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Feminist AF: What Makes a YA Book a Feminist YA Book?

feministI don’t think there is a clear cut answer, and that everyone’s answer is a bit different. I have been asking myself this question for months now, and I thought I would take this chance to explore my thoughts on the subject.

 

At first when I considered this question, I was thinking of YA books that have been presented to me as feminist books.  The quickest that came to mind were those with storylines that directly grapple with feminism in the form of a fight against a male-dominated establishment. What I have discovered is that most of the time, the way that has shaken out is we look at books where characters fight back against sexual assault and we say “this is feminist.” Which, yeah, they can be. For sure. I certainly consider books like Natasha Ngan’s Girls of Paper and Fire, Joy McCullough’s Blood Water Paint and Tehlor Kay Mejia’s We Set the Dark on Fire to be feminist. Do we require our feminism in YA books to be reactionary? Does something terrible have to happen first for us to fight back against? I think the answer is no.

 

I think about books like Rebecca Barrow’s You Don’t Know Me But I Know You and Brandy Colbert’s Finding Yvonne, which both deal with reproductive choices as they relate to a single character. By nature, these are feminist YA books, though they don’t involve a huge outward fight. Books like Olivia Hinebaugh’s The Birds, the Bees, and You and Me and Camryn Garrett’s upcoming Full Disclosure, feature girls who want access to information about sexual health. Feminist.

 

As I was writing this, I went back to the idea of reactionary feminism in YA. And I think, in a different way, there are books that are feminist in a reactionary and revolutionary way, just because media has told us for so long that this isn’t what our stories look like. I’ve started counting named roles in musicals, and the percentage of them that belong to women. It’s usually less than half, even in musicals with female leads. And then I think about Mean Girls, which features a substantial amount of girl roles, but is still filled with girl-on-girl hatred, fatphobia, and just a general sense of unease. In so much media, whether it be musicals, or movies, or tv shows, women are shown to be less. Less speaking time, less characters, less opportunity for antiheroines or messy life choices, less strong female friendships (or romance where one of them doesn’t get killed, I still haven’t finished Buffy after the thing happened). It’s gotten better, but there’s still so much that needs fixing.

 

So what are some books that feel revolutionarily feminist when it comes to these issues? Well, I think Rebecca Barrow’s This is What it Feels Like presents female friendship and the messy nature of its evolution in a way that shouldn’t feel as radical as it does (again, thanks media!) I see Julie C Dao’s Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix in this revolutionary feminist light. The first has a main character who doesn’t shy away from being an anti-heroine, the second has a quiet princess—and neither has to apologize for existing that way. Do you remember the way it felt when If I Was Your Girl released? A moment that was astounding, and long overdue? Amy Rose Capetta’s The Brilliant Death features a demigirl main character in a fantasy setting, and the fact that I was even able to write that sentence feels sensational.

 

An important point I want to note. A book cannot be feminist and transphobic. If your feminism is at the expense of transgender teens/readers and non-binary teens/readers, then your feminism isn’t feminism, it is cruelty.

 

I’ve mentioned a number of books through this that I think are great feminist picks, but I want to make special note of Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan’s Watch Us Rise. It is intersectional in its feminism, it is fighting back against a broken system, and it has a strong female friendship at its core.

 

There are many ways a YA book can be a feminist YA book, and I think I’ve only scratched the surface. It is important to keep in mind that not every feminist book will tell you loudly that it is feminist. We have to talk about the loudly feminist books and the quiet feminist books and all the volumes in between.

 

profilepicRachel Strolle is a teen librarian in a Chicago suburb. Prior to that, she was an indie bookseller for five years. She currently runs Rec-It Rachel, a blog where she yells about books you should read and makes your TBR way too long (and she is not sorry).

Feminist AF: Hearing Their Voices: Supporting Female Empowerment in Middle Grade Fiction for Tweens and Teens a guest post by Author Diane Magras

feministWhen I was a child, the books I loved most—fast-paced adventure stories that swept me away from my rural, small town life—regularly reinforced the belief that girls’ voices didn’t matter. Those glorious, heart-pounding stories featured girls who were present only to be saved, or to be silly, or both—or had no girls at all.

