‘Political Activist’ v ‘Librarian’

Saying that the United States today is a politically charged climate would be an understatement to some. As librarians, it is our job to prepare our patrons, whether they are students, the public, or a bit of both, with the proper knowledge and research tools they need to continue in society and succeed. Libraries and politics are part of the same world. Libraries exist in an other space: they’re part of the politics that have direct influence over budget, free speech, access, and funding, they directly impact the educational realm while often times not being a full part of it.

Many times, when educating those we serve, librarians must perform a very delicate tap dance along politically volatile subjects. One of my current projects is putting together a webinar on fake news: a popular subject, to be sure. One of the most important things we need to remember is this:
Never shy away from the truth. Librarians are not given the “luxury” of being able to avoid it. When we are asked questions, we give answers, whether it’s what our customer wants to hear or not.
Facts are more important than feelings.
The truth is more important that being inoffensive.

Libraries have never been neutral space, and librarianship will never truly be neutral. Librarians exist to provide facts to everyone- equal access regardless your walk of life.

Statistics  indicate that 78% of Hispanics, 72% of women, 70% of parents of minors, and 70% of those 50 or older say that closure of the public library would have a major impact on their community.

Only 39% of adults feel very confident in their ability to identify fake news.
Less than 20% of high school students are able to identify fake news.

Libraries have been consistently at the head of the curve when it comes to taking advantage of and integrating new technology into the public.

Librarians have been on the front line combating government surveillance (looking at you, NSA) since the ’30s.
Before Snowden, librarians were the protectors of patrons’ privacy.
The ALA- American Library Association– has listed ‘privacy’ among its top concerns since the organization’s foundation.
Librarians have, quite literally, taken the government to court over surveillance habits, the Patriot Act, and more.

Libraries are one of the most powerful political powers in the modern world. They and their librarians hold the keys to information to the masses. They promote literacy and education, marching along side parents, teachers, and principals. They fight for inclusiveness and equality, because knowledge should never be censored or forbidden. They provide safe havens for those who need it, and shelter for those who have none.

Librarians have always been political.

LAFE_EPIC

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Arm yourself with words

“A book is a loaded gun in the house next door…Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?”

~ Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

History has given us the best resources from the brightest minds, and I’ve begun to collect them, devour them, commit as much of them as I can to memory. I’ll be posting books, lists, collections, as I catalog them, for now, in this spreadsheet. Eventually, the  list will be cataloged and moved to a more permanent location.

The pen has always been mightier than the sword,  but in an age where facts are detested, and lies are abundant, stocking your arsenal with words is the best thing you can do. To begin, look at any of these books:

Title Author Pub. Date
Animal Farm George Orwell 1945
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury 1953
1984 George Orwell 1949
Handmaid’s Tale Margret Atwood 1985
Brave New World Aldous Huxley 1932
A Wrinkle in Time Madeline L’Engle 1962
The Wave Tod Strasser 1981
It Can’t Happen Here Sinclare Lewis 1935
V for Vendetta Alan Moore 1989
The Long Walk Home Stephen King 1979
We Yevgeny Zamyatin 1924
The Circle David Eggers 2013
All the King’s Men Robert Penn Warren 1961
Rest in Power Tracy Martin 2017
On Resistance: A Philosophy of Defiance Howard Caygill 2013
Fighters in the Shadows Robert Gildea 2015
The Nightingale Kristin Hannah 2015
How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS David France 2016
Hidden Figures Margot Lee Shetterly 2016
Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age Amani Al-Khatahtbeh 2016
Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt Sarah Jaffe 2016
No More Heroes: Grassroots Challenges to the Savior Mentality Jordan Flaherty 2016
We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation Jeff Chang 2016

As the rising political generation, we must be calculating and cool. Remember your rage, but do not get consumed by it, and always, always, remember that they find pleasure in watching us burn. Gather yourself, stoke your fire, but be careful. We have to keep a calm, white-hot rage, not feed an inferno. Personal health- mental, emotional, and physical, is paramount in growing the resistance. As I’ve said before, we have three years and 10 months ahead of us. We’re running an iron man.

