So I’ll cut straight to the chase. I am in the process of moving out of my apt and my boobs keep getting in the way. Literally. Also Barnes and Noble is bloody sexist. Back to my boobs. I will be lugging boxes and large containers down the stairs and through the apartment complex to my car and my bosoms keep pushing boxes  off the top of the stack I am carrying or they attempt in a very persistent manner to push the large totes out of my arms entirely as they refused to be squished down. It’s irritating. It’s like they know I am trying to get shit done or that I am trying to be an independent and self-sufficient woman and they, ironically as one of the very markers of my sex, are being buttheads and preventing me from moving out  quickly and efficiently. Little shits, aren’t they?

The other irritating thing, (I guess this is going to be ranty sort of post) is the Starbucks cafe in my local Barnes and Nobles Booksellers. Now anyone who knows me remotely well, knows that bookstores are my CRACK COCAINE. It’s bad. I must have a chaperone or leave my wallet in my car and the best solution is combining those two, as neither are fail safe. So as I eviscerate B & N, please note that it is because I love so much, because I care so much, and because I think it is important.

So, that being said, tell me why that the cafe wall murals of famous authors  has only two women? Out of seventeen authors, only two women were deigned great enough to sit in that mural of a cafe with the “boys”. Maybe they ran out of space, you might say. Yet I counted eight other figures in the scene, four of whom were unnamed women “companions” or “patrons” of the cafe unrelated to the authors.

Also of note, there were no persons of color, save an unnamed black man in the background. SHIT JUST GOT REAL. I just fail to see how the designers and other involved persons seemingly accidentally forgot to include any minorities. And by minorities, I mean anyone who is not considered part of the hegemonic majority–aka white men. They did include a gay man, Oscar Wilde, but most people are willing to “overlook” such “oddities” in favor of his monumental prose and plays. However, he is not sitting or interacting with any of the other figures, just like the black man and the two women authors. The other women are “in conversation” with the male authors or reading, thus interacting with the authors indirectly. It is pretty blatant that via this representation quietly overlooking the baristas dolling out lattes and frappuccinos, that the only “appropriate” interaction is one on unequal footing.

This is even more disturbing considering the two authors of the feminine persuasion. Mary Shelley and Dorthy Parker are known for their intellectual  and close friendships with men as well as their independent and fierce politics. Shelley is famous for her mother’s radical feminism, her husband’s romanticism, and the couple’s friendship with Lord Byron through which Frankenstein was inspired. Parker was the sole founding female member of the Algonquin Round Table and was eventually blacklisted for her left-leaning politics during the Red Scare. It’s not that these aren’t great women to have up there. In fact I am glad it was them instead of the Brontes, or even GASP Austen, who are so well-known it’s ridiculous. It’s just that in general, women authors and authors of color always get the short end of the stick.

Blatantly so,  in this context. This mural is great opportunity to imagine what would happen if you put Twain and Melville and Joyce at a table and let them go at it. But I would also want to see Ralph Ellison, Virginia Woolf, Haruki Murakami  and Rudyard Kipling enjoying a coffee together (and maybe watching Woolf, Murakami and Ellison toss their cups in Kipling’s face, Imperialist bastard). Or Edith Wharton, Zora Neale Hurston,  and Kate Chopin share  pastries with  William Faulkner and Walt Whitman and wonder what the hell they’d be talking about. I’d like to think they would talk about which kinds of pastries are better at breakfast and which are better for afternoon tea/coffee or how squirrels are actually really creepy.  Not any heavy conversation, to be honest.

But I can’t do any of this, because Barnes and Noble and/or Starbuck felt that the authenticity and prestige of their “cafes” would be better served by perpetuating hegemonic masculinity in the world of writers, business, art and intellectualism. I would want a child to be inspired by such (commercial) art. A variety artists and writers better inspires a child, or an adult, to be curious and read many authors and perspectives  rather than a narrow and historically privileged sliver.  Besides you see fucking Steinbeck, Faulkner, Twain, Fitzgerald, Orwell and Eliot on every damn piece of “greatest writer” merchandise ever. And Austen. But she can do no wrong and I am biased and human like everyone else.

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