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tv   Lisa Selin Davis Tomboy  CSPAN  September 20, 2020 9:00am-10:01am EDT

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♪ ♪ >> booktv on c-span2 has top nonfiction books and authors in the weekend. .. once the old virtual 2020 book festival live next weekend at 7 pm eastern on book tv .
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>> our guest author this evening is lisa selin davis. she is originally from right here in fairfield new yorkand she's been a great friend for the bookstore . really since the bookstore openseven years ago and possibly even before that with trips to manchester . she is the author of the young adult novel lost stars and is an essayist and journalist who's written for publicationsincluding the new york times, wall street journal and others and she's with us tonight to celebrate the release just yesterday of her book tom boy . please join me in welcoming her. >>thank you. hello lisa . >> this is going to be a unique experience for the both of us. i have never ever interviewed my author so i am so excited about this fun exchange that we're going to have. i don't get to talk to my authors about their books in this way.
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usually we are hammering it out editorially through the beginning pages of the process but never in this way can we go back in and talk about it together so this is a great experience for me and thank you for having me. i'm so happy to be here everyone . so i wanted to start out i think maybe we should start out by saying how "tomboy", this dutiful wonderful book you've written has come to be at my side of the story. i was so in love with the proposal when you sent it and with your agent steve who is fantastic and i was excited because i am a mother of a 10-year-old boy. i didn't grow up withbrothers . i did have a sister and i was very familiar as an 80s kid, 80s 90s child of about this word tomboy but you and i have haddifferent experiences with that word . we look about the same age so
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i was just like, not . >> it was fascinating how we see generationally how our position as girls and women are changing and the ways we define ourselves and i appreciated that i was not the only parent that didn't have a complete handle on the gender terms now and how we could talk about gender these days or even understand it formyself . i felt very intimidated that i was always going to get something wrong in terms of the discussion these days and i wasn't familiar on how we could even embrace that with my child and when i got your proposal i was super excited and i thought we would just start out by going back to how you actually came up with the concept of "tomboy". it's a pretty wild ride and it wasn't the most easy experience that people think of, i'm going to sit down and write a book . you went through a lot in
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processing it and developing this idea. >> it wasn't exactly linear either. i want to take a minute to say thank you to the folks at north shire, on hometown bookstore for having me and thank you to kershaw for buying my books and to sarah falter at the publicity department and adjust people are really working so hard and also to the publicist nicole zoe and betsy and all the people who've been working really hard in this really super crazy time to get the message out about this book. so just to start with athank you . and i said in writing about this i think when my daughter wasthree or four , that was a very different time before either people were talking much about whether or not you should be writing about your children on internet and also
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trans kids were not at all a subject in the media . so i think i was kind of nacve and i first started writing about i have this kid is doing something different and i have all these feelings about that . that was just went out into the world. it went up on a magazine the day the website was closed and it was never edited and it can causea big stir . years went by and my kid came home and told us that she was a tomboy. someone had given her that term at school and she said it was someone like short hair and sports. in all the time we've been watching her kind of veer away from more traditional patterns of gender and play and close and all that, that word had never, and it was that moment where i was like oh yeah, we use that word all the time when i was little.
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those kids were the stars of all the tv showsi watched . and i have pictures of my friends and i who are not particularly tomboy's with short hair and little sports shorts with white piping and you know, striped t-shirts. all 100 percent unisex or really boys close and what happened to that when i looked around, my kid was pretty much theonly one like that . so the beginning was noticing that. and the next part of that experience though was people very very kindly asking does she want to change in the boys locker room. does she want a new pronoun? just trying to accommodate her but for things she hadn't asked for and i was so touched for a long time and
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felt like this is wonderful progress and we're learning so much but i was also like, and you ask over and over again, the same people, the adults who knew her well who seem to be expressing a kind of skepticism that a girl could have short hair and play with lots of boys and girls and still identify as a girl. so the combination of those things was also very interesting and then i wrote about thatin the new york times . once again invoking my nacvetc because i didn't know i was stepping into a massive culture war about even what the word girl means, is that a social category or a biological category and who gets to claim and so there was at first there was a big well of support and i was like this is great, lots of people you'll seen by what i've written which is one of
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the major points of writing and there then there was a big backlash and a lot of threats and a lot of think pieces with my name in the title. i just haven't experiencedit before . and i hadn't experienced this culture and kind of that public pushback. so after recovering from it and not to be able to look through it, like what is upsetting people? i am not interested in making life any harder for trans people, i'm not interested in blaming trans people but people are telling me i don't understand the concept of gender and i haven't considered the trans perspective so from there i tried to interview some people who had written things about what i had gotten wrong and wrote to them and said let's get together and you can tell me to my face rather than on twitter what you
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think i need to know. and some people really wonderful people complied and did that so it was really those two things together, those disparate experiences that i wanted to synthesize into one big complicated book . >> did you know you want to write a book about it or were you initially this explorer because youwanted to understand your daughter more ? >> i think i'm always looking for the book idea. i've written hundreds of articles and i started a lot of nonfiction proposals that i haven't finished and i did start this and stop it awhole bunch of times . i think whenever i get the book idea, there are about 36 hours where i think this is so brilliant and i'm so psyched about it and i keep taking notes and i'm typing into my phone or anywhere i can on a piece of paper and i have all these different
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notes and i'm saying this idea is great and our 37 i'm like, i don't know and by our 48 i'm like this is not a book. >> you and i went through a little bit of that . and i'll explain what i mean by that later and start pulling inside jokes that we like to start talking about but what was it, how did you feel, what one part of our discussion was really are you the right person to write this book because of the response we got from the lgbtq community and once you started deciding this wouldbe a good book for me , how did you feel that you were approaching this subject as a cisgender woman with integrity and why did you feel confident that this wasa
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book for you to write ? you and i sort of explored a lot of that and we'll get in deeper but initially, how did you feel confident and that you were the rightperson to write this book ? >> it's interesting being a writer in the era of the own stories movement . cause if i want to only write about my social category that's like atheist, jewish, left the white chick. it's just not that interesting. that's how i was kind of raised so as an essayist, as a journalist, as a fiction writer i want to explore other worlds and points of view. that's what's interesting about it . and that's like the privilege of being a writer is to be constantly relearning and being able to empathize with
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people are different. so what i really tried to do was marry the own voices movement with my own exploration in that i interviewed lots and lots of trans people. i had sensitivity readers. i didn't always do everything they said but i kept their remarks in my mind all the time to be sensitive, to be careful. but to be still true to myself and my vision and my point which i think is to create more understanding about the natural myth of gender diversity and kind of make room for kids like mine and people kept saying to me it's okay for you to write this because of your kid. that was kind of my card that i could hold up, but i would prefer to use my writer card.
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we still need journalism and we still need these kind of words i've used but it's really really important i think for writers with all different kinds of privilege to be aware of ifyou're writing about a group of less power , if you're writing about a group thatyou don't automatically have their perspective , to make sure you consider that all the time in your writing. that was my goal to write something that was both critical and inclusive. that's what i was trying to do. >> i guess a lot of what our discussion was is i think that this book is not a book about transgender. it's a book about all the ways we can find ourselves as women including and inclusive of the transgender community. and i love the way that you are able to dive in the in terms of the research, investigative.
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there's different elements of the book you pulled together because you're also on a search to understand as a woman and i think to me that's why this book is so appealing is because it appeals to parents. it's not a parenting book but it appeals to parents are trying to understand their children where they are today and their friends environment and how their thinking about life differently from a past generation but it's also helping us understand ourselves and i just thought a lot of the compelling stories in the book were your own experiences really trying to help the reader see out how it had shifted in terms of you have a whole chapter onthe pink and blue divide . so we talked a little bit about that. i don't know anything else but pink. i don't know if when girls
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were not totally obsessed about paying and you grew up in a different time in a different situation, so do you want to talk about how the pink and blue divide developed and actually just tell ouraudience what that is ? >> so up until about 100 years ago, kids were having what we would think of today is kind of radical gender-neutral childhoods in that they were being dressed the same in what we think of as feminine clothing up until they went to school.they would all be wearing dresses and they would all have long hair and they had this kind of problem period where no one wanted to talk about their actual biological sex. and the reason was that thinking about the bodies of good kids would make people think about being adult sexual beings so that was discouraged. you just didn't want to think , they were just kids and
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they were dressed according to age and their toys were engendered. it wasn't important to know the sex of the kid or to emphasize it . and it was very surprising to me when i learned why the first shift happened around the turn of the 20th century and that had to do with the evolving understandings of homosexuality and people starting to think it's not about homosexual acts but that as a category of a person and then the idea that you were born gay, your parents could make you gay via their parenting. so the prevailing ideology of child psychologists was dress your little boys like little men so they won't be gay. and pink and blue worked a big part of that in the beginning because pink was first of all hard color to produce.
