As both a feminist and a YA writer, I enjoyed a recent post on Jezebel.com on the subject. Personally, I read it as Rachel Shukert discussing her process in writing her book-- the considerations she made with respect to her own worldview and the audience she hoped to reach.
For what better or worse (I argue conversation is *always* better), the post has generated some conversations in the YA reader/writer community. Some criticisms raised are excellent. Like how Shukert could have included more examples of writers who are making these considerations and whose books fit the criteria she lays out. In fact, on her twitter feed Shukert later conceded that point.
She also says unapologetically that yes, writing for Jezebel.com (a very visible online medium) was in part motivated by her desire to promote her book. And for that, I don't think she owes anyone an apology and I was happy to see her tweet as much. Like basically, sorry, I'm not sorry.
But other participants in this conversation have called into question whether or not Shukert should have been the one to have written this piece. I find it telling that the people questioning don't take issue with what she says, rather, with her "right" to say it.
This is, after all, her first (and only!) published YA book, they say. They say there are other YA writers and feminists who've published several books and therefore they are the 'experts!' Jezebel should have interviewed them!
Pardon my Francais, friends, but that is BULLSHIT.
Not only does Shukert make some great points (the bit about femininity not being the enemy, rather, misogyny is is especially excellent, in my opinion), but as a member of the YA community of readers and writer and thinkers, and as, you know, a woman, hell as a HUMAN, she has a right to her ideas and opinions. And a right to express them wherever she gets an opportunity to do so.
Last time I checked, this is not an exclusive conversation (the whole point is to break down the doors of exclusivity!) There are not certain people who get to speak at the mic and the rest of us can just clap or snap our fingers or bob our heads in agreement. You have an opinion, you are entitled to share it. Full stop.
Are certain YA authors more visible in the conversation? Sure. And God bless them for making headway and keeping at it. But that doesn't mean that they are the only ones who get to speak forever and always amen. That's a bit like saying Charles Shultz shouldn't have ever written a solo essay about comics because BATMAN.
Get real. I also think the idea that there is a quota of published books one must have in order to be able to voice an opinion on feminism is YA is BS. And even still, though this is her first published book, that doesn't mean it's the first book she's written. If she's like, uh, me, she's got dozens of half-finished, trunked or in-process manuscripts on her laptop. Hell, I haven't published a single book (yet?) and I still have an opinion on the matter. And I'll be damned if I won't voice it. My little old blog doesn't get anywhere near the traffic of Jezebel, but still. Whether I've been offered a seat at the table or not, I'm going to take it.
That's feminism, yo.