“The problem isn’t small with only me as its isolated victim.” — @flickerjax #feminism #40 #yesallwomen

“I meant this to be personal not political, (but the personal is, oh you know…) but I can’t avoid it because at nearly 40 I know much more of the world than I did at 16 and now I can see that the problem isn’t small with only me as its isolated victim.  It’s vast and keeping us all down and it’s shaped me over the years to dream of something better for anyone.  Where once I wanted to be taken seriously as person, now I wish to be taken seriously as a gender.  I want to live to see my sisters equally represented in positions of power.  I want our governing bodies, the world over, to truly represent our whole society.  Give me 51 female senators and 218 female representatives in my own country’s federal government.  Give all my sisters equal pay and equal opportunities or rise to commercial positions of power.  Bring us all up and punish those who strive to keep us down through sexual and physical violence, through words and actions, so that we may have justice with equality.  For my next 40 years that is my fondest wish, to live to see a world in which women can see a reflection of their true selves.”

via JJ writes & rambles | Hocine bibo aut in eum digitos insero?

Please do click the link above to read more from Ajax Bell. Really beautiful, powerful stuff.

Growing My Leg Hair Out For Self-Esteem #feminism #shaving #rosacea

I wanted to write about some of my deep thoughts on make-up and simply don’t have the brain power for it today. It’s all convoluted and involves all kinds of connected topics such as trans*women, the covering up of “blemishes” or scars, and my own experience with a changing face.

Aw, hell, let’s try for it anyway. Okay, here we go.

Basically, I wanted to talk about what’s real and what’s “not real” and ask us all to ponder some questions about that distinction. Let’s talk about me and my rosacea for a moment. A few months back, I realized that when I manage to successfully cover the redness up with make-up, I felt better about going out in public. I felt less ashamed to be seen and more secure. When I got stared at, I thought to myself, “Today they’re looking at me because they think I’m attractive, not because I look like a splotchy-faced clown.”

However, I also found myself dismissing these stares and any compliments on my appearance because I didn’t feel like it was “real”. I found myself thinking things like, “If they only knew how bad my skin really looks under this make-up, they wouldn’t be saying that.” So, that led me to wonder how make-up does or does not play into a trans*woman’s experience of feeling “real”. And what does it mean to women in general if they’re taught to feel most attractive by applying something foreign to the base version of the “real” them? 

BUT those thoughts are a month or so old now and while they still apply, another experience has interceded and changed the flavor of them. In the last month, I’ve decided/realized a few important things:

a) due to her genes, my daughter is likely to have pretty severe acne in her teenage years. Her father had it and, physically, she is his mini-me. I realized that would be hard on her at that vulnerable time in her life, and in a massive, huge, wow-life-changing epiphany, I realized I didn’t want to model for her an obsession with my own skin. I didn’t want her to see me fretting about how it looked, or feeling ashamed of it, or complaining that I felt unattractive. Which, I’m ashamed to admit, she definitely has overheard many times in the past. I wanted to start modeling a behavior for her that makes it known that what her face looks like is so much less important than WHO SHE IS. So, I’ve stopped talking about my face. Ever.

Picture (not me!) from Razor Free Inspiration.

b) I decided on a whim to not shave my legs again until the hair has entirely grown out. I realized that I’ll be forty this year and I’ve never really seen my body as it naturally looks because I’ve spent my entire life, since I was nine years old and started puberty early, shaving and making it out like my body is something that needs fixed.

When my eight year old started asking when she could shave and I found myself struggling to explain why she couldn’t yet and what exactly “you don’t need to” means (because who NEEDS to? we aren’t going to die if we don’t shave) I chose to do this “no more shaving” experiment. I’ll cop to the fact that I am still shaving my armpits because I don’t like how hair feels under there. I let it grow pretty long but it was bugging me, so I shaved it. My leg hair is not bugging me, though, so I’m going to keep letting it grow.

