B.J. Epstein
B.J. Epstein is a lecturer in literature and public engagement at the University of East Anglia in England, where she specialises in children's literature, queer literature and literary translation. Her new book, Are the Kids All Right?, is about how LGBTQ characters are portrayed in children's literature and what this says about society. It is available at: http://www.hammeronpress.net/page20.htm. She is also the author of a book on how figurative language is translated in children's literature and a textbook for use in English as a foreign language classrooms and she is the editor of a book on Nordic translation.
B.J. is also a writer, editor, and Swedish-to-English translator. She has published over 160 articles, essays, reviews and short stories in a variety of publications and has translated a number of books and many other texts.
She can be reached through www.awaywithwords.se and is on Twitter as bjepstein.

Entries by B.J. Epstein

The Breast Scenario: Breastfeeding is the Norm, End of Story

(2) Comments | Posted 11 September 2015 | (18:31)

The midwife mafia. The breastapo. Breastfeeding bullies. Breast-is-best Nazis.

I've heard all these pejorative terms and more used to describe breastfeeders and those who promote breastfeeding, including most recently here in the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/shakira-akabusi/bullied-into-breastfeeding_b_8088722.html?utm_hp_ref=uk). In a recent article, a woman complains she was "bullied" into breastfeeding by the midwives...

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Purses for Girls and Cars for Boys: Let Colouring Books Be Colouring Books

(7) Comments | Posted 5 May 2015 | (00:00)

I bet you didn't know that only boys want to draw robots and dinosaurs while girls ought to stick to perfume bottles, handbags, and flowers.

But according to two colouring books offered by Buster Books - "The Boys' Colouring Book" and "The Girls' Colouring Book" - that seems to be...

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The Unequality Act

(14) Comments | Posted 26 March 2015 | (23:00)

"You breastfeeding your baby in our waiting room makes some people uncomfortable so could you do it in private?"

This is what I was asked by a salon in Norwich where I go for massages. I was told that the salon needs to keep all its clients happy and therefore...

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Improved Parental Leave: The Way to Have Children and a Career

(1) Comments | Posted 26 February 2015 | (23:00)

This week in the Guardian, Helen Russell wrote an article complaining about the high cost of childcare. She said that this stands in the way of women having both children and a career and she praises countries with more generous systems in place for childcare, such as the Nordic nations,...

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'Aggressive' and 'Stingy': Anti-Semitism in the UK

(10) Comments | Posted 20 January 2015 | (23:00)

This week, Theresa May said the UK has to "wipe out anti-Semitism". The BBC has now featured an article about Jews in the UK fearing for their safety, but unfortunately this doesn't surprise me at all. This new interest in British anti-Semitism stems largely from the attacks in France, and...

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(7) Comments | Posted 7 December 2014 | (23:00)

"Get your tits out!"

That's an exclamation that has multiple possible meanings. It is something that men might shout at women, showing off their misogynist views, including the belief that women's bodies are public property. Some people might expect women to wear revealing clothes or to take everything off, in...

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As Happy as a Pig in Lit? The Dangers of Anthropomorphism in Children's Literature

(0) Comments | Posted 1 October 2014 | (00:00)

Trust us, we wish animals could talk more than most people.

As animal lovers and aspiring Doctor Dolittles, we can see the appeal of an anthropomorphic animal kingdom in children's literature. What child isn't going to be fascinated by a talking pig? It's magical, after all. It's also a tried...

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Don't Underestimate Children

(4) Comments | Posted 14 July 2014 | (00:00)

This week, the New York Times had a 'debate' that wasn't really much of a debate at all. The editors posed the question: "Along with books about numbers and colours and how to say please and thank you are an increasing number that address politics, race, gender, sexual orientation and...

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LGBT History Month, a.k.a. Human History Month

(1) Comments | Posted 28 January 2014 | (23:00)

Who cares about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their lives and accomplishments?

We all should.

But why?