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died technology had to evolve and then when there was more money in the economy and the technology evolved and they could make close and more colors and there were manufacturers instead of's sona home, then there started to be a discussion as we started emphasizing the difference between young boys and girls of which colors are for whichgroups ? lou was associated especially light blue with the virgin mary so that was thought of as a girls color and pink was a version of red which is masculine so that was thought of as a boys color and that was debated for really a couple of decades. until one theory is maybe mainly eisenhower who was still so into pink as the first lady and there are these 1950s pink bathrooms that are like pink tiles with
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black trim that are called meme pink bathrooms and it just really started to be associated with women and then that became sort of part of women's identity, that pink was for girls. >> that's incredible. where does the idea of, if he was, where did the idea of the 50s start developing? that's another chapter inthe book that you talk about . not only did the girls have to transform the boys if they were becoming a little men, what were the boys who were not fitting into that place where little man box? >> so in the beginning when tomboy was first applied to girls it was an insult because it meant a girl who was acting like a boy in a bad way and eventually it came to be kind of a term of pride.
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there was, there were various period's rum the 19th century and then again in the 1970s where there was active encouragement to make girls into tomboy's and to make sure they knew that they could have access to boys world and a great example of that is in some of the 1970s sears catalogues they have these boys to girls sizes conversion chart so that any girl could shop in the boys section. there was never a girls to boys size conversion chart. there was never any message in the culture of and also boys, you can have access to what's on that side and that was from the very beginning and there's never been a term of pride, the equivalent to tomboy on the other side. there's no nice word or a boy who likes girl stuff.
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>> in your research since you explore every sort of facetof this , where have you landed on tomboy's? is it biological, how much does biology play into this. >> what i didn't realize a long time and maybe not even until quite recently was how much debate there is over the word gender itself and what it means to different people and what it's meant at different times . though there are some people who lots of people who say gender is a construct meaning gender is stereotypes and societal norms and it's all made up and it's something we imposeon people to oppress them . and then we have people who feel that the word gender is really about gender identity and how masculine or feminine you are his biological and
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it's not a construct. and some of this misunderstanding about the word gender is what is fueling certain culture wars. and i think it's pretty clear , the main thing that's clear is that nothing is clear. i saw scientific research the same research interpreted in completely different ways by people who had different definitions of the word gender . and i saw people making certain arguments and compiling all the evidence to further their arguments and ignoring anything that interrupted it. and i didn't want to do that. i wanted to mix it all together and say look how messy this is. look how hard it is to determine what's biological and what's constructed
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because we raise children so differently that we don't have really a way to know what is just from biology. and what we, i think we know enough that biology is influenced by your social experience. the brain is a plastic rate organ that changes with experience. you have some natural tendencies that are shaped by what happens to you. that's how you play and who you play with and its biology and culture interacting over the course of a lifetime and a body, in a culture, in a family. and i really want it to be complicated and ambiguous and okay that it's that way. >> do you think that the answer is to be gender neutral?
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like, are you finding that there's more power for women when we are sort of i guess nonconforming, forgive me ifi mess up the term . but how do we live, if there's a complicated system how should we be looking at it in terms of what we need to change about the way we're thinking or talking to our children about gender? how do we live within this complication? >> that's a good question and i keep saying that i feel like this book is less about providing answers is about helping people ask questions because they've accepted a lot of things as facts that we should be questioning and we can decide how much we want to participate in this system, in this gender system and in the gender and of
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childhood . so i think as adults, a lot of us feel liberated to express gender however we want. we can have whatever haircuts we want or wear whatever. there's plenty of movement for adults to be free but i think without realizing it we've imposed this rigid pink blue divide on the kids and i'm not talking about gender identity, i'm talking about gender in the other sense of the word that we told them that they should play with certain toys because of their sex. they should play withcertain friends, that they should have certain personality traits . you're treating them differently and we've actually really narrowed a boy and girl talk so much that there aren't that many peoplethat can fit into it . so my idea was that we should just stop engendering the material worlds ofchildren .