I might shave again when I’m done and I might not. It all depends on how I feel at that time and if it’s something that I want to do. I admit I’ll probably want to shave for bathing suit season. The social issues alone are something I’m not sure I want to deal with, but I’ll need to give that some thought, too. 

c) By choosing to not talk about my face, or allow myself to even act like the rosacea is bothering me, and by choosing to let my body be natural in terms of the hair on my legs, I’ve discovered that I am much more interested in who I AM than in what I look like. And that realization has made me see how many years and how many hours I’ve lost being distracted with concerns about what I look like. I can’t fathom that men lose even a quarter as much time on that same question. The requirements for men are so much less time consuming and don’t boil down to these tiny nuances like the shape of their eyebrows or if their pubes are properly trimmed. When my husband wants to go swimming, he puts on a bathing suit and goes. When I want to go swimming, I have to tame a forest first. It’s exhausting and, frankly, makes me say no to swimming a lot more often than it makes me say yes. 

Since I’ve stopped focusing on my rosacea and stopped shaving, my husband’s sexual interest in me doesn’t seem to have waned and may have even grown. Not because he gets off on hairy legs (which would be fine, but he doesn’t), but because I think I’m a lot less anxious and a lot more willing to just let it all go in the moment, which is, of course, a lot more fun all around. No more, “Sorry, I didn’t shave….” comments. Or turn-off conversations consisting of, “Why is my face so bad? I didn’t eat any corn. It’s so ugly.” Instead, it’s just me being me and me not apologizing for stupid shit like hairy legs.

So, yeah, so far it’s all been a big success and while I can’t say that I feel awesome about how I LOOK, what I can say is that I think about how I look a lot less, and that’s AWESOME.

If I have the inner strength not to shave and wear what I want…I have the strength and mental fortitude to do anything – L Kaur

“Male athletes berate each other by slinging words associated with femininity” – #gay #sissy #feminism The Frozen Closet – Newsweek

Just think of the insults most prevalent in sports – male athletes berate each other by slinging words and phrases associated with femininity. From the elementary school playground to Madison Square Garden, men routinely call each other “sissy,” “wuss” and “pussy” or tell each other, “you throw (or run) like a girl.” Belittling a female athlete is to call her “butch,” “manly” or a “beast.”  The Frozen Closet – Newsweek.

I think it’s important to look at the underlying message behind these insults. I don’t think they are actually all that similar for men and women. The first set of comments has a much more global impact. For a male to be called effeminate, told they are a pussy, or a sissy, or told that they do anything “like a girl” impacts their masculinity. And in our society/world masculinity is linked with value as a whole person. Calling a woman “butch” or “manly” or “beast” is insulting, because it says that they aren’t a woman. But the real message behind not being a woman is…you’re not sexually attractive or pretty. Or, basically, I wouldn’t want to fuck you.

So, the message to men who show any kind of perceived feminine quality is “you, as a whole person, fail to live up to masculine standards”. The message to girls is “you’re not fuckable/marriagable”. The message to gender non-conforming males is all encompassing. The message to gender non-conforming females is less so. The implication is that they can still be good at what they’re doing. They can still be an awesome athlete, still be smart, funny, etc, but they’re just not fuckable. (And in a world where women are told from infancy that the most important thing they can be is fuckable, that’s a big deal, don’t get me wrong!) But effeminate men are basically told that they are something so much “less than” they “should” be. And what is that less than thing? Something resembling the always-and-obviously unworthy female. Putting females of any stripe at the bottom of the totem pole and only of value if they’re sexually viable for the straight men of the world.

Who has it worse? It’s hard to say. A woman is immediately at an eternal disadvantage by virtue of her femaleness and the fact that being female isn’t valued. A man, assuming he can “butch up” enough to pass muster in the world, is going to be head and shoulders above any woman in the world (heterosexual or not) simply because he’s a man (gay or not). But a man who is being targeted as too effeminate has it pretty bad, too. But the reason it is so bad is because their masculinity is being questioned. And masculinity is the definition of power and prestige and privilege in the world. If women weren’t seen as such a terrible thing to be compared to, if softness, artistry, gracefulness wasn’t seen as “woman’s work”, and if the words that mean “woman” weren’t used as insults, then there wouldn’t be this problem at all. If the things that are perceived as feminine were valued in the world then exhibiting non-masculine behaviors wouldn’t be problematic at all in our society.

