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Sidetracks is a collaborative project featuring various essays, videos, reviews, or other Internet content that we want to share with each other. All past and current links for the Sidetracks project can be found in our Sidetracks tag.

text that says Ana's Section

The myth of the bra burning feminists — Interesting thoughts on why bra burning in particular has such a hold on the popular imagination.

No Longer "Silent All These Years" — On YA and feminism. I dislike the romanticising of abusers and stalkers as much as anyone else, but it does bother me a lot that so many people seem to conflate "YA" and "creepy sexist paranormal romance", as if they were one and the same.

➝ This video of a four-year-old ranting against gendered marketing warmed my heart. What a pity that Riley is already "getting lectured by a man on the Internet who knows less than [her]".

13 Myths and Misconceptions about Trans Women: Part 1 — I found section 5, on gender identity and gender expression, particularly useful. I've read my share of progressive sources where there's a lot of confusion about that.

➝ The F Word on The re-emergence of Riot Grrrl music and politics — It makes me so sad that the Riot Grrrl movement completely passed me by. I was too young for it, I guess, and by the time I became a committed music fan things had already changed a lot in terms of gender politics and the hopefulness of the early 90's had dispelled. I imagine that the movement could have introduced me to feminism at a much younger age, and consequently my teen years would have been a little bit easier. Sigh.

The fight goes on: The Bloggess on surviving depression — This is not something I usually talk about, but as the one year anniversary of surviving something pretty major approaches, it seemed an appropriate link to share. Not to mention that the post is partially about exactly why many of us don't talk about it. These bits in particular really resonated with me:

When depression sufferers fight, recover and go into remission we seldom even know, simply because so many suffer in the dark... ashamed to admit something they see as a personal weakness... afraid that people will worry, and more afraid that they won’t. We find ourselves unable to do anything but cling to the couch and force ourselves to breathe.


We come back to life thinner, paler, weaker... but as survivors. Survivors who don’t get pats on the back from coworkers who congratulate them on making it. Survivors who wake to more work than before because their friends and family are exhausted from helping them fight a battle they may not even understand.

It's pretty hard to know that the cost of your survival is exhausting and alienating people you love and damaging some of your relationships beyond repair. Especially when there's so little you can do about it — the words "it will never happen again", after all, could very easily be a lie.

text that says Jodie's Section

➝ Mediocre Dave talks about the possible sexist implications of this year's Dr Who Christmas special in Doctor Who, Sexism and Criticising Popular Things. I've seen also seen this episode written up convincingly as a positive episode about the role of mothers and am undecided which reading I personally favour. It's not all Doctor Who though. For those of you who aren't interested in going anywhere near that program, there is a really interesting discussion of the different shapes sexism can take and more on enjoying things with bad politics.

➝ Showing you The Rejectionists's post Thou Shalt Not Fall is not my way of trying to convince everyone that they should watch 'The Lost Boys'. No, no, not at all. I mean just because I've seen it twenty or so times I would never try to make others watch it *whistles innocently*. The Rejectionist was already a solid heroine of mine, but now she's made a whole writing retreat, full of big deal writers, watch 'The Lost Boys' and written a post about the experience that goes way beyond *hot vampires, omgooooosh*.

If she ever decides to try to take over the world I am backing her.

➝ For future use, a list of books about science by women compiled over at So Many Books, by blogger power.

➝ Zetta Elliott runs the numbers for young adult and middle grade books by black authors (based in the US) published in the US in 2011. There were actually less published in 2011 than in 2010.

➝ Doret at The Happy Nappy Bookseller followed up Zetta's list with one of her own. She compiled all US titles published in 2011 by authors who are American Indian, Asian, Latino, or of mixed heritage.

➝ I know it's not Christmas any more, but these Star Wars paper snowflakes were so cute I just had to share.