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and the psychic world. stop saying girls are like this. girls are kind and boys are wryly. i was in a small group yesterday on zoom talking to five people and two of them said i have a gender nonconforming son meaning i have a son who likes to do things that are marked as feminine and i was like really, that's two out of fivepeople in the other people were parents . it's so common that making it remarkable, we shouldn't have to. so if we start saying having girls bikes and girls personality traits, we can let kids have access to all that stuff and develop into good humanbeings . i think it sounds radical to people but i actually think that the hyper engendering of
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childhood is really quite radical in itself. >> i agree, it's strange. it's hard to break out of it honestly because i don't consider myself where you are because i'm part of the pink boom. and i conform to it. i love pink. and i mean, let's just be real, do we like think or do we not like pink? >> oh no, we like pink. it is for everybody. so one of the things that happened in the 1970s when there was a real promotion of tomboy-ism and feminist were appropriating and there was feminism percolating through the air and popular culture, the message to girls with those conversion charts and all that stuff was have access to boys world but inherent in that message was
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also rejected all the things that are marked asfeminine . reject pink, reject gurley as an insult and leave all that behind. when actually, for me the messages, all the stuff of childhoodis for everybody . so we do not reject anything that is marked as feminine in this household. we don't reject anything because it's for girls and we don't believe that anything is just for girlsanyway . that includes pink. and i don't love all shades of pink but i love most shades of pink and both my daughters have been close and one of them often has pink hair. the more masculine ones and it's really hard to change the culture but there are people working on that by trying to create close for boys that are like pink
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t-shirts with unicorns and work on lessening the engendering of toys so that kids can develop the skill sets associated with those toys and what we do in our house, my main version of parenting involves ranting. we're not going to do that. i just don't want to participate in a system that especially that has its roots in homophobia but also has its tentacles in limiting the healthy psychological development of children. i don't want to do that to my kids . >> how this culture play into this because a lot of our audiences thinking that and in terms of growing up in homes with cultural norms and trying to navigate our children outside of that is harmed because there grandparents are and their
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feeling the same sort of propaganda about gender and how does race play intoit ? we discussed a lot when developing this book, the difference of those experiences between black tom boys and how that may have different from being a white tomboy. >> there's a lot of research and lived experience about different sets of expectations forblack girls and white girls .so for a lot of white girls, being a tomboy and being sassy and masculine and being tough is, that's so cute and that so great and she so empowered and for black girls it's your overstepping your boundaries and you need to be punished and you need to beput back in your box . we see that in the statistics
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about how black girls are punished in schools versus white girls and are often way more for thesame behavior . tomboy ism, all kinds of women have j claimed the mantle of's in many languages, manycultures but in america , it has been very stitched to whiteness and it didn't even appear in the press related to black girls until the 1950s when sports were desegregated and it didn't appear in the black newspapers either so it was very much rooted in discrepancy between what's encouraged for black girls and white girls, just two totally different standards of acceptability. >> my sister was a tomboy which is another reason i
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related to this. >> i remember you saying that . >> at her core, she still has the same values and what are some of the values you think that tomboy, there's a whole section in the back of the book. this book is again not just for children or young women. you have an entire part of the book is about adult tom boys and what that lifeis like . so how do you see these traits developing into adulthood and how these women are presented to the world and what their challenges are ? >> that's a good question because i think like many people, i think when our kids started going in this direction it surprised us, i think we were worried and i don't know that we would know what we were worried about but that was the first emotion that troubled us.
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i feel like i come from a family of nonconformists in all kinds of ways but you're looking around and almost every other girl in preschool is doing one thing and your kid isn't and you're saying what's going on. and i get letters from parents all the time saying my kid is gender nonconforming, what should i do? after doing all this research i started responding to those letters with you should congratulate yourself because childhood gender nonconformity is not a predictor of any particular outcome but the thing that i kept seeing over and over and over again was a connection between tomboyism and self-confidence and there was research that came out last week that tom boys and whatever we want to call the boys who are rejecting gender norms also do better academically. so when i started looking into the research about what
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happens to them later and who did they become i was like, they become david bowie. a become virginia welts, they become the most creative people in the world because psychological androgyny, that is having masculine and feminine traits. to be marked as masculine and feminine , that's really connected to creativity and gender norms, abiding by gender norms are really connected to the things we've been talking about in the culture about toxic masculinity or about eating disorders with girls. so he went to gender norms tends to be bad for children and rejecting them tends to be good for children so if your child is doing that without you pushing them to, you should be psyched. >> that's fantastic. that's so inspiring lisa.
