W is for (Books About) Women #atozchallenge

For A to Z 2018, my theme is Books About ____. If you’re stopping by from your own A to Z blog, feel free to leave a link. If you need help with how to do that, you can look here.

If you’re someone looking to read a lot of great blogs, here’s the link for the A to Z challenge.

There are so many amazing books I could have written about that it was hard to narrow it down to only a few. But I managed. (Aren’t you impressed?)

Moxie, by Jennifer Matthieu (YA): When Vivian gets fed up with the boys at her school, she looks to her mother’s old punk rock ‘zines to inspire her to connect with the other girls at her school. I loved this book because it was girls at their best, supporting one another. It showed girls standing up for themselves in a strong and non-violent way. Plus, it was just a lot of fun.

The Female of the Species, by Mindy McGinnis (YA): When a man killed Alex’s older sister, Alex killed that man, and she doesn’t feel bad about it. She does, however, think she’s too dangerous to be around other people. When she befriends Peekay (the preacher’s kid), and Jack (the star athlete), the three of them end up in a situation that means different things to each of them. This book took me on a roller coaster ride, and I’m still thinking about it. Though I don’t advocate vigilante justice, Alex is an amazing heroine.

The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood (classic): Offread is a handmaid in a dystopian future where women have no rights and are merely baby-making vessels. Offread was once an independent woman with a husband and child, but she’s not that person anymore. Her voice shines through. Even in this terrible situation, she’s still an individual who wants more. So when she’s offered a chance to rebel, she takes it. The book is full of terrifying ideas.

What are your favorite books about women?

Philosophy Class and the He/ She Conundrum

Berry Springs Park, TX Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Berry Springs Park, TX
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

When I was in college, I took a lot of philosophy courses.  It was primarily because my school had a history requirement that could be fulfilled by philosophy classes.  Now, I hate history (well, I used to), but I’ve always loved philosophy.

I had one particularly philosophy professor more than once.  I don’t remember his name, but I do remember that we butted heads frequently.  You see, he was insistent that in our papers, we use “gender neutral” language, or the dreaded he/ she.  I hated writing he/ she in my papers, and felt it was cumbersome and unnecessary.  I much preferred using “he,” as it was grammatically correct and easier to read.

This professor marked me down in my papers for my use of gender specific language.  I don’t remember if I gave in and wrote it the way he wanted, or if I stayed stubborn.  I do remember arguing about it in class, and that as far as I was concerned, he never gave a compelling argument for why I should use that language.

Language is important, and how we use language definitely influences our thinking.  I try to talk in a positive way, and I think the way I talk to myself and others makes it easier for me to stay positive.  That being said, I think “gender neutral” goes too far.

I don’t want gender neutrality.  I’m okay with being a woman and being part of mankind.  I don’t think it diminishes me in anyway or oppresses me to be part of mankind, and to use the general “he” in formal papers.  I think that gender neutrality is overrated.  I want to be different, not just as a woman, but as a person.  But I don’t think that writing he/ she is going to change the way women are viewed in society.

If I had to take the class today, I would roll my eyes but write the papers the way he wanted me to.  I’m more relaxed about things like that, and I no longer need to be right about everything.  (Yes, friends, you read that correctly.  I no longer need to be right.  Just because I usually am doesn’t mean it’s a necessity.)

It was my job to be open minded about learning, but it was also his job to teach.  If you’re going to teach me, give me a better argument than the party line.  Tell me why gender neutrality is important.  I may not agree, but if you can make a compelling argument, I’ll at least respect what you say.

Looking back, I find it ironic that a philosophy professor got upset because I was trying to argue a philosophical point with him.  The rest of the class found it hilarious, but my professor looked like he was going to pop a blood vessel in his head.

Recently, I’ve seen people switch back and forth between he and she when they write, using them interchangeably.  I find that way more acceptable than he/ she.  Psychology writing preference is just to use plurals, so instead of saying “The way a person uses language shows the way he/ she things,” I would say, “The way people use language shows the way they think.”  Honestly, if my professor had showed me the plural trick, I would have jumped on board with that!  It’s a way around gender neutral language (although “they” still contains “he,” so is it really neutral?).

Where do you weigh in on gender neutral language?