What I’ve Been Reading Online

The word “Feminism,” and the rich history of its proponents, needs to be reclaimed by today’s teens, via The Guardian.

Hillary Clinton is neither a saint nor a demoness, via The Establishment. She is not our future, but she is an important figure that deserves to be heard. “There cannot and must not be any doubt that so much of the animus to Clinton is motivated by the audacity of her seeking power while female; it magnifies her real failings into demonic proportions, fit only to be screamed at…. The double standard is real and undeniable; it must be the starting point in any debate about Clinton, and seen as a bias to constantly acknowledge and correct for in one’s criticism.”

Understanding the early days of the HIV/AIDS through fiction, via Electric Literature.

Female author who are worth binge-reading, according to Modern Mrs. Darcy,

Contemporary YA books that feature interracial couples, via Book Riot.

“I’m also conscious of the continuing double standard: I have to be better than everyone; I have to work harder. There’s no margin for me when others have so much leeway. It’s a pressure cooker all the time. I try to pull the curtain back so that young, dynamic women like America (Ferrera) can see themselves in historic context and know they can overcome the obstacles in their way.” Hillary Clinton and America Fererra chat with the New York Times.

100 Must Read Books by Queer Authors, via Book Riot.

Women’s Media Summit’s White Paper calls for the public to boycott media that doesn’t include women. I mean, I already do this personally, and think it’s really important. Tell Hollywood what you want by the way you use your dollars! And the WMS, and I, want gender equity yo.

The best female-led horror movies, according to Vulture. Halloween marathon, anyone?

What I’ve Been Reading Online

Electric Lit gives its two cents about the gender-swapped Lord of the Flies and gets it all wrong.

Read It Forward gives some great recommendations of books for woke kids. Definitely going to be gifting a few of these this year!

We’re getting an adaptation of Stoner by John Williams and I won’t be able to see it because it will be starring a sexual predator. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.

A new memoir involving the life of Bette Davis is going to be released. Quartz says it shows it’s time to stop letting men construct women’s stories. They are, of course, super right. If only that could go without saying.

They announced the long list for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and The Hate U Give is on it!

An interesting piece from Teen Vogue about how our culture’s obsession with white male serial killers is glamorizing and deifying them.

Bitch Media’s 15 Bitch-Approved September reads!

Banning 13 Reasons Why Isn’t The Answer

I think at this point we are all familiar with 13 Reasons Why  and the controversy surrounding the Netflix series. I know, I know. It’s been talked to death. But let’s talk about it for Mental Health Week anyway.

If you’re not familiar with the controversy, let me fill you in.

The Netflix adaptation of Jay Asher’s novel young adult novel 13 Reasons Why has been receiving both praise and criticism. The story depicts the life of a group of teenagers after the death by suicide of a girl named Hannah Baker. Hannah leaves tapes behind describing the thirteen reasons she had for dying.

While mental health advocates and professionals believe that talking about mental illness and suicide is important, they also believe that the makers of the series did not handle this sensitive material correctly. Not only so, but the makers seem often to actively go against media guidelines for talking about suicide.

Read more…

Why People With Anxiety Make Hella Great Friends

Anxiety is a natural response to certain situations. Social anxiety is an evolutionary response. Belonging to, and being accepted by, a group was the difference between death and survival. Humans are social beings meant to be part of a community.

People who have anxiety disorders have natural anxiety on a large-scale. It doesn’t shut off. While there are not a whole ton of things that make having anxiety great, there are a few things that it teaches us.

I know that it can be hard to have friends with anxiety. There are a lot of little things and limitations you have to be aware of and sensitive to, and it can be frustrating. But anxiety can teach those who suffer from it and can give them different perspectives. One of those things is how to be a good friend.

Sure, people with anxiety have all different types of personalities and character traits. But in general, our anxiety makes us alert to certain things and these can benefit those who are around us.

So, this Mental Health Week, here are 14 awesome things that make people with anxiety great friends to have.

Read more…

Know Someone With Anxiety? Here are Six (Mildly Snarky) Dos and Don’ts

Hey y’all! It’s Mental Health Week! Let’s #GETLOUD for mental health.

Anxiety. Mental illness. Heavy topic, huh? It doesn’t have to be. Important topic? Absolutely.

I know that mental health and mental illnesses have been getting more mainstream coverage and acceptance of late (which is good), but it’s not enough. It’s something that we still need to work hard at to normalize. This is something that is okay to talk about. It’s important to talk about. 1 in 5 Canadians have or will suffer from a mental illness in their life. That’s 20% of the population, guys.

Although there are a lot of us out there, mental illness can be incredibly isolating. But, knowledge is power, yo! Educate yourself. Know someone with anxiety? (You probably do, whether you know it or not). Here are some (a little snarky) dos and don’ts.

