Guest Post-y Goodness

So remember a million billion years ago when I offered to interview people?  Kalev took me up on the offer, even though he doesn’t have a blog on which to post said interview. So I told him that not only would I be the interviewer, but I’d even post it here on my blog as a guest post.  ‘Cuz that’s just the type of swell gal I am.  Anyway, it may be months and months later, but here it is!


So months and months ago, I asked my friend Beth if I could participate in her interview meme as documented here: http://www.nottobetrustedwithknives.com/2009/01/02/

On 2009/01/03 11:58 AM, Beth Snow wrote:

oh em gee, are you actually going to post this on your BLOG??

Beth is always teasing me that I don’t have a blog and I don’t blog–even though I was writing blog-type things on the Internet while she was still in grade school. 😛

1. So, you have an academic paper in press, which is totally insane for an undergrad. Tell us what the paper is about, without using the words “problematize,” “hegemony,” or “trajectory.”

Hey! Your hegemonic derailing of my jargonistic trajectory problematizes this whole interview thing! *LOL* What?! You say sociology is the most jargon-riddled social science (where social sciences are known for their jargon-filled goodness)? I don’t know what you’re talking about!

That’s extremely flattering of you to combine praising me with an opportunity for me to brag. It should be pointed out to anyone who might be reading that Beth is the person who set me on the crazy course that led to my being published. Or my “going to be” published, since apparently getting published is a process that takes MONTHS, years even. She sent me the call for submissions for the special multinational/cross-cultural issue of Sexuality Research and Social Policy: The Journal of the NSRC [National Sexuality Research Center], an online, peer-reviewed journal published by University of California Press where my “article” (it’s still funny for me to use “official” academic journal terminology like “article” give that this started out as a term paper for an undergraduate course and was then referred to as a “manuscript” during the submission and review phases) will appear. This started WAAAAAY back in August 2007. That’s right: nearly TWO YEARS ago. And the special issue (which is now going to be TWO special issues, quite possibly single-handedly because my article is so frickin’ long) will not be showing up until September of 2009, so that will basically mean it’ll have been OVER TWO YEARS from start to finish.

Wait, you still don’t know what my (paper) article is about? Well, it’s entitled “Saving the Children: (Queer) Youth Sexuality and the Age of Consent in Canada.” As jargon-free as possible, it’s a comparison of how the debates about age of sexual consent in both Canada and the UK proceeded in recent years based on how the concept of youth sexuality is framed. In the UK, the debate on lowering the age of consent for anal sex was framed as a matter of equality, whereas in Canada, the debate on raising the age of consent for all non-anal sexual activity was framed as a matter of protection. This led to decidedly different debates and different results with respect to how the age of consent was changed in the two nations.

Beyond that, I look at how considering sexuality as identity (the now-traditional way sexuality tends to be viewed in the public sphere) leads to a very different result than if sexuality is considered as performance (put overly simply, if sexuality is considered to be something that results from people stringing together a series of acts that collectively get recognised as a particular “sexuality”). The legal regulation of sexuality in Canada and the UK often has more to do with specific acts (anal sex, “public” sex) than with types of people (gays, lesbians, bisexuals) but to complicate things, “sexuality as performance” is not just as simple as “oh, he fucked some guy so that makes him gay.” And the laws that govern sexual activity in Canada are not really as much about prohibiting certain acts as they are about helping to define the boundaries of “normal” behaviour and people, and by doing so, that effectively helps create the sexual identities most contemporary people are aware of and recognise.

Beyond that, it’s effectively a treatise on how the Harper government sucks and youth get shafted (and not in the good way) by sexual regulation in Canada. *grin*

The final irony? UBC Library does not have a subscription to SRSP.

2. When you were little, what did you think you would be when you grew up?

You know, I can’t recall ever thinking “I want to be <blank>” or “I’m going to be a <blank> when I grow up” when I was little. I suppose initially I wanted to be a fantasy/scifi writer once I started reading that genre but that wasn’t until later in elementary (grade 5 or 6?). Maybe I thought I would be some kind of generic “scientist.”

In high school, I thought I would get two PhDs, one in chemistry and another in computer science. In retrospect, this was phenomenally ridiculous and over-ambitious. And even with that, I didn’t really give much thought to what having those credentials would lead me to “be.” Sure enough, after first year, I figured I’d just get the one PhD, in computer science (poor chemistry lost out because it wasn’t as financially lucrative a field and because UBC forces you to specialise). After 2nd year, I was content with the thought of a Master’s in computer science, and once I hit 3rd year, I just wanted to survive to get my damned baccalaureate!

