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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

➝ At the risk of turning Lady Business into a Foz Meadows appreciation blog...

In pop culture, girls who crush hopelessly on guys they can’t have are painted as just that — hopeless. Over and over again, we’re taught that girls who openly express sexual or romantic interest in guys who don’t want them are pitiable, stalkerish, desperate, crazy bitches. More often than not, they’re also portrayed as ugly – whether physically, emotionally or both – in order to further establish their undesirability as an objective fact. Both narratively and, as a consequence, in real life, men are given free reign to snub, abuse, mislead and talk down to such women: we’re raised to believe that female desire is unseemly, so that any consequent shaming is therefore deserved. There is no female-equivalent Friend Zone terminology because, in the language of our culture, a man’s romantic choices are considered sacrosanct and inviolable. If a girl has been told no, then she has only herself to blame for anything that happens next – but if a woman says no, then she must not really mean it.

This is exactly what I was trying to get at when I said I craved stories from women's perspectives that legitimitised experiencing longing and desire and even idealisation in the same way manic pixie dream girl stories do for men. I know that having had access to such stories would have made a world of difference to my younger self.

On the Rights of Reading and Girls and Boys:

Our children—both boys and girls—lose when we constrain their reading preferences. Ironically, what is acceptable in books for girls today is a much wider range of characters and themes, thanks to the advances of feminism, while what is acceptable for boys is still sadly influenced by what I assume is homophobia and an intolerance of effeminacy. A girl reading Homer Price, Sherlock Holmes, or anything by Robert Louis Stevenson or Mark Twain would be viewed as a reader of classics, but a boy reading much of Louisa May Alcott, the Brontës, or Jane Austen would have a harder time with his image. Girls, at the same time, are harmed by believing boys cannot be interested in female heroines and authors.

Men Reading Women:

The very question why men should like Anne Tyler's books strikes me as odd. I haven't come across the reverse kind of question: why women readers should like, say, Henry James, or F. Scott Fitzgerald, or Edward St Aubyn. This shows that even here, in a sphere where women flourish, where the record of their achievement is truly staggering, the world is not yet on an even keel, so to say. Why males might like a female writer is still a question; why women appreciate the writing of men is not.


➝ I love the fact that there's been so much Diana Wynne Jones love on the bookish Internet lately. Here's Peter Glassman on her work in general, and Chasing Ray on Fire & Hemlock (one of my all-time favourite novels).

➝ The blog PhD in Parenting has a series of posts on children and gender. As you'll have noticed before, I'm not exactly the best at telling whether this kind of commentary is doing a good enough job of staying away from girl cooties territory, but I thought there were some interesting ideas in the post and in the comments and would love to hear what others think.

➝ And speaking of avoiding the girl cooties trap, Clare at the Literary Omnivore has some excellent commentary on The Hunger Games merchandise and on some people's very problematic understanding of what makes Katniss a better role model than Bella.

➝ The F Word on Sherlock's Victorian Values: I found much of interest in this post, but at the same time, this paragraph really frustrated me:

The BBC's Adler was not a feminist icon, she did not meet the high expectations held for this adaptation, but the reactions surrounding her depiction speaks volumes about the socially unacceptable nature of powerful female sexuality.

A sex-positive attitude is a central part of my feminism, and yet I still found Adler's sexualisation problematic - not because I find powerful female sexuality unacceptable, but because it frustrated me to see sexuality become this particular character's sole defining trait. It's perfectly fine for feminists to disagree on this, but I'm always wary of discounting other readings with what amounts to "the patriarchy made you do it" arguments. We can never quite tell how much of our thoughts and attitudes are a product of the sexist world we've grown up in, of course, but when approaching feminist readings that differ from my own, I personally prefer to err on the side of generosity and not assume they're all coming from a place of internalised sexism.

➝ Lastly, I created a Pinterest board called Die, Gender Essentialism, Die. I would love suggestions of more things to add to it.

text that says Jodie's Section

➝ I'm going to start with some good news this week. Greg Mortenson, the lying liar behind the autobiography 'Three Cups of Tea' has to pay money to compensate the charity he founded, because he benefitted financially from their mass purchase and promotion of his two falsified books. Hurray!

The Guardian article that Bookslut links to here sticks to reporting the facts in a rather bland, opinionless way which I assume is meant to be unbiased. Yet, somehow it still feels like the article's author desperately wants to remind you that Greg Mortenson is a good guy really. His co-workers like him! See this one lady says so.

For something with a bit more fire and common sense, I recommend Bookslut's response to an article about Mortenson's actions, written by Laura Miller in April 2011. Jessa Crispin also linked to an investigation of Mortenson and compared his falsified memoir to to James Frey's, earlier that month.

➝ Speaking of Jessa, she now runs the Kind Reader advice column at the Barnes and Noble Review website, where she uses books to try and help people caught by difficult conundrums. This month's advice is particularly relevant to me and I'm very grateful for the guiddance of that final paragraph.

