On Feminism & Fiction (and Real Life, too)

I participate in a lot of writing/creative communities online, and this summer there has been a lot of talk about women in writing and fiction – not only as writers but also as characters. To be completely frank and maybe a little incendiary, I’m pretty bored of hearing about how there aren’t enough of us, or about how the industry is sexist, et cetera. I fought with myself all summer to not write this blog post, but the articles, posts and tweets just kept coming. So now I’m adding my (pointless) opinion to the mix.

TL;DR Version: Girls and women: stop playing the victim. I’m not saying to shut up about sexism – pretending it doesn’t exist isn’t going to help – but doing anything with the attitude that you’ll fail “because you’re a woman” is a terrible way to live your life, and isn’t helping anyone. You want to change the statistics? Change them, then; don’t cite them and bemoan your fate. Be proactive.

Here we go…

Part One: Some SFWA Writers Say Some Stuff

(That’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America)

If you’re a (fantasy) writer and you know what the internet is, you’ve probably already heard about this. I’m not going to get into the nitty-gritty, but I feel like this is the match that lit the fuse (at least, in the places I visit online). For details, check the links, check Google, and try not to disappear down a rabbit-hole of offended articles.

In summary: some people who wrote for the SFWA’s Bulletin made some not-so-appropriate comments about some female editors/professionals – specifically, about how they looked. In a regular work setting, that’s technically sexual harassment, and shouldn’t have happened, never mind having been published. To make matters worse, this particular issue featured an article heralding Barbie as an appropriate role model for girls, as well as a woman in a chainmail bikini on the cover.

Finally, and worse yet: when there was backlash from the public, the article’s writers responded very poorly (and were allowed to respond poorly), and a problem that perhaps could have been settled with a printed apology instead saw the creation of a “task force” within the SFWA.

Part Two: Professional Womanhood

Interestingly, I’d been seeing other articles prior to this about how professional women are often described just so – as professional women. Not just as scientists, writers, astronauts, dinosaur-tamers or whatever, but as female versions of all those things. Not only can she tame a grumpy stegosaurus – she’s a great mom, too! And she makes an excellent chicken masala! And she kills in a dress! And, hey, she gets her period, too!

Please note: my intent here is not to disparage motherhood, cooking, fashion or menstruation. What I’m trying to say is that those things (usually) don’t really have anything to do with a person’s professional achievements – and yet they are frequently added to such articles anyway, as though to remind the reader that this professional was a woman – which must make life difficult, right?

A great example is Yvonne Brill’s obituary in the New York Times. Brill was, literally, a rocket scientist. Here’s how her (unrevised) obituary began:

“She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job and took eight years off from work to raise three children.”

Did I mention rocket science? I should note here that this isn’t a personal obituary submitted by family or friends – this is an article outlining Brill’s scientific achievements. The general public – I’m sorry – does not care about her stroganoff or her personal life. Nothing in that lead sentence separates Brill from anyone else, or gives any indication of why this is the Times’ “Science” section.

After (obvious) outcry, the New York Times revised the article. You can read it here, because Brill was pretty awesome. If you want to see some excerpts from before the article was revised, check this link.

Reiteration: I don’t mean to knock your passions or your work; if you’re a fantastic mom, a skier, a dog-haver, a dad or a pterodactyl, that’s awesome, and I am seriously proud of you. Those are talents I definitely don’t have, but let’s not pretend that it’s all that you do or all that you are – or that your ability to do anything else is diminished because of that other awesome thing.

Let’s not pretend that because you’re a woman, it’s baffling that you could do anything else, like, say, science.

Now. I know that a lot of these articles mean well: they mean to say that these women are awesome. Considering the fact that I can barely keep plants alive, it really is amazing to me how anyone could raise children and do all the other fantastic things that they do – but the way womanhood is often tacked onto the end of unrelated statements still strikes me as strangely offensive, as though I’m meant to remember that “even though she’s a scientist, she’s still a woman”.

Are women not meant to be scientists? Are we meant to take her achievements with a grain of salt?

What’s further interesting, though, and what’s really starting to get my goat as far as online commentary, is that women are kind of doing this to themselves (ourselves?).

