Yo ladies and gents! Are you ready for your DIY summer project? All you need is 5 minutes and a commitment to gender equity!
So stop stirring your artisinal, small batch, organic playdough, and go load some locally-sourced, recycled paper into your printer. Cause we need you for the revolution.
“Protagonism is Propaganda that protects and perpetuates privilege.”
Jill Soloway, my living, breathing spirit animal said this.
It, in addition to every other thing she says in this manifesto, has given voice, clarity and purpose to feminist frustrations that got turned up to a steady boil since I pushed out my first baby.
I switch pronouns in most every picture book, I have long, difficult discussions with AW about the sexist way we divvy up domestic chores, I tell the boys why certain stories they read make me angry, because they are using sexist or racist or classist or homophobic stereotypes. “Maybe we should call the male character the ‘the farmer’s husband’ since women and men can both be farmers and husbands and wives. Let’s think of some we know…”
I challenge their assumption that the person riding the motorcycle is male. I consider that all of this is working when Jo and I have an exchange about a silver Toyota passing us on the freeway.
Me: He’s driving waaay too fast!
Jo: Or she!!!
And so it has been that raising my children has made me ever more aware of patriarchy, of sexism, of the million ways that He and Him and His is the universal default for every person or creature seen in the world or shown in a story.
And so it has been that I’ve had the idea to make this for almost exactly 7 years, and finally spent the 10 minutes it took this afternoon.
Behold! This magical feminist pronoun switcher tool can empower any person anywhere to join the protagonist revolution.
Since a shocking majority of published picture books feature male characters, you can just close your eyes at your kids’ bookshelf and grab one. Then, simply print, cut, paste and voila! You just created your first piece of feminist protagonist propaganda! It can be tipped into the tiny, pliable minds of children everywhere.
Not only will you be saved from having to remember to change pronouns on every page, your child will soon set the perfect stage for a conversation about unfairness and and feminism when she asks you why you changed the words in so many of her picture books.
Welcome to the revolution.