Happy Banned Book Week 2011!

 

If a book is controversial, it’s often worth reading. That’s one of the reasons why I love Banned Book Week.

So, without further ado, I give you:

The Top 10 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2010

  1. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: offensive language, racism, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence
  3. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
    Reasons: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, and sexually explicit
  4. Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, and sexually explicit
  5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence
  6. Lush, by Natasha Friend
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  7. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
    Reasons: sexism, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  8. Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich
    Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, and religious viewpoint
  9. Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie
    Reasons:  homosexuality and sexually explicit
  10. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
    Reasons: religious viewpoint and violence

Of these books, I’ve read Brave New World, The Hunger Games, Nickel and Dimed, and Twilight.

Brave New World and Nickel and Dimed were required reading for school. The former was required for honors English in high school, and the latter for Intro to Sociology in college.

I don’t recall either book being inappropriate. My 15-year-old self thought that Brave New World paled in comparison to 1984 and was disappointed, but not scarred for life or anything. (On the other hand, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, another book required for that class, scarred me for life. I almost died of boredom reading that thing! I never voluntarily picked up a Hemingway novel after that…)

I enjoyed Nickel and Dimed and finished it a couple of weeks before everyone else started the book. What can I say? I was looking for something to read and it caught my interest.

And of course you know my thoughts on Twilight and the Hunger Games.

What’s your favorite banned book?

Click here to read last year’s post for Banned Book Week.

Twitter Tuesday: What’s a Hashtag?

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When I try to explain Twitter, hashtags always baffle people. So I thought, “What a great idea for a Twitter Tuesday post.” Hashtags are such an important aspect of this social network, especially if you want to get serious about Twitter. If you have no idea what a hashtag is, or the concept evades you, read on!

WHAT IS A HASHTAG?
Simply put, a hashtag is a keyword. It is often preceded by the number sign (#hashtag). Sometimes, memes will go around Twitter using these hashtags (#tweetyour16yearoldself comes to mind). Hashtags can be used to find people talking about a particular topic. For example, if you want to connect with people in #Eugene, you can search for that hashtag. I had a public relations course at the University of Oregon where the professor assigned the class a hashtag and we could tweet her our questions. Other students could also chime in on the conversation.

If enough people use a hashtag, it can become a trending topic. When this happens, it will show up on the righthand side of the Twitter homepage under the trending topic list.

The point is, if you want to connect with people on Twitter, you need to use hashtags.

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Do you have anything to add about hashtags? Let me know in the comments below. Also, feel free to ask me your Twitter questions.

Vampirism and Sex in Twilight

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I expect I will get some flak about this series from Twilight fans, but let me make it clear that I have read the book series and seen the movies. I have also researched this topic for several of my college courses.

This is the last post in my Halloween Twilight series. This one is less of a criticism in some ways and more of an interesting point of view.

Throughout literature, sex is an underlying theme when it comes to vampires. In (Un)Safe Sex: Romancing the Vampire, Backstein explores this concept in modern vampire literature, including Twilight. In Twilight, the temptation that Edward feels when he desires Bella’s blood can be equated to sex. If he has the smallest taste, he would not be able to stop drinking it, which is comparable to rape. He desires Bella, but if he bites her (takes her virginity) then she will be a vampire (impure). This is reinforced when Edward refuses to turn Bella into a vampire or have sex with her until they are married. He feels the need to protect Bella’s virtue because she is weak and irrational, thus cannot know what she desires. Edward, as the strong, rational man always knows better. And because Bella is preprogrammed to respond to Edward, she never stood a chance.

Source:

Backstein, Karen. “(Un)Safe Sex: Romancing the Vampire.” Cineaste Winter 2009: 38-41. Print.

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What are your thoughts on vampirism and sex in Twilight? Let me know in the comments below.

Werewolves and Male Dominance in the Twilight Saga

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I expect I will get some flak about this series from Twilight fans, but let me make it clear that I have read the book series and seen the movies. I have also researched this topic for several of my college courses.


This is one of the worst things about the Twilight Saga. I could probably argue that I like werewolf Jacob Black better than vampire Edward Cullen, but that doesn’t make up for all of the things wrong with the werewolves in Twilight.

The first thing I want to point out is all of the werewolves in Twilight except for one are men. The werewolves are strong, supernatural creatures. If someone makes them angry, they are liable to shift into werewolves and hurt someone (probably a weak, powerless female).

