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February 17, 2007

Jim Born Guest Blogs

The Sexist Inside

By guest blogger and friend o' the Tarts, James O. Born who has been a special agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and if you want to see a hunky photo of him guarding a big ass shipment of pot, go here. 

There is no real test to see if you have hidden racial prejudice.  There is no test to find out if you’re a homophobe.  But the other day I was given a test to see if I was a sexist.  And it helped me understand a lot.  Let me explain what happened.

I was at The Sports Authority with my daughter.  She’s playing lacrosse and needed shoes, protective gear and other assorted sports items.  I admit, as the father of two kids, a boy and a girl, I might have raised them both as boys.  Sports are big to us.  We play them together and often our vacations are planned around playoffs or all-star travel games.  So needless to say I couldn’t have been happier shopping for sports equipment.

My daughter, Emily, and I approached a sales clerk in the aisle and I asked him where the mouthpieces were located.

Then the test came.  He looked at my daughter, smiled and said, “What on Earth does this little girl need a mouthpiece for?”  I shook my head thinking that this guy just insinuated that because she was a cute girl she couldn’t possibly play a rough sport.  It was all I could do not to look at her angelic little face and say, “Go ahead and kick his ass.” 

No one ever asked me what my son played that required a mouthpiece.  But the idea that Emily couldn’t possibly play a rough sport because she was a girl pissed me off.  Pissed me off in a big way.  I now understand the saying, “No father could be a sexist.”  It’s true.

I didn’t think I was a sexist, just like I don’t think I’m a racist or a homophobe.  I’m not tested on either of those subjects but I feel confident I would pass.  I might not have the righteous indignation I had for my daughter, but I’d pass.

I read a lot of books and often they follow the “damsel in distress” formula, which can be extremely entertaining and I use myself occasionally.  But I started thinking about it and realized I have female characters who use physical violence, curse and are even bad guys.  I realize that I like writing about tough women.  I always joke that I want a woman who can back me up in a bar fight and if the worst happens, she can work the farm with me after a nuclear winter.  Maybe it’s not a joke.  I married a woman who is athletic, tough and fun.  I’m raising a young woman who is a good athlete, tough and fun.  I like to write about women who are athletic, tough and fun.  Some are good, some are bad, but few are ever victims.  Since my books are based on my experiences as a cop, I’d be remiss if I didn’t portray women in all aspects of crime. 

No matter what I write or how I’m affected by reading about women, I feel confident I could pass another sexist test.  Not that I need one as I teach my daughter the value of a good elbow when someone crowds her on the basketball court or maybe the proper way punch if she’s ever backed into a corner.  I did it for my son, why wouldn’t I do it for my daughter?

Think about the characters you write about or the ones you enjoy reading about.  Are the men always stupid oafs and the women super cool and smart?  Are the minorities all criminals or cops all corrupt?  You don’t have to be white to be a racist and you don’t have to be male to be a sexist.

I’m not accusing anyone, I’m just saying consider what you write and why you write it.  Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to be given a spontaneous test and pass it.

James O. Born’s fourth novel, Field of Fire, is due from Putnam on February 15.  It follows the investigation of a serial bomber across the

U.S.

by an ATF agent. 

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Comments

Bravo!

So what did you say to the guy at the Sports Store? I mean, jackasses are everywhere, but in a store that sells women's equipment? Dumb.

The Cinderella Complex is alive and well, but most women I know are vigilant about teaching their daughters - and sons - that fiction is just that.

And now I have to go order your books from mysterylovers.com.

Thanks for stopping in, Jim. I hope our regulars have discovered that you blog at one of my favorite spots: http://www.nakedauthors.com/

Go, Jim, go!

Next time you're righteously indignant, I want to watch. I love to see truly funny people get mad.

If it hadn't been for fathers of daughters who wanted to play sports, we would have never had Title IX. As the former ACLU director in Pittsburgh, I know if it had not been for father's of daughter's we would have never prevailed over the city for girls baseball and use for all girls of public facilities.

Rock on, Dad.

Mary Alice

I'm checking the blog on different stops on my tour. I appreciate the comments.

I like that my daughter is tough but, I should note, I do have a double standard and treat her differently than my son. I am more protective of her. I'm a father, I can't help it.

I'll check back soon,

Jim

Hi, Jim. Great post! The paragraph that began with "Think about the characters you write"--I think I'm going to print that out and post it near my desk. That's some high quality advice.

Good luck on the book tour. I just peeked at your schedule. You're going to be a busy guy!

Great post Jim! I was just thinking about this because my husband and I are totally addicted to the new Battlestar Galactica right now. I love the way women are portrayed on that show. What's so cool about it is that no one says anything about it -- women are allowed to fly fighter jets, kill people, get killed and are also allowed to cry and fall in love, etc. Starbuck has to be one of the toughest women characters ever.

Hello from Cape Coral Florida.

I was just told by someone that they like my strong female characters. They asked me why I like tough women. Simple, I'm married.

Nice to hear from you, Sarah. You and Harley had to suffer my jokes in Alabama

JIm

Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica is a woman? I used to have a huge crush on Starbuck. Remakes!

Thanks for guest-blogging, Jim. I can't imagine a better litmus test for sexism than the one you just gave us. Oh, wait a minute, yes I can. Raising a tough, smart, funny daughter is a pretty good litmus test. She's lucky to have you for a dad.

See you next weeked in South Carolina! (Actually, I'm here already, and it's NOT WARM!!)

well, what do you know? I'm FINALLY near a booksigning! The hubby and I are only about 30 miles or so from Deland, Fl, so I've got Jim's booksigning on my "to-do" calendar.

Thanks to the Lipstick Gang for introducing me to so many new authors!

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Sorry for the long post, I guess I've waited too long and its built up!!

Cheryl

The comments to this entry are closed.

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