Thoughts on #OwnVoices

I am a bi/pansexual person with non-visible disabilities. Five years ago, I hadn’t come to accept either of those things about myself. In the first case, I was repressed, and in the second I was ignorant.

Ten years ago, not only was I not the feminist I am now, I was very vocal against certain rights for women. (Yes, I hated myself. It’s a potted history.)

Do you know what helped? For the most part, educational Tumblr posts.

Seriously. From the more liberal parts of the internet I not only learned some pretty key things about myself, but also a level of self-acceptance I had never experienced before.

As I hope these points illustrate, talking about issues outside of the ‘norm’ helps real-life people in real ways. Whether it regards race, sexual orientation, disability, disfigurement, or anything else.

Perhaps ‘issues outside the norm’ isn’t the best way to word that, but I can’t think of a better alternative.* Part of the problem regarding said issues is that the terms have become politicised. People don’t always have the right words. Other people get offended. It becomes a bit of a shitshow and the main points get lost.

A prime example of this has been the recent Twitter drama regarding the ‘Own Voices’ movement. Continue reading

Gender Roles and Stuff

shelfieI’ve been ill, the past few days, and not doing as much work as usual because of it. Instead, I’ve been thinking a lot (and sleeping a lot. Not to mention putting together Ikea furniture – see photo).

So, here’s what I’m thinking: traditional gender roles are kind of dumb. (I know, revolutionary, right?)

I wrote this poem, a few years back, entitled ‘Woman I Am’, and it’s all about how women are defined by society, and asks the question: what do you do when you don’t meet that definition? What does that make you? How else are you defined? All that stuff – I’m sure you get the idea.

The point is, I’m now several years older, and still tackling the same question. I don’t consider myself particularly feminine, but does that make me any less female?

It may sound dumb, but I’m actually finding it surprisingly freeing to just think of myself not in terms of male or female, but just in terms of me. Yeah, still not a revolutionary concept, but I think I’m accepting myself – whoever or whatever that turns out to be – more, and I think that is quite life changing, if only for myself (and, really, that’s all I’ve been after. Figuring things out for myself, and myself alone).

Beyond myself, I don’t how to define myself beyond ticking the boxes that I’ve always ticked. There’s a lot of paperwork involved in life, and I think the people creating it all think asking you to assign yourself a label from a choice of two is a simple thing.

I keep coming back around to the fact that life is not simple. The longer you life, the more complicated it gets.

Here’s the final thing I’m wondering: submission forms that are open to diversity – how do you announce your diverse qualities without it being weird? I mean, I come across a lot of submission guidelines in my line of work. And I’m seeing a lot of ones with notes at the bottom, saying they particularly welcome people from diverse backgrounds. Which is great, of course. But, like, how do you let them know that bit applies to you? Dear Editor, I’m a lesbian, here’s a poem… Do you try and make it obvious from your line of bio.? I seriously would like to know. Curiosity (and the sneezles) is killing me.

I’m rambling. I know that. But this is my head right now, and I wanted to share that.

Reading More Diversely

WNDB_ButtonI’ve heard the phrase “we need diverse books” batted around for a couple of years, now. And I’ve always agreed, always shared tweets and statuses that said as much, with great enthusiasm. But, well, that was kind of it. I thought it was the place of publishers to see what people wanted and to respond, but now I know that there needs to be more. I, personally, feel compelled to do something – to take action instead of saying words. But where do I begin? I asked myself. And the answer is that you can only really start from where you’re already at. For me, that place was YouTube.

I watch a lot of ‘BookTubers’ – that is, people who make videos specifically about books for YouTube – and so I began by looking through recommendation videos, trying to find out who the people I follow, follow. That introduced me to a few new faces, but it still didn’t feel enough. I did a search for diverse booktubers, and came up with some more. Subscribed to those, and watched their videos; had a look at what they were reading and recommending, and now I have more diverse list of voices that I’m listening to, as well as a list of books by black, LGBTQ+, and disabled authors to check out.

Continue reading