Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My Reaction to the Gender Coverup

I'm writing this post, and I'm angry. I usually try not to write things when I'm angry, but right now, I don't care. I just read this blog - The Gender Coverup written by Maureen Johnson, and now I'm pissed off.

What pisses me off even further, is that I nearly used the modifier "lovely" to describe Maureen Johnson, and it's not that she's not lovely, but it makes me angry that my natural inclination to describe her wasn't "friendly" or "smart" or "incomparable" or any other ten million words that don't have female connotations to it, and I realize once again that I'm part of the problem.

I very rarely weigh in on the issue of gender bias books because I think that if I say something, people will just point that my books suck, and recognition or lack thereof has nothing to do with gender but merit, and maybe they're right. Not that my books suck, but I do believe that while my books are enjoyable and fun, they aren't the stuff the of literary of awards, which is perfectly fine with me.

So this isn't about me. This isn't about whether or not I'll win awards, because I won't. I was reviewed in the New York Times, and that's already more than my fair share and more than many much more well written books by female authors can hope for. So I'm not complaining about me or for me.

But I'm sick to death of this. I am so sick of the constant, blatant sexism. And any time any one points anything out as being sexist, they're accused of "whining" or "nagging" or "not taking a joke."

From the Steubenville rape trial to the obituary of Yvonne Brill to the fact that more women read books than men, more women write books then men, but only a small fraction of books that win literary awards are written by women. Women are the publishing industry's bread and butter, we are the backbone of the damn entertainment industry, but we are constantly demoted to "fluffy" to "light" to "meaningless."

From a very young age, I knew that "girly" meant inferior, so I avoided it like a plague. I played with action figures, not Barbies. I caught snakes and toads in my yard. When I first started developed "crushes" on boys, I was enraged at myself, because "crushes" and "kisses" were girly, and therefore inferior, and I shouldn't want that.

For years, I have probably been part of the problem. Instead of standing up for the girly things I did like - like the color pink and glitter and teen romance novels - and pointing out that's its perfectly okay to like these things, that there's never been anything inferior about glitter, and most people of both genders hope to fall in love - I dismissed them and surrounded myself with the "boy" interests that I do have, wearing Jurassic Park and Batman and Star Wars like armor, listening to Korn and Marilyn Manson in high school to prove that I wasn't some girl, I was as tough and as valuable as any boy.

Most of my life, I've spent apologizing to the world for being a girl. A really big and important event happened in my early twenties wherein I had a nervous breakdown and attempted suicide. And that was terrible and horrible, but it was after that I realized that I needed to learn to accept myself for myself. That I'd spend enough of my life hating myself for the things I couldn't change, and at the very top of the list was the fact that I'd always hated myself for being a girl, because in my mind, it made me inherently weak and inferior. Having emotions - particularly sadness and love - are associated with the feminine, and I spent a great deal of my life trying to stifle them as a result. Every thing feminine about myself I tried to change, to "correct."

I'm not transgendered in anyway, because when I actually allow myself to I quite like being a girl. I like shoes and dying my hair and the color pink and guys and tattoos and Batman and comic books and horror movies and romantic comedies and wearing jeans and action figures, because oh my god, I'm a whole person with whole interests, and there's nothing inherently wrong with any of them. 

There are of course other issues contributing to the self-loathing, and I didn't hate myself just because I liked Jonathan Taylor Thomas or My Little Ponies. But these were symptoms of a larger problem, one that was constantly reiterated to me by every form of media. Everything female is inferior.

I don't know how to change this, but I know this has to stop. I may be a terrible writer or an inferior human being or a horrible person, but none of that has to do with the fact that I'm a girl, and nobody should ever feel the way did. Kids today deserve better from us. They do not need these constant subtle reminders that they are inferior.

The first step is acknowledging that it exists, and that there's a gender gap in nearly every form of industry in the country, and the second step is top stop buying into it. We all need to stop feeding it and buying into it.