Part Three: Make It Pink (Make It Blue)

Let me take you on a bit of a tangent: imagine yourself in the toy department of a store, and that you need a toy for a girl. You browse the rows of toys until you come upon the Pink Aisle: now you know you’re in the right place. Here, there be Barbies and other dolls, stuffed animals, toy kitchens and the pink “girl versions” of primarily boys’ toys like LEGO. If that’s what you’re looking for, the Pink Aisle is really helpful – but isn’t it also teaching us and/or confirming the sentiment that girls can/should only play with pink things (and/or that pink things are only for girls)?

Before I go on, I should make it clear that my problem is not with the colour pink – it’s with what pink represents. The world is not pink. To sell girls only pink toys isn’t far from selling them only white Barbies – it gives them a false idea of what the world has to offer them and what they can and should interact with (ditto for boys and blue, but that’s a whole ‘nother essay).

Obviously, this pink-centric marketing isn’t going to change in a hurry: parents typically buy their girls pink things. Girls are bombarded with pink imagery and grow to understand that it is a part of their identity. When they want more, their parents buy more, and upon seeing that data, marketers make more pink things. It’s an unfortunate cycle, and not entirely the fault of anyone (not kids, parents or marketers) in particular.

A few months ago on Facebook, a friend of mine excitedly shared a post about “Engineering Toys for Girls”. I’m an Engineer-in-Training, and throughout my degree, there had been many discussions about why only about 11% of Engineering students were/are girls. Among fellow students, it often seemed to boil down to what toys we’d played with as children. For me, “engineering toy” conjured images of building blocks, Tinker Toys, K’NEX and LEGO – but this was engineering toys for girls! I had thitherto not been aware that building blocks were not for girls. I was interested. I clicked.

The toy in question was Goldie Blox; it’s a toy + book combination that appeals to girls’ desire for storytelling and meaning (depth?) rather than just construction. By helping kid inventor “Goldie” build different simple machines, the game can improve girls’ spacial awareness and their interest in engineering/building/related fields.

All that, I got from reading the Kickstarter page. What I noticed more immediately, however, was the fact that this toy is pink.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I am pretty in love with this toy. I love the story aspect, the teaching and I love the intent – opening young girls’ minds to the idea that there is more in store for them than dolls and kitchens is awesome – but it chafes that while we want girls to think outside the box, we’re still making sure that box is pink.

Why is that a problem? I’m getting there, I promise…

I replied to my friend’s post stating my disappointment about the colour. Someone else replied to me, saying that she had two girls and that it was impossible to get them to play with anything that wasn’t pink – and what did I know about raising children, anyway? Admittedly, not much. Maybe it is actually is impossible to get girls to play with a toy that isn’t pink…

…but I’m pretty sure that girls don’t only colour with pink crayons. I’m pretty sure they know that dogs are brown (not pink), and cars are blue (not pink) and houses are white (not pink).

Hammers, also, aren’t pink.

By making toys “for girls” – regardless of colour, really – we might be showing them that they can do anything, sure: they can build LEGO shopping malls and they can engineer with Goldie, but aren’t we also, subtly, showing them that they can do anything as long as it’s the special girl version of the original thing?

And before you think this is only a problem for kids, try shopping for women’s running shoes or work boots – it can be a challenge to find versions of either that don’t have pink detailing, as though to remind the very woman wearing them that “Hey you have boobs!”

And as though we’re not reminded enough by stuff we buy…

Part Four: We Can Do It! (and also: Look At Us!)

So here’s where I start tying everything together (remember how I said we’re doing the same damage, ourselves?). As an EIT, I’ve worked on construction sites a number of times and will continue to do so throughout my career. I wear safety gear like everyone else, in the same nasty orange colour as everyone else. There are other women, however, who have pink hard hats.

I know, I’m beaking pink again – and I’m sorry – but hear me out. To get a pink hard hat takes some effort; it’s not supplied by the company (not any company that I’ve worked with, anyway), so it’s something you have to go find and pay for yourself. To illustrate my point: they also have cowboy-hat hard hats – these are both novelty, attention-grabbing safety items that you purchase because they say something about your personality. In the case of most women (I’ve met) who wear the pink hats:

Yeah, I’m a woman and I’m working construction – I bet that blows your mind, doesn’t it?!

They are confrontational super-feminists out to make sure everyone knows that they can do anything (possibly, better than anyone else). This is not a helpful attitude for two important reasons:

  1. To be a feminist is to uphold equality, not superiority and not otherness (since, you know, they’re practically antonyms). By wearing a different hard hat than everyone else, you’re acting entitled and you’re telling everyone that you’re “different”.  Can you do the same work? Do you have the same skills? Should I treat you the same as everyone else? I’m not really sure, because you’re different.
  2. It embeds the idea that “you are also a woman” – see rant Part Two above, in case you’ve been skimming. Do you want to be “a welder”, or do you want to be “a welder – oh, and also a woman”?  How and why is that relevant?

Let me pause to grant you another caveat: if you love pink and you feel like a pink hard hat would be fun and different and cheerful, that’s cool. Don’t let me shut down your hopes of wearing a rad, bright hard hat (because, granted, they are pretty awesome) – but don’t wear it for the wrong reasons. Don’t wear it because you “want to be taken seriously” or because you’re “loud and proud” about being a woman on a construction site – do you expect me to be impressed? Do you expect me to care at all?

And before you answer: note that expecting me to care is expecting me to treat you differently because you’re a woman.

I could be wrong, but I think that’s called sexism..?

Part Five: But! (or: The Victim Syndrome)

But! The [construction, engineering, publishing, lion-taming, etc] industry really is sexist! Males dominate the business, science and trades sectors, and more! Even if a woman gets one of these jobs, she’ll still (statistically) make less money than her male counterpart(s)!

I hear these woes – fact, statistic, opinion, what-have-you – all the time, and I can’t help but feel that the people who share them have given up. It sounds like, “why bother” trying to succeed at anything when industry/society/statistics are against me? Or, maybe I can garner favour by pointing out the fact that I’m a woman trying to succeed in a (sexist?) “man’s world” – in a field where I “don’t belong”?

Yes, some people are sexist. I have experienced sexism more frequently than I like to think about (because the things some people think I can’t do are seriously sad/hilarious), but we can’t paint all of society/industry/whatever that way; we can’t blame our failings on sexism and we can’t live our lives with a victim attitude. To go into anything already believing that we won’t do well because of our gender is nonsense. To think that there is anywhere we don’t belong because of our gender is equally nonsense.

I practise parkour four to six times a week – it’s another part of my life wherein I am surrounded mostly by men/boys. It’s incredibly physically demanding: I started doing parkour instead of rock-climbing because it was vastly more difficult. Because of that, there are a lot of hurdles (figuratively) for women: it’s really hard, for example, to do a climb-up (imagine pulling yourself up out of a pool, but without the water, and with a wall taller than your head). As such, it can be hard for me to keep up with the guys: I often can’t jump as far or as high or as hard.

But I’ve been going for eight months now and only one person has said anything even remotely sexist – and it was another woman.

Due to strength/skill differences, our practises are often split into groups: those who can perform skill X and those who need to first practise lesser skill Y, to build strength/technique/whatever. I am generally in the Y-group, and one day I was there with another girl, who was watching X-group and commented, “Isn’t it annoying that we’re over here just because we’re girls?”

It rankled with me. Of course, on a grand and logical scale I can argue what she was perhaps trying to say: we are women and don’t have the same strength as a man of our same demographic/skill level, and that’s too bad but it’s the fault of evolution (evolution sux!). But that isn’t what she said, and we weren’t in Y-group because of our gender; we were there because we weren’t (yet) strong enough to be in X-group.

There is absolutely nothing preventing me from joining X-group aside from more training – and that defeatist attitude.

As before, sexism exists. It’s a real thing, it’s totally unacceptable and it’s not something you should keep quiet about – but keep in mind that it’s not an excuse. If your book sales suck or no one’s buying your paintings or you can’t run up a wall, at least consider that it’s not just because you’re a girl.

Part Six: Solution – Swap This For That

Since I said I’m tired of reading tweets about sexism but I’m also telling people not to shut up about it, I should probably clarify how, exactly, I’d like people to handle said topic. What follow are some examples of things I’ve noticed recently – there are loads of interesting, exciting and very thought-provoking initiatives (online and elsewhere) that shed light on sexist shadows…

…but don’t forget that last adjective: thought-provoking. Regardless of any message, it’s important to think about what you hear and what you’re reading, and to recall that people enjoy being outraged – and it’s not always warranted. Think about the facts and data: where did it come from and how was it collected? Think about opinions: do you actually agree? Are there counterexamples that have been ignored by the presenter? Finally, think about how to react and/or conduct yourself in future. Just like other societal changes, ending sexism (/etc) starts with you (you lucky reader)!