  • take breaks – netflix, casual reading, go for a run
  • always re-focus & center yourself – do not get caught up in rabbit trails or red herring arguments
  • admit when you’re wrong – it isn’t the end of the world if you misspoke or incorrectly cited, acknowledge it, fix it, and continue.
  • don’t rise to the bait, don’t stoop to their level
  • source your arguments – always make sure that you have citations and sources for points you’re making

Resist.

America was built on the backs of the disenfranchised, the downtrodden, those who were seen as lesser than human all because of their color, nationality, or religion. America was never great. There has been no point in American history where equal rights have been available to all.
Racism, sexism, discrimination, hate-based phobias dominated the platform of the man who took office yesterday. The man who lost the popular vote by a larger margin than any other president in modern history (Hayes in 1876 and Adams in 1824 lost by larger margins). The man who entered the Oval Office with a lower approval rating than any other president in modern history.
His history, his words, his lies normalized Neo-Nazis (1, 2), the KKK. He normalized assault, sexism, toxic masculinity, harassment, homophobia, transphobia, and brought back platforms and ideals that were once banners of war criminals. He promised to strip constitutional rights away from people who only wish for equal rights.
The mission & vision of the Women’s March says it all:

“The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us – immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault – and our communities are hurting and scared. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.
In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women’s March on Washington will send a bold message to our new government on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”

There are too many issues to be angry about, too many rights in danger of being erased. The march was filled with hundreds of thousands of people marching for different causes, but were unified under one thought: We will not go quietly. We will not lay down and “just accept it.”
We, as a unified front, marched – in spirit or in person – to show that we will fight and protect the rights of those who are less fortunate.
We fight so that future generations don’t have to, so they can experience and know true equality.
We fight and acknowledge that the color of our skin, our occupation, our gender, our sex, determines how we are treated, how we are seen. Immigrants, non-whites, sex workers, LGBTQIA+, those with disabilities, those who are not part of the 1%, almost everyone has something that will be put in jeopardy. And those who are the lucky ones who will not be effected by the policies and laws that will be attempted to get passed, it is our job to stand by those in danger. It is our job to join our voices with theirs, raising the volume and the heat, supporting their marches, their causes, not just when it’s convenient.
We fight because we know that love is stronger than hate.
We fight for our siblings, are parents, our children, our neighbors, the strangers we’ve never met.
We fight because we love our country and our world.
When the president blatantly is ignorant of the unalienable rights this country is founded upon, we will fight and stand tall, speak loud, and protect those that are in danger.
Theodore Roosevelt, in a 1918 wartime essay said:

“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”

Time Management: Get Organized without Getting Bogged Down with Details

This is a re-post of an article I wrote for my alma mater’s blog a few weeks ago. Focusing on time management (my arrow to the knee) was difficult. My mind goes a thousand miles a minute, making multi-tasking a natural go-to. However, multi-tasking isn’t always the best approach. Below, I talk about many of the tricks and tools I’ve learned over the years.

Midterms are over, finals are almost here, and your mind is a battle ground between the necessary productivity, and the completely unhelpful spring fever, senioritis, or the age-old “summer-is-so-close-i-can-taste-it” restlessness- or all three at once, which is always a trip. When I was working towards my Bachelor’s degree, I was definitely one of those kids that had caffeine being pumped into my body via an IV (no, not literally…unfortunately)-which is something I heartily do NOT recommend. I was on track to graduating early, worked full time at a local coffee shop, had a student job at our library, and was in roughly 6-7 musical ensembles, all on top of my course load. In grad school, I worked full time on top of full time classes. Now out of school and in the professional workforce, my time is still a rare commodity. Work, various volunteer & semi-professional musical groups, roller derby training…I’m still one of those people who doesn’t like to turn down an opportunity. (or, doesn’t say “no” enough…it’s still up for debate.) Regardless of what your life & schedule looks like- because i’m sure I’m nowhere near as busy as some- making time for everything that needs to be done is never a fun, or easy task.

Time management, working/writing on the go, finding time to research, was difficult in college & grad school. Thanks to some great mentors, smart friends, and the occasional Buzzfeed article (no, not the one about the corgi beach party), I made it through, adding bits here and there to my bag of tricks. That’s why I chose this subject for my third article. I wanted to highlight tips & tricks I’ve collected over the years, which made balancing a full schedule without sacrificing sleep, social time, or sanity seem a whole lot easier. Just remember that everyone has different tricks to keep them motivated, whether it’s the carrot on a stick mentality, or the complete lock-down strategy, so if none of these work for you, don’t worry! I hope I’ll at least share some online tools that prove to be useful. (And to make it easy, anything I like to in the article I’ll also provide in list form at the end, so you don’t have to scroll through the whole thing just looking for a single link.)

