April 26, 2011

Even more girliness


I have kept meaning to get back to this.  And bells*, roses, yarn, etc** keep getting in the way.

Bratsche wrote: 

May we have a picture of the cardigan?  I’m curious to see what the lots of colors look like.

I assume there is only the one US edition of the Dark Lord at this point? (Which is the one I have, which is why I didn’t know about the dedication until now.) Now I have to decide if I need to get a UK edition (although I really like the US cover art).

Ta da

 I’ve never thought about it, I’m afraid.  Diana told me she hadn’t got the dedication in in time for the American edition, which came out first***.  And I vaguely assumed that some time when it reprinted they’d put the dedication in, and maybe they didn’t.  But there’s nobody to follow it up now . . . I suppose I could ask Harpercollins.  They still publish some of my backlist, they have to know who I am.  (“Why is this strange woman writing to us?  And about what?”)

 Mrs Redboots 

I wonder, though, whether the pendulum has not swung too far in the opposite direction – these days, one hears nothing except how feeble boys are, how they are far less intelligent than girls, how they have more trouble in school, how girls are so much better at maths and science…. and my daughter has noticed how the girls who were born around the same time as [grandson] are far more advanced than he is.

I’m afraid this is a hot button with me.  Short answer:  no.  The pendulum has not swung too far in the opposite direction.  Kids are kids, and if they’re given the opportunity to whinge and feel sorry for themselves and not make an effort, they will.  The media needs melodrama, and pathetic boys make good copy.   Boys are slower to physical maturity.  There’s nothing wrong with this.  It’s just physiology and hormones.  Remember through most of primary school how the girls always seemed like a different species from the boys of the same year?  And in junior high the girls were all trying to date high-schoolers.  And then the boys started growing up. 

            As I say:  hot button.  I am sick to frelling death of the whining that’s going on in the book world about ‘all the books are about girls now’.  In the first place, that’s ridiculously untrue—so ridiculously I can’t be bothered to make a list of male writers and male characters—and in the second place the real problem is that boys, generally, are resistant to reading books about girls, whereas the reverse is far less true.†  And as a girl who had to grow up reading books about boys, because unless I wanted to read about prom dresses and shopping, boys’ books were pretty much my only choice, I think it’s way over time for boys to learn the reverse trick.  Feminism is about equality.  And a little more reading about the other side might even conceivably level the playing field in other ways.  There might be fewer male CEOs who assume women ‘can’t cut it’.  There might be more stay-at-home dads, because more men would risk having the strength of their conviction that they would like to raise their kids . . . whereupon men in play groups and day care and the pick-up queue when the nursery school lets out would stop being abnormal—and stop being treated as abnormal—which would absolutely be a good thing. ††

Melissa Mead

I’m extremely lucky- I have parents who, faced with a first child who was both a girl AND had cerebral palsy in a time when they wouldn’t even be expected to send such a child to school, assumed that I’d both go to college and become self-supporting. . . .  I look back on my class from the special school I went to until 6th grade (when the laws changed) and realize that I may be the only one from my class who IS self-supporting, and it makes me realize the importance of a supportive family and a society who values education and people putting their skills to the best possible use, whatever that may be.

Yes.  We are such social animals, we humans†††.  The media—and the social scientists—aren’t doing the boys any good by labelling them slow or weak or marginalised—I also wonder sometimes if the people who protest the loudest about being proof against influence aren’t the ones likeliest to be bending into pretzels, even if they don’t realise it themselves. 

            At the same time it is possible to resist and if necessary overcome what everyone is telling you.  That’s a big part of what DEERSKIN is about—a big part of why Lissar is willing to risk having a life at the end.  It is important that in the first public confrontation with her father the people all think that what is happening is Lissar’s fault, and in the final confrontation the people are saying, no, this is our Deerskin, we believe her.  But it can be a very hard lesson, that people will lie to make themselves comfortable, if it’s you they’re lying about.


