Another year has come and gone. The clock struck twelve, the ball dropped, and now the season of New Year’s Resolutions is upon is. As a rule, I try not to make grand, blindly optimistic resolutions, not because I don’t believe in setting long term goals, but because I know myself well enough to know my priorities have a way of shifting like loose sand beneath my feet. I am a woman of many passions and I need the space to oscillate between them as my spirit demands. Instead, I focus on setting broad goals with a bit of breathing room built in. My 2019 goals, for example, include reading every day and prioritizing my writing. On particularly busy days I can read a short poem and still meet that goal. Prioritizing writing can mean fiction, poetry, personal essays, culture essays. As long as I’m writing, or doing work that contributes to writing, it counts.
As we moved in on the New Year, however, I did decide to make one big, year-long resolution for 2019: it will be a year without cis-men…or at least considerably less of them.
At first my plan was to actively avoid reading books written by cis-men, which would hardly be a resolution if I’m being honest. I read very few cis-men as it is, and only those that come highly vetted by people I trust. Deciding not to read books by cis-men for the year maybe took 3 books off my immediate TBR, and even then I wasn’t devastated at the thought of waiting until 2020 to read them. Then I decided I wanted to focus on seeking out undervalued science fiction and fantasy authors of other genders, especially non-YA authors, both because in the past I’ve kept mainly to the YA fantasy section and because non-binary and women authors in these genres have a particularly strong male-normative current to fight against. Imagine how many fantastic stories there are just hiding on the shelves amidst the household names, how many indie authors there are with award worthy tales but no professional marketing team to promote them.
And then I started thinking…why should this rule only apply to books? How much creative work by non-binary and women creators am I missing because I was too lazy to look for them, because they didn’t make the top slider on Netflix or Hulu, or the “Best of” list on Google Play?
I have long prided myself on the diversity my pop culture consumption, but the truth is I’ve been very passive about cultivating in the past. I read books by women of color and gender non-conforming authors, but only when other people have already done the work to find them for me. It’s time to change that.
A Year Without Cis-Men
With all the said, here are my rules for The Year Without Cis-Men:
- I will not read any books written by cis-men.
- I will not watch movies or television shows for which all of the people holding the following positions are cis-men:
- Director of Photography
- I will not listen to podcasts that have only cis-men as hosts.
Edit: After getting a better feel for the direction I want this project to take, I have decided to remove producers as a qualifying position. As a result, I have also decided to make a few movie allowances to series I have been following that have new movies coming out this year that qualified via producers but no longer meet the requirements, namely John Wick 3 and Spider-Man Far From Home. I will not, however, be reviewing either of these films.
I do have one caveat to the above rules: after giving it some thought I’ve decided I will continue listening to the podcasts I already listen to. For me, this project is more about the discovery of new creators than it is about cutting things out. I don’t really see the point in forcing myself to wait a year to listen to The Adventure Zone again, because I’ll just end up binging it all the second I can. So the good good boys of the Mcelroy family get to stay. The only television show I regularly watch currently is Criminal Minds, which meets my requirements, so I won’t be making any exceptions for TV.
I am also planning to do my best to extend this into my music habits, but music culture is not something I’m particularly well-versed in to begin with, so I’m not going to bother tracking it like I will be doing with everything else.
I’m really looking forward to all the amazing new (to me) creators I will undoubtedly be discovering this year. Getting into the habit of actively seeking out underrated stories is something I’ve been saying I wanted to do for ages, so it is about damn time I actually start doing it. And because the purpose of this is to lift up non-cis-male creators, I will be documenting my entire pop culture journey for the year here on my blog. I will be reviewing every single book, movie, TV show, and podcast I read, watch, and listen to. I will also be using the hashtag #YearWithoutCisMen on Twitter when discussing any and all things related to this project. I hope you decide to stick around for the ride. I have no doubt it’s going to prove very rewarding.
Let me know if you have any recommendations for work that meets my requirements that you think I should check out! I really am open to absolutely anything and everything so long as it fits.
Welcome to my year without cis-men.