Physical Space

At the risk of sounding like a Hallmark card (or your grandmother), an uncluttered desk makes for an uncluttered mind. The less distractions are on your desk, the harder it is to get distracted. Whenever I have a huge project to get done, a lot on my plate at once, or both, the first thing that helps is to re-organize. Take 5-10 minutes, declutter, reorganize, and streamline your work area.

Organize

  • Lists! I love lists. I have lists on and about everything, everyday, all the time. I’m a list-maker. I’m not suggesting that you fall off the cliff side and join me in list-omania, but a to-do list can be your best friend for organization. The reasoning behind this is simply that when you can see everything that needs to get done, it’s easier to see the finish line approaching, and it’s harder to accidentally forget a task. I start with a list of everything that needs attention, prioritize it, and those with the closest deadlines are the ones I tackle first- they’re the red letter days. Then I’ll organize my list in decreasing importance from there.
    • The Kanban method
      • Recently, I’ve started to use this method of scheduling my to do list, and it’s made a world of difference. It helps me visualize my workflow, and see my daily progress as i tackle the tasks on hand. (It’s also very easy to put up and tear down. Currently, mine is made up of 3×5 cards & scotch tape above my keyboard.)
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    • Pomotodo
      • Since most of my work has to be done on the computer, an easy way to keep me on task is this app. Available (for free!) on all platforms, Pomotodo is a great way to break up your tasks into manageable bites, as well as make it easy to track your productivity level and workflow. Have you ever sat at your computer for hours on end and feel like you’ve gotten nothing done? Based on the Pomodoro technique developed in the 80s, Pomotodo breaks up your work sessions into 25-30 minute time slots, setting off a quiet buzzer when it’s time for you to take a 5 minute break. This helps your focus to stay fresh, and your mind to avoid that mentally exhausted sludgey feeling that always happens after you’ve been straining and concentrating on one task for far too long.

Declutter

  • Minimizing distractions is most of the time impossible with the daily bustle of life, but your work space should be familiar, comfortable, and clean. I don’t mean physically clean all the time- my sister’s metal smith studio is a whirlwind of organized chaos- I mean clean of unimportant or potentially distracting things. Television, cell notifications, internet sites, etc., can all occupy focus that could be applied elsewhere. (I actually just put my cell phone on night mode before writing this article.)
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    • Internet blocks
      • Sites like Cold Turkey, Freedom, Dark Room (for Windows), and WriteRoom (for Mac), are great sites that block access to pages you don’t want to distract you. This is great for assignments where the internet is necessary (which is essentially all assignments), but you don’t want to risk the pull of social media. Google Chrome several extensions like StayFocusd and Site Block in their app store, as does Firefox (called Leechblock)

Noise

  • There’s an increasing amount of studies that have to do with the mind, focus, and music or background noise. Personally, I prefer ambient noise, instrumental music, or a combination of the two as I work.
    • Noisli
      • My newest find and now favorite background noise generator, Noisli has ambient noise that range from the classic white/black/grey noise to a babbling brook, thunderstorm, train tracks, and the clinking & murmur of a busy coffeeshop. I have this app installed on my Chrome browser both at work and at home, and typically play this in the background in addition to some mood music.
    • Coffeetivity
      • Another ambient noise generator, this is great if you want the feel of a bustling cafe, but could do without the visual stimulation (or the money spent on coffee and pastries- a personal weakness). Being able to choose from several different noise types – lunch time bustle, early morning stillness, etc., is really great.
    • 8tracks
      • 8tracks is a very old favorite of mine. I strictly used 8tracks playlists when I was writing my undergrad thesis. (I actually still have that collection of playlists.) On 8tracks, users are able to upload playlists that they’ve created. They range from pop & rock, to focus and creativity. You can customize your search down to an extreme, which is fantastic. Be careful though, it’s easy to get caught up in finding great music. I’ve found that happening to me many times.