Regardless, I feel like the quality of the insults are different. One is reducing a person who could have full privileges of masculine humanity down closer to the level that women already occupy. And the other is an attempt to strip the already low-on-the-totem-pole woman of her sole power–sexual attraction. Interestingly, though, I see that as much less worrisome or problematic, because if a woman is stripped of that power, but allowed to take on more privilege because of being stripped of it (acknowledged as strong, athletic, smart, etc) then it might not be that terrible of an insult. It’s still sickening that our world mainly values women for how much straight men want to put their dicks in them, but being called “butch” or “beast” might actually free a woman up to become so much more than a sex object.

(Though so long as society, and this includes other women, mostly value females on their sexual viability, it’s bound to make a woman feel bad about herself. BUT–and this is a huge but–the fact is that’s not what’s important about women at all, and learning to love a body that is athletic or capable, despite not being the world’s ideal of sexy, is hugely valuable.)

On the other side of the issue, taking a man’s masculinity, wadding it up, and tossing it away due to a perception of femininity in his interests or behaviors, reduces him from a place of human male privilege he was born into, and that reinforces not only homophobia but misogyny as well. There doesn’t seem to be anything freeing for anyone in that. Well, I take that back. It could be freeing if the man in question chooses to step outside of society and to value the feminine in himself and in others.

I think I’m rambling now. My main point was that the two types of insults have different end results. One involves the whole of a person’s being, and the other targets sexual attraction because THAT is already deemed the only thing valuable about that person because she’s female. But they are not actually the same thing at all.

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Training Season can be purchased at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, ARe, and Smashwords. And also on iBooks.
Unquestionably talented figure skater Matty Marcus is willing to sacrifice everything for his Olympic dream, but his lack of discipline cost him the gold once before. Now the pressure’s on. He needs a coach who can keep him in line, but top coaches don’t come cheap, and Matty can’t afford to stay in the game no matter how badly he wants to win.
When a lucrative house-sitting gig brings him to rural Montana, Matty does his best to maintain his training regimen. Local residents turn out to be surprisingly tolerant of his flamboyant style, especially handsome young rancher Rob Lovely, who proves to be much more than a cowboy stereotype. Just as Matty requires a firm hand to perform his best on the ice, Rob shows him how strong he can be when he relinquishes control in the bedroom. With new-found self-assurance, he drives himself harder to go straight to the top.
But competition has a timetable, and to achieve his Olympic dream, Matty will have to join his new coach in New York City, leaving Rob behind. Now he must face the ultimate test. Has he truly learned how to win—on and off the ice—during his training season?

I Am Not An Angel #motherhood #parenting #bullshit

So, everywhere on Facebook there is this video going around that pings my buttons. It’s all about how mothers are so amazing and stay-at-home mothers even more so. It’s all about this glorification of motherhood that gets under my skin.

Why does it get under my skin? Because, guess what? No matter what my kid thinks, I am not an angel.

I’m a really good mother. I work outside the home and I have a second job writing books, but my daughter gets so much attention and love from me that she doesn’t know what to do with it all. But? I am not an angel. I’m a flesh-and-blood human being who exists to do a hell of a lot more than wipe my child’s nose when she’s sick (though I do that) and to rock her to sleep (though I do that) and to help her learn to ride a bike (though I do that) and to give her a bath (though I do that) and teach her about the world (though I do that).

And I’m more than the woman who helps her with her homework (though I do that) and does the grocery shopping (though I do that–along with my husband) and cleans up the house (though I do that–along with my husband) and who helps with art projects (though I do that). And I read my daughter books and I kiss her goodnight and I’ve been up ALL DAY LONG, but I AM NOT AN ANGEL.

Yes, I admit my eyes teared up watching this video, in part because of the music with the tender scenes, in part because of the voice over, and I definitely teared up when the child said, “My mom’s an angel” and my daughter grabbed my arm and said, “Mine, too.” It touched me and I am so honored that she can see me that way on one level.

But on another level, I want her to see me as a WOMAN because I want her to grow up to be a WOMAN. I don’t want her to grow up to be an angel. She deserves to be fully expressed in her wonderfulness, just as I do, and just as every other mother does.

This cult of glorifying motherhood is another step along the path of cutting options off from women. Because, hey, to be an angel, you need to stay home with the kids and do all the above listed things with the full power of your mind, heart, and soul, leaving nothing for yourself. You’re tired. After all, you’ve been up all day, doing everything your kids need and nothing else. Now sleep, angel. Sleep and wake up to another day of self-negation.