Read more…

Confessions of a Murderino: How I Became Interested in MURDERERS (i.e. True Crime)

 I haven’t been doing a ton of reading in the last couple of weeks. I haven’t been doing anything particularly constructive though, either. What I have been doing though, is binge listening to tons of podcasts.

Now, I’m not saying that listening to podcasts isn’t constructive. There’s a ton of great shit out there, man. It’s just that usually when people listen to stuff like podcasts or audiobooks or whatever, they are doing something else.

Maybe they’re on the bus, or driving, or walking, or cleaning, or cooking, or literally anything else. But me? I’m usually just curled up on the couch with earbuds in and eyes closed.

Read more…

Dope Linkz

Since I heard that Teen Vogue had become more newsy and political, I’ve been following them online. Best. Decision. “What Defunding Planned Parenthood Means.”

Library Assistant Life

For the last two, almost three, years I’ve worked in a public library.

I started at the bottom, as what we call a clerk—i.e. someone who shelves books—and have been working my way up.

I’ve been very lucky so far in my library career. I started off at quite a small branch in a kind, tight-knit community. The staff emulated this. They have always been so friendly, welcoming, and eager to teach. Through their guidance and support, I’ve been able to learn so much. Read more…

Reflecting on 2016

This is a tad overdue. However, 2016 was a landmark year for me in many ways. Reflecting on this, here are the main things that stand out about my year.

I kept my New Year’s Resolution

In 2016, in a very non-Beth fashion, I stuck to my guns and lost 40 pounds. I started off with weight watchers, then took things into my own hands. I completely changed my diet and my physical routine. Temporary diets don’t work. You have to make a lifestyle change. One that works for you! For me, “Everything in moderation” did not work… It definitely helped me to get started, but after that, until I got a handle on things, I needed to cut certain things out entirely. Eventually, I didn’t even miss them! Now I have treats every now and then but know that if I let myself, I could easily end up right back where I started.

I went on some amazing trips

In February/March, I went to Mexico with my family! We stayed at a resort on the Mayan Riviera and had an amazing time. I did a lot of relaxing and eating, but we went on a couple of day trips, too. Not only that, but the food was great!

For Thanksgiving, I traveled with my family to Alberta to visit extended family. It was so nice. For ten days we stayed with my grandmother hanging out and exploring Edmonton.

On the first weekend in November I went on a road trip to Boston with three friends! We all piled into my car and made the eleven hour trek to see needtobreathe and Mat Kearney in concert. It was amazing.

I made (and reconnected with) some great friends

Over the last few years, I had become somewhat of a hermit. I rarely left my house when I wasn’t working, always holed up with a book or on the internet. I would text my few friends sometimes, but I would never really make an effort to see them. The person I spoke to the most was my then-boyfriend. He lived in another province and we didn’t get to see each other a lot.

It’s one thing if you’re a hermit and you’re happy. But I was a hermit, and I was not happy. I thought it was just me being an introvert, but really, it was me giving in to my social anxiety.

The fall of 2015 was rough. My boyfriend and I split up and my beloved fur baby died. When all that happened, I realized how important friends really were–because I needed them but had let them all slip away. I became determined to never be in that place again.

Throughout 2016, I constantly made myself go out of my comfort zone. Not only did I make myself make and stick to social plans, I also made myself go places I didn’t know anyone, or only knew one or two people. It was hella scary, y’all.

I started hanging out with my friends, and started making new ones. I reconnected with someone I knew from years ago, and from there started going to her church on Saturdays. Turns out that a bunch of people I used to know went there! It was so great seeing them. I made it a regular thing and started building friendships.

The most meaningful friendship I made was with a red-headed gem named Maggie. We just clicked. One day after church I asked her if she was free and wanted to hang out. After that, we were almost inseparable for the summer. But there was a catch. She was engaged. To an American. And was moving to Oregon at the end of the summer. That was a huge bummer, but I had the best summer of my life. Maggie is in Oregon now, but we still talk basically everyday! I’m so glad that I met her. Even with her a million miles away, we’re still close.

It was really hard for me to not give into my anxiety, and it’s still hard. But I’m not going to let it control me. I have friends, dammit! Anxiety, you can go to hell.

I moved out

I’m a strong, independent woman, y’all! I’m out in the medium-sized city making my own way! This was a huge thing for me on many levels. First, it’s obviously a big thing for anyone when you leave home, and so it was for me, too. It was also clearly the right time. I was finally making (barely) enough money to afford living on my own. Not only that, but a girl I knew happened to be looking for a place, too. Together we found the perfect spot for us and have lived there (mostly) happily since. It’s given me independence, pride, and a lifestyle I love. I absolutely adore the neighbourhood I live in. It’s the cutest. I love living in the city. Everything is so close. There’s always something to do and someone to do it with.