That these attitudes still exist in books and life during my adulthood, even after more than a decade of “girl power” movements, is a problem. And it’s a huge problem when it sneaks into the books that kids love to read. What are we showing our girls—and our boys—when a popular series features a female sidekick whose role is to be beaten up by villains, and then rescued by the boy protagonist, in every single book? Thank goodness
for Sayantani DasGupta’s Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond series, where a girl
battles demons and leads rescue missions with boys right alongside her; or Henry Lien’s
Peasprout Chen books, which depict a world of skating and kung-fu where girls are
always equal to (and sometimes rather superior to) the boys.

We need books like these, books that show girl’s voices—loud or quiet—making a
difference. Right now in the real world, we’re still debating how much women’s voices
matter—and “feminism” is a loaded term. Students are growing up seeing women reach
high political offices—and then be relentlessly criticized for being themselves and
speaking up.

We children’s authors have a crucial role to play in changing this, especially if we’re
aiming to write books that kids will love to pick up. Our books can, with subtlety,
challenge gender stereotypes by showing girls’ voices influencing all parts of a plot. And
I’m delighted to be part of that.

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(Cover art by Antonio Javier Caparo)

I’m the author of unabashedly feminist middle grade fiction, which I hope will serve,
engage, and inspire both girls and boys. My books—the first two are The Mad Wolf’s
Daughter and The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter—address gender stereotypes and a
girl’s role in fiction head-on. They’re Scottish medieval adventures filled with swordplay
and escapes, secrets and betrayals, tense scenes and cliffhanger chapter endings—the
kind of vivid, action-packed narrative I always loved.

They also star an unusual female protagonist who I could have used when I was a tween.
Her name is Drest. She’s the youngest in a family of men who together form a ferocious
war-band. Because she’s one of them, she’s been trained like them, and there’s no
question that she’s equal. When her father and brothers are captured and hauled off to be
hanged, she finds a sword and embarks on a rescue mission.

In Drest’s world, her confidence rarely wavers and her male family constantly backs her
up. In their relationship, I aimed to depict a realistic world where boys and men
supported the actions and voice of a girl.

And where a girl is, hands down, the most capable character on every page.
In the second book, Drest is fleeing for her life when a deadly price is put on her head. In
this adventure, she meets women who have the power to change her story—a mysterious
healer who helps to arm her, a village wife who protects her, another healer who stands
up to a castle of enemy knights to help Drest escape, and a noblewoman whose voice can
utterly shift the power in the world around Drest.

I want my readers to see women and girls ruling, deciding, making a difference—and
being listened to across the board by all the boys and men in the book because their
voices are crucial. (And I want readers to also see that boys and men can be thoughtful,
compassionate, caring, and able to cry—and not be insulted for crying.)

I’m glad to stand with my fellow 2018 debut authors Sayantani DasGupta and Henry
Lien in depicting strong girls in exciting adventure stories. And there are others leading
the charge in realistic fiction too—Laura Shovan’s Takedown features a young female
wrestler struggling against gender bias, whose male wrestling partner backs her up at
every turn; and Mae Respicio’s The House That Lou Built (the 2019 Asian/Pacific ALA
Honor book for Children’s Literature, by the way) stars a young engineer who plans to
use her skills to build a home, gathering a group of kids of different genders who support
and follow her.

I’m heartened that authors writing for tweens and teens are thinking about this, but there
still needs to be more. And we parents and teachers and librarians need to encourage boys
as well as girls to read these books. Girls can’t be the only ones to read stories that say
their voices matter. And boys can’t be shamed for wanting to read a book with a girl on
the cover, something that happens far too often at school, at libraries, and at home.
When girls and boys both are reading stories where girls’ voices matter, they’re delving
into a crucial model for our real-life world. These models will reinforce and strengthen a
commitment to equality in the real world through that empowerment of girls’ voices.
I want girls and boys to learn from my books, as well as other books challenging
stereotypes, that it’s crucial to question the status quo of gender roles.

