Forty by forty

In some ways lately i’ve been closing my world down, removing myself from situations and people that exhaust me or erode and damage my boundaries, which has meant i have had a lot more space and time and somewhat more energy than i’ve been used to and not knowing what to do with them. I thought doing the forty by forty challenge would help me focus my time and my energy into things that will be good for my life. I just turned 37 so this will take three years.

  1. change name legally
  2. sort bank account
  3. get a passport
  4. clean out back garden
  5. research and grow shade loving bee friendly plants
  6. grow wild flowers in front garden
  7. have ten herbs growing
  8. make two insect houses
  9. learn about classical music
  10. learn about the french revolution
  11. learn and do wildcrafting
  12. make a folklore/fairy tale/myth jewellery collection to sell
  13. learn 18 new craft techniques and sell at least one of each product
  14. build up to selling at 12 markets a year
  15. get good enough at candles to sell them
  16. learn to use sewing machine and make useful things with it
  17. learn 30 main meal recipes
  18. learn 30 side or snack recipes
  19. learn 3o deserts or treat recipes
  20. learn 10 each of the above vegan versions
  21. sort out kitchen
  22. sort out workroom
  23. write 100 new poems
  24. submit to 20 publications
  25. spend three days a week off line
  26. have one of those days with no screen technology at all
  27. only buy one book a month
  28. pay off library fine and sort library card
  29. create and practice a ritual year system
  30. learn trance/journeying ect in a controlled way
  31. spend six hours a week on spell craft
  32. read and work through Kindling our Stars
  33. make 20 bath and body products that work for me
  34. blog twice a week
  35. do 3 hours deep journaling a week
  36. find or make a group to clear up the rubbish in the woods
  37. find a local volunteer position
  38. work on increasing stamina and better spoon stewardship
  39. engage in one long form of communication a week (letter, long email, long phone call, coffee)
  40. have people over once a month

Reading, not reading.

so currently the internet is losing its shit over the fact that someone suggested that  reading people other than straight cis white men might be beneficial. And I’m just so tired of the predictable reactions to this suggestion. Reactions such as:  how dare people refuse to centre mainstreamed men all the FUCKING TIME, how dare we want to know what other people have to say,  how silly of us to think that other people can write well,  why do we think we have a right to centre the writers we want to centre in our lives? And even in feminist spaces this shit is  happening. A link to the article in a feminist space had people saying that not reading books by mainstreamed men reduces their rights and that we should be reading good books regardless of who the writers are. (which kind of makes me wonder, if all you care about is that the books are good why would you care that they weren’t written by mainstreamed men?)

It frustrates me that people can’t see that the problem is systemic and institutional, that more mainstreamed men get published and marketed  and the more books we buy and read by those who are not  mainstreamed male writers the more publishers will noticed that and start supporting and publishing more decentered writers.

unless we actively work against it we live in a world that is oversaturated with mainstreamed male voices, why is it wrong to take time out from that for as long as we like? let alone only for a year as the article suggests.

Also the pushback is always really odd to me as if somehow everybody is being FORCED to stop reading books by mainstreamed men, rather this being a suggestion or, as with myself, something someone just mentions in passing.

A while ago i took a year out from reading men for a year and its been a really positive experience for me. I still mostly don’t read male writers and the ones i do are decentered or are writing on a subject I absolutely cant find by someone else (though mostly if you take the time to look this is rarely an issue) , But i mostly still read books by women, women like me (several different flavours of queer, disabled, adopted, complicated class status, mental health issues) and women not like me (women of color, women from different religious communities, trans women, people at different places on the gq spectrum from me, working class women, women from colonised communities) and of course many of these identities and issues intersect, blur and cross over.

And this reading makes me stronger, makes my own voice stronger, makes me feel like i have more right to belong in the world makes me feel that I’m not  inconveniently crippled and queer, that i’m not a “shrill bitter adoptee”

And this reading teaches me how to support women who are not like me, teaches me how to hear their voices, how to help them make space for themselves, how to attempt to be a good ally to them.

The thing is I don’t need to read mainstreamed mens writing because society is saturated in mens thoughts, men’s words, mens needs, in a way that is damaging to those of us who are not mainstreamed men, to those of us that mostly neither have nor want what mainstreamed men want. Even if we stop reading books by these men its not like our world will be absent of them because THEY NEVER SHUT UP, and the world we live in encourages them in their not shutting up.

The other thing is I also don’t care if people do read books by mainstreamed men, what I care about is many of those peoples reactions to those of us that don’t,  what I care about is their refusal to accept the inequalities and imbalances in both society and publishing that means that mainstreamed men are by far the most likely to get supported, published, marketed, and read. What I care about is how the boundaries of those who choose to do this (who are mostly decentred in some way) are entirely disrespected