Hollingsworth v Perry and United States v. Winsor…and Books

Now, check my blog is about being a nerd…and mainly focuses on my love of books, and especially my big support for young adult literature. I keep most of my opinions and beliefs that are separate from books away from my blog, in order to maintain a balance, and not alienate any of my readers.

But there’s one point that I have to bring up.

symbols_hrc_equality

In the next couple days, the Supreme Court of the United States will be addressing two very important case: the case of Prop 8, and the case of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act).

For those of you who don’t know, Prop 8 was a proposition passed in California, the state in which I live, in 2008, that prevents same-sex marriages from being legal. This proposition barely passed, and was a proposition that I was severely against.

The Defense of Marriage Act, also known as DOMA, as passed into law in September of 1996, stating that a legal marriage is a binding between one man and one woman, therefore ruling out the legality of same-sex marriage.

Both of these are being fought on the basis that they are unconstitutional and will be the subjects of the two cases presented to the Supreme in the next two days (March 26th and 27th).

Before I get into personal feelings, let’s talk about this for a moment.

 These are so important. You know all those court cases that we talk about in history classes, the ones you don’t pay attention to because you just don’t realize how important they are? This is it. So many of these cases have affected our lives today, even if we don’t take the time to realize it. And the next two days, the next two cases, they are going to define us once again.

And I hope and I wish, and I hope that we can make the right decision on this. This isn’t about personal beliefs. This isn’t about religion. This is about what the Bible says. For one thing, the constitution has always said: separation of church and state. Freedom of religion. We cannot deny a group of people the right to marry because our beliefs and because our bibles or religions tell us this is so, because religion doesn’t belong in the government, and it never has. If you believe that same-sex marriages are immoral, fine. I think you’re completely wrong, but that’s your opinion. However, this opinion is NOT a valid reason for restricting someone’s rights.

Let’s also recall the 14th amendment, and the Equal Protection Clause…that one cannot be denied the right that someone else has. Again, no matter what your personal beliefs are, you cannot deny the RIGHT of same-sex couples to marry if opposite sex couples can. Its against this very amendment that is written into our Constitution, our highest law.

Now, I’m not trying to really present an argument here for you; that’ll be the job to be done tomorrow in court. I’m just presenting you with TWO different pieces of concrete evidence of the illegitimacy of both Prop 8 and DOMA, and how they back my belief in marriage equality.

Thats the technical aspect of it, the academic and evidence backed version of it.

But I also am very passionate about marriage equality.

Partly because, I am bisexual. And maybe you don’t like that, or maybe you think I’m making it up for attention (which, by the way, I’m not). And let me make this perfectly clear: My boyfriend Jon and I have been together for five years…and I’m 115% in love with him, and perfectly happy with him and one day, we’ll get married and have babies who love music like him and books like me. But I am attracted to girls, as much as I am attracted to boys and if for some crazy, impossible reason, it didn’t work out with Jon, I could see myself dating a girl. And the fact that my right to marry a girl is being denied…well it pisses me off.

And I have a ton of friends who are gay or lesbian, a TON of them…absolutely wonderful people. So many of them are in loving and healthy relationships, relationships just like you or me. And the fact that they can’t get married…yeah it pisses me off.

And, lets remember, this blog is about books and about my nerd things. I’m obsessed with my books, I’m obsessed with literature, especially of the young adult genre.

Alec Lightwood and Magnus Bane from the Mortal Instruments.

Aline Penhallow and Helen Blackthorn from the Mortal Instruments

Will Grayson and Tiny Cooper from Will Grayson, Will Grayson.

Pippa Cross and Felicity Worthington from A Great and Terrible Beauty.

Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter.

Patrick and Brad from The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Kurt Hummel and Blaine Anderson from Glee.

Santana Lopez and Britney Pierce from Glee.

Canton Everett Delaware III from Doctor Who, Series 6.

Honestly I could go on and on. There are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender characters everywhere. And they’ve all had to go through the difficulties of accepting who they are. Alec Lightwood can’t come to terms with the fact that he is gay, and it takes him three whole books to even admit that he has a relationship with Magnus. Aline is unsure of the way she feels, and kisses Jace to see if she’s attracted to boys. Will Grayson and Tiny Cooper both deal with coming out as gay, in two different ways. Pippa and Felicity, especially Felicity since Pippa is technically dead, have to deal with the fact that they are in love with each other, in a Victorian age when that was DEFINITELY not accepted. Patrick, in Perks, has to hide his relationship with Brad, because Brad is afraid to come out. Kurt, Blaine, Santana, and Britney all have a hard time dealing with their relationships in Glee. Even short time companion, Canton, in Doctor Who, deals with the fact that he isn’t allowed to be in the FBI and have a male companion.

Authors, especially young adult authors, are including LGBT characters in their novels because this is a very important issue of our generation. Marriage equality, equality no matter what sexual orientation you are…this is a huge matter of this age. And kids, teens, young adults…we’re not stupid, we are aware of this and many of us are fighting for this. And authors are creating characters that are like us, or like people we know, characters that we can relate to .

All of these characters, and more, have not only furthered my belief in the equality of all people, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, but has given me the courage to be who I AM. If my friends can be open and honest and proud of who they are, if my favorite characters (who are like my friends to me) can eventually be open and honest about who they are and people love and accept them, then so can I.

And sure, we’re never going to be able to change everyone’s minds. We just can’t. Its been nearly 50 years since the Civil Rights Act was passed and we still have racism. Of course we do. And its wrong, wrong, wrong but there’s that. People are allowed to have opinions even if its wrong. And people are always going to have their opinions on same-sex marriage. But it boils down to this.

It doesn’t matter your personal moral or religious beliefs. It doesn’t matter if you think same sex marriage is morally wrong or not. It doesn’t matter if same sex marriage is against your religion. Because religion doesn’t dictate law, not in this country, not ever. This is the very foundation of which this country was founded upon. There is a separation of church and state in the laws, and we have laws requiring us to extend the same rights to every single person, no matter what. And no, these laws won’t FORCE churches to marry same sex couples, and it won’t FORCE schools to teach of it school. That is ignorant babble from misinformed people who are bent on keeping same sex couples from marriage.

Equal rights for everyone. I believe it. Alec and Magnus, Santana and Brittany, Blaine and Kurt, Will and Tiny, Felicity and Pippa, Canton, Dumbledore, Aline and Helen, we all believe it.

The process may take time, especially when it comes to Prop 8, but I know I will be waiting anxiously and hopeful for the right decision to be made.

And like I said, I know this isn’t normally the kind of thing that I post. I normally keep my political and religious (or lack thereof, in my case) out of my posts but I feel like this has an importance, especially in my passion for books and my belief in its life saving qualities.

If there’s one thing that I can honestly say that I’ve learned from books (and there’s a whole novel larger than War and Peace that could describe what I’ve learned from books), is the idea of acceptance, tolerance and equality. I would say…I would go out on a limb and say 100% of the books that I have read have had some measure of preaching equality, some more than others. Harry Potter showed us it hugely, Mortal Instruments, Hunger Games, Percy Jackson, Jane Austen, Star Wars, and on and on.

And I have taken this to heart. These books have taught me so much about life: how to love, how to be a friend, how to trust, how to respect, how to be responsible, how to be a GOOD person, and how to accept everyone, even if you don’t particularly like them. Books have taught me that everyone deserves to be treated equally, and I have extended this into my life.

So…in conclusion to this super long blog post…WhatANerdGirlSays is about being a nerd…and a big chunk of my nerd life comes from books. Books are my life, my love, my passion and my dreams. And books have taught me the firm, firm belief I have in equality, in all things in life, and that makes WhatANerdGirlSays an equality zone. And we’ll be waiting, in anticipation and complete hope, for the right decision to be made.

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YA Literature: To Be or Not to Be

Today, symptoms I took my final examination for my children’s literature class. I know, I’m really sad about it. I am definitely going to miss this class. Its crazy how I took this class on a whim and it has been one of my favorite clases that I’ve ever taken.

But anyway, one of the questions on the final was to discuss the two different views on using young adult literature in the high school curriculum. Which got me thinking of course.

I know, more posts about young adult literature. Its something that I feel passionately about. I read a ton of young adult literature and I honestly do think that the high school curriculum could be improved by integrating contemporary young adult fiction.

I mean, don’t get me wrong: there are books in high school that I enjoyed and definitely should be read: The Joy Luck Club, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby, Brave New World, etc. There are a lot that I didn’t enjoy as well like Of Mice and Men (or anything John Steinbeck to be quite honest…can’t believe I share a birthday with that guy…), The Scarlet Letter…and Shakespeare. Oh god Shakespeare. No offense, Will, I understand what you did for the English language and writing and all that but no thanks.

Those books just didn’t make an impact on me at all. I didn’t learn anything and I didn’t gain anything.

Those who are against using young adult lit in schools fear that it is lowering the bar on literature standards. Young adult lit is often times used with remedial readers to help them understand themes and ideas and things like that. However, they are afraid of dumbing things down for the more sophisticated readers.

And I personally disagree with it. I feel as if these critics think we are going to be introducing books like Twilight and Hush, Hush or Gossip Girls and books of that kind of caliber. Now, I’m not hating on those books or anything; they are enjoyed by many people and they can be entertaining or whatnot but they are not of academic caliber. No way. I mean, I ADORE Cassandra Clare but I wouldn’t bring her books into the classroom, most likely. Unless I had an entire classroom of girls…anyway. These are the kinds of books that I believe critics are thinking of.

But think about this: we are in a golden age of young adult literature. Yes there is bad stuff, but there is bad stuff in regular literature as well. And there is so much GOOD young adult literature out there. Have you read John Green? Meg Cabot? Sarah Dessen? Tamora Pierce? Rick Riordan? Suzanne Collins? Libba Bray? Cinda Williams Chima? Stephen Chobsky? Deb Caletti? Morgan Matson? Kristin Cashore? Douglas Adam? I mean, I could go on and on and on. These books are written for adolescents in the voice of adolescents. These books are funny and engaging and entertaining and contemporary. They tell you great stories that are easy to understand and fun to read.

But these books aren’t superficial and just for entertainment. They touch on real issues: death, suicide, rape, abuse, relationships, sex, abandonment, family issues, friendships, coping, losing their virginity, peer pressure, drugs, alcohol and more and more and more. And all of these issues and themes…are they not themes that we see in the classics that we already read?

And whether or not the classics should be read or not is not the point. The point is, its hard enough to read the classics when you’re an advanced or competent reader. Imagine how hard it is for a remedial reader, which a lot of kids in high school are. The classics are hard to understand; the language is different and difficult, the issues are outdated (although, not always), etc. In contemporary youg adult fiction, we can have some of the same situations, issues or themes but in a world that these kids can understand. In contemporary YA fiction, we can garner some interest in reading and perhaps start discussions.

Okay, and let’s face it. Kids and teenagers are reading more and more nowadays and what are they reading? Three words: Young. Adult. Literature. They’re already doing it. Go out and look, pay attention. Kids are gobbling up these books because there are so MANY CHOICES. Kids are going nuts for John Green and Suzanne Collins and all those authors. So if they’re already reading it, shouldn’t we try and get something out of it besides just the pleasure of reading the book? Turn it into a dicussion the way you would discuss something in The Great Gatsby or Hamlet. Kids can still exercise their minds, tackle complex ideas and formulate new opinions…but in a way that they can relate to.

Honest, I love young adult fiction; its what I most read. You guys obviously know this by reading my blog…and you may have noticed it from my Stop Picking On YA! post a few weeks back. I am a firm believer in it. I feel like it can accomplish so much.