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Back in the 1800s a dude wrote a poem called The Angel in the House and feminists have long railed against it. The idea of the Angel in the House has long been used to confine women. The Story wrote a song about it, too.

Anais Nin, Feminist’s Nightmare, too?

Taylor Swift is so hated by the feminist-ophere and, as a feminist, I really don’t get it. I’ve posted about this before but when I ran across a certain Anais Nin quote, I was reminded of how nasty feminist bloggers are about Taylor Swift.

For example, not too long ago, Swift was quoted as saying, “Relationships are the ultimate collaboration but It’s wonderful to hand over the reins to your boyfriend when you control so much of these big, high-pressure decisions, you know?”

Almost immediately feminist blogs started blasting her for this admission that, oh my goodness, at home, she likes her man to take control. I recalled the Jezebel article which calls Taylor Swift a feminist’s nightmare and this quote in particular:

For Taylor, fifteen means falling for a boy and dreaming of marrying him. My fifteen was more like: Flirt with this one, make out with that one, try a cigarette, get drunk, lie to your parents, read some Anais Nin, wish you lived in France, attempt to adopt Shakespearean euphemisms for sex into casual conversation (“beast with two backs” was very popular in my circle Freshman year), etc. 

Yes, that’s right. READ SOME ANAIS NIN. I somehow don’t think the author of that Jezebel article read this particular quote:

I do not want to be the leader. I refuse to be the leader. I want to live darkly and richly in my femaleness. I want a man lying over me, always over me. His will, his pleasure, his desire, his life, his work, his sexuality the touchstone, the command, my pivot. I don’t mind working, holding my ground intellectually, artistically; but as a woman, oh, God, as a woman I want to be dominated. I don’t mind being told to stand on my own feet, not to cling, be all that I am capable of doing, but I am going to be pursued, fucked, possessed by the will of a male at his time, his bidding.
– Anais Nin

I think that Jezebel should get right on shaming Anais Nin for that, dead though she may be. Because, clearly, Anais Nin is a feminist’s nightmare if that’s what she thought.

Also, for the record, my age fifteen looked a lot more like Taylor Swift’s version of fifteen, and you know what? That’s okay.

In other news, I wish that feminists would clue in to the idea that haranguing a young woman for her sexual choices, for being cisgendered, for being white isn’t really very feminist at all.

Let’s Talk About All the Ways This Is Offensive

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1. Whore.

2. Male figure saying, “Calm Down.” This basically says that whatever the woman has just said or done is a result of hysteria or overemotionalism and thus invalidates it.

3. Overriding the woman’s self-definition with one the man proclaims more appropriate. And a demeaning one at that. Determining that the male way of doing something is the only ‘right’ way.

4. The Fake Geek Girl thing is utter bullshit.

As I said to the man who posted this:

It isn’t funny for a male figure to a) call a woman a whore, b) determine that a woman cannot define herself appropriately because his ability to define her supersedes her own, c) demean a woman’s self from the status of an intelligent human being (nerd) to a whore on the basis of, what? How she looks?

When I see something like this tossed up casually as “too funny”, I realize that we have so far to go. Then again, all I have to do is turn on the news, walk out of my house, and exist in this world as a woman to have that proved time and again.

Haters Red Hot Hate Taylor Swift

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I’ve never really taken any notice of Taylor Swift before. I knew she existed, of course, but I never paid any attention to her or her music, which is probably a good thing since the back catalogue I’ve listened to in the last few days since getting curious about her has mostly not appealed to me much. But then I read this charming interview of her, listened to this song from her new album and I thought, “You know what? I think she’s quite darling and that song was incredibly youthful and sweet. I miss that sort of thing in my life. I think I’ll buy her latest album and see if I like it.” So I did.

And I did.

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I’m not yet one of these people, but the more I learn about her, the more I respect her for putting up with so much crap and for doing it so gracefully. And I’m not just talking about Kanye and his “Imma let you finish” stunt.

In fact, I really liked it, and I might come back to discussing why, but let me sum it up by saying it’s not because she’s got an exceptional voice, or deep lyrics, or vast musical skills, but because the album is full of nice, cliche pop songs about young love and young love lost, with lyrics that are just surprising and creative enough to get a hook in. Basically, I’ve listened to nothing else for a week straight now.

