Category: Literature

Barbie’s male classmates can be computer engineers.

Barbie is one educated and versatile woman. She’s been, among dozens of other jobs, a dentist, a doctor, a sign language teacher, a special education teacher, a surgeon, a paratrooper, a jet pilot, an ambassador, a firefighter, an architect, an astronaut, a ballerina, a chef, an Olympic gymnast, an unspecified business executive, a news anchor, a cat burglar, a magazine editor, and the president of the United States. And now, per the book I Can Be a Computer Engineer, she’s a computer engineer (or at least can be one).

Banned Books Week: Your banned-kids’-book reading list (updated)

It’s Banned Books Week, celebrating books that are absolutely, objectively horrible and mustn’t be read by anyone. They’re books that need to be blocked from school libraries, ejected from public libraries, struck from publisher’s lists and set on damn fire every time they’re encountered. Which means that most of them (although by no means all of them) are worth reading, particularly when it comes to books for school-age kids who shan’t be exposed to naughty language or mentions of sex. Because if there’s one thing that abstinence-only education has taught us is that if you never, ever mention it, kids will never do it.

So here are six banned and/or challenged children’s and young adult books to read to a kid this week in honor of Banned Books Week.

Healing the Toxic Intoxication of Fat Hatred

I recently tried once again to read George Orwell’s 1984.

As always, I got a few chapters in and had to stop because it was so depressing that I couldn’t live in Orwell’s evocation of mind-controlled totalitarian world for a minute longer. One thing I did get out of the experience was adding one more time reading the early chapters including the Two Minutes Hate scene. Early in the book the hero, Winston Smith takes part in his office’s mandatory daily group hate ritual, an exercise in bonding and mind control.

The Beauty Curse: Help Fund a Graphic Novel

Journalist Eric Pape is raising funds to create the graphic novel The Beauty Curse, about gendered attacks in Cambodia. Details of the project are here. The inspiration for the book:

Naomi Wolf and the Sacred Vagina

Oy Naomi Wolf. Why are we all still referring to you as some sort of feminist thought leader? I am very happy for you that you are having wonderful earth-shattering shivering mystical sex. You are correct that the vagina and the brain are, in fact, part of “one whole system” — the same way that the left hand and the brain or the nose and the brain are also part of one whole system (the human body, for the slower to catch on). I even think you’re probably correct that many women (most women?) could be having better sex, and that our own cultural constructions of sex (begins with a boner, ends with ejaculation) are not only centered almost entirely on male sexual experience and desire but also thwart female sexual pleasure and understand a woman’s experience with and desire for heterosexual sex only in relation to a man’s (assumed to be neutral, standard and true) definition and understanding of sex. All of that is bad for women, in and out of the bedroom. But here, as explained by a lovely reviewer in the New York Review of Books, is where you lose me: