The problem that needs to be fixed is not kick all the girls out of YA, it’s teach boys that stories featuring female protagonists or written by female authors also apply to them. Boys fall in love. Boys want to be important. Boys have hopes and fears and dreams and ambitions. What boys also have is a sexist society in which they are belittled for “liking girl stuff.” Male is neutral, female is specific.
I heard someone mention that Sarah Rees Brennan’s THE DEMON’S LEXICON would be great for boys, but they’d never read it with that cover. Friends, then the problem is NOT with the book. It’s with the society that’s raising that boy. It’s with the community who inculcated that boy with the idea that he can’t read a book with an attractive guy on the cover.
Here’s how we solve the OMG SO MANY GIRLS IN YA problem: quit treating women like secondary appendages. Quit treating women’s art like it’s a niche, novelty creation only for girls. Quit teaching boys to fear the feminine, quit insisting that it’s a hardship for men to have to relate to anything that doesn’t specifically cater to them.
Because if I can watch Raiders of the Lost Ark and want to grow up to be an archaeologist, there’s no reason at all that a boy shouldn’t be able to read THE DEMON’S LEXICON with its cover on. My friends, sexism doesn’t just hurt women, and our young men’s abysmal rate of attraction to literacy is the proof of it.
If you want to fix the male literary crisis, here’s your solution:
Become a feminist.
Yunnan Trip Day 11
Today we lunched in the region of Xinping and drove up the mountains nearby, which were covered with subtropical forest. Went hiking along an overgrown dirt trail and picked some wild gourds (poisonous) and wild olives (taste poisonous, but not).
Enjoyed an early dinner on the roof of a quaint mud hut in the middle of the forest surrounded by wild chickens, a couple hunting dogs, and the sound of wind blowing through bamboo leaves.
We are spending the night in a town called Gasa, where the local minority ethnicity is Hua Yao Dai. A local New Year’s carnival was within walking distance and there we were able to join a circle of traditional folk dancers. They were delighted to be joined by foreign visitors, a rare sight in this lesser known town.
Yunnan Trip Day 12
Back to Eshan and Kunming
Today my two travel buddies and I woke up early in the morning to check out a waterfall called Nanen Pubu in the mountains near Gasa village,where our hotel was located.
As the main view of the waterfall was from the main road,we followed / made up a couple hiking trails around the falls and up the mountain.
Tried a couple new street foods with my friend’s family: red sugar sticky rice cake, and sticky rice with peanuts in it. Both were wrapped and cooked in wide green leaves.
In the afternoon, we returned to the Eshan mountain villa for another outdoor dinner, which was beautiful and tasty as always. Then one of the guys from my friend’s family drove me for an hour back to Kunming, where I’m staying at the Lost Garden Teahouse near Green Lake. I’m flying back to Shanghai early tomorrow morning, so my trip is now finished!
It’s been one of those rare vacations that are not only full of awesome new experiences, but full of new people that change your perspective on life. Travel tends to draw out time for me — the past two weeks have felt like two months. I wish I could always have the time to soak life in like this!
Yunnan Trip Day 10
Picnic in Eshan hills
Today I continued to hang out with my local friend’s family on their trip to the small village of Eshan. We went to a little farm-like villa in the forested hills, where we helped the family prepare two abundant picnic meals by peeling beans.
I went on a long and leisurely hike to the nearby dam, and up the road from there to the local source for drinking water.
Also observed some of the older family members playing Shuangkou, a popular Chinese card game that seems to be a mix of Big 2, Hearts, and Bridge.
Ended the night with another KTV (karaoke) outing. This family really knows how to party. :)
Yunnan Trip Day 9
Making dumplings in Kunming
Today we continued hanging out with my friend’s family over the Chinese New Year holiday in Kunming. Before lunchtime, everyone crowded in the kitchen to make dumplings, or jiaozi.
Some folks made the dough for the dumpling skins from flour and water, others cut and rolled the dough into thin flat circles, and others (including me) put the filling in the skin and wrapped it with tiny pinches and folds.
I’ve wrapped jiaozi with my mom at home before, but this was on a whole different scale. In the end we ended up with two large metal bins about 30 inches across that were full of delicious steamed dumplings, both vegetarian and meat-friendly.
Tonight we’re staying with the family on their trip to Eshan, a small town a couple hours south of Kunmjng.
Yunnan Trip Day 8
Kunming on Chinese New Year
Today was more of a low key day. The three of us had a traditional breakfast of homemade wontons in spicy soup. Then we wandered the city streets, which were crowded with families also out for New Year’s Day.
Cuihu (Green Lake) Park was super crowded and noisy, and puppies were selling very well at the Bird and Flower market, as parents bought pets for their kids for New Year.
We celebrated the evening with another traditional dinner with our host’s family. We decided today to change our original plan and accompany their welcoming family on their trip south of Kunming. Somewhere so local I can’t recall the name or find it in my guidebook. It should be a truly rare opportunity for travel and I can’t wait!
Happy Year of the Horse, story bugs!
Yunnan Trip Day 7
A traditional Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner in Kunming
Today my group of four friends returned to Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan province, for Chinese New Year. One of my local friends split off to spend the holiday with her family, while I and the other foreigner in or group followed our other local friend to her aunt’s beautiful vacation home in the hills on the outskirts of the city to experience a traditional Chinese family’s New Year’s Eve feast!
We walked on a bed of pine needles on the living room floor. I think that was for longevity and good fortune? Dinner was all homemade by the family, and it included hot pot in a traditional copper pot, all kinds of special Yunnan dishes and breads, and lots of celebratory drinking.
At midnight, Kunming erupted in a deafening roar as people all over the city lit fireworks and firecrackers from the sidewalk. It was very loud and fun.