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i think everyone's smiling. >> if i've turned them off i don't know who's who. >> what was it like for you to, you had done all the research, you've interviewed all these people. was there anything you experienced while you were writing the book? what was the writing experience like for you . i know i was super forward but basically everyone lisa came to me with a management and there was like a 50 page fiction interview. that's how it felt to me, i felt wiped out by this dictionaryshe was going to put in the back of this book of all these terms . but i think you just had learned a lot and experienced a lot so what was the writing process for you like? >> it was so challenging and
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also if you recall i did not have a lot of time to writeit . we ended up holding it all these months ironically so there's so much more i could have done but it was very rough and i wasn't on top of the material so in the beginning for months and months, i was just putting everything i have learned into these documents and at one point it was 95,000 words which is way beyond what the contract allowed for. and it was because i had just put everything in there and i didn't know how to get on top of it and i didn't know what i thought about it which is very unusual for me to not have a strong opinion about something even if i don't know anything about it, i tend to have a strongopinion . so when i'm writing articles, i feel like there are a few kinds.
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i come up with the opinion first and i feel it in or i'm just researching something and i find out the facts and i arrange them. this needed to be both. but i hadn't processed or synthesized the information and i also didn't know. i'm not a historian, i'm not a neuroscientist so i had to get lots and lots of people to help me and i got lots of peer-reviewed especially in the scientific sections and the people whose research i wrote about, a lot of them kindly went through and said you're not using this word correctly because it just was , i didn't have training for some of the things i wrote about i also knew that i knew how to write. >> you were really good at taking criticism because sometimes you would forward
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theirthoughts . you handled it so well all the time and i was just like write your book, write the book you want. >> you kept telling me not to worry about the critics and i did. i think that was a hard line to write between trying to be concerned about not making vulnerable people more vulnerable and like, catering to opinions or ideas that i don't necessarily jive with completely. but once i figured out my message which was about embracing ambiguity, about letting children explore and about celebrating gender nonconformity and not freaking out about it, just being psyched about it and trying to get the rest of our culture to participate in encouraging it, then it became much easier to cut out
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the 30,000 words that i endup having to cut . which is really painful about the cut. it took a long time to get on top of the material enough to see where to go. >> i think once you understood what your message was, i think that a lot of theconversation we had . what do we want to give the reader, what do you want the readerto take out of this ? you have this information and it totally changed your perspective, how can we package it to inform about over sharing and in the index or whatever. and what is your message? nonfiction especially narrative nonfiction like this, what makes this proposal book and take away and add to my life or my knowledge or experience from any of these 300 pages?
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i think you nailed that and it's so inspirational to hear you talk about the book and you got a start review in trade publications. you have peggy orenstein who wrote a blurb on the cover and said she could not put down the book and you managed to create this unusual , compelling deep dive that i think is, i just really congratulate you on because it's complex like you said and you have to package it in a way that was accessible and understandable but also allowing us to celebrate our transition and how we think about gender and not each other up like what you were saying with canceled culture. i think your book allows more of a discussion and understanding that we still have everything, we don't have everything figured out and that's how we move forward, that's the best way to move forward to continueto educate ourselves .
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>> that's what i want to happen for sure. >> i wanted to open up the floor for our audience who has really been giving me some great energy on this virtual space. i feel really great about this, this is really fun . >> sorry to jump in but audience members, if you have questions you should type them into the chat. just a minor new information for those who join us late this event is being recorded for partial broadcast on c-span so if you want to be part of the recording, you would need to be on muted and ask your questionyourself . then a question to myself or to robert is here as well and we can let you know when it's your turn to unmute but if you don't want to be part of the recording you canjust hit chat . while were waiting for audience questions i would love to jump in with one of my own .