And when they see a girl—or woman—being criticized for her looks, her personality, or
her voice, I want all kids to ask why, and to feel empowered to challenge it.

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Screen Shot 2019-03-02 at 9.24.04 AMDiane Magras is the author of the New York Times Editors’ Choice The Mad Wolf’s Daughter and its companion novel, The Hunt for the Mad Wolf’s Daughter. She’s obsessed with Scotland, castles, legends, and most things medieval, though from a decidedly contemporary perspective, and always with a feminist bent. Diane works for a cultural nonprofit and lives with her husband and son in the woods in Maine.

Book Review: Girls on the Verge by Sharon Biggs Waller

girlsonthevergePublisher’s Book Description

A powerful, timely coming-of-age story about a young woman from Texas who goes on a road trip with two friends to get an abortion, from award-winning author Sharon Biggs Waller.

Camille couldn’t be having a better summer. But on the very night she learns she got into a prestigious theater program, she also finds out she’s pregnant. She definitely can’t tell her parents. And her best friend, Bea, doesn’t agree with the decision Camille has made.

Camille is forced to try to solve her problem alone . . . and the system is very much working against her. At her most vulnerable, Camille reaches out to Annabelle Ponsonby, a girl she only barely knows from the theater. Happily, Annabelle agrees to drive her wherever she needs to go. And in a last-minute change of heart, Bea decides to come with.

Girls on the Verge is an incredibly timely novel about a woman’s right to choose. Sharon Biggs Waller brings to life a narrative that has to continue to fight for its right to be told, and honored.

Karen’s Thoughts

In November of 2016 when they announced that Donald Trump would be our new president I, like many women, went out and bought a supply of Plan B to keep on hand. Fast forward to the year 2019 and access to abortion and to some extent even birth control is very much being challenged. And this is most definitely the case in the state of Texas, where I live, work and raise two daughters who may have a genetic predisposition to a life threatening pregnancy condition called Hyperemesis Gravidarum, the very pregnancy condition that threatened my life and forced my husband and I to access abortion services to end a failing pregnancy and save my life. The fundamental right to full bodily autonomy and to make one’s own medical decisions is a topic that I feel strongly about; I am glad that novels that tackle the topic of abortion head on that are written by people who care about teens are being written, especially at a time when reproductive justice is being threatened.

Abortion is a topic that doesn’t come up often in YA literature, although it has and does occasionally appear. In Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Jonston, a teen girl who is raped finds herself pregnant and terminates her pregnancy with no shame or regrets. In The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu, a teen who is forced to protest abortion with her conservative mother has an abortion before she joins her pro-life parents on the picket line. Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin, The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas and What Girls are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold are just a few of the 59 titles mentioned on a Goodreads list of YA titles that deal with the topic of abortion. Out of the 1,000s of YA novels written, this is a very low number of titles.

Girls on the Verge is a no holds barred look not only at abortion, but at the difficulties one teen in the state of Texas has in trying to access an abortion. Her mind made up, it’s not so much about the will she or won’t she, but the how of it. Camille takes a road trip that involves a fake abortion clinic that wants to pray and counsel the teen, a court appearance to try and obtain the right to an abortion without parental consent by a judge who forces his own personal convictions on the teen, and a quest to find abortion pills. Currently living in the state of Texas, this entire journey felt real. And along the way, there is a lot of rich and meaningful conversation about what it means to be female and female friendship that happens in that car. I loved and valued the conversations that these girls had.

This is a controversial subject and I felt that Waller handled every aspect of it so well. Camille is pretty sure of her decision and doesn’t feel a weight-load of guilt, a point of view that isn’t often presented when we talk about the topic of abortion in any form of media let alone YA literature. She is very well supported by one female companion and is somewhat supported by her lifelong best friend who has personal moral objections to Camille’s decision, but also chooses to support her friend so that she doesn’t have to go through this alone. The discussion is meaningful, rich and, I think, important. Each teen is challenged in various ways and the reader gets a lot of insight into their lives and thoughts.

