na foine ting

Friday, June 10, 2005
Gaiman posted this Bookslut interview with Jon Scieszka, and while obviously I agree with most of it in principle, I had some issues with it too.

There's an odd kind of tone to the piece, where in saying that guys relate to guy things and other guys, and so we should make guy reading available, there's an odd kind of reverse dismissal of women, women's influence on boys' reading, and the influence of the kind of writing he's (I think kind of dangerously) suggesting is somehow more "female oriented" becase it's about communication and feelings.

Right, right, I know. It's true, and it *is* about gender, and I'm not yet enough of a neonazi feminista lesbian to insist that there is no gender, and that if we say boys like action and girls like communication, that it's sexist.

Well, or not exactly. Maybe I am saying that a little.

Gavin's reading has recently taken off. From being pushed to help read a word or two of his stories at bedtime ("mom, will you just read the rest to me?") to suddenly suggesting he read both bedtime stories to us himself. When Lili's fussy, he goes and gets a book and lays down on his belly next to her and reads to her. His recent choices have been THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR, and one of the "Magic Bus" books.

I'm pretty sure that one of the single strongest influences on Gavin's reading right now is that fucking Star Wars Knights of the Sith X-box game. We buckled and let him play it, and after a while I realized words from the game were creeping into his vocabulary. He's not reading all the text--there's a damn lot of text--but I think he's been scanning it for familiar words (and that list is growing in leaps and bounds), and he absolutely has to read all of the supplies and weapons list, so suddenly he's able to read words like double bladed lightsaber, and mine disabler or whatever.

And the fact that the video game has shoved his reading into such huge forward progress seems to prove Scieszka's point.

Except for one thing. Gavin watches women play the X-box, not men. He watches his aunt and his mama Becca play Star Wars, avidly, and jumps around on the couch and hollers "yeah! Get it! use the bazooka!" or whatever while they frag and kick ass.

When he patterned by sitting down and reading the text of a video game, he wasn't patterning after men, he was patterning after women. We play a lot of video games. We're all Star Wars freaks, and now so is he. We can all recite the original Star Wars movie verbatim. And now Gavin can too.

When Gavin was three, we read him THE HOBBIT cover to cover. My choice, because he was into knights and swords, and I figured we could gloss some of the talky parts and get right to the meat: the sword swinging and monsters and stuff. My choice. But his choice to keep reading each time, all the way through.

He loved it. He still talks about it, even now. I tried him on The Chronicles of Prydain. No go.

We were sitting in the truck the other day, and I had Linkin Park "Meteora" on. After a song or two, I turned the volume down. "Hey, Gavin," I said. "What do you think of this music?" I figured it was rockin' and loud and the themes were pretty snarly and violent. I figured it'd be right up his alley.

He looked at me in the rear view mirror. "I don't like it very much."

"No? Not your cup of tea?" I asked him. Then, the ultimate test: "why not?"

He thought for a moment. My five year old shrugged. "It's a little too chaotic," he said.

"What would you prefer?" I asked him. This is the beauty of a six-CD changer. I also was curious, if given his absolute choice of music, what he'd choose.

"I'm in the mood for freedom fighter music right now," he said.

"Pogues?" I made the mistake of talking about the IRA one day in conjunction with some Black 47 lryics, and it's been kind of downhill as far as that goes ever since. Gavin's a huge fan of Irish music, and has been since he was a baby. Just one of those things.

"Yeah, Pogues is good."

Gavin likes the Pogues. He likes the Pogues, Koko Taylor (Hound Dog is a real favorite), and is very very fond of the Hans Zimmer "King Arthur" soundtrack, which unfortuantely he and I have been banned frrom playing without headphones because apparently when I first got it we overplayed it. A bit.

He is not, apparently, very fond of Linkin Park. Not a big Rush fan either.

