women

Is it just me…

disney hair twilight matcheddivergent

…or has the idea of love and romance been completely leveled by YA novels that everyone is delving into?

Not to say that I don’t appreciate, and in some cases LOVE them, but I think we need to take a minute to discuss the impact that these books might be having the delicate psyche of our pre-teens, teens, and young adults.

Much like the theory/meme about Disney and how it creates unrealistic hair expectations, I think most YA novels these days are showing young people who find “the one” or who find love at a very young age (Young compared to the average age of marriage in today’s society, which is in the late-20s for men and women in the US), which isn’t realistic. These characters are being handed a serious romantic encounter when they are in their mid-to-late teens (RE: Twilight, Divergent, Matched, City of Bones, The Fault in Our Stars, Shiver, Delirium, The Selection). And while it can be said that the majority of them handle it well (and in most cases have absentee or brainwashed parents that can’t or don’t complain), isn’t that sending a message worth discussing to the readers of these novels?

Has this idea of serious young love become popular because it is a lovely fairy tale that we wish would be true in the real world? That everyone could find their perfect mate and live happily ever after (and not have a sky-rocketing divorce rate). Or is it because YA authors are trying to become so far removed from the societal norm and change the views on love and romance? Or that normal societal rules don’t exist in a post-apocalyptic world? (I’ll be discussing love triangles in a later post.)

And what is the effect on the youth of today? While teen pregnancy rates have declined consistently in the last 20 years, how are young people viewing sex, love, and marriage? How is the media, not just television and movies but also books, impacting these ideas? Why do popular songs talk about women like objects and movies show a couple tripping into a relationship? Has romance gone the way of the handwritten letter and the cassette tape? An idealized notion that few partake in anymore. Are guys being told that they no longer have to try to woo a woman because there is always another waiting to take her place or they are somehow interchangeable? Are girls being told that they have to dress, act, look, think a certain way in order to keep a man? In these books, there is often a little romance, a lot of love, and heaps of “accepting the person for who they are”, but what does that really translate into when we take it out of the context of danger and death? I think that the medium of books goes a long way into trying to present the ideas of love and romance in a better light than many other parts of society, but still leaves something to be desired.

As a writer myself, these thoughts have called into question several plot lines, including my own, that I now have to re-read in a new context. I don’t think it’s a good idea to portray young people in such serious relationships that last for the duration of their lives. After all, isn’t one of the benefits of being young that you can date a bunch or even a few different people before deciding what type of person would be best suited to you? I know that I definitely enjoyed dating around when I was younger, and if I find the time to continue doing so then I certainly will. But as an adult, I know who I am and what I stand for, what I want and a general idea of where I’m headed with my life. Something that I definitely didn’t have figured out when I was 16, despite the protests that I probably gave to the contrary. And okay, most of these characters live in an alternate reality or desperate time or are portrayed as being more adult or grown up than their peers. But didn’t we all think we were more mature that we actually were at one point?

So here’s my advice for all the young people: stay a kid as long as you can. As someone who has recently entered the real world, i.e. paying for everything with my own money, working a 9-5 job, and constantly being exhausted, enjoy your youth. Have fun! Go on an adventure! Be with your friends (real or imaginary) and don’t be so focused on love, sports, video games, grades, or even bullies. Tell yourself every day that you are awesome. And better yet, mean it. Be a person that you would like to be friends with. And be the best version of yourself that you can. Because who are you are today is most likely who you will grow up to become and we need people who know their worth and help others to find theirs. You don’t have to have life figured out when you are 15 or even 19, and trust me, you probably don’t. High school and college are the times to discover who you are and what you are interested in; don’t waste those years, embrace them.

Starships Were Meant to Fly

I am fascinated by the most recent “slut-shaming” incident involving Nicki Minaj. An album cover featuring a mostly nude Minaj has swept the internet and is now being slut shamed. For those of you who are unfamiliar, slut shaming is the act of making someone else, usually a woman, feel guilty or ashamed for certain sexual behaviors, tendencies, or desires.

Since when is everyone concerned with what the music industry is putting on album covers and in song lyrics? Oh wait, they’ve always been interested. (At least since when they thought that playing AC/DC backwards was Satan talking to you.) So why is this single song release such a big deal?

I can see where the concern for young, impressionable audiences might come in, but haven’t parents always been responsible for what their children watch or listen to? People, parents in particular, complaining about the music industry is nothing new so why is it such a big deal?

While I don’t necessarily think that posing half-naked is the way to sell music, let’s face it, in today’s world, sex sells. And Minaj is a beautiful, curvy woman who is showcasing her body and her music in her own way. Her firm stance on not backing down to haters makes me nod in approval, even if I am shaking my head at her methods of propaganda.

