Romance and Representation in “Insurgent”

Ah! Summertime! The time when the school semester is over and a person gets to actually choose what books they read. On my list for summer 2014 is the “Divergent” trilogy and I just recently finished the second in the series, Insurgent. (For the record, I haven’t read any of Allegiant nor have I seen the film adaptation of Divergent).

The “Divergent” trilogy sits amongst a collection of young adult science fiction novels (like “The Hunger Games” and “The Mortal Instruments,” for example) that recognizes the importance (and marketability) of young female heroines. However, on the feminist blogosphere at least, fan-girling over the likes of Tris (“Divergent”) and Katniss (“The Hunger Games”) hasn’t come without careful analysis of what’s missing from these series. While the predominately male-dominated world of science fiction has made space for these ladies, we are a still a far way off anything resembling fair representation. Namely, Tris and Katniss are able-bodied, cisgendered, straight, and white (whiteness is debatable for Katniss, but the movie adaptation portrays her as so). Max Thorton from Bitch Flicks points out that

“Just because straight white pretty cis girls are beginning to be represented in specific (or rather, in one specific niche that is still derided in male-dominated geek culture), we can’t assume that this means the trend will continue in the right direction without some very real, tireless, and vocal work on the part of us consumers.”

 Badass lady heroines like Katniss and Tris are absolutely a step in the right direction. But until we are also seeing non-white, dis/differently-abled, trans*, and queer girls kicking ass on screen, we still have a long way to go. (More on this here, here, and here).

(Note: my mom read this and immediately thought of Lisbeth Salander from Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium Trilogy.” Larsson’s books aren’t really young adult oriented and they’re definitely not science fiction but Lisbeth is such a fantastic queer ((and potentially dis/different-abled)) heroine that I couldn’t not mention her here!)

Maybe that’s one of my favourite things about series like “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent.” I can love them so much while simultaneously critiquing them and using them as a starting point for broader conversations about popular culture. One topic that I’ve been increasingly interested in while reading both Divergent and Insurgent is the development of Tris’ relationship with the story’s central love interest – Four. 

Tris and Four’s relationship changed a lot between Divergent and Insurgent. In her review of the film, Bitch Flicks’ Amanda Rodriguez notes that the main character, Tris, 

“gets rescued a lot, mostly by her love interest, Four… This made me roll my eyes a lot because I didn’t pay $10 to watch a young woman lead be so dependent on a dude for her survival.”

I’ll admit that this is a frustrating element of the first book and I expect that the movie simplified the damsel-in-distress trope even more for the benefit of Hollywood.

However, all of that changes in Insurgent. Firstly, the theme of “rescuing” stood out in the novel for other reasons. The most important rescue in the book happens when Tris’ nemesis, Peter, rescues her from certain death. Despite their personal hatred for each other, Peter saves Tris in order to pay the debt he owed her for saving his life earlier in the book. This stands out as far more thematically important (to me, at least) than any lifesaving being done between Tris and Four.

Secondly, the resolution of the story’s central conflict depends on Tris going against Four’s wishes and undermining his authority as a community leader. This allows Tris to emerge as a political actor in her own right, separate from Four and many of the other characters. Not to mention, it is her best friend, Christina, with whom Tris ends up saving the day which equals a lot of awesome girl power.

What I liked most about the way Roth developed Tris’ decision to undermine Four was how explicitly she allows the reader to see Four attempting to control Tris, and Tris directly defying that control. More than once, Tris is determined to put herself in harm’s way for the good of her allies and Four tries to deter her through guilt. He uses their relationship as a means of control by telling her that “if you do that again, you and I are done.” (page 260) Eventually, he even puts the blame for himself being in danger on her by saying, “You die, I die too… I asked you not to do this. You made your decision. These are the repercussions.” (page 338)

It wasn’t a side of Four that I was a huge fan of. But what I did appreciate was the way that Tris ultimately responds. She calls him on using the fate of their relationship as a way to control her at the end of the novel:

“You tell me you love me, you trust me, you think I’m more perceptive than the average person. And the first second that belief in my perceptiveness, that trust, that love is put to the test, it all falls apart…. So you must have lied when you told me all those things… you must have, because I can’t believe your love is really that feeble.” (page 503)

In the end, it is Tris’ belief in herself that triumphs and that is the reason that her and her allies end up being successful. My favourite line in the whole novel is when Tris says to Four: “I am exactly who you think I am” (page 503).