Mental Space

Organizing your mind is just as important as organizing your physical workspace. I’m talking to myself as well as you when I speak of the importance of mental organization. I am one of the worst at this part of organization. My thoughts often look like the room of keys from The Sorcerer’s Stone, zipping and flying about at no pattern at all.

Re-center yourself

  • Often times, it’s easy to get caught up in the franticness of meeting your deadlines, and this, in turn, will hurt your productivity and focus. Before I sit down and start a project- however large or small, I take anywhere form 5 to 10 minutes to stretch and loosen my body. Being physically uncomfortable is distracting, but so is being too comfortable. I’ve accidentally fallen asleep during an assignment far too often for me to like to admit.
    • Yoga
      • I didn’t discover how helpful yoga was to both my mind as well as my body until after grad school, unfortunately, so I’m going to join the cacophony of voices singing the practice’s praise in hopes that you don’t make the discovery too late. Engaging my muscles requires my mind as well as my physical strength, and elongating my ability to focus has everything to do with elongating your body, so to speak. There are hundreds, if not thousands of focus enhancing yoga videos and stretches available, but my absolute favorite is this one, from Yoga by Adrienne. Only 10 minutes long, it doesn’t take a chunk out of your day, nor does it require lots of experience in yoga. (I am the furthest from being familiar with the exercise, and I’m also probably one of the least stretchy people on this planet.)
    • Headspace
      • Meditation is fairly hard for me, honestly. As I said earlier, my mind is a beehive of thoughts, so quieting it is a bit difficult. There’s an app called Headspace that is amazing at introducing the practice of meditation into your life. Unfortunately, it isn’t free, but signing up gets you 10 free sessions to help introduce you to the exercise of meditation.
    • Momentum
      • Momentum is a free (yay!) and easy way to keep up your momentum throughout the day. Instead of the “new tab” page on your browser, Momentum greets you, displays the time, weather, an inspiring quote, and your main goal for the day, all set against the backdrop of a breathtaking photograph. You can also add a small todo checklist that you can update and change throughout the day.
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Listen

  • When I was in college, I’d frequently battle headaches, back aches, and sometimes insomnia during or after a project. Restlessness and stress induced anxiety were plagues, and it was only til I started working with my body instead of fighting against it that I saw results.
    • Light
      • One of the first things I changed was the amount and type of light I worked in. I made sure that my area was well lit with either natural or warm light instead of the harsh blue light that is emitted from your computer screen and some lightbulbs. A free app called Flux is free and downloadable on your computer- Mac or PC- to help reduce the blue light coming from your monitor. Immediately, I noticed that my eyes weren’t getting as tired as quickly during an assignment.
    • Stretch
      • Just like resetting your body with a quick yoga session before beginning, taking breaks intermittently to stretch, take a quick walk, or just move will help keep your body from being restless. I usually try and take a 5 minute walk or stretch break every 45 minutes to an hour.
    • Write it down
      • Far from making yet another list, if pesky thoughts keep popping into your head and interrupt your productivity, write them down. This will make it easier to wipe them from your mind and focus on later.
    • Wake up!
      • I am THE furthest from a morning person. In fact, my sister posted a meme about the terrors of me before my coffee just a few minutes ago. However, I’ve noticed that over the past few months, I’ve been waking up naturally around 6, 6:30. On the days where I feel lazy and go back to sleep til my alarm goes off, I found myself dragging, unfocused, and lackadaisical. The days where I listen to my inner clock and wake up, I’m more relaxed, focused, and productive throughout the day. Part of this I blame on my cat, who promptly meows for food at around 6:15, but I also give credit to a great alarm clock app that I found. Called “Progressive Alarm Clock,” It’s in the app store for around $3, and is the best purchase I’ve made for my iphone. Instead of jerking you awake with a song or harsh sound, it uses Tibetan singing bowls to gradually lift you from sleep by increasing the volume, making for a much more welcoming morning alarm.

Articles, Sources, & Quotes:

When compiling resources and first beginning this article, I talked to a couple of the busiest women in my life on how they were able to keep focused on the job, at home, or on the go. I know that my way of keeping myself focused is unique to me, so I wanted to get other perspectives as well.

Articles & Resources:

Increase Productivity-Buzzfeed- Tactics, methods, and tricks for keeping the drudgery of the work week at bay. This article is more focused on work methods and mental tricks than helpful resources and tools.