Now the werewolves do an interesting thing where they imprint on a person. Imprinting is kind of like love-at-first-sight thing for werewolves. Once they see their soulmate for the first time, the person becomes the “center of their universe.” Although it is said that the woman has a choice, it’s contradictory because it is also said that it is apparently “impossible to resist that kind of love and devotion.” It’s also important to note that only the male werewolves have imprinted, and that some of the werewolves theorize that they imprint on the person that their genes are most compatible with, so they can create more werewolf babies (I guess this also means that all of the werewolves that imprint are heterosexual and werewolves don’t imprint on infertile women). Also disturbing is the fact that one werewolf imprinted on a two-year-old, and Jacob Black imprinted on a newborn.

This story truly bothers me: One werewolf (Sam) was in a relationship with a girl (Leah, who eventually turned into the female werewolf). Sam imprinted on Leah’s cousin, Emily. One day he got mad at Emily, transformed, and left her permanently disfigured. This is viewed as okay in the Twilight universe, and as a cautionary tale of what happens when you get a werewolf angry. This story is similar to instances where Edward physically hurt Bella—he threw her into a table in New Moon and at one point in Breaking Dawn she wakes up covered in bruises after they have sex. In both circumstances, violence towards a female is portrayed as okay as long as the male loves her and it is implied that women should not fight back when a male is violent towards her because women are weak and powerless. This is a dangerous message to send to the young girls who read Twilight.

 

 

Source:

http://www.alternet.org/sex/140132/vampires,_werewolves,_and_

 

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What do you think about the male dominance theme in the Twilight series? Let me know in the comments below.

The Twilight Saga: The Psychology Behind the Romance



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I expect I will get some flak about this series from Twilight fans, but let me make it clear that I have read the book series and seen the movies. I have also researched this topic for several of my college courses.

This series is a summary on my research, but I will be glad to share the full extent to anyone interested, including some of the articles I read on this theme.

Today’s topic gives a (very) brief overview on the psychology behind the Edward/ Bella and vampire/human romance.

Bella Swan is often criticized because she appears to have no life, thoughts, or interests outside of her love interest, Edward. Part of the reason why this may appeal to women is because there is nothing halfway about Bella’s love of Edward and his love for her. They have found complete meaning and fulfillment in each other. For adolescent girls who feel undesirable, the fantasy of such a love would be appealing.

A vampire would appeal to many women because modern vampires are portrayed as handsome, powerful, and wealthy. These characteristics send a signal to women that there is a high chance of a successful reproduction with the male. Because women are preprogrammed to respond to this, these vampires would be irresistible. There is also the underlying theme that “behind every jerk is a twisted, vulnerable guy.”

Sources:

Chen, Sophie. “Bloodlust.” Psychology Today Nov. & Dec. 2009: 18. Print.

Evans, Elrena. “There’s Power in the Blood.” Christianity Today (2010): 36-38. Print.

The Twilight Saga Enforces Gender Roles

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I expect I will get some flak about this series from Twilight fans, but let me make it clear that I have read the book series and seen the movies. I have also researched this topic for several of my college courses. This series is a summary on my research, but I will be glad to share the full extent to anyone interested, including some of the articles I read on this theme.

Today, I want to talk about traditional gender roles and how they relate to the main characters in the series: Edward and Bella.

Traditional gender roles cast men as strong, rational, protective, and decisive. Women are the opposite side of the coin—weak, irrational, nurturing, and submissive. In a patriarchal society, we have internalized these values and norms as important.

Another aspect of a patriarchal society is the “good girl” and the “bad girl” stereotype. The “good girls” are virginal, angelic, submissive, and gentle. The “bad girls” are violent, aggressive, worldly and monstrous. Our culture reinforces these stereotypes through media, gender roles, and even fairy tales.

Let’s talk about Edward. The characteristics strong and protective are a major part of his personality. As a vampire he is strong—physically and in personality. He is protective of Bella, going as far as to leave her “for her own good.” He is portrayed as rational because he does not let his hormones get the better of him, and he feels as if he knows what is best for Bella.