Last night, I'd had a fuck of a writing day, and was feeling brain dead and weepy, about the way I have every day this week. So I invited Gavin to come and watch 'Singin' in the Rain' with me. He did. We curled up on the couch together, and screeched with laughter at "Make 'em Laugh" and "Good Mornin'," and held our breaths during "Singin' in the Rain." Gavin's favorite, all time favorite number is "Moses Supposes," though. I'm pretty fond of it too. When we got to the avant garde dance sequence, both of us got restless. Usually I'm careful not to prejudge things for him, but it slipped out. Gavin was squirming too. "This is kind of boring," I said.

Gavin nodded, although he hadn't complained himself. So I fast forwarded to another scene. Sometimes I'm in the mood for the avant garde romantic dance sequence. More often, I'm not.

You could argue that I'm somehow more of a male role model for him than a female one, in my tastes, habits, and so on. I think that's very slippery ground to get on. And really not the case.

I was raised to read whatever the hell I wanted to. In the third world, we read whatever we got. I was reading my dad's Ben Bova when I was nine in Ghana, along with the Famous Five books, and the Hardy Boys. I was reading Helen Cresswell's Bagthorpe series. I was reading Tove Jansson.

I was reading--devouring--those awesome Ladybird biographies. Richard the Lionheart. Joan of Arc.

When I could get them (which was rarely), I read comics. I read Cricket and National Geographic's World and Ranger Rick magazine.

Gavin's reading patterns seem to follow Becca and my habits: he reads everything he can get his hands on.

Three women in his household; five if you count the baby and the cat. He's surrounded by, educated by and patterning after predominantly women.

I don't think this way he's fallen into reading is a fluke. And despite the fact that he'll sit and watch "Singin' in the Rain" with me with real enthusiasm, I don't think that he's in any immediate danger of turning into a fag or a girl. And not, as is kind of implied--and the other thing that irritated me a bit about the interview--that either are a step down from being a boy. Not that being a fag or a girl is a bad thing.

Scieszka's absolutely right, of course. I'm not saying he isn't. I'm saying we have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the gender bathwater, that's all. Women can have a positive influence on a boy's reading without somehow consciously working outside their own supposed gender preferences.

Some women have to. I acknowledge that. Our household is different than the world at large, I know it's the case.

But we're here, we exist, and we're not the only ones who are like this. Some of us don't have to say "what would boys like?" and step outside some kind of mental box to do it. Some of us don't have to hand the role modeling over to men.

Women can be perfectly effective at being a positive influence on a boy's reading without changing anything about how they approach it at all.

That's the thing.

Okay... I've not yet read the article. My opinions may change based upon reading it. However...
Guys relate to guy things and other guys. Agreed. The problem isn't so much with that, as with the typical guy inability to look past guy things.
Women, I've noticed, have less of a problem adapting.
It would be fun to be a neonazi feminista, just for a day. Go all millitant on the poor, unthinking, wank all masses who just want a fucking cappuccino, and instead get a biatch going off in their faces about how flirtatously showing cleavage to the vendor to get a price cut is driving a stake into the heart of women's dignity everywhere...
Hmm... What was I talking about? *WEG*
Oh, yeah.
I think the bottom line is... For every miss priss eazy bake oven, there's a firefighting, hockey playing chick o' the world.
All generalization is evil, and assumptions that the drastic wings are the norm are the real enemy to everything.
If the dude says that writing for boys is better, because boys are dumber consumers that can't adapt or expand their ability to assimilate alternate experiences... He's a f*&kwit.
Loves ya!
I am in love with your son. How fantastic are you?!
bazooka??? Star Wars???? not in the same wrong.
hi, this is the first time on this blog - and i was wondering if anyone knew anything about baby-modeling or child modeling picture. I found a site about **baby modeling** and i was wondering if anyone had bought whateve it is that they want to sell
Hey, you have a great blog, check out mine when you get a chance , its about related stuff
Hey, you have a great blog, check out mine when you get a chance , its about related stuff
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