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About a Girl

Today is the very first International Day of the Girl and I have had many things on my mind as a result. Trolling the internets, it was very gratifying to find I'm not the only one. Several other eloquent and smart ladies have things on their minds, too. Many of these are spoiler alert: literary ladies. And I wanted to share just a few of them with you on this day set aside to advocate girls' rights and discuss issues of gender bias.

First, a few prominent women around the world share what they would tell their 15-year-old selves if they had the chance.

Next, the always eloquent lady-advocate Sarah Rees Brennan is over at Tor talking about her experience with the relationship between YA, fantasy, and gender.

Lastly, Feminspire has a lovely Love Letter to "The Song of the Lioness" that you do not want to miss. Is it just me or does it kind of seem like Tamora Pierce saved us all at one point or another?

My question for you: what would you tell your 15-year-old self if you could? And which are your favorite books that deal with gender issues, YA or otherwise?


  1. Ahhhh! I love that interview with Sarah Rees Brennan ("Girls are people!")! I am such a fangirl. (She's taking part in a panel I'm going to on Sunday about women and YA speculative fiction.)

    Anyway... My BA and MA are both in Women's Studies (with a focus on lit/history), so I'm really interested in this subject. But, a lot of my favorite books for girls don't really deal explicitly with gender issues, per se. They more generally focus on girls figuring out who they are. Which is oddly also the advice I would give 15 year old Sarah, "Figure out who you are and what you want and ignore all the idiots who are telling your what you should be and what you should want." (I grew up in a small, rural town with a strong "do this, don't do that" culture.)

    1. Isn't it fabulous? I am such a fangirl as well and so jealous you get to see her on Sunday. Say hi from me, will you??

      I didn't realize your degrees were in Women's Studies! Awesome. Love your advice, especially the people telling you what you should want.

  2. I think I would tell my 15 year old self how stupid it is when people command you to "smile" or say "you're too serious", and I'd teach myself how to pick out people who were using me so I could just let them hang. Also I'd teach myself that if I dislike someone, to trust it - and there's no need to include them in my life or care what they think. Also: I would high-five me for being OK with being a nerd.

    1. Can I just call you soulsister for that first remark? To this day, I struggle with tactfully handling extroverts' perceptions of introverts such as myself. They mystify me not a little.


    2. Yes. :) Most mystifying: it's always people who know me NOT AT ALL who say this. I dunno.

    3. Ugh. Doesn't the audacity appall you a little bit? I'm always taken aback by it.

  3. Sarah Rees Brennan always makes me smile. Thanks for the alert about Day of the Girl. I would tell my 15-year-old self to stop worrying about getting a boyfriend and take AP Physics, as my physics teacher advised me to do. I unfortunately shortchanged myself greatly in high school. One of my favorite books that deals with the issue of gender is Tehanu by Ursula LeGuin. It's sad and lush. I also love, love, love Juliet Marillier's Sevenwaters series.

    1. She has that knack. Yes, indeed. And love the AP Physics vs. boyfriend advice.

      Juliet Marillier does such a fine job with strong women wrestling with the roles they are expected to fulfill. I love her so much.

  4. I would tell my 15 year old self that what you see in the mirror is not the most important thing. Being confident in who you are is way more beautiful than a size 2 will ever be. Also, I'd tell my 15 year old self that nothing is forever, so be happy with the here and now. Oh and don't be afraid to talk to that shy boy. I bet he's got lots of things to say :)

    1. Yay for the courage to talk to shy boys. :)

      I have always loved that part in Robin McKinley's BEAUTY where she talks about coming to terms with her own appearance and the importance of her mind and how she learns to avoid mirrors. Stuck with me.

  5. I would tell my 15 year old self to read more! I didn't read too much in high school and only started back up in college. I'm sure I would've benefited from reading more, though I did have a ton of fun as a teenager.

    I can't think of my favorite gender-related books but the one I am listening to right now has me thinking about it more than any I've read in a few years--Every Day by David Levithan. It's heavy-handed but at least it keeps me thinking about the social construct of gender and what sexuality really is. (in regards to whether we are attracted to a person or a gender, or both)

    1. I'm glad your teenage years were fun! That's worth a lot.

      I haven't read EVERY DAY yet, but I've heard it definitely deals with questions of gender and sexuality. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts. I don't often handle heavy-handedness that well, but I'm interested.


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