This side of Tris is amazing. It’s not just her determination to protect her family and her community that I so admire, but her fierce trust in herself. Despite whatever tired romantic tropes get dredged up in Divergent, Tris and Four’s relationship in Insurgent carries one message to the girls and young women who are reading: Boys are awesome and fun. However, as soon as they stand in the way of our goals, our sense of self, and our ability to be agents in our own right? Well, then they can fuck right off.

This is something that I enjoyed about Insurgent a lot. However, I have to ask myself why it is that Tris gets to be the feminist heroine and why her relationship with Four can be highlighted in exciting ways. Tris gets to be read as “non-traditional” because she’s a teenage girl with qualities like bravery and power that typically aren’t associated with girls in pop culture. Four can be a “non-traditional” love interest because he admires Tris for qualities like strength and determination as opposed to beauty. But Tris and Four are still traditional enough. They’re still white, cis, straight, and able-bodied. It is only because they didn’t rock the boat too much that they were allowed to achieve the ranks of mainstream popularity.

If you read Insurgent you might have noticed Lynn admitting to being in love with Marlene (another woman). But, this is as Marlene is dying. As a consequence the reader’s awareness of Lynn and Marlene’s romantic relationship ends as quickly as it began. That it is Tris and Four’s relationship that I focused on in this post, and not Lynn and Marlene’s, speaks volumes to where power structures continue to play an enormous role in the production of popular culture. We’re going to need to rock the boat a lot harder if we want that to change.

Image credits: skreened.comdivergentthemovie.comthe-antisocial-hipster.blogspot.ca

 

 

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Using Rape as a Plot Device

by Caity Goerke

[Content warning: discussion of sexual violence]

A plot device “is an object or character in a story whose only purpose is to advance the plot of the story.” While plot devices are necessary to move the action of a story forward, sometimes writers neglect to realize that there are some experiences that should always be handled with thoughtfulness and care – issues which shouldn’t be tossed around lightly as a simple means of moving from one plot point to another. Earlier in my semester, I read Titus Andronicus for my Shakespeare class and it got me thinking a lot about what it means to use rape as a plot device.

In Titus Adronicus, Titus’ daughter is brutally raped and mutilated. Lavinia’s rape is important to the play for exactly two reasons. Firstly, it allowed Shakespeare to increase the shock, gore, and horror factor of his play. Secondly, it provides motivation for Titus’ later acts of revenge. Lavinia’s rape is not important as a means of providing a platform to discuss sexual violence nor is it important to develop Lavinia as a character herself. In fact, Lavinia actually becomes less of a character after her rape because she becomes reduced to only her body. After reading Titus Andronicus, I started thinking about the ways that this is an all too common theme. Taken, I Saw the Devil, Death Wish, and Django Unchained are just a few examples of films where violence against women is used as a fundamental motivator for the story’s protagonist. Like Titus Andronicus, these films aren’t about the women who have been kidnapped, beaten, abused and raped. Both the women and the violence against them are merely important to move the plot of the story forward.

It is easy to see how using rape as a plot device in this way functions to erase women, as characters, from films and drama. Yet, the use of rape as a plot device also works in other harmful ways. Firstly, it can contribute to the sensationalization of violence against women. Violence against women is sensationalized when it is used to shock, horrify, and/or intrigue the audience. In an article called “The Bigger Picture: What happens when we find ‘The Line’ as viewers?,” movie critic Drew McWeeny speaks to his experience of watching rape being exploited for entertainment in film. He says,

what scares me most about it is that the vast majority of the scenes are directed so poorly that they become, in essence, titillation, and there is something immeasurably sick about including a scene in your film that involves rape just so you can sneak a little nudity into the movie.

The sensationalization of rape occurs in Titus in the way that Lavinia’s body, after her rape, is displayed as an object to be gawked at by other characters in the play and, subsequently, by the audience. In addition to the actual visual effects that would have been used to display the violation and mutilation of Lavinia’s body, she is described by both her rapists and her uncle in explicitly graphic ways. Not only does the repeated description of Lavinia’s appearance reduce her to her body, but the fact that she cannot speak because her tongue has been cut out further highlights her importance as a body, not as a character. The exploitation of rape is emphasized by the nature of the rape being used as a plot device. Because Lavinia’s rape is just a plot device, and her experience is never taken up and engaged with in any critical or thoughtful way, she is only important because she is a raped body – her character exists for no other purpose than to be raped. She functions only as a victim of violence and that violence is sensationalized so as to “justify” the equally sensationalized acts of violence committed by Titus in revenge.

