Last week, The New Statesman ran an essay by Liz Lutgendorff, wherein she describes reading every book on NPR’s reader-selected list of the top 100 science fiction and fantasy books, and finding them to be “shockingly offensive” in their “continued and pervasive sexism.” In the course of proposing “a Bechdel test for books,” Lutgendorff launches broadsides at a variety of authors, some of whose work is indeed genuinely awful (step forward, Piers Anthony), and questions why these works remain so respected.
It’s an interesting essay, and makes some valid points about the weight of nostalgia on this particular corner of genre fiction. But it also falls into a pattern that’s worryingly prevalent these days in the world of criticism, particularly when it gets to the topic of rape and sexual assault in fantasy. It’s at this point that Lutgendorff’s argument falls into the trap of confusing a depiction of something in a work of fiction for an endorsement of that thing (at least, in any instance where there’s an absence of explicit, unequivocal condemnation of it). READ MORE: In Defense of Uncomfortable Subject Matter in Genre Fiction | Flavorwire.
(Edmonton) When you live 400 kilometres from the nearest library, getting information can be a real challenge. Professor Ali Shiri of the University of Alberta’s School of Library and Information Studies is leading a project to address this issue. Together with co-investigator Dinesh Rathi, Shiri and a team of collaborators have begun to bridge the information gap for some of Canada’s most isolated people with a project called Digital Library North.
Currently, people in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region—an area that spans 90,650 square kilometres—must travel to the Inuvialuit Cultural Resource Centre to access hard-copy information. The challenges with distance and winter above the treeline limit the access. The SSHRC-funded project will create a digital library infrastructure to address the unique information needs in Canada’s northern regions over the next three years. READ MORE: Creating the first cultural digital library in Canada’s North | University of Alberta.
Canada is known as a cultural mosaic because it’s home to many people of different ethnicities, cultures and languages. This diversity presents a great opportunity to teach our kids about other nations and their customs, as well as to celebrate our similarities and differences from them. Reading is one the best ways to learn, so we’ve rounded up 13 of the best children’s books that celebrate diversity. READ: Best Children’s Books To Celebrate Diversity | Huffington Post.
Are men and women different? While almost every executive I have ever met, anywhere in the world, says yes, most diversity policies are designed as if the answer were no.
Last week, the Global Head of Diversity of a leading professional services firm told me that she “didn’t want to be treated differently.” That, I answered, is why most professional services firms are still hovering well below the 20% female partner level. As long as men and women are treated exactly the same by organizations, most women will continue to be shut out of senior roles.
And yet for the past 30 years, managers have been taught to do just this: treat men and women exactly the same. That is considered the progressive thing to do. Any suggestion of difference was, and often still is, labelled a bias or a stereotype, especially by many women, eager to demonstrate that they are one of the guys, or the in-group. READ MORE: To Hold Women Back, Keep Treating Them Like Men | HBR.
It’s very easy to despair over the dearth of female directors in the film industry, and we often do. But it’s also important to acknowledge and celebrate the work of the women who are out there getting it done, and that’s where this wonderful post from Bitch Media comes in. READ: Female-Directed Films Recommended by Female Directors | Flavorwire.
What happened to Little Black Sambo? As a white girl growing up in West Virginia in the 1970s, I remember it on my childhood bookshelf. It was on my friends’ shelves too. It may also have been in the dentist’s office, along with Highlights for Children and Joseph and His Coat of Many Colors.
It was not on the shelves of the local day care, a center run by an entrepreneurial black woman who saw a business opportunity in the droves of young white mothers who were socialized in the 1950s and ’60s to be housewives and then dumped into the workforce by the 1970s economy.