Well throwing it in the other direction, I’m a boy and I always wanted to be a girl. I have the lucky happenstance of having extremely wonderful parents who didn’t give a frell, and because of that, I think, I never really felt any pressure to be anything other than ‘me’. But I liked wearing dresses, playing with dolls, and most of my friends were girls.  Like you’d expect, I got an awful lot of flack for it . . . I just couldn’t understand why being a tomboy was more acceptable than being a ‘tomgirl’. . . Is it because our society secretly holds the assumption that OF COURSE a girl would want to be a boy – there’s greater freedom and passion in playing that gender! Why do we frown at boys wanting to embrace their feminine side? Are we still saying that being feminine is a negative trait for someone to have?

Yes.  Next question.  And ‘secretly’?  Our society isn’t the least secret about its love of power and its preference for male-style power.  Best way for a woman to fall off the career fast track forever?  Get pregnant and decide to stay home with her baby for more than 24 hours.  And if she’d been focussed enough to get a Caesarian booked in for a suitable weekend, she wouldn’t have to miss any work.  And as a wearying, predictable example of public reaction to a man admitting to behaviour unbecoming to a football hooligan, how about the sneering and snarling against Nick Clegg for saying that music often makes him cry?   Yes, there are also people saying ‘hey, he’s human, it happens, even to politicians’ but there shouldn’t have been that kneejerk of disgust: ‘he CRIES—ewwwww—GET HIM’.  And there was.


            . . . And clearly I’m going to be answering this thread into the next decade.  By which time ALL OF THESE PROBLEMS OF GENDERIST NONSENSE WILL BE SOLVED and we can sit around drinking champagne and laughing about the bad old days.

* * *

* I have decided that trying to learn Cambridge minor on handbells is a sign of a dangerous self-destructive streak.  Niall has rung quarter peals of handbell Cambridge.  I don’t understand why he’s still breathing.

** Voice lesson again finally next Monday.  And I should see Oisin this Friday.  A fortnight’s break in each case, due to school hols and other absurdities.  I’ve just been emailing to Nadia that she’s right about the fading trace of one’s last lesson:  after a fortnight I’m just singing folk songs to the hellhounds the way I’ve always sung folk songs to the hellhounds.^  What voice lessons?  And I even took a notebook with me last lesson^^ and wrote useful, singerly things down in it. 

^ Well . . . no.   One of the best things about taking voice lessons is just that they make me sing.  Whereupon singing folk songs to the hellhounds becomes a good thing to do rather than rampant, embarrassing self-indulgence.  Although this merely knocks the rampant, embarrassing self-indulgence part up a level to the taking voice lessons.  However, I’m good at compartmentalising, and I don’t have to think about the justification for taking voice lessons when I’m singing to hellhounds.  All I have to think about is that I need to sound like I’ve been singing the next time I see Nadia.

^^ It’s only taken me . . . how many lessons to remember to start doing this?  And Blondel suggested it too.  And I took lessons from him for a year. 

*** For some reason best known to the Magical Publishing Faculty who live underground at a Major Ley-line Confluence and Maintain the Balance of the World by occasionally discovering by indescribable means that a British book by a British author must be published in America first or the rent in the time-space continuum will allow Yog-Sothoth to stop frelling lurking and come in.

† Just like Hollywood doesn’t have to make ‘women’s films’ because women will go to men’s films—any lack of enthusiasm or downright reluctance doesn’t matter, so long as there are bums on seats.  But men generally won’t go to perceived ‘women’s’ films . . . so of course the profit checkers are going to go ‘right:  we want LOTS OF NAKED BREASTS AND LOTS OF EXPLOSIONS’ . . . and the studios are going to go on making more ‘men’s’ films.

†† Blondviolinist, wearing her Enabling hat, sent me some links to knitting blogs, including one by a fellow.  Whose introduction to how he became a knitter is full of sad and sorry examples of how totally unwelcome he was made to feel in this generally female bastion of . . . fun and friendship and creativity.  This is SO DEPRESSING.   I’m glad he hung on, and I’m glad we’ve got some male knitters out there, and may there be more, so it won’t be WEIRD.  Weird is almost always threatening to those who take comfort in the status quo–or who feel they need to defend themselves against the Other, whoever the Other happens to be.  In this case guys who knit.

††† However emphatically cranky hellgoddesses may occasionally dispute this.


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