Saturday, September 6, 2014

Weekend Reading

Welcome to the weekend! Here's a collection of longer reads for your pleasure!

I'd always wondered what the link was between women working and feminism. I assumed that most early feminists had been teachers mainly because that was one of the few occupations open to educated women. Rebecca Traister has a great interview with Dana Goldstein, author of The Teacher Wars.
"[Almost as soon as teaching was feminized] new opportunities opened up for women, which in turn had an impact on the teaching profession. A great example of this is Belva Lockwood, who starts teaching at the age of 14 in an upstate New York one-room schoolhouse. She’s hit by the feminist bug [in the mid 19th century] and within a matter of years she’s become an attorney, lobbying to become the first woman to argue before the Supreme Court, and eventually she runs for president ... two times! But a lot of her feminism is driven by her anger that she’s getting paid less than male teachers."

A recent study by Jong-Eun Roselyn Lee shows the importance of race in online gaming, and in particular MMOs.You can read the original article in Discovery: Skin Color Still Matters in Video Games, but you should also read the great write-up by Victoria McNally at The Mary Sue: New Study On Virtual Avatar Skin Color Demonstrates Why Diversity Matters
But this study is still interesting because it speaks to a wider discussion about race and diversity in gaming. It’s easy for players in the majority to dismiss calls for more customizable skin tones and features (“games based on European cultures wouldn’t have darker people anyway,” they often say, forgetting that these games also have elves and oh yeah are fictional), but for people who actually look like that in real life, it can be yet another jarring reminder that they are not considered part of the target audience for these games.

As explained in this interview by Alison Flood in The Guardian, Margaret Atwood has been named as the first contributor to a fascinating public artwork project. I'm more than a little sad I probably won't be around to read her piece.
The Future Library project, conceived by the award-winning young Scottish artist Katie Paterson, began, quietly, this summer, with the planting of a forest of 1,000 trees in Nordmarka, just outside Oslo. It will slowly unfold over the next century. Every year until 2114, one writer will be invited to contribute a new text to the collection, and in 2114, the trees will be cut down to provide the paper for the texts to be printed – and, finally, read.

"It is the kind of thing you either immediately say yes or no to. You don't think about it for very long," said Atwood, speaking from Copenhagen. "I think it goes right back to that phase of our childhood when we used to bury little things in the backyard, hoping that someone would dig them up, long in the future, and say, 'How interesting, this rusty old piece of tin, this little sack of marbles is. I wonder who put it there?'"

Gabby at has a great interview with Olivia A. Cole, a poet, author, and vocal activist, discussing her new book Panther in the Hive which features a black female protagonist trying to survive in the post-apocalyptic land that was once Chicago.
A lot of my research for Panther in the Hive occurred before I started writing the book—and even before the idea of the book was conceived. My undergraduate degree focused heavily on social issues (racism, sexism, gentrification, healthcare, corporations, etc.) so when it came to writing the book, a lot of that information found its way into the pages on its own. It was a natural process.

Jenny Diski has written a piece in The London Review of Books about the process of being a writer discovering that she has inoperable cancer. (h/t: Longreads)
We’d hardly got home before I said: ‘Well, I suppose I’m going to write a cancer diary.’ The only other thing I might have said was: ‘Well, I’m not going to write a cancer diary.’ Right there: a choice? I’m a writer, have been since I was small, and have earned my living at it for thirty years. I write fiction and non-fiction, but it’s almost always personal. I start with me, and often enough end with me. I’ve never been apologetic about that, or had a sense that my writing is ‘confessional’. What else am I going to write about but how I know and don’t know the world? I may not make things up in fiction, or tell the truth in non-fiction, but documentary or invented, it’s always been me at the centre of the will to put descriptions out into the world. I lie like all writers but I use my truths as I know them in order to do so.

In years past, we've witnessed a lot (A LOT) of terrible examples of football marketing for women. But Jessica Luther has a piece in Vice Sports about how Charlie Strong's UT Women's Football Camp Gets it Right
For all that, one could still argue that splitting women off into their own camps is sexist because it starts from an assumption that women can't just attend a football 101 clinic or a fantasy football camp (in fact, women cannot attend the 2-day Texas Longhorns Fantasy Camp). To those people, I say, you're right. But at the same time, after celebrating UT football with a bunch of other female fans and then doing hours of rigorous and flat-out physical exercises that were new or unfamiliar for many of us, it was nice to have a space to share football with other women and do so without having to deal with men who assume we don't know or like football. Or even worse, men who would use the camp as an opportunity to perform their masculinity for UT football coaches and players.


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