Random (but not really)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

On Swimwear and Modesty

I’ve been super confused by the recent news stories about bans in France on a certain kind of swimwear.

France’s highest administrative court is being asked to overturn beach bans imposed by 26 towns on women in full-body swimsuits known as “burkinis”.

Women are being fined for wearing modest swimwear.

Think about that for a few moments.

If you have any passing knowledge of history, you’ll be vaguely aware that less than 100 years ago, women were arrested or fined or removed from the beach for their swimsuits.

Because those suits didn’t cover enough of their skin.

Now we’re being arrested for covering too much of our skin?

Of course not. Not ALL women are being arrested, fined, or shamed for their swimwear!

Here’s a company that seems to be doing a good business selling modest swimwear to WASP women.

HydroChic’s core mission is to provide a stylish line of modest women’s swimsuits that at once combines the desire for chic expression on the beach and the consumer’s wish for modest swimwear coverage.

Here’s an article in the Wall Street Journal on the business of modest swimwear.

For years, Ms. Bolin, who is in her early 50s, searched for adequate bathing suits. Finally, she ventured out to her favorite Texas water park in a HydroChic outfit: Bermuda-length swim shorts and a three-quarter sleeve top.

Ms. Bolin said she still remembers admiring comments from lifeguards who loved her surfer look: “They thought I was the coolest.” She has never looked back

And that’s how it should be–a woman should be allowed to dress in a manner in which she is comfortable.

But yet women in France are being told that their manner of dress is not acceptable. That they don’t know their own minds and therefore cannot possibly have chosen to dress in such a manner, so therefore, they should not be allowed to dress in such a manner.

It’s 2016; how have we not reached the point where women can wear whatever the hell they want without some government stepping in to tell us they know what is best for us? That what we wear affects people OTHER than ourselves therefore we must toe the government line for how we clothe ourselves?

Why are more women around the world not ENRAGED by this?

Of course, some women are unhappy with these laws. Here’s a lovely image from France, of women who are standing up for their rights of their sisters to dress as they please:


Note that none of the women are the least bit upset by how the other women around them are dressed. In fact, they seem to be enjoying the company.

Because that’s the point. We should support the rights of others to dress as they please.

Mind you, I don’t particularly want to see half-nekkid people, and the thought of sitting in a chair after someone wearing short-shorts squicks me out a bit but that’s my problem to deal with (which is why all my shorts come down almost to my knees). It doesn’t give me the right to order other people to dress in a manner that makes me happy and comfortable.

To close, here is a picture of my in MY swimsuit (no one mocked me or tried to fine or arrest me for my clothes).


I don’t dress modestly because of some government or religious edict (in fact, I’m close to agnostic). I dress modestly because that is how I am comfortable dressing.

And that is and should remain MY choice and MY decision.


For the curious or interested, my top is a rash guard from Coolibar, which makes UPF 50 clothing and swimwear.

This does not mean I won’t mock creepy men who wear speedos and act like god’s gift to women. Because there’s dressing as you like, and then there’s being an asshole. The latter is always deserving of mockery.

Written by Michelle at 8:42 pm      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: Non-Sequiturs,Politics,Religion & Philosophy  

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Female Protagonists and the Lack Thereof (or Not)

So I was pointed to this article on the lack of female protaginists (more specifically in childrens and YA lit) by NeuronDoc.

I was name-checked in the discussion by Shawn, because I read and recommend a lot of books with female protagonists (especially YA).

So I decided to put my own reading habits to the test. I went through the books I’ve read since Jan 2015 (6) and looked at whether the protagonist of the story was male or female.

However, I’ve been reading a not insignificant amount of historical romance, so to be fair, I did not count romance books in this tally. (5)

I divided the books into three categories: books with male protagonists, books with female protagonists, and books where the narrative is split between male and female characters (this also concludes short story anthologies).

In the year and a half, I read 199 books that were not romances and here’s how the main characters fell out.

Male: 43% (86)
Female: 46% (91)
Split: 11% (22)

Now here is where it gets interesting. As you may well know, I track the gender of the authors of the books. So here’s the gender of the authors I’ve read since Jan 2015. (4)

Male: 23% (57)
Female: 70% (173)

But you excluded romance! That must account for it!


Fantasy 34% (114)
Mystery 33% (112)
Romance 18% (59)
YA 7% (25)
Comic 4% (15)
Anthology 3% (9)

Do I purposely choose authors because they are female? Not really. In fact, 6% of those female authors are writing under a male pseudonym or initials. (To be honest, that’s the real reason I started tracking author sex, because I was curious as to the number of women writing under male pseudonyms.)

It just happens that I tend to prefer female characters and the writing of female authors. Not heavily, after all, some years I read more male authors than female (like when I re-read the Spenser mysteries) (3). But in general, I prefer strong female characters, and the male authors I love tend to write strong female characters (See: Charles de Lint)

What does this mean? Not a whole lot, unless you’ve been listening to people who claim there aren’t any good female authors out there. (2)

I suppose my point is that I could–theoretically–subsist solely upon female authors of I so chose and not feel deprived of quality writing.

But why would I want to? I like reading about male AND female protagonists AND books where the narrative is split between the male and female characters. Because I like reading a variety of viewpoints. (1) But a variety is not a 30/70 split in favor of one gender or the other.

(6) I could have gone back further, but I got bored.
(5) Solely because I wanted to head of claims that my numbers are biased, since romance is dominated by female authors.
(4) For those curious, since 2004 (when I started keeping track) I’ve read 42% male to 50% female authors.
(3) I’m a sucker for private detective mysteries, unless the detective is a sexist pig. Then not so much.
(2) This may be a genre issue–at least that’s where I’ve read the complaints.
(1) See also my current love of Daniel Jose Older

Written by Michelle at 9:19 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Books of July

It’s barely August and I’m posting about the books of July! Shocking!

Only nine books read this month, but that’s because I spent a week on vacation with many wonderful small people, and by the time I went to bed every night, I fell right to sleep. On the other hand, I’m still dealing with stress and anxiety, so I did a fair amount of re-reading and reaching for favorite authors. But despite “slacking off” this month, I’ve already read more than 100 books this year.

My favorite books of the month were two re-reads: A Matter of Magic by Patricia C. Wrede, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, and Charles de Lint I had not previously read: Someplace to Be Flying. I really love Charles de Lint–he is possibly the best short story author I’ve read, and he does a fantastic job writing female chracters.

Historical Fantasy (YA)
A Matter of Magic (2010): Mairelon the Magician (1991) and The Magician’s Ward (1997) Patricia C. Wrede (10/10)

Urban Fantasy
American Gods (2001) Neil Gaiman (10/10)
Someplace to Be Flying (1998) Charles de Lint (9/10)
Newford Stories: Crow Girls (2015) Charles de Lint
Moonlight & Vines (1999) Charles de Lint

Supernatural Fantasy
Chaos Choreography (2016) Seanan McGuire (6/10)

Historical Mystery
As Death Draws Near (2016) Anna Lee Huber (8.5/10)

Historical Romance
A Gift for Guile (2016) Alissa Johnson (8/10)
To Charm a Naughty Countess (2014) Theresa Romain (6/10)

I read all ebooks–aside from cookbooks, which I haven’t gotten around to reviewing, I haven’t read a single paper book this year.

Here’s the genre break-down:
Fantasy : 6
Mystery : 2
Romance : 3
YA : 1
Anthology : 2

And the gender break-down:
Male : 4
Female : 5

But male authors are still really far behind this year, at only 18% of the books I’ve read so far.

And those are the books of July.

Written by Michelle at 5:51 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

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