The characters are deeply drawn and readers will be invested in them, but more than anything this is a timely and important novel about the topic of reproductive justice and the current challenges to it that anyone with a uterus faces. Waller shares resources and a personal note that explains why she felt it is important that this novel and novels like it get written. Highly recommended.

Feminist AF: The Amelia Bloomer Project, by Ally Watkins

Did you know that there’s an ALA committee that curates an excellent list of feminist books for children and teens?

The Amelia Bloomer Project blog on WordPress: https://ameliabloomer.wordpress.com/

The Amelia Bloomer Project blog on WordPress: https://ameliabloomer.wordpress.com/

If not, I’m delighted to introduce you to the Amelia Bloomer Project, a committee of the Feminist Task Force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT). The Amelia Bloomer Project committee members search all year for books aimed at ages birth-18 that are well-written, well-illustrated, and have significant feminist content. During the ALA Midwinter Conference, members deliberate to produce a list of quality titles that meet this criteria.  This year’s list has 68 titles on it, and Top Ten titles were selected. Check out this year’s list here!

I’ve been lucky enough to be a member of this committee and it’s been an incredible experience. It’s changed the way I look at my reading and the way I approach my own feminism. Being able to share this with the members of my committee has been powerful and rewarding. I’m delighted to continue my term as a Bloomer, and if you’re interested–great! Applications for the 2020 committee are currently open. Apply here before midnight Pacific on Friday, February 15.

Sunday Reflections: Raising Daughters & the Fight for Full Bodily Autonomy

Trigger Warning: Pregnancy Loss and Abortion are Discussed in this Post

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I knew the day that I began teaching my 3-year-old daughter how to dial 911 that I would have an abortion.

I had just gotten out of the emergency room, again. After spending another night receiving fluids, again.

My blood pressure was abysmally low, my resting heart rate too fast.

I would later learn that I was in a state of what they call metabolic acidosis. I was, quite literally, dying.

So I barricaded the stairs. I made sure to never turn on the stove or oven. I double and triple checked that I had locked all the doors. And I laid on the couch and prayed that if I was going to die – and I was – that it happened when my husband was home so that my daughter would be safe.

Coming home from the hospital that day, I asked my husband, “what if I have to terminate this pregnancy?” He sighed the biggest sigh of relief, “I didn’t know how to bring it up,” he mentioned.

Here we were, teenaged sweethearts who had been baptized together in the church. Had attended a Christian college together. Served in youth ministry together. We were in our early 30s, already parents to a very much loved child, and we were discussing terminating a pregnancy.

The next day was another day, and another day to the emergency room. I was subjected to a 45 minute ultrasound because as the tech said, they couldn’t find “something”. They didn’t come out and say it, but it was the heartbeat. They couldn’t find the baby’s heartbeat.

So the next day we went and saw a different ob/gyn. This one we knew would terminate the pregnancy if we needed them to. And again, there was no heartbeat. My pregnancy should have measured 9 ½ weeks and there should have been a heartbeat, but it measured at 6 ½ weeks and he said a heartbeat would be iffy at that time. We explained to him that no, 3 weeks – and 2 hospital stays earlier – we had in fact measured 6 ½ weeks and heart a slow and unhealthy but definitely present heartbeat.

It was then that we were presented with 2 options: We could wait 24 hours and come back the next day to terminate what appeared to be a failing pregnancy–if I survived the next 24 hours and didn’t need to go back to the ER, that is. Or we could wait another week or two, have a follow up ultrasound and if there was still no heartbeat, it would be declared a miscarriage. The truth was, as he pointed out, that I would not survive another week or two. I need an abortion and I needed it quickly.

Twenty-four hours later we returned to terminate the pregnancy. We walked among 3 protestors who held signs telling us we were going to hell and that we should ask to hear our baby’s heartbeat. What those protestors didn’t know is that we had heard our baby’s heartbeat, and then we didn’t. We grieved our loss, but we also knew that factually we were now trying to save the only life we could really save at this point – mine.

