GOOD GOD this one was hard! ^^
I never considered myself a great history student. I wasn’t bad at it—my grades were okay enough and I even enjoyed the lectures most of the time, but it wasn’t really my thing. I could tell because the finer details of what we’d learned always fled my brain about a week after taking the appropriate test. Sometimes I fell asleep in class. I could never keep track of the Presidents’ years in office. It wasn’t a big deal, I decided. History just wasn’t my best subject.
I realized in 2013 that I have always absolutely loved history. I realized this while going through my childhood bookcase, as I sifted through the drifts of Beverly Cleary and Roald Dahl. I noticed that I was sitting among dozens and dozens of Dear America books, and I remembered explaining to my mom that Anetka was sent to the US to marry this guy, but he was way older than her and he died and she had to take care of his kids! And this one’s Hattie, one of her friends died on the trail because he ate hemlock. And this one’s Clotee, and this one’s Maria and on and on and on because it was just! So! Interesting! All these things that had happened to these girls had actually happened in real life. Sometimes even to girls like me, whose families had just immigrated, or who liked to read, or who lived near Virginia!Victory gardens! Votes for women! The underground railroad! Holy shit, history: it’s like worldbuilding that actually happened! That was how I felt reading those books—but not how I often felt about history as it was taught in class.
I used what I learned from Dear America books on everything from my fourth grade Oregon Trail project to my AP US History test. I’ve handed them down to my youngest sister, who just turned 12—A Coal Miner’s Bride is her favorite. And I’ve revisited them myself, to discover that they were just as good as I remember. These books gave emotion and identity to events I’d often never heard of: the Lattimer Massacre, the Long Walk of the Navajo, the Great Migration. And these heroines were genuine individuals, not the generic Good Role Models for Girls I was used to. I struggle to find their like in modern adult media—where might I find a heroine like Nellie Lee Love, rebelling against colorism and the world’s indignation at a black girl who loves math? Or Remember Patience Whipple, chasing the boys who tried to peek up her skirt amidst illness and fear on the Mayflower ? Or Anetka Kaminska, 14 and suddenly a widowed mother of three?
It took me years to recognize my own interest in history because so little of it, as it is taught, involves women. Oh sure, we have a scattering of Susan B. Anthonys and Harriet Tubmans, but they’re rare enough that we can recall the handful of them we learned by name—and moreover, we sure as hell aren’t learning about struggling prairie teachers in the 1870s or teenage Jewish girls on the Lower East Side. Maybe we get The House on Mango Street squeezed into the curriculum between Johnny Tremain, All Quiet on the Western Front, and Great Expectations, but women’s stories never threaten to to achieve true parity (though god knows the boys in class will moan endlessly about Dumb Books Full of Girl Emotions anyway). So thank god for the Dear America series, and all books like them (what up, American Girl), for lending me a hand that wasn’t afraid to be in a dress. Today, I read a lot of history and am even engaging in my own independent research—but I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for stories like Nellie’s and Remember’s and Anetka’s. I’d have gone on thinking history wasn’t my thing. Because nobody bothered to let me know how much I—a mixed race, bookish, lonely little American girl—had a stake in it.
One caveat, though, about these books. Please be very wary about honest representation in these books. I know for a fact prominent Debbie Reese, who is a well-respected American Indian educator outlines the problems in that particular title. Most of the issue probably stems from the fact that the book’s author isn’t American Indian and didn’t do very good research before writing that book.
Thanks for the info. FYI, everyone.
Today’s Classic: Bad Girls and Bat Wings
1. Albert-Joseph Pénot, Bat Woman (1890)
2. Jószef Arpád Koppay, Lion and Woman with Devil Bat Wings Chained Together (date unknown)
3. Johann Heinrich Füssli, The Mad Kate (1807)
4. Gabriel Ferrier, Moonlit Dreams (1874)
5. Vasily Kotarbinsky, Dark Star (date unkwown)
An exciting reto future space novella with a 1950’s setting. The heroine for this story is a junior space detective named Cosmo.
