On Nannying and Media Representation

This summer, I started a job that I’ve only ever done before for family (because I’m a beginner author and still need a ‘real’ job to get me through the day)- I’m now a nanny for two little girls. And I love it. Though, to be perfectly frank, I love it for some reasons that I never dreamed of loving it for before. For one, I’m absolutely tickled by how aware the girls are. As I’m not a parent myself, I’ve always taken it with a grain of salt when people argue that we shouldn’t harp too bad on bad media representation of different groups because the children ‘don’t get that message’ or it would ruin all of the good fun of the show in question. But in hanging out with the girls, I’ve come to realize that children are much more intuitive than we give them credit for- and that we’re missing out daily on little opportunities to make the future brighter and much more caring because we’re patronizing the heck out of these kids.

To give you an example of this, the girls and I an episode of H20: Just Add Water every other day. In the show, one of the characters, Charlotte, is quickly demonized because she is dating the boy that the main character, Cleo, used to date and still likes. When we started to watch the show, the girls warned me that Charlotte was ‘evil’. When I asked what ‘evil’ things Charlotte had done, they responded ‘she’s dating the boy Cleo should be dating’. Well, I’m a huge ‘girls should not actively hate other girls just because they are other girls’ proponent, so I thought I might slip in a little thought for them. I told them that it’s not quite nice to hate a girl just because she’s dating someone that they don’t think she should be dating. It seemed like it didn’t matter much to them, and I ended the conversation with asking them to instead dislike her for bad things she does.

On their own, the girls quickly realized that the character herself actually wasn’t a bad person. That her entire ‘bad girl’ character was based around her being the obstacle for the main girl, Cleo, to the main boy. And the girls were furious about it. They began to point it out themselves in every episode, with one of them eventually saying that, if she was to choose someone to be in the show, she would now chose the previously demonized girl, Charlotte, because she had found something to admire about her. Just by suggesting that the girls change one little thing about how they were watching the show, the girls themselves became more critical of the wounding stereotypes perpetuated, and were more willing to discuss how it disturbed them. They didn’t see the show as a reason for why girls who take the popular boy should be hated- but as a way to talk about why that kind of behavior doesn’t help anyone.

But it didn’t make them hate the show. They still want to watch it. They still look for the good things about the other characters. They just don’t fall into the trap of hating the character ‘because stereotypes’ as the show would have them do. This is the kind of reaction I couldn’t pay to get out of some of my peers, and these girls got it in the blink of an eye. All I did was suggest one way that they could change in how they were watching the show, and they did the rest of the analysis and thought themselves.

Needless to say, I was impressed- both by these girls, and by what I had learned about having honest conversations with children about bad stereotypes and media representation. It doesn’t take much. It doesn’t take an hour lecture, or a complete ban of ‘questionable’ material from the house. It just takes a willingness to point the kids in a more open way of seeing things, letting them do most of the thinking themselves, and a move away from patronizing behavior that would say that these girls would never make the progress that they made with how they were retaining the message the show was giving them.

And that’s my positive moment for the day.

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For a Better World: Royalty Donation Options

Still pretty busy here, getting everything ready for the publication launch. As you may or may not be aware, one of the missions of the ‘Once Upon a Reality Series’, which begins with ‘Till the Last Petal Falls, is to bring awareness to woman’s social justice issues through the art of fiction. As a part of my commitment to that, I am planning to donate 10% of my own royalties to a corresponding charity- in this case, domestic violence.  This can be 10% to one charity, or split 50-50 between a local shelter (in/around Denver, Colorado) and a national foundation. I’m smack dab in the middle of researching what the best option would be to donate to, but I was wondering if any of my followers would have a good place that they think would be highly deserving of these royalty monies? One of the highest contenders at the moment would be SafeHouse Denver. What do you think about that?

Current Trends in Woman’s Lit

 

Came across this jewel of a picture parodying ‘Fifty Shades of Gray’. At first I laughed, and then I frowned. Not because I believe that the person commenting is wrong- at the contrary, I’m wholeheartedly behind this person’s sentiment. But it’s disconcerting to me to see this trend in current popular books for women that glorify abuse, both mental and physical, to a ridiculous degree. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that BDSM is intrinsically abusive. I have friends in the lifestyle, and they are healthy individuals. But even they will say that the action portrayed in the Fifty Shades Trilogy is sickening and rather goes against the strict safety codes of a true BDSM lifestyle.

 

So, ladies, why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we revel in something that- when examined- would in real life have us calling the cops? I was in an abusive relationship for four years, and I am incapable of reading things like this without shuddering and having horrible flashbacks. I could barely get through Twilight because of that. And yet, women around me are soaking it up as if it was the Gospel.  Does anyone else see this trend? Do you have support for it? Do you think I’m wrong? Let’s discuss!

To Love is to Be Loved

“There is the great lesson of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ that a thing must be loved before it is lovable.”

― G.K. Chesterton

 

 

For many, this is one of the first lessons that we learn regarding love and how it works. Love begets love, right? So how do you explain domestic violence? Is it because you did not ‘love’ the other person enough? Is it because your ‘love’ wasn’t real enough? That you didn’t mean it enough? Speaking as a woman who has been both physically and mentally abused by those I have loved for years at a time, I can promise you that this kind of an explanation just doesn’t cut it.

When does it become okay to release yourself from the conventional ‘stick-it-out’ love and get out of a horrible relationship? When does it become okay to admit that you can love someone all you want, but you cannot force someone to change if they do not wish to? When does it become okay to admit that, just because the object of your desire doesn’t love you back, it doesn’t mean that you are unloveable? 

I would love to have an open discussion about this, as this was an honest challenge for me to tackle when taking on a re-imagining of such a classic, and sometimes classically misleading, fairytale. What are your thoughts on this?

Beauty and The Beast

Till the Last Petal Falls, my upcoming novel, is a bit of a ‘retelling’ or a ‘release’   of one of the most iconic fairy-tales of all time.

 

So why not discuss that original story? What kind of things did ‘Beauty and the Beast’ teach you? Were they good lessons? Were they bad lessons? What parts of the story really spoke to you? What parts royally pissed you off? What could you relate to- both now and as a child? What is your favorite version? What do you notice now as an adult that  you didn’t when you were a kid? What other retellings of the story have you read that you enjoyed/ loathed? Let’s have a good old fashioned discussion about fairytales!