In the days following my abortion that wasn’t technically an abortion though my medical records will always show that it was, I had one of my most spiritual moments ever. This is the moment that I hang on to whenever I begin to doubt or question my faith. I laid on my bedroom floor and cried. Then I had what I can only call a vision of the Lord, He came to me and in it, I saw Jesus kneeling beside me with his hands cupped under my face. He held them there gently and caught my failing tears as I wept, and I felt the presence of the Lord in a way that never have before or since.

Because abortion is legal in the United States, I am alive and am now the mother to two daughters. My second daughter is here only because I was kept alive through IVs and aggressive treatment by a high risk doctor. My husband got up in the middle of the night to change out fluids, inserting a needle full of medicine into each bag to help keep me alive. And even in the course of that pregnancy, the frequency and ferocity of my vomiting was so fierce that the placenta began to separate from my uterine wall and this child almost did not make it as well.

The pregnancy disease that I have is known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Recent research indicates that it is genetic. So I look at my two daughters and know, if they get pregnant there is a chance that these same things will happen to them. Pregnancy may be a death sentence for them.

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I am alive today, my second daughter is alive today, my first daughter has a mother today, because I was able to make the personal medical decisions I needed to make quickly. I continue to be alive today because I can take steps necessary to never get pregnant again. I have the health insurance I need to cover the care I need to keep myself from having any more children because I would not survive another pregnancy. There are many other HG sufferers like me out there. There are many other pregnancy complications besides HG. And soon, there may be many people who are uninsured and unable to access the health care they need or make the medical decisions they need to make.

Even if they remain celibate until marriage and jump through every hoop that those with conservative religious beliefs believe that they must, my daughters will still need affordable access to medical care and contraception to help plan and yes, prevent, pregnancy in order to keep themselves alive. And should the extreme scenario happen to them, they may need to be able to make the quick and timely decision to terminate a medically complicated pregnancy in order to survive. I want all those medical options to be available to them because I love them.

This is the story of how I became a pro-choice Christian. Yes, it took a personal experience to make me understand how dangerous and complicated and how very not black and white pregnancy can be. I was naïve and judgmental and full of the self-satisfied assurance that the self-righteous often have that they are always right and they know all the answers. I knew all the answers, too. Until I didn’t.

Further research has led me to understand that outlawing abortion doesn’t stop abortion, it just makes abortion more deadly. However, quality sex education, access to affordable contraception, access to health care and roads out of poverty significantly reduce the reasons that people seek out abortion. They also help provide a better quality of life for those babies that are being brought into this world. If we want to really tackle the issue of abortion, these are the areas that we need to invest in.

This is my family. They are a blessing. I try hard every day to guard these girls, my heart, from the toxic messaging of our culture.

Every day I look at my daughters and pray. I pray that they will continue to have the right to make the choices they need to make about their bodies and for their health. It is not guaranteed that they will have Hyperemesis Gravidarum, but it is a very real possibility because they are my daughters. I want them to be able to make the decisions they need to with their doctors make the right choices for their health.


I wrote this essay shortly after the election in 2016. My husband and I fought long and hard through three very difficult pregnancies to bring our two much loved children into this world. It nearly bankrupted us because it was hard for us to get good answers and good medical care. It nearly killed me, twice. And we made decisions that we never contemplated having to make when we began our life together as a married couple trying to start a family.

13 years ago today, in the year 2006, I had an abortion. It saved my life.

My first two pregnancies I had one doctor who apparently knew I suffered from Hyperemesis Gravidarum; It is written in my medical records, though he never discussed it with either my husband or I. In my second pregnancy, the last one in which we would use him as our doctor, I was, according to the various ER records we gathered, quite literally dying. At one point I was hospitalized for a short stay and my resting heart rate was 160 and my blood pressure was 60 something over 37. After being admitted from the ER and placed into the maternity ward for a few nights, at no time did any of the doctors on that floor perform an ultrasound. If they had, we would have learned a full two weeks earlier than our termination that the baby had already passed away. Instead, I suffered another two weeks, inching every moment even closer to death.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum is extreme nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. It is not morning sickness. In each of my pregnancies I vomited 24 hours a day for the entire pregnancy. Some days I vomited more than 100 times. I often slept on the bathroom floor because there was no point in trying to go to bed. I had to go to the ER frequently because I suffered from dehydration and the various things that happen when your body has no food or fluids. In my second pregnancy, I lost 40 pounds in about a week and my body began to break down in a process that my medical records calls metabolic acidosis.