➝ More good news; E A Games will not be removing same sex relationship options from its games, despite pressure. – via LGBT Space

➝ An influential study, claiming that gay people can stop being gay has been renounced by its author.

The article says this study has been lending validity to 'pray away the gay' therapy programs for a long time, partly because the scientist who created it had previously worked to stop homosexuality being classed as a mental disorder. As a prominent liberal scientist had produced this study it could be presented as unbiased by organisations that cited it (even though the data was criticised for emerging from flawed methodological processes). This allowed people who want to convince the world that gay, lesbian and bisexual people can become straight to strengthen their rhetorical arguments with flawed, but prestigious science from a non-religious, liberal researcher. A public retraction makes that argument invalid. - via Cheryl’s Mewsings

➝ Even though I like the peerbacking, kickstarter model of funding projects I try not to flood this space with links to projects that need financial contributions. I very much don't want to be that ass that makes you feel guilty about the starving children if you buy a nice coffee, or don't have any money to give.

I will just show you the 'We See a Different Frontier' project though, with the understanding that I don't want to tell anyone what to do with their money, the anthology that might be produced if the project is funded sounds sooooo interesting. We See a Different Frontier would be 'a special issue/anthology of colonialism-themed speculative fiction from outside the first-world viewpoint'. Sounds amazing and necessary, right? - again, via Cheryl’s Mewsings

➝ Celebrating projects that manage to find the money they need is free and we can all do it! Here's news of a great project that has been funded successfully. Katie's NHS doctors refused to prescribe her hormone replacement therapy. Her friend Paris Lees told her to ask the internet for help and help it did. now has the money to start seeking private treatment. Hurray for Katie.


➝ To end Robin Lafevers talks about second chances for published writers at Writer Unboxed. I worry about debut authors, because so often it seems like all their hopes rest on one book and a huge heaping of chance. Nice to see such a sensible and uplifting post, which can provide hope for all authors who keep going. Also, I want 'Grave Mercy' now, please to be giving it to me universe.

text that says Renay's Section

[personal profile] chaosraven linked me to BIGBANG - FANTASTIC BABY M/V. I've had it on loop for way too long. Curse you, Rose! *shakes fist*

Ashley Judd Slaps Media in the Face for Speculation Over Her 'Puffy' Appearance. This was fascinating to read except for the ableism (sigh, really?). Don't Read the Comments™.

➝ Sorry, unfortunately Lady Business is the Foz Meadows Show this month. >.> A few weeks ago, Hank Green did a video about The Friendzone. I found it really weird and kind of brain-hurty to compare it to the post Ana linked above, a piece Foz Meadows wrote about the same topic. I have some trouble parsing arguments, but find it interesting how Hank's was gender neutral and it felt very purposeful and like it was avoiding the issue but I couldn't put my finger on this issue until I read this post.

Female Science Fiction Author Reading List.

➝ I have no clue how to cite this (I do not understand tumblr), but this essay about Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender is wonderful. Spoilers for the entire series.

The Further Adventures of Lady Business!

This week, Ana reviewed Sexing the Brain by Lesley Rogers, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, and Zahra's Paradise by Amir and Khalil.

Jodie hasn't posted anything in ages, but is part of several co-reviews, watchalongs and readalongs right now, which is tons of fun.

Renay went back to visit her childhood home and subsequently into the past.

Date: 2012-04-16 02:37 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Did they? Maybe they did. I don't think so. Not that I'masking. I hope I didn't sound like I was just doing a 'ooh! ooh! Look at MY blog now!" comment :D. I just tend towards the grotesquely long comment, and figured it would be better for all to just point somewhere else.

Its difficult because communities ARE built on patterns of inclusion and exclusion - they always have been. Here in the states, for example, when I speak to social liberals - agroup who raison d'etre is largely based on inclusion - you'll hear people make jokes about the stupid people opposing their viewpoints, using southern or 'redneck' accents. This is part of who we are in some sense, that we want to fell we are part of something larger than ourselves, but something that denotes our 'specialness' by being let in to it - patterns of inclusion and exclusion. So, there is a strong urge when someone makes a joke about effeminate behaviour, or non-canonical clothes, or race, or whatever, to laugh along, to keep ones membership in the exclusive group from which we draw comfort as an identity marker. People always say 'oh, if only we coudl break down the walls and treat everyone the same', but in our hearts, I think we all want to be different. We want to memebers of gropus that have edges. The trick is to make these groupings ones that are positively, rather than negatively bounded.

Date: 2012-04-18 06:45 am (UTC)
bookgazing: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bookgazing
No you weren't, not at all! I just remembered seeing it, but maybe I was just catching up on your past posts recently.

Thanks for talking through the idea that even the most inclusive communities are built around creating barriers of exclusion and guest lists of inclusion. I'd never really made that connection before, but it fits in with business/marketing theory of ways to make products and experiences seem more appealing to the customer (sell it as exclusive, tell them not everyone can get in etc). I would be so interested if you have examples of communities that manage to create positive boundaries instead of negative ones.


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Queer lady geek Clare was raised by French wolves in the American South. more? » twitter icon webpage icon

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