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.
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.
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.
Snip: It was only about two seconds of the keynote, but just seeing the word “menstruation” scroll behind Federighi represented a real turning point in Apple’s diversity efforts. The only thing that would have made this moment better would have been if Apple had allowed a woman who worked on it to introduce the new feature.
…For the nearly 8 million people in the US with some degree of vision impairment, the advent of ebooks and e-readers has been both a blessing and a burden. A blessing, because a digital library—everything from academic textbooks, to venerated classics, to romance novels—is never further away than your fingertips. A burden, because the explosion of ebooks has served as a reminder of how inaccessible technology really can be…
Opinion piece arguing valid, though not fully informed or researched points. Libraries need support from the public and media to thrive and provide much needed services to their communities…so why not be positive and contribute to their longevity, rather than deride their popularity and continuation as this author is doing.
Quotable: “The loss of independent bookstores is accompanied by the loss of diversity, possibility, and sense of place. Publishers, writers, and the readers they serve all lose in a market that rewards blockbusters but ignores alternative voices and ideas. Instead of being bystanders to this devastation, libraries have compelling reasons to seize the opportunity it presents. We have a mandate to help preserve our literary and cultural landscape; we have the space, often in rent-controlled buildings; we know how to buy and promote books; and we are not constrained by the need to turn a profit. We are uniquely equipped to sell books and support writers, publishers, and reading in Canada.”