With all that in mind, please consider THE GENDERSWAP for all your sexism-fighting needs.

So, there’s probably a more technical/scientific term for this idea, but the premise is the same: try swapping males for females and females for males in your mind, whether it’s in marketing, fiction, everyday interactions or whatever. After the switch, see if you’d still handle them the same way. Obviously, this trick can’t apply to all situations, but it’s a good starting point, and it’s the basis of most of the examples I’m about to give. Note that each has some discussion points and caveats, but I think that genderswapping is generally a good way to enlighten people without being whiny or aggressive. So here we go – again!

The Coverflip

Coverflip was initiated by author Maureen Johnson, somewhat by accident. Basically, followers were challenged to take male/female-targeted/authored book covers and flip either the author’s gender, the intended audience’s gender or both. Loads of flipped covers were submitted and some were posted over at Huffington Post. The results were pretty interesting, as was the ensuing discussion and Johnson’s Action Plan to keep that discussion going. From what I’ve seen, most people who submitted artwork agreed that books written by or geared towards women/girls had “fluffy” or “trashy” covers that cheapened whatever literature was inside.

Of course, it’s important to remember that a large part of this is marketing; covers are kind of a big deal as far as sales, and if a lot of books are published/sold with fluffy covers, said covers obviously have some appeal. Probably, they appeal to the target audience, just as the content does. Having taken a look at some of the flipped covers, I can only halfway support the notion that the author’s gender has anything to do with the cover.

The content? Yes. The genre? Yes. The target audience? Yes. But all of those things really should have something to do with the cover, shouldn’t they? A lot of the flipped covers don’t seem to have anything to do with the book’s content and/or they misrepresent the story/genre entirely – and in that case they’re just bad covers, not sexist.

So, if a “fluffy” cover fits the content, the genre and the target audience but we’re still seeing them mostly on women’s books, maybe that’s because mostly women are reading and writing those types of books? Julie Crisp, Editorial Director at Tor UK, recently published statistics showing that women (who submit to Tor UK) write mostly YA and Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance – genres that are frequently written for girls.

So maybe there’s something women can do about that? Personally, I read primarily fantasy, and a lot of my favourite authors are women (Margaret Weis and Megan Whalen Turner, for example). The covers of their books definitely aren’t fluffy or trashy (as un-trashy as fantasy covers from the 90’s can be, anyway), so maybe that’s something to think about before we worry that anything we write will be adorned with pink hearts just because we’re female writers. If your cover appeals to your audience, matches your story/theme/etc, I don’t really see what’s wrong with having a fluffy cover.  Seriously, who doesn’t like fluffy?  Your book is like a hug from a stuffed animal.

All that said, I obviously haven’t collected any statistical data, and any such data would be pretty subjective (who defines what a fluffy cover is/isn’t?). I will agree that a lot of novels geared towards women get fluffy covers, but it also seems to me that women are buying them (and writing them). If there’s concern, a perfectly reasonable solution (in my opinion, since I am not a publisher and I don’t have to pay for things) is from one of Johnson’s original tweets about the subject as a whole:

Books are made and sold with different covers all the time. I’m nowhere near an expert – I think this is probably for copyright/legal reasons or because the book has been re-released (?) – but why couldn’t it also be done in order to appeal to a different audience? To multiple audiences?

Why can’t they also make Goldie Blox in green or blue or yellow?

In other cover news…

Cover Posing (by Jim C. Hines) and The Hawkeye Initiative

Author Jim C Hines has taken his own cover analysis in a somewhat different direction: he makes valiant attempts to mimic the poses of women on book covers (often with hilarious results) in order to show how “women are so often dressed and posed in ways that emphasize their sexuality over all else.”

Hines’ photos and posts on the topic are humourous and interesting, and they do a great job of drawing attention to this issue as a whole without just whining – as does the Hawkeye Initiative.

Straight to the point: the Hawkeye Initiative takes images of female superheroes and replaces them with a similarly-posed (and sometimes, similarly-dressed) versions of Hawkeye – a male superhero. Click the link to see just how hilariously ridiculous this can be. Anyone who’s read a comic book has probably seen some example of the common, super-sexed-up female superhero (or other female character); in fact, images like these have probably become so common that a lot of people don’t even think about them anymore.

