1. To Grace’s karate teacher
I’m Grace’s mom, and I wanted to let you know how much I enjoy watching her in your class and what a great job you do with the kids. It’s the perfect balance of silliness and discipline and I know she has a great time and she will carry those lessons forward.
One thing I wanted to point out, and I do this in the spirit of fairness, is that I noticed you commented on the girls’ smiles but not the boys’ in the class. She will go through enough of her life being asked to smile by strangers, and will have the intrinsic challenge trying to balance the importance of how she looks with what she can do. I’m wondering if you’d consider applying the “great smile” comments to all the kids, or none at all in the future. I think you’ve done such a good job at showing that both girls and boys can be powerful, so I know you understand what I’m talking about. I don’t want her to come away with the subliminal message that smiles are less important for boys than they are for girls.
Thanks very much and we look forward to class resuming in the fall.
Please let me know if you want to discuss this.
I received a very nice and prompt reply that he’d certainly be more aware of this aspect in the future.
2. To a “content marketing” company that complimented a story I’d written for Forbes.com, then offered to pay me “double” for writing stories about their clients and pitch them to my editors as actual news
To the Fine Librarians at Glendale Public Library,
As a journalist and avid First Amendment advocate, I’ve never called for removing a book from library shelves before. But I hope you will consider burning “Super Heroes Opposites” (© 2013, Downtown Bookworks/DC Comics) in the hottest fire you can make.
Here’s why: As I was reading it to my 4-year-old daughter, Grace, I noticed that all the male superheroes featured are performing feats of strength and showcasing their superpowers—jumping off buildings, lifting cars, pulling what appears to be a gigantic oil rig, and the like. The page featuring the solo female, Wonder Woman, shows her pushing a swing with a child in it.
I was disappointed to have to explain to Grace that this didn’t count as a superpower. Why wasn’t Wonder Woman wasn’t shown in a more heroic light, as the others were? It might have been different if they’d added Batman whipping up some pancakes to make it more fair.
In addition, something to consider in these heady days of gender fluidity and flexible designation: The book lists “Women” (Supergirl, Hawkgirl and Batgirl) as opposite from “Men” (Superman, Hawkman, Batman). Do we really need to go there, pitting the genders as opposites when we now understand there’s so much more in between that even young children can grasp?
I hope you’ll consider my request, and I would welcome a discussion with you about this if necessary. Please let me know your decision.
We love the library and hope you’ll fall on the side of fairness and equality.
No response yet on this one, but the librarian who took the letter agreed and promised to run it up the chain.
It’s exhausting fighting for truth and justice.