I don’t when it happened but at some point I decided I wanted to “change the world.” Not that uncommon, but apparently I still feel the need, and I have no idea how to manage that.

3. What is the most illegal thing you have done?

Oh right… get me to incriminate myself in print!

So… I need to plead the 5th here.  I will say that both episodes that sprang to mind involved other guys. *evil grin*

4. What is your guiltiest pleasure?

I think more than anything, it’s watching stupid teen romance movies for the chance to drool over the invariably uber-hot cute guys.

5. What are five of your favourite books? Least favourites?

That’s TWO questions!  Actually, it might well be TEN questions.  To which I will, of course, give far more than 10 answers.

It’s also the kind of thing I could write another essay on, explaining all the personal meaning of the books. Let’s try for an abridged version:

Least Favourite (always save the best for last):

This is hard… I don’t read books that much anymore and I try to avoid reading books I dislike.

5. Any of the books I was forced to read during the summer while at St. George’s for the summer reading assignment we had to do once we returned in September, which includes several “classics.” Generally I hate “classics” because their being classics entails them being written before 1970 and the pacing of novels before the 1970s was GLACIAL. *shudder*

4. Stephenie Meyer’s New Moon, the 2nd Twilight book. It’s an excellent example of an unexpectedly popular relatively new author not having a strong/good editor who points out, “You know, maybe having the main, first-person character nearly suicidally depressed/catatonic for 3/4 of the book while the other main character is nowhere to be found is NOT a good idea.” I am certain that New Moon will be a stellar case of the film adaptation being FAAAAAR superior to the source novel, if only because no film audience will sit through 90 minutes of completely baseless teen girl angst, and so the “Bella is sad and blue” part of the novel will undoubtedly be cut to at most 20 minutes. Of course, now that I’ve said something less than complimentary about one of her novels, SM will have a nervous breakdown and vow never to write another word. See http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/midnightsun.html

3. Many (though not all) of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time novels. As if original overly-descriptive with nothing happening Tolkein wasn’t bad enough, Jordan’s WoT books, especially the early ones, are total Tolkien ripoffs.

2. The Great Gatsby–I had to read this in high school English and I remember despising it, although I couldn’t really tell you what it was about. I’m exceptionally good at blocking out things I hate.

1. I’m tempted to say “The Bible” because it forms the foundation of one of the most problematic aspects of our modern world. Or Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse, which I simply could not get through when I had to get through it for an English class in university. But I’m going to go with Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir by Paul Monette for reasons I’ll discuss below in my list of favourite books.

Favourite Books

Okay, there are going to be more than five of these–I tried but it’s simply too hard to reduce it to a mere five.

  • Stronghold by Melanie Rawn. Rawn is one of my favourite fantasy writers and in Stronghold, the first book of her 2nd trilogy set in the Dragon Prince world/series, she basically writes this apocalyptic unravelling of everything in the first trilogy. In particular, she kills one of the very most central characters from the first 3 books in this volume and I swear, all the characters are in mourning and I realised I was completely devastated and mourning too, and in total sympathy for this character’s spouse. Needless to say, I was totally blown away that someone could make me feel so deeply for an entirely fictional character.

    Rawn also holds the singular honour of being the only author whose long descriptive passages I can actually stomach.
  • Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey. There is probably no single book that is more important to me, really, because it was while reading this book that I realised I was gay. About 70 pages in, the main character figures out he’s gay and I’m like, “Oh that’s why I was identifying so strongly with him!”

    Sadly, being I was age 15, I went into massive denial for nearly 5 years after this, but it was this book that first made things clear for me.
  • Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay. Kay is the only author I’ve read who I’ve actually met/seen in person, namely because he’s Canadian and whenever he has a new novel, he comes to Vancouver and does signings at White Dwarf Books. Tigana is the first book he wrote after his intial, relatively standard fantasy trilogy The Fionavar Tapestry. All of Kay’s novels since take place in settings that are fantastical versions of actual historical periods, like an almost-Constantinople or an almost-Provence. Tigana is about an almost-Italy during medieval times. I remember thinking when I read it that it was the best single novel I had ever read and I’m not sure that’s changed. Basically it taught me the importance of names.
  • And The Band Played On by Randy Shilts. This is a dramatized non-fiction (aka creative non-fiction) account of the opening of the AIDS pandemic. Although Shilts’ “Patient Zero” theory which underpins the whole book has largely fallen out of favour as an explanation for how AIDS spread in North America, it is still a work of monumental importance, both social and journalistic. Specifically, it details exactly how evil the Reagan administration was in 1980s America. Not bigoted or neglectful but wilfully evil.