Hay guys check out my kickstarter project about a cool,spunky,black space detective named Cosmo. Watch my pitch video for more details!
This looks super cute!
Let’s have tea and laugh together ten years from now, okay? Promise?
Moment of silence for every little girl who grew up with Sailor Saturn as her favorite.
NOSTALGIA AS A WEAPON: THE SAILOR MOON RENAISSANCE IS A FEMINIST MISSION BEHIND THE LINES OF POP CULTURE
By Juliet Kahn
Sailor Moon did not enter my life so much as consume it. I was eight, and in the space of a few weeks I learned all the attack names, bought the first two issues of the manga, went through three different understandings of how to pronounce “Takeuchi”, and developed a tiered list of my favorite characters.
I spent hours spelunking the MIDI-laden cave that was Geocities, learning the language of dub-versus-sub wars, exploring webrings, indulging in awful pidgin Japanese, and realizing that I was not actually the only person in the world that loved this show. I filled the drawer of my nightstand with printouts of art book pages (I never did anything with them, but they were the most beautiful things I had ever seen and I needed to possess them somehow). I scraped up a special outfit — a white turtleneck and blue pleated skirt, with my hair in pigtails — just to wear while watching the show.
Opinions crowded my head, the first ones I’d ever really developed on my own: on translation choices, best and worst story arcs, ideal romantic pairings. I didn’t just write Sailor Moon fanfiction — I wrote Sailor Moon poetry. It was, by far, the most vivid and vital part of those last few playground years.
Today, Sailor Moon is inescapable. There’s the new anime of course, and the new musicals, the merchandise, and the retranslation of the manga. But it’s the emblem of a wider renaissance as well, a resurgence of love for mahou shoujo, or magical girl anime and manga — a movement led by women well out of their childhood years.
A quick stroll through Tumblr reveals Sailor Moon cupcakes, punky Sailor Moon jackets, heartfelt essays about what the portrayal of lesbianism in Sailor Moon meant to the reader, dozens of artists working together to reanimate an episode of the anime, Sailor Moon nail art tutorials, cats named Luna, Beryl, Haruka and everything in between, hand-sculpted figurines, ornate embroidery projects, and an endless avalanche of fanart. Sailor Moon as an Adventure Time character. Sailor Moon cheekily clutching a Hitachi Magic Wand. Sailor Moon as a vicious biker chick. Sailor Moon protesting the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling.
Sailor Moon fans have not so much rediscovered their love for Naoko Takeuchi’s sword-and-sparkle epic as they have elected her queen mother of their imaginations and ultimate aspirational self. She is, simultaneously, symbol, cause, and leader.
Probably the best thing I’ve written for ComicsAlliance so far. Enjoy! <3
“Comics has an outrage problem.”
I spent some time in LA over 4th of July weekend getting my west coast on. I came back to the world on Monday after a great weekend, only to find that the comics internet had melted down over an ill-conceived hashtag and was busy stomping up and down on the heads of people who were no threat to them.
This isn’t about that, or the hashtag. It’s about all the other times comics has faced controversy and replied with scorn.
The short version is “you don’t have to like it, but please respect it.” The long version is through the link. Comments are off until I get back from lunch, but hopefully you get something out of this.
Sometimes I’m spinning my wheels on a feeling or thought for weeks, and then David Brothers drops something new and I’m just like “…. oh.”
meiyaru asked: Your simply amazing piece on Sailor Moon and the power of memories (personally, I always felt a kinship with Sailor Mercury, and kept her trading cards in my wallet until I was a sophomore in college) only led me to the rabbit hole of your blog. Pardon me for hearting all the things, but you're just wonderful.
Thank you so much. <3 What a lovely message to come home from work to! Normally I just answer these privately, but I really want to keep this one around to look at sometimes. I’ve held on to the trading cards of my favorite senshi too. :)