Not only does using rape as a plot device contribute to its sensationalization, but it also functions to desensitize the audience to the issue of violence against women. McWeeny explains that “I must see 30 films a year where somebody needs to have ‘something bad’ happen, and the go-to impulse in almost every case is rape.” When rape is reduced to simply “something bad,” the reality that it is a traumatic experience that occurs in pandemic proportions is completely ignored. In Titus Andronicus, Lavinia’s rape is only important because it is a crime against Titus’ family, it’s simply “something bad.” Depicting rape in this way desensitizes us because it erases the experience of the victim and, therefore, ignores the grave reality of rape. We become further desensitized because rape is used in this way in film, television, and literature time and time again. You only have to turn on Law and Order, CSI, or any of a variety of crime dramas to see rape being used as a platform from which to launch the episode’s plot. While these shows occasionally take the time to engage with larger social issues related to violence (Law and Order SVU is perhaps the best example of this), the vast majority of the time the issue of sexual violence isn’t the focus of the episode. Instead, it’s the successes of a talented investigative team that takes the spotlight. Using rape again and again as nothing but a plot device causes us to forget what rape really is: a traumatic and violent event perpetrated against an individual as a result of a variety of intersecting and oppressive factors such as gender, race, sexuality, class, and ability.

Why is it so incredibly dangerous to ignore the reality of rape? Well, for starters, because we know that, in North America, 1 in 4 women will be raped in their lifetimes. 1 in 4. That’s 25%. And that’s only people who identify as women. How can we sensationalize and desensitize ourselves to the issue of rape when we understand the pervasiveness of it? When we use rape as a plot device and when we neglect to engage with the issue of sexual violence in thoughtful ways what are we saying to our classmates, to the person three rows behind you in the movie theatre, to the dorm-mate sharing the couch with you during your Saturday CSI marathon? What are we saying when these are people for whom rape is a reality, not just something that happens on screens, on stages, and in books? While these questions can’t be easily answered by a simple solution, there are things we can do to speak up. Efforts like Miss Representation’s #NotBuyingIt campaign allows us to bring our voices together to demand more responsible media. Donating our time and/or money to front-line organizations like Women Against Violence Against Women, Battered Women’s Support Services, Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, and UBC’s Sexual Assault Support Centre contributes to the provision of community-level support for victims of violence. Participating in events like the February 14th Women’s Memorial March and the March 23rd Community March Against Racism raises awareness about lived experiences of violence and oppression. Most importantly, we have to remember that using rape as a plot device isn’t just about lazy writing and the exploitation of trauma for “entertainment value.” Using rape as a plot device contributes to a culture where violence, trauma, degradation, and oppression go unquestioned in all forms of media. Moving from this point requires much more than just volunteerism and Twitter activism and, instead, requires a shift in our collective consciousness.

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Dworkin’s Heartbreak

“A lie can be halfway around the world before the truth has its boots on.”
- Donald Rumsfeld

Having never been classically trained in feminism I was painfully unaware of many feminist hall-of-famers until recently. In fact, I remembered this embarrassing detail a few days ago: I didn’t know who Gloria Steinem was until she showed up in an episode of The L Word. So, needless to say, it was only a few years ago that I first heard someone say Andrea Dworkin’s name.

Initially, all I noted was that mention of her name invoked dramatic reactions – mainly of the negative persuasion. A couple months ago during a small feminist gathering I attended someone declared something to the effect of “the world would be a better place had she not been born.”

With these kinds of reactions from the feminist community itself it may not be surprising that none of Dworkin’s 11 published non-fiction books made the recent Ms Magazine list of top 100 feminist non-fiction books of all time. It would be hard to argue that Dworkin was simply unknown to the magazine or its readers considering Ms. Magazine founder, and a peer of Dworkin’s, Gloria Steinem has said of her: “She is, I always thought, our Old Testament prophet raging in the hills, telling the truth.” Considering her prominence (regardless of how one feels of her specific politics) in the movement―it is a striking omission.