February is LGBT History Month in the UK. The aim of LGBT History Month is to recognise and celebrate all the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people who have contributed to...

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The Value of a PhD

(0) Comments | Posted 20 January 2014 | (11:36)

What is a PhD worth?

This is an important question, and not just for the person considering undertaking doctoral studies. What is a PhD worth to our society?

An article by Audrey Williams June last week in the Chronicle of Higher Education explored the huge debts that people are taking...

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Butch, Femme and Beyond: Books for Queer Parents and Their Kids

(3) Comments | Posted 8 January 2014 | (23:00)

Two women are raising a child together. The child's class at school is doing a unit on families, so the mothers of this child gather a few of their favourite picture books that feature same-sex parents, and they go in to talk to the teacher. They tell her that since...

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Going Low-Brow at the University of Kent

(5) Comments | Posted 2 December 2013 | (23:00)

Everyone knows that children's literature can't possibly be high quality, right? It doesn't count as proper literary fiction, does it? It can't make people consider big issues or challenge ideas of genre, can it?

This week, the University of Kent's creative writing programme embarrassed itself by its advertising strategy, followed...

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Being Honest, Changing Minds

(9) Comments | Posted 28 November 2013 | (23:00)

"Can we change people's minds about homosexuality and, if so, how?"

That's the question Steven Petrow asks in his most recent article for the New York Times (in his regular column entitled Civil Behaviour).

To me, the answer is fairly simple. Yes, we can change people's minds (even if the...

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Twerking at Work: Images of Women in Society

(17) Comments | Posted 12 November 2013 | (23:00)

It's not just about the twerking.

Yes, Miley Cyrus's now infamous twerk-episodes are problematic for all the reasons people have discussed elsewhere (the issues include the misogynistic way Robin Thicke seemed to be using Cyrus, the racism inherent in some of Cyrus's moves, the overly sexualised depictions of women and...

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Dirty Work

(1) Comments | Posted 5 November 2013 | (16:06)

In her recent piece for the Huffington Post, Lauren A. Rothman offers her 12 "grooming musts" for working women. I hoped at first that her article was a joke, some sort of satire of women's magazines, but I quickly realised that she was serious. What a huge step back for...

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Out Here

(1) Comments | Posted 4 November 2013 | (23:00)

A couple of weeks ago, Stephen Fry's new documentary, Out There, aired on the BBC. In it, Fry explores homosexuality around the world, and what rights, or restrictions, people experience because of their sexuality or gender identity.

This is a fascinating and important topic, but one thing is often left...

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Racism Here, Racism There, Here's Racism, There's Racism, Everywhere Racism

(81) Comments | Posted 31 October 2013 | (23:00)

In an article this week in Expressen, one of Sweden's biggest newspapers, editor-in-chief Frida Boisen contends that Sweden is a racist country. She cites a study of the nations who are part of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development; in this study, Sweden was found to be the worst...

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A Short Story: What Alice Munro's Nobel Prize Means

(1) Comments | Posted 11 October 2013 | (09:00)

This week, Alice Munro received the Nobel Prize in literature. This prize is historical and interesting for a few reasons.

Munro is only the 13th woman out of 110 Nobel Prize-winners. That's right - not even 12% of the winners of what is arguably the world's most prestigious literary award...

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International Day of the Girl: A Call to Action

(1) Comments | Posted 10 October 2013 | (00:00)

In some countries in the world, 90% or more girls and women undergo genital mutilation.

76% of all trafficking victims are female.

Women hold only 21% of the seats in parliament.

These are just a few of the depressing statistics offered this week in a BBC infographic (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-24402849) on what...

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Come Out Ahead: The Benefits of Coming Out

(26) Comments | Posted 1 October 2013 | (00:00)

"I don't mind gays," a colleague said to me a few years ago, "but I don't understand why they have to talk about being gay. Why do I need to hear that?"

"Do you ever mention your wife when chatting to friends, relatives, peers or students?" I asked him.


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