One, it can get kids to read. I’ve seen it happen! I’ve seen kids pick up Harry Potter or Percy Jackson or Hunger Games or John Green or whatever and they start to read…they keep reading. Kids who didn’t use to read, kids who never enjoyed it or had a desire to read…they’re suddenly reading! Who cares what they are reading? They’re reading and even if what they’re reading isn’t the most fantastically written stuff, they are still getting something out of it…and it often leads them to better written books. They are improving their reading and comprehension skills…which is wonderful because these are SO essential to being successful in your education.

Two, I feel like we can learn a lot from it. Any success I’ve had in my reading, or comprehension or even my writing skills have come from my nonstop reading. People tell you all the time: READ, READ, READ. Reading gives you better knowledge, better skills…so much. And there is so much good young adult fiction out there. Instead of using the same novels over and over again with limited success, we should try something new! Let’s discuss the theme of death, but instead of Hamlet or The Scarlet Letter, lets use The Fault in Our Stars or Hunger Games or Harry Potter. We can learn so much and accomplish so much more if we adjust to for the times.

Third, and last, the classics weren’t always accepted. I mean, a good share of them were but not always. And they had to go through all kinds of scrutiny and process to get into the high school curriculum. I mean, look at The Outsiders. That was one of the first real young adult novels and most kids read it in late middle school/early high school. And there is still controversy, so to speak, about the books that are already learned in school. There always will be. No one is ever going to completely agree…but I’d hope that we could agree on the advancement of our education…because come on, there a ton of kids out there that still lack basic reading comprehension and understanding of themes and such.

I know some of you may get tired of me defending young adult literature, or talking about young adult literature…and honestly, if that’s the way you feel, maybe this blog isn’t really meant for you. Like I said before, its something that I feel passionately about. I was lucky enough to have a natural love for reading…I’ve ALWAYS loved it and I’ve always had the ability to understand it and take away from it. Not everyone has that. And everyone should. Reading has benefitted me in so many ways: in my life, in my morals and views, in my education, in my relationships with people and on and on and on. I feel like everyone should have the chance to enjoy reading.

In the words of my queen, J.K. Rowling, “If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”

The books we’re using now? They aren’t working. They just aren’t. I think its about time that we start finding more options and more books…finding those right books for every kid out there. Maybe its Great Gatsby…and maybe its Looking for Alaska. Either way, that’s my plan and that’s what I think.

What about you?

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Stop Picking on YA Literature!

Today in my children’s literature class, ailment we had a lecture on young adult literature.

And it was really super interesting.

We all know how much I love YA literature. This is beyond obvious.

So the class today was really informative and one that I definitely am glad that I didn’t miss.

I mean, what is ed did you know that S.E. Hinton was sixteen when she wrote The Outsiders? Now, I’m not a #1 fan of the Outsiders but that is seriously badass. As an aspiring writer, I must admit that I am quite impressed.

But it really got me thinking about young adult literature in general. I remember when I was younger and there wasn’t much of a young adult section in the bookstore. I remember having to special order books because bookstores would never have them.

But now that’s definitely changed. Young adult literature has exploded in the last ten years. Exploded.

And let’s think about that for a moment. Kids and teenagers are reading more than ever. I think a lot of it stems from Harry Potter. Harry Potter opened up a lot-it opened up the doors to new ideas and it opened up the doors of a new approach on writing and reading. J.K.R. showed that kids and teens WILL read and they’ll read long books too (I mean, Order of the Phoenix is HUGE!)

And think of everything that has come since then: The Hunger Games, Percy Jackson, Mortal Instruments, Twilight series, the Fallen series, the Gemma Doyle series, the Inheritance series, etc. There are authors like Meg Cabot, Sarah Dessen, John Green, Maureen Johnson, Jay Asher, Deb Caletti and so on and so on.

Young adult literature is HUGE!

And it helps so much that so many of the movies that have been hitting the theaters in the past few years have been coming from popular YA novels (notice that I said popular, not good. Though I think most of these are good).

