Creative Nonsense

“I’m a fairly undisciplined writer.” – Neil Gaiman

#StopTheBans: Why (Children’s & YA) Writers Need to Get Political (If They Haven’t Already)

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This week, Americans are doing everything they can to make their voices heard. Americans are fighting against forces that are so comfortable with their hatred, their misogyny and their racism they don’t even bother to hide it anymore.

We have had enough of these all-white, all-male parties in power that INSIST they know about women’s health. Insist on it, even though they’ve been proven again and again and again to be completely ignorant and just plain wrong in their assumptions on how women’s body’s work.

By giving women the right to safe, affordable, healthcare, by giving them the right to chose what they do with that healthcare in terms of their own comfort and beliefs and ambitions, women have power. For once, we have power.

And all these men want to do is strip that power away from us.

Not only us, but the women of the future. The people of the future. They are saying that no young woman should EVER be allowed to opt to stay in school and get a better job before she has a baby.

They are saying no young woman should EVER be allowed some relief from the pain, anguish, and humiliation the faces in the aftermath of being raped.

They are saying that no trans man is ever allowed to have an abortion, an abortion which would be needed for them to be able to continue to transition via hormonal therapy.

They are saying that our voices don’t matter. That we are not allowed any kind of autonomy over our own bodies.

It’s wrong. It’s cruel. It’s backwards and stupid and practical medieval.

It’s also a waste of everyone’s time, which is the point. They let the press eat up the news on the latest #AbortionBan so they can continue to pass legislation that favors the rich and decimates the pour, that separates immigrant children from their families and continues de-funding the very organizations working to keep our planet from dying beneath our feet.

As writers, it is our fucking job to get political. We have a voice. We have a platform. And god damn it, what are we even doing if we’re not using it for good? To spread ideas of love and acceptance in a world full of hate and fear? To educate the ignorant? To connect the disenfranchised?

And if you are a writer for children or young adults and you say that you don’t “get political” in your books because you think that children shouldn’t be exposed to such things until their older? Then you need to get out of the publishing world and go to something else. There is no room for you here. Children need voices, they need us to put their voices at center stage, to provide them with perspectives that will help them shape their own identities.

They need Harry Potter to stand up for the weak, Katness Everdean to stand up for the poor, Percy Jackson to stand up for the mentally ill.

They need voices like Starr Carter’s, voices that swallow their fear and take up the megaphone even as those in power work in violent methods to try to get her to put it down.

And more importantly, they need us — the adults who write for them — to overcome our own fear, our own doubts, our own prejudices so we can create characters and stories that show children they have the power to shape the world into a better place than it is now. That the future is in their hands, that their decisions and actions and words have an impact on those around them even when they feel powerless and invisible due to the stripping away of basic human rights.

It is our jobs to create worlds they can escape to, worlds they can learn from and be inspired by when ours seems bleak and horrible and without a single scrap of hope. And if we don’t provide these worlds to them, then who will?

You know the answer. Don’t pretend that you don’t.

So writers: pick up your pens and open your laptops, because we’ve got work to do.


This article was originally published on Medium, 5/21. You can find it here.

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