    I knew about this book for years before I got around to reading it. I owned a copy for ages before I could bring myself to open it. Basically, any account of HIV/AIDS makes me bawl my head off, so I knew reading this book, the seminal story of HIV/AIDS, was going to be murder. And it was: I basically cried through most of it. I’m sure the people who saw me reading it on the bus thought I was a nutjob.
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. Technically this is a comic book but it is still, for me, the comic book to end all comic books. I still remember exactly where I was (at a local White Rock Greek restaurant with my parents) and what was going on (my parents were fighting, again) when I first read it. Crisis is the series that defined the modern comic book industry concept of “crossover event:” it involved practically every character–past, present, future–from DC’s fictional universe in a massive, epic story that forever changed the nature of how superheroes worked.

    Most importantly, and more personally, Crisis 7 is the issue where Supergirl dies cradled in Superman’s arms. I’m sure my parents thought I was some kind of lunatic, sitting at the table in restaurant, reading a comic book, and bawling my eyes out. But that was the first comic book (and remains one of the only ones) to make me cry. It was unspeakably well-done and horribly sad.
  • Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story by Paul Monette. Monette’s Borrowed Time is mentioned above as my least favourite book and that’s because I sadly read Becoming before I read Borrowed. Borrowed is the story of having to watch his longtime partner, Roger Horwitz, die of AIDS and it’s full of (completely understandable) vitriol and bile which was disappointing after reading Becoming which was mostly a sweet retelling of his life as a teenager and young man in the closet prior to meeting Horwitz (ironically, the year I was born).

    What I remember most about the bad taste Borrowed left in my mouth is gaping at the fact Monette described having a temper tantrum one day because his super-expensive Mercedes or BMW, which acted up because it was a temperamental uber-expensive foreign car, was acting up–something to do with the clutch, I seem to recall. Now, having gone through the excruciating illness and death of my mother from cancer, I understand how sometimes you just lose it over the most inconsequential things when you are facing that kind of tragedy. But what struck me, even way back then before sociology grad school was even a glimmer in my eye, was how selfish and ridiculous it was for someone who was wealthy and advantaged enough to have that kind of car, and private medical insurance in the US which was covering the treatment for his dying loved one, to freak out about something that was so emblematic of his privilege.

    Of course now I understand a lot better and feel more sympathy for him, because of course it wasn’t about the car at all. And while I knew that then, I still had trouble dealing with an “oh woe is me” rant that centred around something which bespoke such wealth.Becoming a Man, though… Monette went to an elite boarding school, much like me, and was closeted there, also like me, and so even though he was about 30 years older than me, his coming out story just completely resonated with me. In fact, I would say if you read Becoming a Man and the next and final entry in this list, you would have most of the tools you needed to understand me. It’s an amazing story of an amazing life.
  • So the final entry is one of more recent books I’ve read that’s had an impact on me, which is The World of Normal Boys by K.M. Soehnlein. It also, like Becoming a Man, is a coming out narrative. It’s also set in the past, in the 1970s. Brett got me this book after reading it himself and said it was amazing. It was. There’s really no other way to describe it. It’s a completely literary novel that is somehow totally unpretentious and absorbing. Usually I hate “high” literature because so much of it seems to be about trying to impress you. The World of Normal Boys is undeniably what I’d term “literary” with respect to how it’s written but somehow it didn’t trigger any of my “oh this is bullshit literary self-masturbation” alerts.

    And it just… speaks to me. Like if I wrote a book about coming out, I’d have wanted to write this book. Except I’m certain I couldn’t have written a book this good.

And if you want to have me interview you (for some strange reason), you can read the following:

Want to get in on the fun? You can be a part of it by following a few simple steps…

Send me an e-mail with the subject line “Interview Me”

I’ll respond within 24-ish hours with 5 questions directed to you (I promise to try and be unique)

Answer the questions on your blog (or Facebook or MySpace) and link back to this original post

Invite others to participate by re-posting these steps