So why the hate on? When I was trying to figure this out it seemed like the big ones were that Dworkin was credited was saying things like “all sex with men is rape” and “all men are rapists.” Unbeknownst to me, most of the people who repeated these phrases had not actually read any of her work or speeches. Neither had I.

When I found out she had a memoir I thought it the perfect opportunity to take a closer look. The first thing that struck me about Heartbreak was its readability. It has some welcoming wide margins and double spacing. The second thing was that it reminded of Assata Shakur’s memoir. Which maybe seems like a strange comparison. A year apart in age both activists were in New York City during the same time period of civil rights and anti-war movements. Dworkin, throughout much of her life had very little money but she reported to have routinely donated to the Black Panther youth and literacy programs (programs Assasta Shakur was heavily involved with). Both were avid readers and self educators – critical of the huge gaps in the public education system. Dworkin read all the works of Darwin and most of Marx and Freud before she finished high school. Most striking for me was a similar sensation in their writing – the two books felt more like a two-way conversation than a telling. Both asked many questions of the reader and I often felt like I was talking with them.

“I have been asked, politely and not so politely, why I am myself. This is an accounting any woman will be called on to give if she asserts her will.”  - Andrea Dworkin

Heartbreak isn’t a political manifesto. If you’re interested in dissecting her analysis this isn’t the place to turn. It is the place to turn to give one a fuller picture of the woman most feared and ridiculed in the feminist movement.

My top 4 moments in the book:

  • In grade 6 she refused to sing Silent Night with her class because she decided she liked the idea of the separation of church and state. This was also when she learned to be critical of the way adults manipulate and lie to children, “I recognized that there were a lot of ways of lying, and pretending that Christmas and Easter were secular holidays was a big lie, not a small one.”
  • She took writing very seriously and spent years on her poetry. She obviously thought constantly about how to best articulate stories and arguments. She writes, “Can one write for the dispossessed, the marginalized, the tortured? Is there a kind of genius that can make a story as real as a tree or an idea as inevitable as taking the next breath?”
  • In 1992 eco-feminist Petra Kelly was shot and killed by her partner (who then killed himself). Dworkin attended the memorial with many other activists and was disgusted by the speakers who almost exclusively spoke of her partner’s devotion to pacifism and only mentioned Kelly in passing. “I couldn’t believe nothing had changed―peace, peace, peace, love, love, love; they did not understand nor would they even consider that a man murdered a woman.”  This, of course, would not be the first or last time that a feminist was awe struck by misogyny within the progressive left.
  • There are many more instances in the book when her perception of a moment of injustice feels spot on. Near the end of the book she has this one, “A few nights ago I heard the husband of a close friend on television discussing antirape policies that he opposes at the university. He said that he was willing to concede that rape did take place. How white of you, I thought bitterly, and then I realized that his statement was a definition of ‘white’ in motion―not even ‘white male’ but white in a country built on white ownership of blacks and white genocide of reds and white-indentured servitude of Asians and women, including white women, and brown migrant labour. He thought maybe 3 percent of women in the United States had been raped, whereas the best research shows a quarter to a third. The male interviewer agreed with the percentage pulled out of thin air: It sounded right to both of them, and neither of them felt required to fund a study or read the already existing research material. Their authority was behind their number, and in the United States authority is white.”

Charges of being divisive to “the movement” have historically been used to silence women of colour, lesbians, queers, trans, and disability justice activists. Not to mention women in general within the progressive left. This is something that’s going on now in parts of the Occupy movement. I’m not going to say that you’re splintering the movement by reading up on Dworkin and critiquing her analysis. But, if you do find yourself hating her and wishing she’d never been born I suggest that you read this book. She was radical, and critique is important, but blanket hatred uncesscarily nullifies her valuable contributions.

The only other Andrea Dworkin I have read is her 1983 speech, “I want a Twenty-Four-Hour Truce During Which There Is No Rape.” This challenging and fiery speech was delivered to a room full of 500 men.  If nothing else the woman deserves our respect.  And, maybe the boots of truth will have a chance to catch up.

Follow Ellie Gordon-Moershel: @EllieGordonMoe

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Assata Shakur and my train of thought.