But it’s harder to ignore when it’s a man, isn’t it? I don’t use the phrase “hilariously ridiculous” when I see a scantily-clad, contorted woman, because it’s so commonplace that I’m actually pretty bored. Thank-you, THI.

As far as complaints/arguments, I know that Hines’ photos have met some backlash: primarily “what about romance covers with nigh-naked men on them?” Hines addresses these comments with yet more photos to show how, while men are also objectified, their poses/graphics usually don’t sacrifice power/logic just to be sexy.

But they are still eye candy, aren’t they? Yes. And here’s where my counterargument begins. In the realm of comic books (and visual fiction in general – I’m thinking film), a large part of the fun for consumers is looking at things that are pretty. I do not think for a second that women are any different from men in this respect: if a straight woman told me she doesn’t enjoy staring at Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Henry Cavill (Man of Steel) and/or Jason Momoa (Conan the Barbarian), I’d be pretty skeptical.

Note that I chose those actors/titles because they’re also (comic) books. It’s worth mentioning that the first two of the list have female supporting characters who rarely (if ever) are even close to nude in the films, while we get plenty of mancandy throughout. Conan, of course, is another can of worms altogether, but it’s about to help me (badly) illustrate another point.

The Conan “franchise” (if you will) has pretty much been sexist from the get-go (I’m thinking that’s largely the point), and the recent remake was really no exception: the main female character, Tamara, is needed for a sacrificial ritual and her character could have been replaced with “magic necklace” without changing the story.  Honestly, I was too busy staring at Momoa to give a damn about the thin plot, but there was one female character that drew my attention: Marique.

Marique was the villain’s (Khalar’s) nasty witch helper in the film – and also his daughter. While they did something weird with her face/hair to render her somewhat less attractive, she was, of course, dressed pretty sparsely throughout the film. She was also a very ho-hum character: she fought on occasion with weird little finger-claws, she did some magic, she was generally gross (licking up blood), et cetera, but she didn’t really seem to have anything else going on.  Khalar and Marique’s evil plan throughout the film was to bring Marique’s mother back to life; the mother had also been a witch – a very powerful one – and who would be able to grant Khalar many powers once resurrected.

Interestingly, there was a scene where Marique insisted she could grant her father the powers he wanted.  Khalar pretty much ignored her, but it was an interesting moment for Marique: she wanted something.  She was confident in her talents, but had been basically brainwashed by her father’s obsession with his quest (and, more simply “sought his approval”, which is pretty typical, but at least it’s something).

It’s a tiny scene and it means nothing to the movie: Marique is still evil; she still supports her father throughout the rest of the story, and she dies at the end – a boring villain’s death.  But the possibilities were there: stricken by her father’s lack of faith in her, she might have betrayed him.  Or, at the very least, perhaps at the end she could have realised that she didn’t need him (/his approval) to be awesome by herself?

Maybe you think I’m grasping at straws here – I probably am – but that instant of sentiment on Marique’s part wasn’t required in the scene, which was otherwise an information dump to tell the audience Khalar’s plans.  They could have gone without it, but they didn’t, and the fact that it was still there, hidden amidst scenes cluttered with half-naked harem girls, makes me wonder if we are so busy looking for objectified women that we don’t notice when they aren’t (just) that.

Don’t get me wrong: Marique’s character could have been replaced with a “magic necklace” too – she had potential but they didn’t do anything with it, so my point is pretty much moot…

…but still, at least she wanted something.  Tamara just was.

Anyway.  Crap movie and pretty iffy example, but my point here is that, maybe, we as an audience see an “objectified” man/woman and we immediately dismiss them as that: a plot device, a bit of eye-candy, an argument against gravity, et cetera.  Maybe we are so ready to play the sexism card that we don’t bother looking for anything more?  Maybe we dismiss sexed-up characters as the cut-outs they represent rather than looking for more?

Reiteration: I’m not dismissing the problem(s) of objectification and “selling sex”, and it’s important not to dismiss those thoughts, but I do think it’s our responsibility to dig a little deeper  before we yell “sexism” and cover our ears.  After all, it’s not like males in comic books/on book covers are represented any less “fantastically” than females – so is it just because a lot of the artists/writers are men that we worry?  And what does that mean for women who write about men (like me)?