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lisa, you and i are very much of anage . i also grew up in a gender-neutral tiled hood of the 70s and 80s world and also had children in the mid- 2006 was when my oldest lauren and i was shocked by how much had changed, especially a time when older than the culture that i was percolating in, i was becoming much more aware of people for non-binary and how much more fluid idea of gender and to find rules for my children so much more codified in what i have experienced but i wonder if you have any sense of why that change happened in the culture between 19 80 and 2006. >> i think it's invisible to a lot of us unless we, sometimes some people who are
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our age say they go to buy a bike for their kid and then say i don't remember. i feel like i just had a bike and there wasn't a pink big wheel and a yellow one. you just have this vaguesense of it but you don't know what happened . and it started very slowly with what i talk about with a kind of homophobia that led us to try to separate kids 100 years ago. and then it goes in all these really interesting ways that are connected to all kinds of cultural events. changes in the economy, and war. when men go off to war and women sunk into their roles and get a feminist sensibility and raise their daughters differently and then have to be pushed back into their boxes by men and they come back into their roles. in the book i lay out various ways that happened but the
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day things that we see is that in the 80s or after this kind of feminist 70s tomboy payday we go into the 80s and we have declining birth rates and we need to sell more stuff and we also have a feminist backlash which has been chronicled by susan faludi. we also have things like the natal testing. there are all these small cultural shifts that come together and marketers find if they make pink and blue versions of things and if you can't possibly give a boy a pink version they can sell twice as many of those things so it basically comes down to capitalism and it proves to be so effective that as the years go on it happens to
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more and more items. and then it leaks and into everything until you get, i talk in the book about 2012 when lego friends is introduced . and there's nothing wrong with lego friends except that it's basically girl legos but they're basically dollhouses. they're not really construction toys that develop spatial skills. but they sold really really well. it really comes down to marketers to make lots and lots of money from this but it really isn't very goodfor children . >> i too have a question that falls on that. my wife and i have a joke when we were in a toy store, this is the isle of unnecessarily gendered products .
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do you see more of the same or are changes happening. >> that's a great question. there's a group in england called let toys be toys which advocates for not gender and children's toys . the international toy association started a couple of years ago having boys toy of the year and the girls toy of the year awards and there are lots of clothing companies so there are changes in the marketplace and you can participate in demanding those changes and then do the thing where you rant in your living room about just not participating in it. i think there's very little awareness of what happened. most of us this change it isn't visible so we didn't
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even know it was something that we could or should object to but the research about gender norms and when they're reinforced in toys and personality traits in the way that we impose gender of the children is so clear not only that it's bad for kids but that showing children counter stereotypical images works really well. colleges have done a lot of work to show that if you have lego friends with boys on the package boys will want to play with them. it's not that hard to make these cultural shifts. >> that brings me to our discussion about the book cover . this book cover is a beautiful book cover but it was really much harder to get to than i thought it was going to be. i was like, we have a great title in tomboy.
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that's going to be so easy to create cover with that on it but it was difficult and i wrote an article for our newsletter at the book this week about the cover. cause we had a lot to think about. what symbol would we want to put on the cover? to communicate his message. i don't think you like sneakers at first, a lot of you like converseand my position was everyone has converse, everyone loves converse . and then we had to think about the color and i think you were open and we wound up with this yellow cover. to me that was our experience together was even this packaging and marketing . >> one of the things was the
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cover, i think it was common for authors and we had this discussion you felt like this book was about nostalgia and how many grown women up to 75 percent of women will say they were a tomboywhen they were growing up . probably they weren't that much but that's their memory. so you really wanted to tap into that and i was like, when i talk to these people they always talk about physical strength and they always talk about the story i heard most commonly was about the day these convoys, the day their mom sat them down and told them they had to start wearing a shirt because they were running around
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shirtless and this was the moment that changed everything for them where they didn't have this power anymore to decide how they were perceived and a lot of them had been very physical and throwing balls and climbing trees and so their memories were about strength and i think i wanted to communicate that but we also have this problem of wanting to really have something was super inclusive. racially and geographically. you want to have something that included everybody. >> it was hard for us. it was still really hard because even with not only thinking about racial inclusion but tomboy's, there's different sort of tomboy's as you'll see in the book.
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there's no one tomboy style. there is just different ways to go about area we have to also include transgender things so it was like really hard to package this so i can see why the marketing piece is going to continue to be a journey but i think as wonderful writers like you and journalists continue to make us aware as consumers that it can possibly change and get better. someone asks in the audience do you have a favorite tomboy from history who inspires you . >> well, i wrote a lotabout joe , check from the facts of life which was kind of ridiculous 80s sitcom about the girls private school, boardingschool . but it was also a very early
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attempt at diversity. there was a fat girl and there was a black girl and there was a superrich white blonde girl who was kind of the villain and then there was the working class joe polacek who fixed her own motorcycle and she wore a leather jacket and she had a cool hairstyle. and i think a lot of those images in the 70s and early 80s of tomboy's, a lot of girls, all kinds of girls like them whether they were tomboy's themselves or not. but i also thinking back on it, the dichotomy between the kind of heroin and the villain, but the villain was the traditionally feminine super blonde, superrich women was mostly horrible. and joe misbehaved also that she could do things like fixed a motorcycle.
