TL:DR I am wondering if folks sometimes too narrowly focus on the one thing, instead of addressing the bigger, more challenging questions/issues.
A few things I’ll weave together:
- Recently had an exchange about books*
- My older son told me about his friend who’s become an “anti-natalist.”
The Venn Diagram in my mind connects in the middle with “both are filled with misogyny and arrogance.” * “Exchange” is a mild word — an exchange implies a sharing of ideas and points of view. This one became personal and downright ageist and misogynistic.
“Instead of clearing his own heart the zealot tries to clear the world.“
And to be clear, zealots don’t see themselves as fanatical, uncompromising, dogmatic, or narcissistic. Their solipsism prevents others’ points of view from entering their periphery. Just as a hard-line anti-abortionist feels about the zygotes, the anti-natalists feel about having a zygote in the first place. The zealot is a tarnished paladin, who may have the law on his side, but is not interested in justice. The paradox is their crusade might be what’s necessary and needed, but sometimes they engage in bad faith and do more harm than good.
Regarding the topic of books, (which I don’t have time or energy to tackle the antinatalists today, sorry, boys, take a number), it is well understood that the many forms of censorship, self-censorship, and opinions about what texts should and shouldn’t be used in classrooms, public and school libraries, has always been a burning topic. Literally.
But: when engaging with someone who will fight to have any book in a public school library, you will lose. And what might be lost will be more than the ‘right fighter’ zealot who got his way but destroyed so much more in his wake. Librarians are being let go. Libraries aren’t even being built in public schools any longer. Too many websites are blocked. Too many books are being pulled from shelves. It takes months, if not years, for books to be approved, if at all. So when a zealot fights to put one YA book on the middle school shelves, he may be right, but the consequences will take years to clean up. And who will clean up the mess? Other (women) teachers.
To this point:
Books saved my life. I am so glad and grateful things weren’t censored, and I am also kind of sad that some things I read were too pornographic for the age I saw them, and this is only because I didn’t have the context or schema. And I hope I say this clearly: it’s only a tricky area when one doesn’t provide the volume of information, guidance, and wealth of knowledge from experts in early child development. We have many great thinkers on this, including librarians, teachers, parents, doctors, psychologists, and more. People who have devoted their lives to understanding how to nurture curiosity and understanding of sexuality, sex, and a whole range of information. I mean, goodness, I had the blessing of having a mother who would answer any question, and it’s heartbreaking, unhealthy, and downright dangerous for children who don’t. And we, at least in North America, are a long way from destigmatizing sexual curiosity and removing shame from discussions about sex, our bodies, and our humanity. And #whitesupremacy takes its hold in censoring books on race, enslavement, and other historical facts. The current nightmare by white parents to ban CRT (critical race theory [which is taught in college, but ‘they’ don’t care] or Culturally Responsive Teaching is their fever-pitch response to maintain their privilege and power.)
Today I’ll be posting notes I’ve gotten from readers to show how books open hearts, feed minds, and soothe wounded souls. TW – some of these are intense.#Freadom #txlege @MacKidsSL @PenguinClass #SpeakUp #ShoutTogether pic.twitter.com/hvVSRJIfbh— Laurie Halse Anderson is deep-cleaning everything (@halseanderson) December 3, 2021
I can feel myself about to go into a long-winded, unproductive post. We are sexual beings. We want to know about our bodies, our feelings, and if we are ‘okay.’ Our children deserve our love and kindness to help them navigate their own lives. My energies, and I can only speak from here, are to make sure consent, comprehensive sexual education, and multiple historical perspectives are taught, discussed, and open. All of this does not rest on a single book. I’ve been fighting for almost two decades to make sure evolution, mythology, creation myths, and get great middle grade and YA books are in my classroom. What I will not tolerate is the zealot telling me what I think and believe. I see that bigger picture.
What can I do? Keep buying books for students. Keep creating and cultivating a safe place to share their ideas and questions, and do my best to help them find answers that will keep them healthy.
Some book lists for your libraries, too:
The author recommends this book for high school:
So, I was on @NPR @MorningEdition today! Thanks to @AMartinezLA for talking with me about my novel, LAST NIGHT AT THE TELEGRAPH CLUB. And good news: I mentioned my mom in the interview and she didn’t mind! 😅 If you missed it you can catch it here: https://t.co/yoHao7uvMl— Malinda Lo (@malindalo) December 15, 2021
I’m here to talk, discuss, and think about new ideas. And I’m grateful for so many who share their brilliant and clear ideas.
More writers to read, please: