I was talking to my brother about women’s attitudes towards their bodies, especially regarding weight/fat, and when he said “most guys don’t notice/care about that kind of thing,” I tried to explain why it was a lot more complicated than that. I ended up telling this story.
Body image is something that’s so hard to talk about, and it’s hard to express body positivity without sounding cheesy, false, or overly simplistic. But I’m gonna try. This is only my own experience, and it didn’t magically cure me of all my body image issues - but it was a major turning point for me nonetheless.
I rang the literary editors of a few ‘respected’ papers and asked them how much space they were giving to women writers in their ‘review’ sections. Perfectly predictable response. They all said the allocation was fair. One said it was equal, and one prominent editor went so far as to say women are dominating the reviews!
… What happened when I asked who was doing the talking in mixed sex conversations? Well, it was the women of course. And then when you get to measure it you find that women get to talk about 10-20% of the time in conversations with men. A woman who talks about a third of the time is seen to be dominating the talk.
And what happened when I asked teachers who got their attention in class? Well, it was all equal, wasn’t it? No preferences there. And you measure it and find that girls get about 10-20% of the teacher’s attention. Any more, and the boys think it unfair - and go into revolt.
So what do you think I found with the reviews?
I would have predicted about 10-20% of the space went to women’s books. Well, it is less than 6% of the column inches. And the reasonable editor who thinks that women are getting more than their share is one of the worst offenders. Poor boys! It really tells you something when they think only 94% of the review section is not enough, doesn’t it? When 6% for women is too much you get some idea how much men think they are entitled to - as a fair deal.
”—Dale Spender, correspondence, in Dale and Lynne Spender, Scribbling Sisters (Camden Press, 1986), pp. 31-32 (via radtransfem)
“Listen, I think one of the things that’s real strange, and I see it with my kids, is that they have entire networks of communications, and entire networks of joining up with each other and talking that I think elude folks like me and older. I mean I’m not on Tumblr every darn day, I’m not. I don’t have Instagram. I don’t get on any of these networks that my kids are on. There’s all this movement, and information that’s passing and that is slipping past what we would call the mainstream radar. And my kids, my students, they understand that there’s kinda two worlds; the official world where they’ll go work and the official world where they’ll talk to adults and in that official world folks don’t talk about race, folks don’t talk about rape, folks don’t acknowledge how much young people are doing, what they’re doing, folks don’t talk about how many gay folks are out there. And then… there’s the world they live on, the ground, where they’re seeing this stuff right up front. And I think a lot of what’s going on is that a lot of communities are becoming bilingual. Speaking real speak, and real speak is the stuff we acknowledge is happening. And speaking the official speak, and the official speak we don’t acknowledge any of this stuff. It’s code but it’s also negation, because part of what you’re seeing with the republican madness is, what they wanna do is put that story back. They wanna push it back, they wanna negate it, they wanna erase it. I think when you speak the official code, part of it is erasing. You want to not talk about this, not talk about that, let’s just talk about the old thing. And you if you talk about anything new Ima get real mad at you.”—Junot Diaz - Moyers & Company Show 151: Rewriting the Story of America (via monkeyknifefight)
If you’re a boy writer, it’s a simple rule: you’ve gotta get used to the fact that you suck at writing women and that the worst women writer can write a better man than the best male writer can write a good woman. And it’s just the minimum. Because the thing about the sort of heteronormative masculine privilege, whether it’s in Santo Domingo, or the United States, is you grow up your entire life being told that women aren’t human beings, and that women have no independent subjectivity. And because you grow up with this, it’s this huge surprise when you go to college and realize that, “Oh, women aren’t people who does my shit and fucks me.”
And I think that this a huge challenge for boys, because they want to pretend they can write girls. Every time I’m teaching boys to write, I read their women to them, and I’m like, “Yo, you think this is good writing?” These motherfuckers attack each other over cliche lines but they won’t attack each other over these toxic representations of women that they have inherited… their sexist shorthand, they think that is observation. They think that their sexist distortions are insight. And if you’re in a writing program and you say to a guy that their characters are sexist, this guy, it’s like you said they fucking love Hitler. They will fight tooth and nail because they want to preserve this really vicious sexism in the art because that is what they have been taught.
And I think the first step is to admit that you, because of your privilege, have a very distorted sense of women’s subjectivity. And without an enormous amount of assistance, you’re not even going to get a D. I think with male writers the most that you can hope for is a D with an occasional C thrown in. Where the average women writer, when she writes men, she gets a B right off the bat, because they spent their whole life being taught that men have a subjectivity. In fact, part of the whole feminism revolution was saying, “Me too, motherfuckers.” So women come with it built in because of the society.
It’s the same way when people write about race. If you didn’t grow up being a subaltern person in the United States, you might need help writing about race. Motherfuckers are like ‘I got a black boy friend,’ and their shit sounds like Klan Fiction 101.
The most toxic formulas in our cultures are not pass down in political practice, they’re pass down in mundane narratives. It’s our fiction where the toxic virus of sexism, racism, homophobia, where it passes from one generation to the next, and the average artist will kill you before they remove those poisons. And if you want to be a good artist, it means writing, really, about the world. And when you write cliches, whether they are sexist, racist, homophobic, classist, that is a fucking cliche. And motherfuckers will kill you for their cliches about x, but they want their cliches about their race, class, queerness. They want it in there because they feel lost without it. So for me, this has always been the great challenge.
As a writer, if you’re really trying to write something new, you must figure out, with the help of a community, how can you shed these fucking received formulas. They are received. You didn’t come up with them. And why we need fellow artists is because they help us stay on track. They tell you, “You know what? You’re a bit of a fucking homophobe.” You can’t write about the world with these simplistic distortions. They are cliches. People know art, always, because they are uncomfortable. Art discomforts. The trangressiveness of art has to deal with confronting people with the real. And sexism is a way to avoid the real, avoiding the reality of women. Homophobia is to avoid the real, the reality of queerness. All these things are the way we hide from encountering the real. But art, art is just about that.
”—Junot Diaz speaking at Word Up Bookshop, 2012 (via clambistro)
Hey guys, I’m getting a lot of asks about the same things, mostly questions about how to make comics, how to “break into comics” (haha, oh dear), working with publishers, that kind of thing. I’ve done some blogging on many of the subjects, so instead of repeatedly replying in private with links to…