Mar 28, 2014

Friday Links and Quote of the Week

I know better than to promise this will become a regular feature on this blog, but it’s been a long while since I’ve done a links and commentary post over here, and I’ve missed them. Some of these links will be familiar to those of you following Sidetracks — apologies for that, but they’ve been on my mind enough that I wanted to go back to them.
  • First of all, I really liked this Kameron Hurley essay Renay shared, particularly this quote:
    For a while I became smitten with the idea of “power feminism” or the popular “lean-in” culture that passes for mainstream white feminism right now. We just needed to be smarter, faster, better. We needed to ask for raises, demand better treatment. Sexism was our fault, for buying into the misogyny ourselves, and operating like we were at a disadvantage.

    But what much of that “lean-in” culture doesn’t acknowledge is that we do, in fact, operate at a disadvantage heaped on us by the assumptions of people in power, and thus some are able to “lean-in” more than others. If I’m working a retail job and demand $10.50 an hour instead of $10, in most cases they’ll be happy enough to let me go and replace me with some other hard-up person for $10 an hour. No contest. That’s the game. That’s how it’s rigged. And this doesn’t even touch on how someone will react to this assertion if you’re also a person of color, or gay, or trans, or an immigrant, or acting “too uppity” for how they believe someone of your “kind” should behave. In some cases, “acting uppity” will be met not with mere job loss or scowling, but violence.

    You can fight all you want for individual wins, and fight to be the “exceptional” woman, but so long as there’s institutionalized oppression, bias, and unregulated, out-of-control capitalism that treats people as disposable objects, you’re an exception, not a rule. So long as the people with the power – to hire and fire you, approve or deny your loan, or write up your speeding ticket – look at you through the lens of institutionalized racism, sexism, homophobia, or any other –ism they’ve learned from stories, videos, media, and other biased individuals, a single win means nothing.

    We cannot effect true change alone.
    Seeing Hurley articulate something I keep trying to get at with such clarity was a reminder of all the reasons why I read. This is also the reason why I don’t only want to read stories of individual triumph. While we do need more narratives where ladies succeed, I don’t want to forget the ones who couldn’t because the game was so heavily rigged against them. (Though obviously there’s a big difference between these and gratuitously punitive narratives.)
That’s all for today. I know I’ve been a bit quiet around these parts lately, but that’s mostly because things have been pretty busy work-wise and I end up spending all my free time too exhausted to be productive (my kingdom for more two-day weekends). I have a half-week off and a long weekend coming up, though, so hopefully I’ll be able to catch up. I have gushy thoughts to share on Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor, an essay drafted for Sunday, and it’s even possible that one of these days my post about The Scorpio Races will get finished and see the light of day. Stranger things have happened.


  1. Great links (as usual!). I love the Corpus libris pics - FINALLY something to do with all those book covers with only half a woman on them.

  2. That video? Wow. So worth taking the time to listen.

  3. Your points on Lean In are exactly why I've chosen not to read the book. While I'm sure I would feel empowered by it, I don't like the idea that instead of pushing to change the culture we're working to bend toward it.

    And I watched that video yesterday, instantly wishing I could share it with every person I know - so brilliant and well-spoken and full of great ideas!

  4. Excellent video! Honestly I had no idea that was such a huge issue at Vid Con.

  5. I love the links! I have to admit though that every time you do something like this a small part of me cringes as I know I will be adding to my online reading list. :)

  6. Vicki: Ha! Excellent point.

    Beth F: Right? She's so spot on.

    Shannon: I know what you mean. And it's such a small step from feeling empowered to internalising blame when to amount of leaning in in the world will result in real, lasting change.

    Melissa: I didn't either, and tbh I feel kind of terrible about that. This is a community I'm invested in (despite always being on the outskirts) and an issue I care passionately about. I should have paid attention sooner.

    Trisha: Sorry! :P

  7. Thanks for all the links--they make me feel less behind on everything. Also, new Tumblrs to follow! Yay!

  8. Ana! I miss you so. I shall send you an email soon.

    I posted a review of Good Wives on Thursday and I think you would really enjoy it because of some of what you say above - what happens when women CAN control their lives and what happens when they cannot.

    I also really enjoy your first quote. I come from a pretty privileged background in the world, I suppose, and we hear SO MUCH about "Leaning in" in the corporate world. That quote really put things in perspective for me. Thanks.

    That said, even when you "lean in" in the corporate world, people can treat you poorly. My co-worker was fairly insistent in asking to be rotated to a different role and now she is seen as having an "attitude problem." (Would a guy be thought to have one? I don't know.) Also, my company's maternity leave policy was really great before, but has now been decreased to be "in line with competition." Though all of its employees, of course, are expected to CRUSH the competition...

  9. I have to say that Sexy Librarian essay is quite interesting. I do think that while he has touched on historical points and other cultures, he had done so in a rather glib and hurried way. I had not heard that being a mill worker was akin to being a prostitute! nor that librarians were selling themselves....It seems to me that he came close to figuring out where to look, with the association with nurses, teachers and librarians together. What he missed was that these was the only respectable career options for middle class women (or upper class fallen on hard times) who weren't married. And that's they key: that the suggestion is that these women would leave these careers once they were married, so underneath their 'career' persona is the female who longs for her partner. That may be what the sexy librarian is hinting at, as well as the idea of taking the hair down/uniform off, and the prim figure disappears. I think a much more deeper approach is needed for this topic, though. It is interesting and amusing to read, though! thanks for pointing it out to us. I know I'll be thinking about it on and off in the days ahead.

  10. What an excellent post! Your blog so beautifully balances the diversity that makes reading so amazing - quirky novels, perspective changing fiction & nonfiction, romance...


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