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there's really no comparison to that but i think it shows how those tropes of the girly girl and the tomboy were always pitted against each other. and in a way that was kind of a false dichotomy. you can actually, not going back to your question about women and liberation adults today. i think we're aware that you can be as feminine as you want traditionally or stereotypically feminine and the powerful and that you don't have to choose a side. you don't have to sacrifice any parts of yourself once you're an adult and i guess the idea is to make children have that message to. >> exactly. >> someone asked an interesting question i wantto know what your answer is to
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this . alex asks how can kamala harris move theconversation about over engendering of childhood . what's your response to that? >> i said this yesterday so two days ago my stepfather wrote to me and said how many of these vp takes words tomboy's and that's something, a news book. you could write something and i looked and through lots of news articles and i can only find a reference for susan rice who was super sporty so i didn't find any references to kamala harris as a tomboy. but i just saw this clip going around of her at the cavanaugh confirmation hearing to the supreme court saying can you think of any laws that restrict male bodies the way we have all
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these laws that restrict the freedoms of female bodies and he can't say a word. he has no answer. she has completely stumped him and it's such a brilliant moment that it made me have so much faith in her. that she is, she's going to be able to be a great role for kids. of all. >> is there anything you want to leave us with this evening about maybe something that surprised during your research or maybe what you hope to see since we're talking about politics. i know you mentioned and consumerism which are really important but is there anything leave us with in terms of what you would like
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to see more of or even for us to incorporate in our lives, like action items that we could use or positions that may be you'd encourage us to take to further your message. >> i think my hopes and dreams for our nation probably found, sound kind of silly but what i would like is for all children to study philosophy and how knowledge is acquired and to understand that people have different and competing belief systems and that there's a way to acknowledge that without it being threatening. if we can stop being so focused on proving people wrong that we can't listen to and learn from them, i don't know. i'm terrified of canceled culture and it has affected me and my writing but i've
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also been thinking that sometimes having to not talk and there are many people in my life that our site when i talk less. but it's force me to listen to these other perspectives partly because i'm afraid of them and that's partly good and yet it's important for me to try to understand the world from these different perspectives but it's really hard to do thatwhen you're being . who can take in complex information when they feel threatened? it's not a thing. so that's why i wish the focus was on not on who's right but who benefits and who gets limited and who gets a liberated from these competing belief systems and how do we make room for these
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different ways of being in the world and my goal is really to remind people that there are kids like this. they may grow up to be lesbians, they may grow up to be trans, they may be up grow up to be weirdly conforming tenderness straight women. for many of them, they're still exploring and figuring it out and the more space we can get them to do that, the more chance they have of figuring out their authentic identities. so it's really hard to create space when we're screaming at andthreatening each other . i think that's my message. >> my message is make sure you get your top copy of "tomboy". it is brilliant and i promise you it is a very engaging read as we have seen from our
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reviews and from the other great author list that we have here. i really enjoyed working with you on this lisa and you have continued to inspire me to think differently and also to try to get were comfortable in speaking out on this topic in a way that without being afraid i'm going to get it wrong. i learned a lot from the book and i do feel that it's helping bloom my son in terms of the conversation we had as about gender as a boy and i want to thank you for all the work you've done, all the courage it took for you to write this book and it's been a very exciting launch and i'm excited the way that we're getting to see the word spread in all the ways we're seeing everyone fully embrace this message and it's very exciting. >> thank you so much, i really appreciate it.
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>> this has been fascinating and wonderful and i can't stay here all night, i know we all have places toget to . there was a question in the chat asking if your interested in giving talks to university and that person should send me an email and i'll forwardit on to you . so email me there and i will pass it on to lisa. lisa, thank you so much. this is fascinating. we had a wonderful time to thank you everyone forbeing here in the audience this evening . we will be back here tomorrow night for a book on the future of america. who knows what it is. 2030 by professor morrow yen. come back, we'll see you then and thank you everyone for being here. >> you're watching tv on c-span2, television for serious readers.
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on our author interview program "after words" craddock senator chris murphy of connecticut looks at the origins of violence and firearms in america's history and the role they play in society today. we're live with pulitzer prize winning journalist bob woodward on president trumps national and foreign policy decisions and history professor martha jones explores efforts by black women to win their right to vote . >> .. >> i will send out


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