I challenge this – On banned books and women’s roles.

I saw this book cover the other day. It is in the “young adult” section.

misbehavingYA

Sure, it is Banned Books Week – so I should celebrate that people have the right to read whatever they want. While I’m OK with choices, I’m still going to question them.

It is the same issue I have with buffets. People can choose vegetables or fried meat. They can choose to eat only one plate of food, or fourteen. But we pay for our choices. And ultimately, society pays for people’s bad choices. My health insurance rates go up every year because people refuse to take care of themselves. Their health gets worse, so the costs go up, so it has to be paid for – by me. Meanwhile, I take care to eat well and exercise. I should not have to pay for their bad decisions, but I do.

We say we are all about free choice, but in some ways we aren’t. Notice light bulbs. We can’t buy regular incandescent bulbs anymore. They aren’t “environmentally correct”. Fluorescent bulbs last five times longer than incandescents. But – they can’t be disposed of in a “green” way. You can’t throw them away legally. You have to take them to a hazardous waste center because of the mercury in them. You can’t even recycle them. So in a way they are better, but in another way they are worse. The strange thing is that we don’t have a choice about it anymore – if we want light bulbs, they are fluorescent.

I’d think that if the government was really concerned about our well-being, they’d ban cigarettes for starters. Then, they’d make sure that all food was healthy – no additives or preservatives. Nothing would have extra sugar in it. We’d have mandatory exercise time during the work day too.

I don’t see any of this happening.

But back to the book cover. I am opposed to this book for several reasons. I’m not going to “challenge” it officially. I’m not going to try to get it banned. But I will bring up questions about it, and wonder why authors and publishers provide this kind of book. I will suggest how this kind of book affects us all.

This book is geared towards teenage girls. Do they really need to be indoctrinated to the idea that they have to be sexual beings? Do they need to be taught that they have to have a boy in their lives to feel complete? Is this a healthy message we need to be promoting as a society?

The “need” to have a mate distracts women from being full people. They spend their energy and money on attracting and keeping a boyfriend to the exclusion of anything else. Perhaps this is part of why women don’t go into science or politics nearly as often as men do. They don’t have the energy for it. They’ve given it all away to the goal of becoming a girlfriend or wife or mother.

Plus, do we really need to get young girls all steamy? They can’t handle the responsibility that comes with sex. Why have books that are explicitly sexual geared to this age group?

We don’t give full driving privileges to young drivers. They have graduated driving licenses. There are certain hours they can and can’t drive, and certain limitations as to who can be with them in the car. They don’t have the maturity to be able to handle the full responsibility of driving when they get their license, so we control it for them.

Sadly, sex isn’t that way. Once you figure out how it works, you can do anything, and anything can happen. Sadly, young people are still growing up themselves, and are almost never mature enough to handle the overwhelming responsibility involved in being a parent.

Sex is like playing Russian roulette with your life.

With this kind of book we are handing young girls a gun and telling them to put it to their heads. Either way, their own life will end. They’ll either get pregnant or distracted. Their energy will go into being a mother or a girlfriend. Their energy will be in relation to someone else. They won’t be their own people – strong, independent.

We all pay for this. We pay for it in teenage girls who get pregnant, who become single mothers and can’t afford to take care of themselves. So they get government assistance – which we pay for. Our taxes go up because of other people’s bad decisions, just like with health insurance. We pay for it in women who have spent their lives taking care of a house and home rather than fulfilling their dreams of being engineers or astrophysicists or diplomats.

How much have we lost as a nation, as a world, because we keep teaching young girls that their only value is to be found in their bodies, and not in their minds? We are prostituting our girls. We are selling them as surely as if we put them on the street.

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Go get a library card…

Having a library card is like having a gym membership. It doesn’t mean anything if you don’t use it.

There are plenty of people who come in every four years to vote in the Presidential election and they feel that they have to get a library card. Our library is an early voting site, and we have people come in that normally never go to a library. They feel that it is part of being an American to have a library card, so they sign up. Four years later, when they come in to vote again, they ask if their card is still valid. It isn’t. If you don’t use it in a couple of years it expires. So then they sign up again. Every now and then I’ll ask them if they want to go and find a book first, to see if they NEED to sign up for a card. Nope. They want to get a card. They just don’t want to use it.

Libraries are the most amazing thing ever about America. They present a free exchange of information. With a library card you can unlock any door. You can learn how to do anything. Going to the library is the best way to improve your mind and your life. It is the way out of a bad situation. It levels the playing field.

There are books at the library for everybody. Every now and then they get challenged but they usually get to stay. A book is “challenged” when someone tries to get it removed from the library. It is very hard to remove a book from the library. People don’t understand that just because they don’t like a book doesn’t mean they have the right to prevent another person from reading it. Thus, libraries have a huge variety of books to accommodate the varying needs of the community.

Yet this means nothing if they don’t use their card. What is the point of getting a library card if you don’t use it? There are plenty of countries around the world that don’t have libraries. Just being able to read is something you shouldn’t take for granted.

Plenty of people take the amazing resource that is the library for granted. If they use it at all, they will fill up on movies and fiction. That is just the icing on the cake. There is so much more to the library than this. The most amazing thing about the library is that if you want to improve your life or your community or the world, you can learn how to do it at the library. It is free to everyone.

I feel that Americans take the library and free public education for granted.

I know a lady from India who was a patron here and then went back home to India. She told me about how there were no free public libraries in India, or at least where she was. There were libraries, but you had to pay to be a member, and there weren’t that many books. Thus, people don’t really read very much.

A community that doesn’t read is a dead community.

Having a card isn’t enough. You have to use it.

If you are poor, education is the way out. Plenty of people will say that the schools are bad in their area, but this means nothing. You can have your education spoon-fed to you, or you can go hunt it down yourself. It also doesn’t matter what your local library is like. No matter what library you use, you have access to the inter-library loan system. Whatever you want, if it isn’t at your library, they can get it for you from another one. So if you don’t get a good education, the only person you have to blame is yourself.

Go get a library card. And use it. The mind you save will be your own.