Apps, Apps, Apps-Buzzfeed- While a few of the apps and sites I mentioned are on this list, there are many I didn’t mention that could be extremely helpful! I was actually recommended a few of them from various friends and acquaintances over the past few years.

More Apps!- Buzzfeed- Seeing a trend? I love Buzzfeed’s listed articles because of the quick and easy to read format that they’re shown in. This article is less focused on productivity, and more of an app-based show and tell, but there are a couple listed in here that are pretty fantastic tools!

Study Music – Growing up on the “Mozart Effect” for studying had its pros and cons. This article provides a brief overview of a few instrumental-based music genres and how the brain reacts to them.

Music & the Mind. In contrast to the article I mentioned above, this study breaks away from the previously praised school of thought (such as the Mozart Effect) where it was said that music with words is distracting and inconducive for productivity.

Kanban method – An easy, visual way to see your to do list, prioritize your workflow, and a great encouragement to get things done. It uses a production flow method that was first developed by the Toyota company, and applies it to every day tasks.

Pomotodo – An app that uses the Pomodoro technique to optimize your time and focus by breaking down your work day into 30 minute segments.

Cold Turkey – There’s a free and a subscription based version for Cold Turkey. It allows you to block out different kinds of sites for certain periods of time, although you can only schedule blocks of time if you buy the second tier of the subscription service. Still, this is a great app to streamline your internet use if you find yourself getting too distracted by clickbaits and social media.

Freedom – This is free, available on all platforms, and makes it very easy to block any potentially distracting websites, apps, etc., from your internet browser without needing to get rid of your internet access altogether.

Dark Room – This is the perfect tool to fight writer’s block with. DarkRoom clears your screen and monitor of distractions, making freewriting clean, minimalistic, and at the center of your bullseye.

WriteRoom  – WriteRoom is the Windows compatible style of the DarkRoom site & app.

Noisli – A simple, minimalistic ambient noise generator. You can create combinations of sounds (such as rain, a crackling fire, an ocean tide, or coffeeshop noises), or just stick with one sound.

Coffeetivity – Another ambient noise generator, this has sounds that are usually associated with more social settings- the clink of silverware and dishes combined with voices murmering at a coffeeshop, the bustling sounds of a streetside cafe, etc. If you excel at working with the sounds of people around you, but get too distracted with people watching or those really great scones in the pastry case (I am SO guilty of both of these), this is a great sound tool.

8tracks – A playlist based website where users can upload and make their playlists public. It does away with your need of spending time tailoring a playlist to what you need, because you can combine any amount of descriptions, criteria, etc. to find your perfect playlist. (ie- “instrumental” “study” “classical” or “traditional celtic” “instrumental” “focus”)

Yoga for Focus – Yoga by Adrienne is one of my favorite youtube yogis. She uploads videos regularly, and best of all, you don’t have to be a veteran to follow her sessions. This 10 minute video is perfect for getting your body stretched out and set for a study session.

Headspace – This app is great for learning how to meditate easily, without the frustration of trying to do it on your own or in a class. Unfortunately, it isn’t free, but signing up gets you 10 free sessions to help introduce you to the exercise of meditation. The audio sessions usually last around 10 minutes, which is perfect for a pre- or post-study session.

Momentum – This app replaces the ‘new tab’ page with a calming photo and a daily reminder of what you want to get done. So, every time you open a new tab, you’re greeted with the Scottish countryside, the sunset over the Sahara, instead of the blank, grey screen.

Flux – Flux dims or lightens your screen according to the time of day. The later in the day it is, the less blue light is emitted from your screen, being replaced by a warm pink or orange tinged light. It’s not as harsh on your eyes, and you don’t find yourself getting a splitting headache after staring at your screen for 8 hours a day. It’s free, and works on both Mac & PCs.