Bella is the stereotypical good girl. She is weak physically compared to Edward and Jacob. She is submissive— Edward holds his superiority as a vampire and her infatuation over her and she lets him. He tells Bella when they can kiss, what she can do while they kiss, when he will have sex with her, and when he will turn her into a vampire. Edward believes that Bella is completely irrational and doesn’t understand danger because she wants to be with him no matter what (she lets her love blind her) and she wants to have sex with him even though it could kill her. Bella is “nurturing,” and domestic. She is constantly seen cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping for her father. Also, she cannot become a vampire in the series until she marries Edward and has a child, thus taking her place in patriarchal society. Bella is also a virgin until she marries Edward. It wouldn’t be a stretch to believe that Edward and Jacob see her as angelic.

I invite you to think about this and keep reading for more articles about Twilight.

My source on gender roles:

Tyson, Lois. “Feminist Criticism.” Critical Theory Today: a User-friendly Guide. New

York: Routledge, 2006. 83-134. Print.

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What do you think about the Twilight Saga? Do you think it enforces gender roles? Let me know in the comments below.

The Twilight Phenomenon: An Introduction

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Happy Halloween! I thought I’d celebrate the holiday by posting a series on the Twilight Saga. After all, vampires and werewolves are Halloween-esque, right? Since it’s me, I’m going the intellectual route and talking about problems I see with the series.

When I posted about the Twilight Saga during banned book week, I told you why I don’t think the series should be banned and said that I would do a more in-depth post about issues I see with this series someday. I stand by what I said and here’s the promised series of posts.

I expect I will get some flak about this series from Twilight fans, but let me make it clear that I have read the book series and seen the movies. I have also researched this topic for several of my college courses.

This series is a summary on my research, but I will be glad to share the full extent to anyone interested, including some of the articles I read on this theme. Most of my sources were found through the University of Oregon libraries, so it may be difficult to find. I will link what I can though.

Today, I will give you some background information and a sneak peak on what is coming up this week.

The Twilight Saga is a cultural phenomenon. It has sold more than 85 million novels and the four books have spent a total of 235 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. The series has reached a wide, primarily female audience. This begs the question: Is it a good thing? What are these vampire romances teaching young girls, who are already at their most vulnerable?

Although women of all ages read the series, the biggest impact occurs in young girls around 10-16 years old. However, this information is important and a solid understanding of it can help adults and mentors explain why these are not healthy relationships.

Besides this post, the series will include:

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What do you think of Twilight? Let me know in the comments below.

Banned Books: Twilight Series

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Someday I will do a more in-depth post on this series. But in the spirit of banned book week, I’ll tell you why I don’t think the Twilight series should be banned.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have problems with this series. Yes, it is extremely popular and vaguely entertaining. But it also encourages unhealthy relationships and is ultimately damaging to young girls. But does that mean a book should be banned?

It absolutely should not be banned. Instead, parents should explain how these relationships are unhealthy and why Bella and Edward are bad role models.

According to the ALA, Twilight is challenged because of “religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, [and] unsuited to age group.”

This is why I believe the reasons given are invalid:

  1. Religious viewpoint: Technically, only one character in the series is religious. However, the author is Mormon, and the characters share many of her values. As someone who is liberal and an atheist, I will criticize the viewpoint. But you will find religious references and undertones in practically every book out there.
  2. Sexually explicit: This made me laugh out loud. There is no sex in the first three books. Although there is sex in the last book, it is in no way graphic, and only mentioned before and after the fact.
  3. Unsuited to age group: Maybe it’s unsuited for elementary school children. However, this is a decision that each parent should make.

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Do you believe that the Twilight series deserves this challenge? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Banned Book Week!

Happy Banned Book Week!

As an avid reader and a (hopefully soon-to-be) writer/ editor/ journalist, I totally support freedom of speech. I think that censorship is horrible. And when I hear that a book is frequently banned in schools, it makes me want to read it.

I hope to post several articles this week on my favorite “challenged” books. And now, I challenge you to read as many of these “banned” books as you can. Because if something is that controversial, it’s often worth reading.

To start off the week, I’m giving you the Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2009 posted from the American Library Association (ALA) website.

Top ten most frequently challenged books of 2009

Out of 460 challenges as reported to the Office for Intellectual Freedom
1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: drugs, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
2. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
Reasons: homosexuality
3. The Perks of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: anti-family, drugs, homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited to age group
4. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
Reasons: offensive language, racism, unsuited to age group
5. Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
6. Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
7. My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
8. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
9. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
10. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
Reasons: nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group