jessica valenti

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My 5-year-old insists that Bilbo Baggins is a girl.

The first time she made this claim, I protested. Part of the fun of reading to your kids, after all, is in sharing the stories you loved as a child. And in the story I knew, Bilbo was a boy. A boy hobbit. (Whatever that entails.)

But my daughter was determined. She liked the story pretty well so far, but Bilbo was definitely a girl. So would I please start reading the book the right way? I hesitated. I imagined Tolkien spinning in his grave. I imagined mean letters from his testy estate. I imagined the story getting as lost in gender distinctions as dwarves in the Mirkwood.

Then I thought: What the hell, it’s just a pronoun. My daughter wants Bilbo to be a girl, so a girl she will be. And you know what? The switch was easy. Bilbo, it turns out, makes a terrific heroine. She’s tough, resourceful, humble, funny, and uses her wits to make off with a spectacular piece of jewelry. Perhaps most importantly, she never makes an issue of her gender—and neither does anyone else.

Bilbo Baggins is a girl: Until children’s books catch up to our daughters, rewrite them. (via daxsymbiont)

I’ll reblog this for forever

(via memymarie)

(via memymarie)

I have a new job!

I’m thrilled to announce that in April I’ll be starting a new gig as a daily columnist for the Guardian, where I’ll be writing about feminism (of course), politics and culture. I’m coming on as part of a new plan by the Guardian US to significantly expand its Comment is Free section.

The Guardian UK is one of the first places that published my work, and I’ve done some of my favorite writing with them. So writing for the Guardian US regularly is an absolute dream job.

Sadly, this means I’ll be saying goodbye to my day-to-day work at The Nation, which has been a truly supportive and invigorating home for my column. The good news is that I’m not leaving The Nation family entirely, staying on as a Contributing Editor where I hope to still publish larger feature pieces from time to time. That said, I am so grateful to everyone at The Nation, especially my inimitable editors Emily Douglas and Richard Kim.

I cannot wait to start writing every day again, and to work with the smart and dedicated folks at the Guardian. You can find my new column come April 21 - I hope you’ll be as excited about my new home and writing as I am, and that I’ll see you there!