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sarah palin feminism books prolife prochoice abortion politics feminism feminist the riot the riot mag the riot magazine
A kid came into my workplace, a bookstore, handed me his AP English required reading list, and asked if I knew any of the classics on that list that would hold his attention. Upon examination of his list, I noticed that someone’d tried to help him already, crossing out books because they were “too long,” “too boring,” or “feminist.”
Cue as much passive-aggressive snark as I could fit into the conversation. “Atwood? Oh, she frequently writes stories about gender equality & inequality. But apparently you wouldn’t like that. I wonder why your friend didn’t mark her down for you.” Although … Well, I’m not exactly known for my tact. The more time went on, the less backhanded and more full-on aggressive I became. Especially since the books labeled as “feminist” (and thus unworthy of reading) included things like Wuthering Heights and The Scarlet Letter.
I think one of the kinder things that came out of my mouth was, “Seriously—this kid hasn’t actually read any of these, has he?”
Ah, well. Still better than a variant of “Motherfucker, I set you on fire.”
I can understand wanting to avoid dry, boring books, as they make reading not fun. I can understand wanting to avoid ridiculously huge books if you’re not an avid reader, because they can make reading tedious. I can understand wanting to avoid mushy romance-type books—heaving busoms tend to make me heave in a slightly different way. I can understand wanting to avoid hardcore preachy books; they can go from tedious to frustrating to angering really fucking fast. But I can’t understand wanting to avoid books just because one of the main characters is female, or avoiding a book on the possibility that it might challenge a gender inequality norm.
One might infer that this kid and his friend both ascribe to the mis-definition of “feminist” as “man-hater,” but still. There’s no reason they shouldn’t have been set straight by someone, somewhere along the line … except for a socially popular definition of feminism as icky.
It’s funny (in a sad way) how “feminist” is still viable if not generally acceptable as a dirty word. Fighting racial inequality is a noble cause. Fighting for GLBT rights isn’t as accepted by some but is still overall seen as a good cause. But if we silly womenfolk want out of the kitchen, to match our male coworkers’ pay dollar for dollar, and to be able to do anything in the public eye without being nitpicked for our weight and our dress and our attractiveness rather than our ideas and our presentation of such; if we want to have an opinion without being bitches or harridans or as purposely bland as soggy white bread; if we’d like to see female science and math champs get nearly as much attention as beauty queens … Well, that’s just not feasible.
I just don’t know what to do to fix things.