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In my third and final pregnancy, I was under the care of a new high risk doctor. The moment I tested positive, I was put on home healthcare. I was kept hydrated and alive with home IV therapy. The Mr. set his alarm clock throughout the night and woke up around the clock to put new IV fluid bags in my IV line. I took a cocktail of three drugs that they give cancer patients taking chemotherapy to try and stave off the vomiting. The frequency and fierceness of my vomiting was so severe that the placenta began at one point to separate from my uterine wall. I was put on bed rest and told to stop throwing up.

For more information about Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) please visit www.helpher.org

On February 3, 2006, I walked into the office of an ob/gyn who performed abortions and terminated my second pregnancy. Although we had every reason to believe that our baby was already dead inside me, the laws of the land required us to seek out an abortion because I could not wait the necessary time frame to confirm this fact; I would not survive.

I am grateful that I got to make that choice for myself and that I have been here to see my teenage daughter grow into the amazing young woman that she is today. I am grateful as well that I got to give birth to my second daughter and see her becoming the amazing young woman that she is today. I am only here, my second child is only here, because I was legally able to make the medical decisions I needed to make for myself. Pregnancy still kills women in multiple ways. In fact, the United States has a very high maternal mortality rate for an industrialized nation.

There are known and proven ways to decrease abortion rates. These ways include providing everyone access to comprehensive sex education, providing access to affordable birth control, providing affordable access to prenatal and general health care, raising women and children out of poverty, supporting education, providing access to affordable daycare, creating a culture that provides living wages and work/life balance. We can decrease abortion rates while still allowing women full body autonomy and the right to make their own medical decisions.

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Hyperemesis Gravidarum research indicates that HG is genetic. I have two daughters. Their ability to make the health care decisions that are right for them is imperative to me. Their lives may literally depend on it.

Feminist AF Fashions and the YA Characters That Rock Them

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For a long time, I bought into the lie that a feminist couldn’t be girly or care too much about fashion. I believed that in order to be a feminist, you had to reject all things associated with what it traditionally meant to be female. Pink and tutus, for example, were straight out. By over time, I learned that this belief was not, in fact, feminist. This is one of the reasons why when I was designing the Feminist AF graphic, I purposely choose to use an image of a red sequined background. Young feminist Karen would have rejected anything with glitter or sequins and pearls or whatever as not feminist. Young feminist Karen would have been wrong. I love the image so much that I had a cell phone case made out of it, which is what I now proudly carry. (Ordered via Snapfish)

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The Teen models my TLT Feminist AF phone case

Meanwhile, The Teen found her own way to turn her phone into a Feminist AF fashion statement. Be sure to check out how she organized her apps.

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Today, guest poster Lisa Krok is talking with us about Feminist AF fashion statements and then she shares some books featuring YA characters that rock all kinds of fashion. Because feminist and fashion can go together and we can rock it!


 

While teens don’t have Cinna on hand to style them like the Girl on Fire, many choices are out there to cover feminist fashionistas from head to toe. Starting at the top, teens can keep warm and in vogue with this handmade beanie, found on Etsy. Alternatively, for a golden glam look, try David and Young’s feminist baseball cap, found on Poshmark.

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https://www.etsy.com/listing/504546661/feminist-black-beanie-hat-white-text

https://poshmark.com/listing/Baseball-Feminist-hat-

What better way to accent your feminist cap than with some badass earrings!  Author Hillary Monahan creates fun and funky jewelry choices with feminist options featured in her Etsy shop.