Quotes:

Anna: actress, tarot reader, woman-of-all trades-  “Well, I have ADHD so the best one I’ve found is keeping a notepad or post it nearby so I can write down things that pop into my head in the middle of a task. Otherwise, I go off to do them instead and forget all about the original thing I was working on… My planner also has a to-do list section where you put 3 that you need to get done to move yourself forward and then the rest are additional. So you can prioritize instead of getting overwhelmed. I’m using Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map planner…her whole philosophy is focusing on how you want to be feeling and building your schedule around that rather than thinking about what your goal is like, make your goals to feel ____ and then build a system to get yourself there”

Jenn: event organizer, actress, social media fiend-  “I definitely keep a to do list, as well as write stuff on my calendar so I don’t forget and I can prioritize/know deadlines.  I like the to do list with the check boxes because checking stuff off makes me feel more productive.  Our database at work has an alarm feature so if I’m remembering to contact a customer about something months later, I can set a digital alarm reminder.  Declutter is a big thing too.  I don’t keep my desk cluttered (especially at the end of the day.  If it gets messy throughout the day, I make sure to pack everything up neatly so I come in to something other than chaos in the morning).  I have trays specifically for different things I’m working on so I can prioritize that way.  I make sure to clean out my email every so often to make sure only the important things stay (so things are easier to find).  I like to focus on one task at a time (I can multitask like a pro but in terms of finishing something, I like to finish one project before I start another – because my boss is always throwing things at me to do.  Most of which are not time sensitive.  I do spend like the last hour of my day on something else if I’m in the middle of a project, just to mix things up and to make sure to get at least a chunk done of the other thing)”

 

Reading Resolutions

On the coattails of this year’s mayonnaise, all-purpose baking flour white Oscars (which is completely ridiculous, but I can only sanely handle one major equality issue per post without going completely postal), I stumbled across an article written by the author Catherine Nichols’ article, Homme de Plume, in which she discussed an experience she had in submitting one of her manuscripts under a male pseudonym. (inspired by these studies from PNAS and NEBR.) Her experiment had astonishing, disheartening results. After sending out 50 copies of her manuscript & cover letter, two requests were sent back in return. In stark contrast, when she sent 50 copies of the exact manuscript & cover letter pair, it was requested 17 times, a far cry from the 1 in 25 track record it had while under a female author’s name.
Now, I’ve always known that writing and publishing has been a male dominated world, but it wasn’t until i read the article and started doing some extra digging that I found out exactly how skewed it was.

Women, world-wide, have been found to be: 1. more well read than men, and 2. more avid readers than their male counterparts. (See various studies done by The Telegraph, NPR, and Pew Research Center) However, women continue to make up 40% or less of the authors, critics, reviewers, and publishers (See this study done by Vida). Far from a new development, this has, unfortunately, been the case since the beginning. An article that is now almost 20 years old has reached internet fandom over the past several years after the magazine it was originally published in digitized it. “Scent of a Woman’s Ink,” written in 1998 by by Francine Prose in Harper’s Weekly, attacked the idea of “gynobibliophobia” or, the illogical dislike of a novel merely because the hand that held the pen was female.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the writers of the past were only too glad to express such ideas. If Norman Mailer didn’t exist, we might have had to invent the man who could utter, in Advertisements for Myself, history’s most heartfelt, expansive confession of gynobibliophobia:

I have a terrible confession to make—I have nothing to say about any of the talented women who write today. Out of what is no doubt a fault in me, I do not seem able to read them. Indeed I doubt if there will be a really exciting woman writer until the first whore becomes a call girl and tells her tale. At the risk of making a dozen devoted enemies for life, I can only say that the sniffs I get from the ink of the women are always fey, old-hat, Quaintsy Goysy, tiny, too dykily psychotic, crippled, creepish, fashionable, frigid, outer-Baroque,maquillé in mannequin’s whimsy, or else bright and stillborn. Since I’ve never been able to read Virginia Woolf, and am sometimes willing to believe that it can conceivably be my fault, this verdict maybe taken fairly as the twisted tongue of a soured taste, at least by those readers who do not share with me the ground of departure—that a good novelist can do without everything but the remnant of his balls.

Few critics have so boldly advanced this testicular definition of talent. More often, a male writer’s true opinion must be extracted from the terms he uses to describe his female colleagues, from Walpole’s calling Mary Wollstonecraft a “hyena in petticoats” to Southey’s dismissing the enraged Charlotte Brontë as a daydreamer. In our century, Edmund Wilson complained that “this continual complaining and having to be comforted is one of the most annoying traits of women writers. . . . ” More recently, a piece by Bernard Bergonzi in The New York Review of Books began, “Women novelists, we have learned to assume, like to keep their focus narrow,” and in an essay on Katherine Anne Porter, Theodore Solotaroff referred to Porter’s “bitchiness” and “relentless cattiness,” terms used, perhaps too rarely, to scold mean-spirited male writers.