A recent addition to my personal list of Books That Should Be Included in the High School Curriculum is Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur. Being amazed at having never heard of this book or the woman who wrote it until a few weeks ago I feasted on it and nearly finished it in one sitting on a train ride from Jasper to Vancouver (hence the blog title…very punny indeed).

Assata Shakur was a member of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army in the 60s and 70s. 
In addition to exposing the disgusting history of the American government and FBI’s attempts to defame and criminalize Black nationalists and civil rights activists –  the memoir proved to be immensely readable and engaging. What was most fascinating to me, however, were the parallels that could be indentified between her experiences in the civil rights movement and being a racialized woman in North America a few decades ago with observations about being a woman and a feminist in North America right now. What follows is a somewhat disorderly free flow of her quotes and my reactions that I thought might be worth sharing.

“We had been completely brainwashed and we didn’t even know it. We accepted white value systems and white standards of beauty and, at times, we accepted the white man’s view of ourselves…From when I was a tot, I can remember Black people saying “niggas ain’t shit” and “You know how lazy niggas are”

I think about the way women talk about other women today. I feel like it’s gotten worse in my short life time. I wrote a blog on how I see this manifesting in women’s comedy. It’s the idea of ‘calling out’ “whores” and “sluts.” Melissa McEwan talks a bit about this pressure in her amazing article Misogyny Up Close and Personal. She identifies the societal push for her to confirm that, “I am an ally against certain kinds of women. Surely, we’re all in agreement that Britney Spears is a dirty slut who deserves nothing but a steady stream of misogynist vitriol whenever her name is mentioned, right? Always the subtle pressure to abandon my principles to trash this woman or that woman, as if I’ll never twig to the reality that there’s always a justification for unleashing the misogyny, for hating a woman in ways reserved only for women.”

I think one of the grimmest examples of the oppressed oppressing the oppressed is the discrimination that went on in nazi concentration camps among the prisoners themselves as outlined by Primo Levi in his memoir Survival in Auschwitz.  It’s the most destructive result of living in an unequal and exploitative society; all of us internalize prejudice and discrimination.

Though I still like to quote Madeleine Albright on this topic, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help women.”

“The usual way the people are taught to think in amerika is that each subject is in a little compartment and has no relation to any other subject.  For the most part, we receive fragments of unrelated knowledge, and our education follows no logical format or pattern.  It is exactly this kind of education that produces people who don’t have the ability to think for themselves and who are easily manipulated.”

Assata Shakur is a strong advocate for all-inclusive and empowering education for Black youth. I think this quote was particularly acute in its description of the problems with North America’s public education system.  What specifically comes to mind for me is the garbage dump that is sex ed.  My main concern is a lack of comprehensive history, context and language surrounding the issue of consent.  We will never defeat the rape culture if we can’t even teach youth what consent actually means and looks like. There was recently a blinding spotlight put on this dangerous misinformation when Naomi Woolf,  much celebrated feminist, argued with Jaclyn Friedman on Democracy Now that a woman couldn’t possibly have been raped if she consented to sexual relations earlier in the night. If Naomi Woolf doesn’t even have the big picture around consent and rape in our society than I fear the reality of what youth believe these days. Thankfully people like Jaclyn Friedman are working hard to correct this with education such as her book Yes Means Yes.

 “That was one of the big problems in the [Black Panther] Party. Criticism and self-criticism were not encouraged, and the little that was given often wasn’t taken seriously. Constructive criticism and self-criticism are extremely important for any revolutionary organization. Without them, people tend to drown in their mistakes, not learn from them.”

This may be obvious. I do also think that the feminist movement is really good at relentlessly analyzing its internal oppressions. But, we’ve become so quick to shoot down criticism if it affects something we’ve come to believe as personally empowering. Meghan has already written about this a few times on the blog. And you know it’s widespread once The Onion satirizes the issue.

“Everyday out in the street now, I remind myself that Black people in amerika are oppressed. It’s necessary that I do that. People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”

Yes.

