Even though she grew up playing football, shooting hoops and running races against all the boys in her neighborhood, U.S. 800-meter champion Alysia Montano never wanted to be thought of as one of them.
As a result, she started wearing a flower behind her right ear to remind the boys they were getting beat by a girl.
“The flower to me means strength with femininity. I think that a lot of people say things like you run like a girl. That doesn’t mean you have to run soft or you have to run dainty. It means that you’re strong.”
Inspiration from Ira Glass via theaudacityofcolor.com
I cannot wait to experience the animation and music and magic of this story.
More info along with characters and concept art here: http://www.cartoonsaloon.ie/2009/06/feature-films-song-of-the-sea/
When I do book signings, most of my line is made up of young girls with their mothers, teen girls alone, and mother friend groups. But there’s usually at least one boy with a stack of my books. This boy is anywhere from 8-19, he’s carrying a worn stack of the Books of Bayern, and he’s excited and unashamed to be a fan of those books. As I talk to him, 95% of the time I learn this fact: he is home schooled.
There’s something that happens to our boys in school. Maybe it’s because they’re around so many other boys, and the pressure to be a boy is high. They’re looking around at each other, trying to figure out what it means to be a boy—and often their conclusion is to be “not a girl.” Whatever a girl is, they must be the opposite. So a book written by a girl? With a girl on the cover? Not something a boy should be caught reading.
But something else happens in school too. Without even meaning to perhaps, the adults in the boy’s life are nudging the boy away from “girl” books to “boy” books. When I go on tour and do school visits, sometimes the school will take the girls out of class for my assembly and not invite the boys. I talk about reading and how to fall in love with reading. I talk about storytelling and how to start your own story. I talk about things that aren’t gender-exclusive. But because I’m a girl and there are girls on my covers, often I’m deemed a girl-only author. I wonder, when a boy author goes to those schools with their books with boys on the covers, are the girls left behind? I want to question this practice. Even if no boy ever really would like one of my books, by not inviting them, we’re reinforcing the wrong and often-damaging notion that there’s girls-only stuff and you aren’t allowed to like it.
I hear from teachers that when they read Princess Academy in class (by far the most girlie-sounding of all my books) that the boys initially protest but in the end like it as much as the girls, or as one teacher told me recently, “the boys were even bigger fans than the girls.”
Another staple in my signing line is the family. The mom and daughters get their books signed, and the mom confides in me, “My son reads your books on the sly” or “My son loves your books too but he’s embarrassed to admit it.” Why are they embarrassed? Because we’ve made them that way. We’ve told them in subtle ways that, in order to be a real boy, to be manly, they can’t like anything girls like.
Though sometimes those instructions aren’t subtle at all. Recently at a signing, a family had all my books. The mom had me sign one of them for each of her children. A 10-year-old boy lurked in the back. I’d signed some for all the daughters and there were more books, so I asked the boy, “Would you like me to sign one to you?” The mom said, “Yeah, Isaac, do you want her to put your name in a girl book?” and the sisters all giggled.
As you can imagine, Isaac said no.
Maurice Sendak, June 10, 1928 – May 8, 2012
R.I.P. Maurice Sendak, author and illustrator of Where the Wild Things Are, who died today at age 83.
Sendak on death: “I have nothing now but praise for my life. I’m not unhappy. I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can’t stop them. They leave me and I love them more. … What I dread is the isolation. … There are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready.”
“The whole promise is to do the work.”
My heart just sank.
Let me start by sharing a little from my own humble life. When I was four and living in some mostly white suburbs, my Indian mum sent her Indian daughter (me!) to day-care wearing a bindi— the kind painted on with traditional vermillion powder rather than the now-common sticker ones. At day-care, my “American” “care-giver” rubbed it off my face and made an example of me in front of the other little angels, saying I made up ridiculous stories about so-called customs to get away with wearing something weird on my face.
18 years later, in those same suburbs, I returned to wearing a bindi everyday— a plain, round, red sticker one— for personal, family, and religious reasons. Soon after, in 1996 (just as ethno-chic was surging back into style), I moved to Manhattan and was immediately stunned by everything new— for starters, the amount of racial and ethnic diversity in the city and, unrelatedly, the shocking amount of sexual harassment women sustain on the streets. For example, a man followed me 3 blocks through the garment district one day, shouting, “Hey India! Miss India!” “Miss India” became a common nick-name for me, used exclusively by men I’d never seen before: meant, perhaps, to make me feel like a beauty queen but more effective in making me feel ill. There was other harassment too. A woman squeezed onto a crowded elevator right in front of me and chose me (not any of the many Judeo-Christians surrounding me) to inform that God was dead. I thanked her for the information and wondered just what ethnically and nationally-specific presumptions made her feel entitled to speak to me. Did she maybe think she was liberating some passive Asian woman? or did she just not think at all? Months later, a man approached me by Washington Square, spit at me, pointed at my forehead, and told me to “go back.” (Tell me exactly what that means!) I stood there with tears of fury welling in my eyes and planning futile revenge. Since then, I’ve switched to a tiny, unobtrusive black bindi; and if I’m on the subways alone late at night, I don’t wear one at all.
Let me turn now to dip into some other humble history. In 1987, while I was still in junior high in the South, a group of predictably young, mostly white, and angry men formed in New Jersey, not far from the ever-chic New York City, joined by their common anger at the burgeoning Indian and larger Asian populations in Jersey and calling themselves the “Dot-Busters.” This was yet another “American” response to the wearing of the bindi, preceding its adoption as “body-jewellery.” As is usually the case, their hatred was economically grounded, as they felt displaced by this new wave of immigrants, who came with their entire families and slogged away at occupying the niche of lower-level businesses— gas stations, convenience stores, cheap motels— we’re all familiar with the types and stereotypes. “Little India’s” had started to establish themselves in white-flight areas, and the smells of curry and incense had started to permeate the air in those neighborhoods. Overcome by an unsurprising sense of losing something precious and employing unoriginally misdirected and reprehensible violence, the Dot-Busters engaged in a spree of assaults that left two people dead and one beaten into a coma. In the South, too, my mother and I were repeatedly called “Dot-heads,” but no such groups formed there; there were few Asians where we lived.
This is for fucking anyone who thinks it’s not a big deal for non-south Asians to wear a bindi…this is not your heritage, you have never experienced the hatred and discrimination thrown at these women for participating and embracing their own culture with this particular item. How dare you take that from them and make it into a “fashion statement,” after your brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and whole race of white people have used this same item to justify such mistreatment. Show some fucking respect.