Greetings, Family Scholars!
When I was first invited to contribute to this blog as a guest blogger, I spent several days discussing the offer with friends and family, considering what I might bring to this space.
I have been reading and commenting at FSB for over a year now, and (I will be upfront about this) have not always felt that my voice is welcome here. I know that I am in the minority in this space when it comes to certain aspects of my being-in-the-world: I venture that self-identified feminists at FSB are outnumbered by those who view feminist activism with suspicion; while I am not the only non-heterosexual voice in here, those of us who are something-other-than-straight number far fewer than those with other-sex attractions and/or deep reservations about homosexuality.*
But beyond simple majority-minority dynamics, what I have found in the months that I’ve spent as a commenter here is that often feminists, queer folk, and those with leftist, liberal, progressive views, are talked about rather than listened to. Talked at rather than engaged with – at times regardless of how we approach our challenger.
Time and again, I have felt frustrated by the way issues profoundly and directly shaping my life as a queer woman — such as anti-gay harassment, healthcare policy, or marriage rights — are discussed without much reference to, or input from, people like me. Instead our perspectives — when we share them in posts or comments — are derided as radical, wild idealism with no connection to how the “real world” works, as too “politically correct,” “oversensitive,” or even (to quote a recent comment, since deleted, directed at me) “revolting.”
So what is it that such a person as myself — my bodily and emotional experience, my political convictions so troubling to many of you — can bring, constructively, to this space?
Although Elizabeth Marquardt and I will likely never see eye to eye, one thing I truly appreciate about her approach as a scholar and activist is the way she seeks to center the experiences of children in her work. Children, in our society, are too often spoken about rather than listened to. They are both placed on the pedestal of childhood while being excluded from most opportunities to meaningfully participate in society as citizens.
In the same way, then, that Elizabeth tries to center the experience of children in discussions about family life, I would like to bring feminist thinkers and activists to the center of discussions about gender and sexuality, and voices from the queer community to the center of discussions about the actions and experiences of LGBT individuals.
As you may or may not know, I am a reference librarian by training and trade. I make my living working with books and other sources of information about the past and present, matching the intellectually curious with resources to help them quench their thirst for knowledge.
So what I have decided to do with (at least part of) my time in this space is share with you some of the literature — fiction and non- — that has informed my understanding of the topics we discuss here: feminism, parenting, procreation, sexuality, gender roles, family formation, care-giving, the role of religion in society, the role of public policy in our personal lives.
While many of these books, I expect, will tell stories or craft arguments you disagree with — perhaps even find discomfiting — I encourage you to use the safe space available to us as readers (in the privacy of our own minds) to open yourself to one or more of these authors and/or their subjects without locking your own pre-conceptions in place prior to cracking the spine.
Instead, I invite you to imagine why and how the author (or subject) came to the values they hold and the actions they take — imagine what it might be like to be them, rather than yourself.
The first of these monthly “Feminist Librarian’s Bookshelf” posts will be going up on Thursday. I’ve chosen to begin where I myself, in a way, began: with five young adult novels that shaped my adolescent understandings and expectations around sexually-intimate relationships. I will look forward, in the comment thread, to hearing what books (or other media representations) influenced your young adult conception of romance, sex, and partnership.
Thank you for inviting me to the table.
*In other ways, of course, I am far from socially marginalized. I am Euro-American, cisgendered, able-bodied, professionally-educated, currently employed, and grew up in a middle-class home. I am happily married and monogamous. My religious experience has been largely Christian. English is my first (and only) language. I bring my own grab-bag of personal experience to my writing, and will strive in this space not to speak for all feminists, all women, everyone in the queer community, or anyone else with whom I share an aspect of identity or life experience.