Your monthly digest of non-Valprehension writings from yours truly!
Your monthly round-up of non-Valprehension things I’ve been writing!
It’s all bookish stuff this month! I only wrote one blog post for the library:
But I have also started putting together various recommended reading lists for the library, some of which are ongoing works-in-progress!
For Adults/General audience
For Teens (and other folks who love YA!)
Yes, that is an actual quote, from the newly published children’s non-fiction book (copyright 2017!) Understanding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. It’s is just one book in a series from GLSEN under the banner “Living Proud!”
This book is hot mess, y’all. Such a mess that I need to rant about it.
Despite what the title implies, the vast majority of Understanding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity is very specifically focused on the topic of ‘homosexuality’. Which, that’s a perfectly fine topic for a book and all, but it’s not great for one that claims to be about sexual orientation generally, let alone sexual orientation *and* gender identity.
Gender identity is addressed only in the first chapter of the book, “The Origins of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity”. Right off the bat, we learn that the definition of gender identity is “A person’s self-image as either a male or a female, no matter what gender they were assigned birth”.
Oh, yes. We are off to a fabulous start, folks.
The book is, unsurprisingly, relentlessly binary in its discussion of both sex and gender, with the exception of a special text box acknowledging that intersex people exist. The paragraph on intersex people concludes that “many intersex people live happy and satisfying lives outside of the ‘normal’ female and male gender identities,” which is the only inkling we get that non-binary genders exist at all.
So much for “understanding gender identity” then. How about sexual orientation?
As I mentioned above, for the most part the book really only talks about homosexuality.
Outside of uses of the LGBT initialism, bisexuality is mentioned a grand total of four times:
Asexuality’s only mentions are the two mentioned above. It doesn’t even merit an entry in the “Series Glossary” (a list of vocabulary words from the Living Proud! series, many of which do not appear in this particular book), or the index.
In fact, a full three out of the four chapters of the book are explicitly focused on homosexuality/being gay. First we have “Born Gay: Biological Theories of Homosexuality”, which concludes with a quote from Dr. Qazi Rahman, who states “as far as I’m concerned, there is no argument any more – if you are gay, you are born gay.”
Contradictorily, the next chapter (“Becoming Gay: Psychological Theories of Homosexuality”) concludes that “…human behavior is such a complex combination of mind and brain – the psychological and the biological working together – that it is nearly impossible to separate the two”, before segueing into the question for our final chapter: “Why Does It Matter?”
This last chapter provides a broad overview of the ways in which the question of choice with respect to sexual orientation has been rhetorically important to LGBT (or, since transgender people aren’t mentioned at all in this chapter, LGB) civil rights struggles.
I do want to be clear here; much of the content of this book is totally fine, and some is even pretty ground-breaking for a children’s book! But I have no idea how a book primarily focused on the nature/nurture debate about homosexuality wound up with such a misleading title.
Better yet, one of the other titles in the series is Being Transgender, which has the same authors as Understanding Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, because why bring in transgender people to write a book when demonstrably uninformed cis people can do it, I guess? I may need to review that one one I can get my hands on it as well.
Getting (back) into graphic novels
This month I also wrote a guest post on Molly Aldrich-Wincer’s blog for Project Lunar, a blogging series examining “menstruation, gender, feminism and a little bit of politics”. My post addresses the fact that non-women who menstruate, and women who don’t, are often explicitly or implicitly erased in discussions of these issues.
A couple of things I wrote for other blogs last month:
I’ve decided to make this a new standard feature – on the first Monday of each month, I’ll post links to the non-Valprehension writing I’ve been doing. For now, this will mostly be stuff I’m writing for the library where I work – I have already been writing for the adult-focused blog, and am about to start on the kids’ one too – but if I ever get back into keeping up a professional development blog, I’ll post those there too.
So, without further ado, here’s what I’ve been up to this summer:
In case any of y’all are interested: I’ve started blogging for the library where I work. I’m aiming for bi-weekly posts, about various books, movies, and (less likely) music I love or that I’m thinking about. I have a couple posts up already (and I might also go ahead and repost some things here if they’re relevant to this blog, but if you *are* interested in my thoughts on books and movies, you should see about following me over there too!