Literary Genderswap

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I write, I read a lot about writing and I have a lot of friends who do the same.  Among them, some have talked about genderswapping characters in their stories in order to achieve a “more realistic/less sexist” ratio.  There are loads of articles online that promote the same idea: basically, equal representation.  Females in fiction should be more than just (dull) foils to the (interesting) main character and more than stock characters like “the love interest” or even “the strong female”, because a couple of really exaggerated female characters can’t make up for a general lack of them.

This idea, I love.  While part of fiction’s job (in my opinion) is to comment on the world through the lens of story, I think it can also be used to promote change.  If there were equal representation of female superheroes and male superheroes, or female scientists and male scientists, in fiction, that alone would probably do a lot more for young girls’ sense of place than Goldie Blox.  I can safely say that all of my “heroes” growing up were men; the fictional characters whose ideologies I agreed with were men.  That should change, and fiction is an easy place to do it.

However.

The idea that it’s a number – a 1:1 ratio – feels tacky to me, and it can still go wrong.  It’s not just the number that matters, but the quality of those female characters as well, and their overall place in the novel.  If they are placed in positions a woman wouldn’t “normally” fill in your story, and it’s obvious (e.g., if a male adventurer is surprised that his new partner is a woman), then the gender equality isn’t really there, is it?  The story has undergone “affirmative action” – females have been “hired” to fill a quota and to “prove” that the creator isn’t sexist – but the world still is.

Maybe this is personal preference, but I would feel better with one female character that no one is “surprised” at.  In the article at the previous link I posted, the writer uses the movie Salt to make a point – even though Angelina Jolie’s character is awesome, it’s still just her and a bunch of dudes.  While it’s true that Salt doesn’t do anything for the F:M ratio, no one is surprised that Jolie’s character can do everything that she does, and there is never any doubt about her skills.  No one ever says, “You’re only a woman.”  Even when she immediately worries for her husband when things take a downward turn, it’s not because that’s her “natural instinct as a woman” – it’s because she’s trained in that kind of situation and knows that he is in immediate danger.

If “ratio” is the only criterion used to avoid seeming sexist, be wary – it’s worth also checking for sexist attitudes.  If the story’s world isn’t supposed to be sexist, there should be no commentary about gender.  No villains who assume a queen won’t be able to do as her absent king might have; no team leaders who assume that a girl won’t be good enough to make the cut.  For an example, let’s go back to Conan: the Cimmerians (Barbarian tribe) treat women pretty equally – or so it’s implied.  Conan’s own mother is slain in battle, wearing armour over her pregnant belly, and Conan survives via Caesarian section right there on the battlefield.  Conan, too, even tells Tamara that Cimmerian women wear armour and hold themselves like warriors.  If we assume that there are male sex-slaves in the same number as there are female ones, the story is actually pretty gender-equal – anyone can do anything…

…until Conan later tells one of his friends, “You throw like a girl.”  So how do you really feel about all those female Cimmerian warriors?

Fantasy and science fiction stories have a very special opportunity here: since they are often not written in “our world”, they can put women and men wherever they want.  They can have genderless robots and sentient weapons.  They can vary gender as much as they vary reality – but in order to make it effective and truly void of sexism, the attitudes of other characters and the story’s society must be gender-neutral.

Despise me because I am wildly intelligent and greedy.  Love me because I make you laugh.  Fear me because I will stop at nothing to make you bow.  Underestimate me because I am small and uneducated.  Open the doors for me because I’ve got my arms full, or because it’s the polite thing to do.

Don’t treat me any way because I’m a woman.

Imaginary Genderswap

…and, don’t expect different treatment because you’re a woman.

Last one, and it ties back to my original point: don’t ever think you should or shouldn’t do something because of your gender.  Genderswap your mind.  Would a guy be worried about shop class?  Would a girl hesitate to go shopping?  Women and men both wear shoes and do their hair; we both drink beer and drive trucks, and everyone knows that.  We both write stories about women and men, about detectives and magic and coming-of-age and talking fish, so why does our gender matter at all?  And why should we worry that it does?

What I’m trying to say here is that you can do anything.  Don’t let statistics, hearsay or opinion scare you away or make you hopeless.  You are judged by who you are, not what’s in your pants.  There are no boys’ books or girls’ jobs, and if there’s ever a time when that isn’t true, there are probably laws and policies in place to help.

While we’re still far from eliminating sexism, look for stories and movements that inspire you rather than those that depress you.  Ride the wave; don’t let it crush you.

 

Got thoughts?  Write ’em below.  I’m wildly curious for your opinions.

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