I landed a job that I love

It’s been quite the journey since university. I’ve been working in the library system in my city for almost three years, and I’ve finally landed a job that I’m not super over-qualified for. Not only do I love the job, but I love the place I work, too. I work in a small community library. It’s such an important hub for the people who live here, and it’s a privilege to serve them! The staff is such a treat, too. Each and every staff member is a joy to work with. There’s not even one person that I don’t get along with. It’s such a great place to work. I could go on and on. It’s a dream. I count my lucky stars everyday.

I learned a lot about myself

2016 was a transition year for me. There was so much change. And that was a good thing. I needed that. I made a lot of mistakes but I learned from each and every one.

Onto 2017

A month into this year, and things are looking pretty good. I’ve been reading amazing books, getting to know amazing people, and enjoying amazing opportunities. One such opportunity is contributing to Book Riot! Writing and books are both my true loves. I’m really excited I’ve join the Book Riot community. If you’re interested, check out my contributor page and the posts I’ve written so far!

How Reading Made Me a Feminist (Or Realize I Kinda Already Was One)

I’m a twenty-five-year-old woman, and I consider being a feminist a large part of my identity. Ten years ago, that wasn’t the case. Hell, five years that wasn’t the case.

Growing up, I fell victim to the narrative that many people do—feminism was an ugly word used to describe man-hating, overly sensitive, “politically-correct” (as if this were a bad thing), crazy people.

I believed that feminism sought to destroy the nuclear family, force women from the home, and spread anger and bitterness. I was ignorant to the real meaning of feminism and what it sought to do.

Privileged and sheltered, I grew up mostly ignorant to the fact that women are treated differently and that this is a problem. Was sexism was even a thing anymore? Surely that was over. It’s the twenty-first century after all. Oh, little me.

I have always been a huge book nerd. Since I was small, I have rarely been found without a book. I have always seen the value in women’s writing and narratives, and I was naïve and self-centered enough to think that other people saw things the way I did.

Later, while selecting the subject of my undergrad thesis, I realized something. When left to my own devices, I read almost exclusively female authors. I seemed mostly interested in women’s stories and struggles. Overtime, I also found myself vicariously experiencing the oppression of women through those stories.

As I chose my topic and began my research, these thoughts became more concrete. I decided to write about Edith Wharton and her novel The House of Mirth. The goal of my thesis was to highlight parts of the novel that coincided with the feminine literary tradition of American Sentimentalism. This tradition describes fiction written by women and for women, with female relationships and domestic life at the forefront.

During Wharton’s time, the Sentimental tradition was viewed as “trashy” by the great American writers (i.e. some white dudes). Instead, those writers were part of the school of Realism. Wharton, too, was part of this school. However, I argued that she also made use of feminine tradition, and that feminine did not mean lesser.

As I researched Wharton and her work, I became increasingly interested in the plight of women. For one, it was—and is—much harder to be taken seriously in your field when it is dominated by men.

Furthermore, as I dug deeper into the novel, I found many parts of the main character’s story standing out. One of the novel’s main themes is the woman as a beautiful ornament to be consumed. The importance this theme held for Wharton was made clear as I learned the book’s original title: A Moment’s Ornament.

The journey of reading Wharton and writing my thesis solidified many feminists beliefs in me—but I still didn’t know what to call them.

I, like many young people (I assume), learned that feminism was actually an okay thing when Emma Watson made her speech about gender equality at the UN. That same year Beyoncé performed at the VMAs in front of a large sign reading “FEMINIST.” Feminism was becoming “cool” and more accessible (and consumable, but that’s another story for another day).

As I had already been forming these beliefs and contemplating these issues, I was particularly receptive to Watson’s message. I eagerly and proudly began labeling myself a feminist. After a while, however, I was not content to leave it at that.

My feminism became especially real to me when I learned the term rape culture. I first read about it when prominent universities in my city were in local and national newspapers for the horrendous behaviour of some of their students. I was shocked and appalled. The more I looked into rape culture, the more I realized that while yes, I should most definitely be appalled, I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s a huge, widespread problem.

This is how author Emilie Buckwold defines rape culture (emphasis mine):

[Rape culture is] a complex set of beliefs that encourage male sexual aggression and supports violence against women. It is a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent. In a rape culture, women perceive a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from sexual remarks to sexual touching to rape itself. A rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women as the norm . . . In a rape culture both men and women assume that sexual violence is a fact of life, inevitable . . . However . . . much of what we accept as inevitable is in fact the expression of values and attitudes that can change.

The idea of rape culture enraged me, and rightly so. That anger became a driving force behind much my reading. I continue to educate myself on these issues daily. I write things like this and sometimes post them on my blog.

Reading has expanded my mind, grown my empathy and compassion, and given me a peek into experiences I may not have otherwise seen. With an open mind and a critical eye, I think reading has made me a better person.

And a feminist.