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https://www.etsy.com/shop/HillsPeculiarities

Up next, some trendy t-shirts to flaunt girl power.  Amazon.com hosts a plethora of listings from a variety of sellers.  One of the best ways to promote feminism is of course to support and empower each other, and resist those who do not.   www.amazon.com

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Your feet need some love, too. Try these lively socks that are just a sampling of many choices from Blue Q  https://www.blueq.com/socks/ .

femsocksLast but not least, teens need the most important accessory of all: an awesome book! Feminist AF Fashionistas come in a wide array of forms and these characters (and books) prove it:

A Flair for Glam

Hair, body, face…and the DRESS!

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Tough as Nails

Rock some Timbs like Bri,  shoot purple lightning from your hands, or wear a snake as jewelry.

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Fashion Has No Limitations

All genders, all sizes, all cultures, and all sexual orientations.

femmultiEditor’s Note: You can also teach teens to make their own feminist fashion statements, so look for an upcoming post where I share with you just how you can do this.

Meet Our Guest Poster

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-Lisa Krok is a Feminist AF Ravenclaw, library manager, and 2019 and 2018 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers committee member. She is counting the days until we have a female POTUS. Lisa can be found being bookish and political on Twitter @readonthebeach.

The 2019 Project: Feminist AF!

Every year since 2014, TLT has picked a project or area of focus to help guide the year. We still post book reviews, program outlines and discussions, we still talk about librarianship and teen issues, but we choose one overarching theme that we really want to deep dive into and discuss. Previous years have included an in depth look at sexual violence, faith and spirituality, mental health and social justice in the life of teens and in YA literature. This year our guiding principle is this: Feminism. In the year 2019, TLT will be Feminist AF.

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At it’s most basic, feminism is defined as: a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes. This includes seeking to establish educational and professional opportunities for women that are equal to those for men. (Wikipedia, not a great source I know, but it’s the source that most people will start with.

This year we saw a man confirmed to the Supreme Court even though there were allegations that he had sexually assaulted Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. A little less than one week was given to investigating the allegations, which surprised no one that has paid attention to the way victims of sexual violence are treated. At the same time, men convicted of sexual violence against women often get zero to little time and are often put on probation for short periods of time. Even in the midst of the #MeToo movement, men are still being let off with very few repercussions for their acts of violence against women.

With the recent government shut down, Congress has allowed the Violence Against Women Act to expire.

Reproductive rights and women’s full bodily autonomy is under constant attack.

Beto O’Rourke, a man I voted for, is being touted as the next presidential contender for the Democratic party even though women like Stacey Abrams, a black woman and major political contender, are not being equally considered.

Trans women, particularly trans women of color, are still being murdered at alarming rates with very little press recognition or public outcry.

The ways in which we talk about teenage girls and the things that they love.

Toxic masculinity culture and it’s effects on all genders and those that identify as non-gender specific or non-binary.

Affordable childcare. Affordable healthcare. Affordable education. Equal pay. Equal rights. Marriage equality. Equal everything.

This list could, sadly, go on and on.

So in the year 2019, we’re going to be Feminist AF and talk about what it means to be a feminist and what it doesn’t. We’re going to make book lists, we’re going to discuss books, we’re going to talk about programming, and we’re going to dive into the issues. All of them. BUT WE NEED YOUR HELP.

That’s right, this discussion/project involves you. As always, you are invited to come and guest post. So if you would like to write a guest post (or a few, because you’re not limited to just one), please fill out the Google Form to let us know what you want to talk about and when you would like to talk about it. We will try and get back with you in a timely manner. Robin Willis is our primary guest post coordinator but we hope this project will be bigger than what she can handle so it may be Amanda MacGregor, Ally Watkins or myself (Karen Jensen) that gets in touch with you. Please take a moment to review our guest post guidelines here to help you know how you can streamline the actual guest post submittal process (please, please, please include a post title because I stink at picking good post titles). It’s a year-long, ongoing project so there is no deadline. If you find yourself with a brilliant idea for discussion in October, we will still gladly accept your proposal. Librarians, authors (yes, you can use this as an opportunity to promote your book), parents, teens – everyone is invited to participate.

Wishing you a Happy and Feminist AF New Year! We look forward to talking about feminism with you in 2019.