➝ My response to Jenny Turner's article 'As Many Pairs of Shoes As She Wants' is complicated and really requires lengthy discussion. I like a lot of it, huge chunks of it in fact and it's not exactly that I have reservations about some parts, more that I think one of her central points ends up making it sound like all women will want the same thing (to reproduce and be brain surgeons/career women). I certainly want feminism to work in a way that allows women who do want both those things to have them...but I don't want the children and I suspect my idea of dream career would never fit the useful Marxist inspired trajectory Turner is imagining. I'm all for supporting the vision of feminism that Turner is talking about in that portion of her article (society helping more with child care, the nuclear family doesn't have to be the norm, changes in work patterns, the chance for careers to replace jobs), but I'm glad that I don't have to have the children and I owe that to the feminism we currently have. Tangled thoughts, but I guess I would just have expected to see some recognition of that huge, freeing change alongside a discussion of how we help women who do want children and careers, not jobs?

Mostly I'm not really sure middle class means the same thing to Turner as it does to me, or I subscribe to the idea of strata within working class and middle class (I mean I see these different levels all around me in my life) where she doesn't seem to, which means I sometimes find a few of her points about class hard to relate to.

As an aside, I think it's worth noting, that the three letters listed below the article (all corrective) are all written by men. Maybe there's a perfectly innocent reason for that, or maybe we're looking at some mansplaining.

➝ Look, it's an interview with China Miéville. I ♥ Miéville's work and look, he is so smart when he talks. *sigh*

➝ Josh Cook writes 'A Defense of Literature with an Agenda' at Bookslut.

➝ Also at Bookslut this month Elizabeth Bachman captures something very true and hard in her essay Amnesia:
'Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, meh George Santayana, those who read history always seem doomed too, really doomed, when I read even great history, history like Joanna Bourke’s that illuminates the present and elevates the discipline, I get morose. This is why sometimes, also, I ignore today’s news, the litany of hopeless things that suck. I was hanging out with a friend the other night, he was shocked by all the current-events references I didn’t get. "Wow, you’re really out of it," he said. I said, "So?" But secretly I do this, again and again, I read about Pinochet or Guantanamo, Haiti in the 19th century or Haiti in the 20th century or Haiti now, Bhopal, superfund sites, secret CIA wars, the Trail of Tears, the Holocaust again. And then I get all gloomy and I stop.'

text that says Renay's Section

Women's Books — I discovered this link buried in my delicious (RIP) bookmarks from last year when I first started my SF/F review project and thought it was a nice parallel to things I'm uncovering. I haven't seen this kind of categorization behavior in my local Barnes & Noble nor did I notice it when Books-A-Million was still around, although I have seen instances of it in Hastings, which I rarely visit anymore. This part jumped out at me:

Neil Gaiman’s STARDUST, for example, is still called and reviewed as Fantasy, despite its incredibly strong romance plot/subplot. But I’ve seen Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Legacy series called and reviewed as Romance. Why? What’s the difference? Carey calls her books Fantasy. Gaiman calls his book(s) Fantasy. Why is his categorization honored and hers isn’t? More to the point, why do reviews of his book—including reviews written by women, too—focus on the writing and story, whereas reviews of Carey’s books focus on the romance?

I would also toss a series like The Wheel of Time where romance and relationships spend quite a bit of time causing Rand to be a complete and utter jerk to the awesome ladies that want to engage in sexy times with him (this was a large reason I ragequit the series when I did). I've only read one Guy Gavriel Kay book to the unimpressed glare of the friend who loaned me several of his books more than four years ago — Tigana — but the same thing occurs there, where romances are integral to the plot and the choices main characters make. But those aren't considered romances. GGK books might be considered romantic in the adventure sense and maybe Jordon, too, but there's a difference between romantic adventure and tl;dr adventure and I draw it when your series is not longer a series, but a PhD course in epic fantasy.

I don't know how to answer the question posed; is this a way of suppressing women's writing?

➝ Another link uncovered, buried between saved kinkmeme prompts: Mellowing & Industry Observations, where Mark Charan Newton (who I still have not managed to read any books by) says the following:

Publishers dominate once again. Remember that time where people controlled debate according to the mildly anarchistic nature of the Internet? Not now. The big publishers have created the mega-sites, and have invited bloggers to write guests posts. It’s miraculous — regular, interesting content, around which they can flog their books (and they’re a business — that’s what we expect). Bloggers mention they write guest posts, and send traffic to the mega-sites. Traffic flows one way.