To go off on a tangent this is why science fiction and dystopian books can be so damn accurate in highlighting this specific aspect of oppression. If you’ll remember a bit of the plot of Brave New World: children are created and raised in ‘hatcheries’ and ‘conditioning centres’  where they are they divided into five castes designed to fulfill predetermined positions within the social and economic system of the World State. Fetuses chosen to become members of the lower castes receive chemical interference to cause arrested development in intelligence or physical growth.   So they are deliberately limited in their cognitive and physical abilities, as well as the scope of their ambitions and the complexity of their desires, thus rendering them easier to control. (thanks Wikipedia for summary). I flagged this passage from the book when I read it years ago which sums it up well:

“And that,” put in the Director sententiously, “that is the secret of happiness and virtue—liking what you’ve got to do.  All conditioning aims at that: making people like their inescapable social destiny.”

A newer book that looks at this compulsory conditioning to accept one’s “inescapable social destiny” is Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I don’t want to put any spoilers in though because it’s less well known than Brave New World and it’s a worthy read.

I have no specific or cohesive conclusion for this mish-mash of ideas, except to re-emphasise just how important reading and sharing stories really is. Most of us are fed a constant diet of cultural and social stereotypes and as Chimamanda Adichie says in her enlightening talk, “the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”  The Anti-Racism Resource Centre in Peterborough, Ontario defines anti-racism as: an active and consistent process of change to eliminate individual, institutional and systemic racism as well as the oppression and injustice racism causes.

Maybe some of this process of change can start with the building of collective knowledge through story telling and sharing. So, don’t bug me when I’m reading on the train.

Follow Ellie Gordon-Moershel: @EllieGordonMoe

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Watch as I devour The Hunger Games

On the winter holidays that I’m not working, or watching Schindler’s List alone in my apartment with a six pack, I visit my Grandmother in the States.  A highlight of these visits, beyond mocking people on Judge Judy, is that I’m left with many hours of reading time. This year my obsession was the Hunger Games trilogy. No spoilers ahead.

Though it’s been on the New York Times best seller list for quite a while most people I speak with in my peer group haven’t heard of the series. I had not myself until my neighbour suggested them once she heard that I was a fan of His Dark Materials.  It may seem like an unusual thing to write about in a feminist blog but there are a number of issues with the books that I think are unprecedented for popular teen fiction. Since I’m a fan of bullet points:

  • Written by a female author who didn’t get pressured to use initials to make her name gender neutral. Yes, this is why J.K. Rowling is not Joanne Rowling. (Though, I’m sure it’s thanks to Rowling’s success in particular that Suzanne Collins isn’t S.K. Collins)
  • Female main character who is strong, complex and moral. This may seem not too revolutionary but let me tell you that I’m so used to reading adventure, sci-fi, post-apocalyptic style books with a male lead that even though, at the very beginning, it’s revealed that the main character has a long braid and an attraction to a male friend, before my brain even let me consider that a girl could be the protagonist, I was thinking “holy shit this adventure book is going to star a gay boy with a braid!”
  • A diverse range of female characters are very present throughout the series, even as political and military leaders. Holy female representation Batman!
  • The first popular teen marketed books, that I’ve read, that have overt and subtle progressive politics on capitalism, consumerism, colonialism and poverty.  In the world of the have and have-nots (the parallels to current society are not lost) the young readers are grimly exposed to a brutal reality of inequalities.  A scene that stands out to me is when the main character from one of the poorest ‘districts’ views a meal from the wealthy ‘capital.’ She marvels at how much energy it takes to get together one dinner that is common place for the wealthy. Because she knows what it’s like to hunt, gather, cook, and scrounge. I imagine myself reading this series at 15 years old having never passed a thought on where crops are grown, who farmers and labourers are, what animals are hunted or even the origins of virtually anything I ate growing up.  This would have made an even greater impact on me than reading about The Boxcar Children earning money to buy their own milk.

Most importantly, I think, is considering teens/young adults as capable of understanding grim social injustices.  This is the world we live in and kids especially shouldn’t be completely sheltered from this reality.

Kurt Vonnegut has a good quote from one of his novels which summarizes my sentiment on the importance of speculative fiction. Vonnegut doesn’t get an A+ from me for his representations of women in his books but this rant by a character directed at authors of the genre is one of my favourites:

“You’re the only ones with guts enough to really care about the future, who really notice what machines do to us, what wars do to us, what cities do to us, what big, simple ideas do to us, what tremendous misunderstandings, mistakes, accidents and catastrophes do to us. You’re the only ones zany enough to agonize over time and distances without limit, over mysteries that will never die, over the fact that we are right now determining whether the space voyage for the next billion years or so is going to be Heaven or Hell.”

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