Top Ten Tuesday

top ten tuesday

The blog “The Broke and the Bookish” posted this topic as this week’s Top Ten Tuesday: top ten authors that we own the most books of. So I’m doing my own version.

16-Sherrilyn Kenyon I own all except for the newest Chronicles of Nick book and over half of the Dark-Hunter series (I have read all except for Styxx, which is next on my list)

9-Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series here, both of which are amazing. I can’t wait for the next Anna/Charles book to erupt onto the scene and I really need to buy the latest two Mercy books.

8-Rick Riordan Percy Jackson and the Olympians (all), Heroes of Olympus (first one but I’ve read the others), The Kane Chronicles (read the first, own the second too), love the mix of myth and reality.

7-C.S. Lewis All Chronicles of Narnia. Nuff said.

7-Anne Bishop If you haven’t read the Black Jewels trilogy, get off your computer and go buy it. Or at least log onto Amazon and download it. The realm is spectacular with BAMFs all over the place.

5-Heather Killough-Walden Sexy werewolves that give in to their nature (not just fight it like superficial d-bags? Uh, yes, please!

4-George R.R. Martin A Song of Fire and Ice, obviously. Have yet to buy the latest one, but I did read the library version!

4-Cinda Williams Chima The Seven Realms series is amazing. I think I read the entire thing in the span of a week, ordered them all from Amazon and devoured. If I ever have the chance to reread them, I will!

3-Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games series. One is paperback…it really bothers me.

3-Quinteria Ramey An interesting set called The Forever Trilogy, don’t really remember what it was about except that it sort of involved an angels/devils theme.

I’ve come to the sad realization that there are so many books that I don’t own but want to, mostly Harry Potter. Yea, I definitely need to buy my own set of Harry Potter books. And there are lots of series that are partially finished, I also need to fix that.

Music: Promote This Star

I used to think that country was one of the most pure forms of music left. And I don’t mean in terms of sound but lyrics. Country used to be more about love, family, and let’s face it, religion, without being overtly sexual or demeaning. Now, however, that has changed.

More and more country singers are turning to the ways of their comrades in other musical genres and creating lyrics that are actually pretty sexist and degrading to women. Now, I’m not talking about the musics videos, let’s be clear here. Basically all music videos are demeaning to women and even men more recently, in terms of let’s call them costume choices and dance moves.

No, the issue that concerns me is how many country singers are actually starting to treat women like sex objects. However, a new duo called Maddie & Tae has come up with a great answer to all those songs. It can be found in the above video and I, for one, find it very entertaining and satisfying.

Great voices, witty lyrics, and caustic comebacks from two beautiful women who, in other circumstances, might have been a “Girl In A Country Song”.

Favorite Position

Stumbled across this amazing article on Twitter today after following Lena Dunham. Lauren Conrad was asked on a live radio show what her favorite position was and she had an amazing response: CEO.

There are so many strong, badass women in the world and they deserve to be heard. Women have come so far in the last 100 years and we need to continue to grow and push to be seen and treated as equal. Whether its women’s health rights, equal pay, or job opportunities, our favorite position should be whatever we want it to be, not what society or anyone else tells us it can be.

So here’s my favorite position. What’s yours?

fav position

Promote This Star: HeForShe Campaign

Found this campaign while on Buzzfeed’s 51 Badass Ladies article and decided to share it. I think it is definitely a cause worth supporting. After all, Emma Watson aka much-beloved Hermione Granger is the U.N.’s Goodwill Ambassador. Plus it was founded by another famous actor and is back by so many others that it probably doesn’t need me to talk about it but check it out anyway.

Click here to learn more about the HeForShe Campaign.

#StopTheBeautyMadness

Beauty: one of my favorite topics.

It never ceases to amaze me how people interpret beauty standards. I came across this article from Marie Claire today and thought I would share it with you all. There is a new campaign called #StopTheBeautyMadness that is geared towards in-your-face ads that force people to address the unrealistic and often harmful views that people have towards others, in particular women. And how we are conditioned from a young age to think of ourselves in a certain light and told that beauty is worth more than brains in the world.

Along those same lines but perhaps in a less serious tone are two videos from my much-loved source: Buzzfeed. The first is one that gives the views on men on women and the second one gives the female perspective on men. It’s interesting to see what they agree and disagree on and how each sees the opposite sex. And then there is this one which has some facts based on real life surveys of men that might surprise you.

Men and women are both worth more than society perceives them to be and neither should have to live up to unnatural standards. From being thin to varying body types, and views on marriage to bedroom activities, we should stop putting labels on people and trying to fit everyone into a specific box or ideal.