Last weekend I gave a talk at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Marvelous Midwest Conference. The topic was “Writing For and About Children in the #MeToo Era,” a topic I originally proposed as a panel but was asked to turn into a lunch keynote. I knew, going in, that the audience was likely going to be at least 90% women. Perhaps you see why I said in last week’s letter that I was nervous?
Before agreeing to the talk I had to ask myself if there was something new I could legitimately bring to the conversation, and I realized that there was. I also kept thinking about the Disney animated feature, Beauty and the Beast (my favorite as a kid), and it wasn’t until I rewatched it that I realized why: Beauty and the Beast is all about masculinity and femininity – it’s all about gender norms. So, taking cue from Robert Bly’s Iron John, which I read with DB and was one of the books that first kicked off the exploration of masculinity I began in my late twenties (and continue to this day), I structured the talk around a deep “read” of the film.
The response was encouraging enough that I’ve decided to post the full talk online, in hopes it will keep the conversation going. You can read it here.