Harry Potter.

Twilight.

Percy Jackson.

Perks of Being a Wallflower.

City of Bones.

Hunger Games.

The Fault in Our Stars (John Green) is optioned to be a movie, same with Fallen (Lauren Kate), Divergent (Veronica Roth), Thirteen Reasons Why (Jay Asher) and so many more. Delirium and Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.

Don’t forget that The Vampire Diaries is a ridiculously popular TV series.

I literally could keep going. I won’t though…

There is also the fact that most authors nowadays are on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, instagram, Youtube and so on. Authors are so accessible nowadays. I’ve been tweeted by Libba Bray, Meg Cabot, Cassandra Clare, Jen Calonita. I’ve had Facebook conversations with Meg Cabot, Jen Calonita and Cinda Williams Chima.

But let’s make this very clear:

Not all of young adult literature is good. In fact, there is a good amount that is fairly bad.

Now, I liked the Twilight series. I kind of liked the Fallen series. They are entertaining and they keep me reading. They are also not the best written books around. There are books like The House of Night series (ugh) and Hush, Hush, Gossip Girl, etc. I can’t sit here and attack these books (I mean, those guys have a publishing deal and I don’t…) but I do think that the bad YA books can be the ones that bring such negative view to the young adult genre.

Because the fact is, there is a lot of fantastic young adult literature. People like John Green, Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti, Jen Calonita, Jay Asher, Suzanne Collins, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Meg Cabot. These people are genuinely talented writers. They tell great stories.

But there’s more to it than that. They capture the young adult essence. They capture what its like to be a teenager and they capture the sort of things that they’re dealing with, from things like friendships and relationships and family issues to sex and sexuality and drugs and abuse. There are books that touch on so many teen issues and its amazing, especially since they’re usually so on touch with it and since the stories are so good.

Don’t deny it. We all remember the teen years. We all remember how hard they were. They weren’t easy and I don’t care how old you are, you remember how it felt. Why do you think young adult literature is also read by adults too? (Do I qualify as a young adult anymore…)

I also think that young adult literature gets a really bad reputation, because of more than just the good books vs. bad books (Sorry, Twilight, I’m looking at you). I think a lot of parents are really uncomfortable with some of the issues that are brought up in these books.

For instance, sex. There is a lot of sex in young adult novels. I’m not talking Fifty Shades of Grey here (UGH) but they’re teenagers! For the most part, these characters are from the ages of 15 to 19. They’re hormonal and thinking about sex. So of course sex is going to be discussesd, maybe more than that.

To parents, I say this: GET OVER IT. If you have talked to your teen about sex, then you have nothing to worry about. They will make the right decision, either way. If you haven’t talked to them about, then let them read it. You don’t have the cajones to talk to them about it and someone should!

I further think that parents have issue with the portrayal of adults in a lot of these novels. Parents can often times be the bad guy (Mortal Instruments, Delirium), they can be defied or disobeyed (Divergent), or neglectful (Hunger Games) or even addicts (Gemma Doyle). And here’s my answer to that: GET OVER IT. They are parents like that, wehther you like or not. If you’re a good parent, you’re okay. And yeah, parents aren’t perfect and that’s okay too. Maybe they’ll appreciate you more after reading about these parents.

My point is, (and believe me, my point has changed at least four times), young adult literature should be treated the same way as any other literature or form of writing whether it’s children literature or biography or fiction or nonfiction or whatever. Some of it is going to be bad (really, really bad). Some of it is going to be good (really, really good).

But just think of the impact that it can have.

Because of YA, I want to be a writer. Because of YA, I have learned so much about life and I have learned different morals and values. Because of YA, I have learned so much about myself. Because of YA, I am the avid reader that I am. Because of YA, I have this blog.

And come on, young adult literature is awesome. And its there for everyone no matter what age or gender you are. It’s made for PEOPLE.

And if you ever need a recommendation, trust me, I got your back :)

What’s your favorite young adult novel???? As always, share in the comments.

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