAY #YOU’RE PROBABLY ALSO A CLASSIST AGEIST FUCK AND I HATE YOU
Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.
- C.S. Lewis
good fuck you
and fuck anyone who thinks they have the right to shame people for stories, and for loving stories and loving characters and loving worlds, because of the type of language that they use and the idea that it somehow lacks the depth or intelligence of the ‘adult’ (read: ‘well-educated, literate, white and historically male’) language code because it is told in a different way. because it has a different focus. because it has different goals.
this is not a ‘grown ups versus babies’ issue.
this is a ‘people who have access to a wealth of literary history, traditions, and educations who are benefiting their privilege of speaking the standard english variety in addition to their privileged position as educated members of society by decrying anything that doesn’t match that standard versus people who might not yet have had or may never have had those opportunities and privileges’ issue.
this is a ‘people who are perceived as being allowed to produce meaningful thought and people who aren’t because of nothing but society’ issue.
if people are writing stories then that’s good.
if people are writing stories that can be appreciated by people who don’t have access to the dominant literary paradigm then that’s really good.
if people who are teenagers, or second language learners, or speakers of a non-standard dialect, or learning disabled individuals, or people who don’t identify with the people and language and ideas represented by other kinds of literature, or any other kind of people want to read young adult literature, that’s good.
(and furthermore, this is just looking linguistically at the issue — i don’t even want to get into the fact that young adult books are often just relatable because they deal with themes that resonate with people, and that sometimes people who are oppressed and lack privilege identify with stories about personal identity and strength and reclamation rather than stories about people who aren’t oppressed and don’t lack privilege.)
so basically if you are ever saying that the type of language you use determines the importance or intelligence of your thoughts and stories and ideas, that its complexity or simplicity (read: conformity to straight rich white western straight cisgender dude tradition) determines a certain level of value or worth or meaning, that a story must be told only by the educated and the privileged and the ones who are capable of writing in the narrowly-defined literary tradition that we’ve come to valorize,
then you need to sit the fuck down and think about what you’ve done.
if i ever see this man i will actually hurt him which is not a good reaction but woooow i don’t even care
fuck you literary critics. i read books on death and dying and suicides and genocides and politics and massacres and Other Pretty Damn Serious Shit and if i want to escape that for one goddamm moment and read a book from my childhood or from young adulthood THAT IS MY RIGHT.
i am so sick of these men (literary criticism is LARGELY a man’s world) dictating what the rest of the world should read and why. go grasp yourselves firmly to any single one of the white men who became literary successes BECAUSE they were white men and leave readers alone.
HOWEVER YOU IDENTIFY
READ WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT, THE LITERARY ESTABLISHMENT IS A JOKE.
Reposting because it’s important:
Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence.
WOW THIS MAKES ME SO MAD
LIKE I JUST
THERE ARE SO MANY, MANY THINGS WRONG WITH IT
Look I had this professor, Professor Dowling, from whom I learned SO MUCH and whose ridiculously high standards essentially made me certain of what I could achieve given hard work. But here’s the thing: despite his monumental influence on my own self-worth and the way I read and analyze literature, Dowling was (is, he’s not dead and as far as I know hasn’t undergone any major life changes that would make this point null and voice) an asshole. He’s an anti-choice, classist, racist, sexist asshole who once also pulled me aside to tell me out of genuine concern for my future that feminism would get me nowhere in life and I should put it aside as a phase. These two things - the fact that he taught me most of the things that made me a capable and apt student and the fact that he was an asshole - are not mutually exclusive and my feelings about him are very complicated.
I tell you this story to tell you another story.
Dowling had Slug Club. He called it Thursday Club, but it was Slug Club, right out of Harry Potter. He did not know this - he’d been having it long before Harry Potter was published. In Slug Club, we would all sit around and drink tea and have wildly high-brow intellectual discussions (which I found increasingly pompous and irrelevant, but that’s beside the point) and one day we were talking about literature. I was rather passionately making the argument that Twilight had a dangerous message and didn’t even have the redeeming quality of being well-written, and someone else in the room was responding that she didn’t think there was ANYTHING damaging about Twilight AT ALL, and didn’t even understand how I was coming up with that idea, and Dowling was listening to us go back and forth and watching me get more and more frustrated and finally, after I’d said something I didn’t even believe, that you might as well not read if you’re just going to be reading trash (NO I REALLY DON’T BELIEVE THAT, NEVER HAVE, NEVER WILL, DIDN’T IN THAT MOMENT, said it mainly because I was frustrated and wanted this girl to shut up), he interjected.
Let me remind you that Dowling is an asshole. He and I rarely see eye-to-eye on anything, which mainly comes from his inability to recognize that intellectual elitism is often vulgar and unnecessary and has a lot to do with privilege and my inability to concede that intellectual elitism has very occasional merits (I’m not even conceding this now, mind).
Dowling said, through the miasma of his intellectual elitism, something like “Reading is reading. Reading what you perceive as trash — and there’s no arguing taste but it is a highly subjective measure — is no more or less valuable than reading Nabokov. It’s the action that’s important, not the thing being read.”
He’s right, you know. And Joel Stein could learn a thing or two from this asshole who formulated my ability to actively read.
Compiled with help from Neil Gaiman and his bazillions of followers.
Please note I haven’t read all of these. I’m literally going off what a bunch of people on Twitter told me. I asked specifically for YA titles, so there are mostly those in this list. All age brackets open to interpretation, of course! Apparently, in some of these the characters lose weight, but I’ve weeded out the ones that were suggested and obviously weren’t (based on description) what I was looking for with this resource list.
Hope this helps, readers and parents out there. :)
CHILDREN’S (AGE 0-10)
Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings by Hélène Boudreau
Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo
My Great Big Mamma by Olivier Ka
YOUNG ADULT (AGE 11-18)
The Lewis Barnavelt Series by John Bellairs and Brad Strickland
The Mystery Of… Series by Enid Blighton
Staying Fat For Sara Byrnes by Chris Crutcher
Jennifer Murdley’s Toad by Bruce Coville
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
Half World by Hiromi Goto
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Fat Kid Rules the World by KL Goings
Wildside by Steven Gould
Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey
The Three Investigators Series by Alfred Hitchcock
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
Winding Circle Series by Tamora Pierce *NOTE: Apparently a lot of Pierce’s stuff has positively-portrayed overweight characters! This is just the first one that was suggested.
Alan Mendehlson, the Boy From Mars by Daniel Pinkwater
Enclave by Kit Reed
Demon Lexicon Series by Sarah Rees Brennan
Holes by Louis Sachar
The Fat Girl by Marilyn Sachs
Skim by Mariko Tamaki
ADULT ADULT? I DON’T KNOW, BOOKS YOU WON’T FIND IN THE YA SECTION.
Size 12 Series by Meg Cabot
The Soldier Son Trilogy by Robin Hobb
Edit: Please know that this list is not intended to be a shortlist of books that will inspire teens to lose weight. At all. This is a list of books that will, hopefully, show them that they’re not less human just because they’re fat. We get little enough positive media exposure - books are a good place to start.