THINGS IT IS PERFECTLY OKAY TO BE
- non binary
THINGS IT IS NOT OKAY TO BE
- an asshole
- a goose
this post wasn’t even about social justice it was about my hatred of geese
Over at The Millions, Janet Potter, who has worked in bookstores all over the world for more than a decade, responds to Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime and similar rankings with a beautiful blueprint to the reading life.
You should read the book that you see someone on the train reading and trying to hide that they’re laughing.
You should read the book that you see someone on the train reading and trying to hide that they’re crying.
You should read the book you find in your grandparents’ house that’s inscribed “To Ray, all my love, Christmas 1949.”
You should read books mentioned in other books.
1. Girls Shalt Not Have Sex.
(someone asked me what the guy word for ‘slut’ is
and I couldn’t find an answer.
it’s an old story: a rumour goes around that so-and-so
blew a boy in the disabled toilets.
the girl fakes a cough to get herself sent home
to escape the classroom-wide hiss of ‘slut’
while the boy she blew walks into the same class
and is greeted by an onslaught of high-fives)
2. Girls Shalt Love Boys.
(when I was ten, there was a movie trailer where two girls
leaned in for a kiss, and I felt sick for the rest of the day.
it took four years
along with faux-casual questions to friends
useless quizzes on the internet
entries in a diary that I later scribbled out
to admit, fine, okay, yes,
and another year after that to say it without mumbling)
3. Girls Shalt Not Be Bitches.
(it took over ten years of school for me to realize
my women teachers got called bitches
for doing things that my male teachers got called efficient for.
we were assigned to a group project in science class
and whenever my friend tried to tell the others to quiet down
so they could get on with the work,
she was jeered into silence
and she never found it fair that her boyfriend did
the same thing and the noise stopped.)
4. Girls Shalt Have A Vagina.
(she introduced herself with a deep voice and a gushing smile.
she had a pink dress and an adam’s apple
she had a necklace resting above her cleavage
she had escaped from an all-boys high school
and I didn’t understand until I learned later
gender is more than the two rigid boxes
that we are told to tick one of)
5. Girls Shalt Smile.
(he frowned when the subject was brought up
and he shrugged a lot as he explained
that we look better when we smile. Less hostile.
His shrugs stiffened when I asked him why we shouldn’t look hostile.
‘I dunno,’ he said, dropping to a mumble. ‘Girls aren’t s’posed to look hostile, I guess.’
The next time someone walked past me on the street
and told me to smile,
I gave him my sunniest grin
and a middle finger.)