Continuing, she provides the reader of anonymous samples of works written by various sexes as a test- can you really tell the gender of a writer by the words on a page? (spoiler: you can’t)
To be up front and honest: I, too, even as recent as a year ago, was quite gendered in my reading, declaring to a group of friends that I just never ended up liking books written by female authors, regardless of if I knew who’d penned it or not. Looking back, I saw my error in judgement: the women I’d been reading were all from the same genre or two, so of course the writing style was semi-comparable.

These are the reasons why my 2016 resolutions is a list of one: each book I pick up must be written by a woman. Not only will this introduce me to amazing writers I’ve yet to discover, but it will also be a way of showing the disparity in the letters. However, this is only putting my small, handheld, and somewhat dim spotlight on just one of the issues in publishing. Disparities between cisgender & transgender, able & disabled, and the cultural divide is still extremely apparent. I’ll site Vida’s 2015 study again, where they conducted studies on WOC, sexuality, trans women, and authors with a disability in publishing as a whole. (For those who’ve never heard of Vida, they are a research driven organization aimed at increasing attention to women’s writing and gender equality in literary culture.)

We grew up with the phrase, “never judge a book by its cover,” so why isn’t that true for the author? You’re opening their book, not their legs. You’re being wooed by their writing, not the author themselves.

 

Sources- A List:

http://jezebel.com/homme-de-plume-what-i-learned-sending-my-novel-out-und-1720637627
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/apr/07/male-writers-continue-dominate-literary-criticism-vida-study-finds
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jun/01/books-about-women-less-likely-to-win-prizes-study-finds
Books about women don’t win big awards: some data
http://harpers.org/archive/1998/06/scent-of-a-womans-ink/?single=1

Walk MS, Kansas City 2016

A friend of mine was diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis early this year, just months after receiving her MS in Criminal Justice & Criminology. Meeting her at roller derby practice, I was in awe of her strength & perseverance. She was instantly a source of laughter and light, and when I found out she had been diagnosed with MS not a month prior to our meeting, I wanted to help in any way that I could. So, when she invited me to join her team for Walk MS, I did so instantly.  This year is the first time I’ve ever participated in a fundraising walk of any sort, and I’m ecstatic to be lending my hands and pocketbook to the cause.

MS is unpredictable, commonly disabling the diagnosed because the disease attacks the central nervous system and disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. MS is different for everyone, and that makes it all the more challenging to solve. The first Walk MS event was in 1988, and since then more than $920 million has been raised for research and programs to improve the lives of people living with MS. Today, there are treatments where there weren’t any before, and the dream of ending MS is becoming a reality. But there is still so much to do.

I’d love for your support as I join my teammates- an amazing group of men and women- in walking in this fundraiser, our hearts and minds joined together with one common goal: conquer the disease that has affected so many people around the world. Every cent raised will drive ongoing, ground-breaking research, support life-changing programs, and encourage a loving, supportive community for those who need it most.  The cool thing about donations is that any dollar amount helps, $1, $100, it’s all about the heart. I’m so excited to be walking with a great group of men and women united for one cause. Our team, the Auto(immune)bots, is full of strength and heart and determination to show our support of those diagnosed with the disease, while yelling our defiance in the face of MS itself.

If you have a moment, check out our team page here.

If you have more than a moment, I would greatly appreciate any amount donated to our cause.
http://main.nationalmssociety.org/goto/AutoImmuneBots_Emily

 

Live long, read often,
Em

 

 

Two things I love: Star Wars & feminism.

Actually, there are three things: badass women, Star Wars, & feminism.

Even though Lucas didn’t do a very good job writing in women (other than Leia, lines from the entire original trilogy spoken by women could be combined into a single video that lasts less than 1:30). However, Leia herself is one of the single most badass women in the galaxy, and when Abrahms’ Rey was introduced, she rivaled my affections for Leia, something I never thought could happen…

Therefore, the combination.

shoot like a girlwarvotecatcallsstupidityfragile masculinitydead shotkitchen my assNYMF reyfeminist