We’re almost done for the week, the weekend open thread is on its way in about half an hour. In the meantime, I’ve gathered up my favorite Persephone comments to highlight in our first ever comments of the week. It was much harder than I thought to pore over everything everyone said last week, but I found some great stuff!
Winners in Servicey
–My exact words because once again, of all the Shakespearean heroines”¦ugh.
Anyway, here’s the deal with Remy/why I read This Lullaby in one sitting at age 15 and have loved it ever since: Remy isn’t like many YA girls/women, in that she is more at the center of her social circle than on the outside. She’s presented as more confident, more popular, more like the girls others want to be. I remember reading a quote from Sarah Dessen about how this was actually her starting point: she wanted to write about a character unlike those at the center of pretty much all her other books (which are all wonderful, by the way).
Anyway, her central flaw is that after watching her romance novelist mother get married and divorced something like 6 (or more?) times, she distrusts the possibility of lasting, committed relationships, and acts accordingly, enjoying boys, but moving on before it gets particularly serious.
Long story short, that mostly changes when she meets the “right” guy (Dexter, aka my favorite Dessen boy), but that’s not the point – she holds her own, and moves through her growth at her own pace. A large portion of the book takes place when she is not with Dexter, but also not moping around, feeling sorry for herself, like so many characters do when they’re not with THE ONE. And even in the end, when she comes around, she still leaves home for Stanford and gets on with her life. She doesn’t change everything for someone else.
She’s also got solid, realistic relationships with her girl friends. They have their rituals and their shared experiences, but not in a cheesy makes you want to bang your head against something hard kind of way. Most of all, she’s not perfect and occasionally kind of bitchy, and manages to straddle the reality of not always nice, but not Queen Wench, either.
“¦Now I want to re-read This Lullaby. (I read it in one sitting after I bought it at age 15. I cut my summer Spanish class and spent all day on the couch at my local library.)
I didn’t expect Tiffany to win against Lyra, either, because I think more people have read Pullman – but I still think she deserved to. She’s smart, sympathetic, powerful as hell, and also very fallible (she makes mistakes and must learn from them). I love the way she turns her fear into anger and then into action. She also feels a responsibility to do good in her world, and protect it from harm.
And in Tiffany’s world, being a witch is being part of a network of strong, powerful, often-cranky, and highly individualistic women – of all ages – who do good things for the people around them without demanding payment. She has power, but has to learn to channel it for the good of others rather than self-gain – and part of that, like you said, is learning to NOT rely on it for most of the work she does.
I’ve read the Pullman trilogy just once, but a couple things stick out in my memory: in the first book, Lyra is treated a little like a special snowflake – the boat people don’t let the women and girls go off on the rescue mission, but Lyra is allowed to – she’s an exception. I don’t like it when girl heroines are The Exception – I prefer a world, like Pratchett’s, where many girls could potentially have adventures, even if we’re following one or two. And as much as I enjoyed the trilogy’s fantasy aspects and comments on religion, by the third book, I thought Lyra’s story had softened into “just a romance.”
I don’t know – Tiffany just never, ever ceases to make me think, GOD SHE KICKS ASS. Tiffany’s books make me think, laugh out loud, and cry. They inspire me. Even as a nine-year-old, she made me think, “I wanna grow up to be like her.” She deserved better than a round one elimination.
The Science Girl –
This is interesting. I’m in a historically male-dominated field (biomedical research), which is in the current position of being evenly split at the graduate student and young faculty level but still male-dominated at the department chair and dean level. At my particular university within my particular department (microbiology), there are actually more female grad students than male. I think, if anything, the assumptions I face are that I am thinking about, worried about, and planning my career around wanting to have children. When we have events geared toward women in science, the theme is almost always “how to balance work and family life.” I find that a bit patronizing, not because it’s unimportant (even for single and/or childless people, balance is key), but it reduces women’s issues to reproduction, when I’d like to hear more about sexism, navigating career advancement (how to get tenure, how to get on committees that matter, how to get involved in hiring and advancement so that I can help push more women to the top, how to advance in the publishing and grant-reviewing aspects of science, etc). So, instead of hearing things like “this is how you can even out disparities in positions of power in science,” I hear, “this is the best time to try to get pregnant.” Many of the same issues apply to medicine (I’m also a med student), and there are a lot more assumptions about subfields/specialities that women tend to go into (primary care, pediatrics, non-surgical, etc). I imagine (and have heard from some female MDs) that male-dominated fields of medicine (e.g. surgery, orthopedics, etc) are still very much an old boys’ club, and this presents unique challenges.
One note on stereotypes from outside of my academic field, I find that men tend to either see me in a white coat or hear me say that I’m in med school and still interpret that as “nurse.”
MSCL is on Netflix instant now!
Winner for Truthiness
Public school teachers are awesome.
Winner, in Jesus is Just All Right With Me
… Jesus not only hung out with women, he depended on them for his livelihood during his ministry.
he also made women the first witnesses to his resurrection, and told them to go TELL people! which is so crazy, since a first-century Jewish woman wasn’t even considered a reliable witness in court (she needed to have a man with her to verify her story).
Winners, in That’s a Really Good Idea
…I don’t know how feasible this is, but it’d be great if Persephone assembled a panel of feminists from different religious backgrounds and they could each discuss a common theme from their religious standpoint (i.e. “What active roles do women have in your church/synagogue/temple/place of worship? Do you think that’s reflective of the religion or unique to your congregation?”).
…Can we have a “Tennant of the Day” instead of TDG?
Winner in Lady Knows Internet, Plans Accordingly
The frankenfurters (typo, keepin’ it) split open and filled with relish look really, really odd. Not to ruin anyone’s love of this dish (and if you do love it, look away now!!), but it looks vaguely gangrenous (for a hot dog, you know, please don’t link me to pictures of actual gangrene).
Winner, Poetical Like
Sara b –
I love crocuses because one day there will be snow on the ground, and the next you will see the crocuses peeking out through the mud. They always seemed to be both dainty and tough as nails to me, like they made spring come out of sheer stubbornness.
Winner, Plus A Million to the One Millionth Power Internets
…an unexpected elephant. Like a bear.