But what I’ve been fascinated by is the Taylor Swift hate out there. Wow, is it ever big! And obviously, everyone’s entitled to their opinions and feelings on various matters, but I got curious–why the hate? So, I googled looking for reasons why Taylor Swift was considered such an awful person. What I found is as follows:

1) She is apparently a feminist’s nightmare. Yes, that’s right.  A woman who was barely twenty years old when that article was written is being publicly shamed by women much older and possibly better educated than her for not being feminist enough, or rather not feminist in the right way, in their opinion.

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Thanks, Jezebel, for pigeon-holing me into the ‘virgin’ part of your virgin/whore dichotomy. I’m only 22 years old, but I absolutely deserve being publicly put into that box and mocked for not being sexual enough. Thank you!

While in some ways I see the point of many of their comments, I think this commentary from Tumblr pretty much sums up my thoughts on this matter:

But the thing that really gets me about the anti-Taylor stance of ostensibly feminist sites like Jezebel and Autostraddle isn’t that their idea of what women should and shouldn’t do is different from mine — it’s that they criticize Taylor for being repressive and perpetuating the a patriarchal virgin/whore dichotomy by being repressive and perpetuating a virgin/whore dichotomy.

When people dismiss the stories that Taylor Swift writes as unrealistic, unfeminist pap or dismiss Taylor Swift herself as a sexist figure — even if we take them at face value, even if we pretend that Taylor Swift is indeed a virgin who thinks having sex is a bad thing and falling in love and having babies is the best experience a girl can have, they’re still wrong.  They’re still wrong to dismiss her.  Because by dismissing her, they’re saying that those experiences and those beliefs are invalid and girls shouldn’t have them — and that if girls do have them, then they’re inferior in some way (unfeminist, unintelligent, uncool, whatever).  Which is bullshit!  It’s the opposite of slut-shaming.  It’s prude-shaming, and it’s no better or more enlightened or more feminist than slut-shaming, because it’s still shaming.

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How dare you be 22 and not kissing random dudes you don’t even like, Taylor? How dare you write songs about a less jaded idea of romance? God, grow up, woman! No one should be allowed any youthful dreams these days when the writers at Jezebel lost theirs ages ago! Or never had any because they were too cool and hip for that nonsense!

I thought perhaps Jezebel might have lightened up on Taylor Swift with this latest album, but, nope. It appears they have not:

Of course, Swift does write her own songs, generally about boys, love, and falling in and out of love with boys. There are women younger than she is — Rye Rye and Azealia Banks, for instance — experimenting with new sounds and sexually charged lyrics; Swift has stuck to a formula and carefully curated image: The patriarchy-friendly, virginal, good, pure, feminine, pretty blonde girl that has been an American ideal for decades.

I am at a loss as to why that is a problem? Are girls and women no longer allowed to enjoy music without sexual charged lyrics or ‘new sounds’? And let’s look at what they are actually shaming this very young woman for here. They’re shaming her for being a virgin–or at least seeming to be a virgin. What now? I mean, I’m not a virgin-advocate, but if someone doesn’t want to have sex for whatever reason, whether that be religious or just because they’ve never met a guy they want sticking their dick into them, that’s their prerogative and why is that shameful or something to taunt them over or be ugly about? They condemn her for being good? What now? For being pure? What does that even mean? Isn’t that the kind of language they often say shouldn’t be used because it’s not helpful to women and doesn’t even have a real definition? Do they mean pure of heart? Pure of mind? Or is it all about that ‘pure of body’ thing again, which is a virgin/whore dichotomy that they are setting up themselves? Then they complain that she’s feminine. And pretty. And blonde. Heaven forfend! Clearly she is the devil! And because she meets (in their opinion) an American ideal, she should be…what? Ignored? Skewered? Not allowed any success? Condemned? Mocked? Shamed? Oh, Jezebel, I’m not pleased with you on this front.