This was probably true in 2011, but will it be true for 2012? I don't follow many publisher sites other than Angry Robot. I find the Tor site entirely too complicated to deal with on a good day, forget trying to navigate it after a nine hour workday. I've never relied on publishers sites, always on blogs, which are just as active as always. Maybe things are changing? Or perhaps I just engage differently.

➝ My American Indian class was tough. I should have known better to take it during my last semester, because a) last semester and b) emotional exhaustion. Let's just say there were lots of tears. At least my professor would cry with me sometimes during lectures while everyone else sat around awkwardly and stared at the snotbags weeping openly over PowerPoint slides.

Going to toss a trigger warning on this for disturbing content and imagery. I watched a TEDx talk with Aaron Huey while I was studying for my finals, because I was going to write about the Lakota. I learned more about framing historical events in this class than I ever have before. The video talks about some of them, specifically in regards to Abraham Lincoln, although there were countless more because the course covered Mississippian culture to present day. This class and video gave me some very horrifying and infuriating glimpses into my own terrible secondary education with regard to issues of native people, which was revisionist, racist, and full of holes, taught by coaches with free periods who were only incidental history teachers filling an empty space there was no one else there to take. I didn't have a history teacher who truly cared about his material until my senior year and of course, that was the history of American government. I think about an American history class, one of many I took as an elective because I loved history, and how we studied the Lakota and Wounded Knee in particular. So much of what I was taught were lies. I can only mourn for that little girl who would have cared and learned and been a better person sooner, but couldn't, because the culture that was teaching her was so utterly broken.

➝ There's been a dust-up lately in YA fandom. The first really thorough post I read about the issues was A Really Long Post About the Author/Reviewer Relationship, but of course, there are other opinions available and ultimately they are hilarious. I've read through as much of it as I have time for (not much) but it really makes me reflect on how I failed out of YA fandom back in 2009 when an author repeatedly harassed me to review his book over email when I didn't do it fast enough for him, and then called me homophobic and was generally a complete asshole when I didn't like his book. Absolutely zero people besides my friends stepped up to go, "hey, dude, this is uncool, do not attack reviewers!" Enjoy the fact that there's self-policing of your fandom now, bloggers. Mostly I'm marveling about how people are framing this as a 2011 problem and rolling my eyes — it's not, it's just harder to get away with it. I did, however, love Phoebe North's GoodReads Pledge.

Although why people continue to post their writing on GoodReads given their Terms of Service continues to astound me.

➝ I don't follow fashion at all and am not a member of Tim Gunn's cult of personality because I dislike how he equates slim with healthy every time I accidentally stumble across him, but in a recent Marie Clare interview, Tim Gunn's New Day Job he says the following:

In my travels, I've been an advocate for larger women. I've been talking to designers, but only a half-dozen make an effort. Most say, "I don't want a woman who's a size 10 or 11 wearing my clothes." Well, shame on you! It's not realistic. We need to address real women with real needs.

Warning for other problematic statements, though.

Date: 2012-01-08 08:36 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] dastevens
*hugs my sweet beautiful friend Ana* *again* *and again* *and again*

Date: 2012-01-09 08:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mooredatsea.blogspot.com
I have thought the same thing about depression, its this terrible catch 22 in terms of relationships. When you are depressed, you need use other people, its the honest, sad truth. Its like, when you have cancer, you need other people to take care of you. Depression is so honest the same way, only you cannot simply say 'I have a tumor, I'm sorry, I really need you to help me.' You have to hint and prod, and... well, in a way, it is almost as if our culture forces us to manipulate others into helping us. If nothing else, the cost of asking for help is an emotional cost, for yourself and the recipient of the request, and when you're depressed, the last thing you have available is the emotional resources necessary to invest in that kind of cost. So you sit and wait for someone to notice, and you try to make it easy for someone else to notice. Which ends up, of course, leaving you feeling awful and angry and ashamed, and this means you hurt and exhaust and drive off the people around you. I think, depression, by now, simply leaves me in a state of mind where I feel like I should drive people off - our culture is a culture of quiet, so if we feel we're going to melt down and sob or cry out, or vent, or make any emotional noise, and that we won't be able to quell the impulse into silence, then we should at least try to be where none else will hear us.


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