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2) I discovered that when she was 18 years old, she wrote a song and put it on her first album that had a rather sketchy lyric that could be interpreted as ignorant at best and homophobic at worst. The lyrics were as follows:

“State the obvious, I didn’t get my perfect fantasy/I realized you love yourself more than you could ever love me/So go and tell your friends that I’m obsessive and crazy/That’s fine, I’ll tell mine you’re gay”

So, I admit, I’m not terribly upset by these lyrics, especially given the age she was when she penned and recorded them, but, here’s the thing that makes holding a grudge about these lyrics or calling her a homophobe based on them kind of ridiculous: someone apparently schooled her, and she a) apologized, and b) changed the lyrics. In fact, you can no longer buy an album with the original lyrics and the music video also features the changed lyrics. What does this tell me? She is teachable. She is young. She learned a lesson and she’s brave. She stepped up, apologized, and did what she could to make things right. That, to me, is a lot more important in terms of whether or not she sucks as a person than whether or not she’s cashed in her v-card and wants to write songs with new sounds and sexual lyrics.

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To be fair, there are some songs written when she was younger that have some ‘slut shaming’ lyrics in them, too, and those aren’t awesome. But that kind of thing isn’t on this latest album, and given how many boyfriends she’s run through in the last few years, I’m not sure she’ll ever go there lyrically again, necessarily. And, no, saying that about her dating history is not slut shaming, because I think that the number of guys she’s churned through kind of makes the Jezebel article look ridiculous. She’s dated men almost twice her age, for ffs, and gone through the others like I go through Licorice Scottie Dogs from Trader Joe’s. (I don’t actually say good on those older men, though. They should know better than to date children.) I mean, the girl is getting her wild oats sown. Leave her be, Jezebel. Surely she’s being ‘whore-ish’ enough for your virgin/whore dichotomy? Or is she still too blonde for that?

3) Supposedly she ‘stole’ a line of lyrics from Matt Nathanson. I’ll just quote from that link:

Singer/songwriter Matt Nathanson drew attention to the similar lyrics when he tweeted: “she’s definitely a fan… and now she’s a thief.”

Matt’s song from 2003, “I Saw,” includes the line: “And I’ll forget about you long enough to forget why I need to.”

Taylor’s new song, “All Too Well,” (most likely about Jake Gyllenhaal), includes this line: “And I forget about you long enough to forget why I needed to.”

Oh, ffs, Matt Nathanson, grow up, put your big boy pants on, and be charming about it instead of a big wanker, and maybe sell some albums. Jeez, I’m horrified, horrified I tell you that someone would use a line like that from someone else’s song. Oh, wait, no I’m not. If it was a verse, a chorus, an entire song, a melody, okay…then I’d be pissed. But a single line? No. As a writer, I can say that little thoughts like that get cribbed all the time. Check out The Ecstasy of Influence for more on how often writers of all ilk crib ideas and lines and, in Nabokov’s case, an entire storyline.

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Tori Amos used “standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona” in a song, The Gaslight Anthem used “at night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet” in one of their songs, if Taylor Swift wanted to pay a small homage to a musician who inspired her by cribbing that line, I’m not gonna put her in the corner and shame her for it. I think that Mr. Nathanson would’ve been a smarter fellow to say something like, “Wow, what a great homage. Thanks Taylor Swift. Here’s a link to where you can buy the song that inspired her.” He’d have made some cash instead of looking like a wanker. Just my .02.

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4) She writes her songs about actual boys she dated/broke up with/got dumped by. Oh, no! How awful! Um, what??? Seriously, of course she does this. Please. Apparently, John Mayer was humiliated by the song she wrote about him. Well, John, maybe you shouldn’t have dated a 19 year old child musician if you didn’t want to be publicly spanked for it? In other words, date her at your own peril, guys, but don’t come whining to us when she writes songs about the reasons for your break-up.

So, yeah, I’m not sure why people hate Taylor Swift, but I’m thinking it’s because she isn’t who they want her to be, she doesn’t have pipes of gold, she isn’t a genius song-writer, and yet people love her and her songs. It’s totally a case of “who does she think she is?” and that’s kinda sad and, Jezebel, it’s definitely not feminist.

You can buy her new album on Amazon. You can listen to the title track below and I’ve also included one of the songs I like best from the new album:

Girl With A Book

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Spreading the word from Half the Sky:

Malala Yousafzai was shot for demanding access to education, yet she was just one of millions of girls around the world who are denied this basic right. Here are five ways you can support Malala and the millions of girls like her.

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Sign the petition: http://iammalala.org/
Donate:
http://www.afghaninstituteoflearning.org/
http://www.care.org/
Share her diary: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7889120.stm
Submit a picture via Twitter or Facebook to #GIRLWITHABOOK