Updated: Aug 14, 2020
In this first episode, we talk about how the name came about, our favorite books, and our long-distance friendship.
CW: fatphobia; JK Rowling's bigotry
Chub Rub definition here.
Harry Potter stuff:
Harry Potter and the Sacred Text website here.
Harry Potter and the Sacred Text Common Room (facebook group) here.
Info on the problems with Harry Potter and JK Rowling:
-Why Millenials reject JK Rowling - The Atlantic
-JK Rowling/TERF - Forbes
-Death of the Author & JKR - youtube
-Problematic tropes in the series - letsoverthinkthat.com
Shelby (S): Hi I’m Shelby.
Jenny (J): And I’m Jenny.
S: And this is Chub Rub Book Club.
S: Jenny, why did we start this podcast?
J: Well, Shelby, you moved, and it was tragic for me. And I decided, you know what we should do to keep in touch, we should form a book club. And then I did something that I do a lot, which is say an idea that I don’t, like, have a lot of follow-through on, and you did something you do a lot, which is take the ideas that I say and make them actually have follow-through.
J: And I said, ‘we should start a podcast,’ and you said, ‘we should start a podcast,’ and now here we are!
S: Here we are. Yeah, so we had originally thought to read a book a month and then like have a phone call to discuss it, and we decided to record those conversations and give them some direction. How did we land on this whole ‘embodiment’ thing?
J: You know, I think the embodiment thing happened because of the name, which once again was a case of me saying something I thought was funny and it being taken seriously, and then it (laughs) went spiraling out from there. But I’m happy with where it is now. Um, so, the idea -- I said ‘Chub Rub Book Club’ because it rhymed, um, and because I am a lady with thick thighs.
S: For all the haters out there, who uh, want to contest the meaning of ‘chub rub,’ Urban Dictionary defines ‘chub rub’ as ‘the rubbing and chafing of chubby thighs against one another during long walks, or duration of activity.’
S: So --
J: Undisclosed activity.
S: laughs. Scandalous.
J: You know, once we started thinking about it more seriously, we started thinking about like themes of embodiment and what it means to live all your life in this one body, and the markers that are put on it, the markers that are put on it by other people, and we started kind of taking it -- the idea -- seriously. I think that’s where it came from. Do you remember it differently?
S: No, that’s how I remember it. I mean, I think, too, like, you and I are the kind of people that can like, talk for hours around the smallest little things in books, so like to recognize a theme like this that isn’t often addressed is important to us. As people who, um, are really sort of conscious of our own bodies and the bodies around us --
S: Exploring the ways that bodies are also, like, talked about and written about in literature uh, is, at least interesting to me.
J: I would agree, it’s also interesting to me.
S: So, yeah. Do you want to… tell our listeners a little bit about us?
J: Yeah, I’d love to.
S: Why don’t --
J: Do you want to start?
J: Do you want me to start?
S: I’ll start. I can start.
S: My name is Shelby. I am currently living in Akron, Ohio, just moved here somewhat recently from Atlanta, where Jenny and I were in school together. We just graduated, woot-woot.
S: Um, I am a white, cisgender woman. Um, I’m married to a cisgender man but I’m pansexual. Middle-class, masters level education, living with chronic illness. Um, that’s just a little bit about my social location. I think it’s important to identify who we are as we start exploring these topics because some of the topics that we’re gonna be talking about, uh, related to embodiment, uh, are not our own experiences.
J: Mmhmm. I totally agree. I think, I think it’s important to know where you are in order to be able to see the world around you in clear ways and in order to have honest conversations with people. Um, I’m Jenny, and I live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I recently moved there from Atlanta, where I was in school with Shelby. And, I am unmarried, I... I feel like this is important, full disclosure I have never been in a relationship so I don’t know what’s going on, um… I am white, cisgender, and upper-middle class family, and I come from -- yeah, I really, it was really during grad school that my eyes were opened to a lot of the issues that we’re gonna get into, but I think literature is such an important place to begin those conversations. And especially young adult literature, you know, I think about the issues I care about now, and so many of those seeds were planted by stories.
J: And, to think about what it means to have those stories and actually take them seriously is so important. Um, not to derail us, but I had a professor in college, actually, who was not a literature professor, she taught something completely different, and she also had written a book about taking, about the themes of Twilight, taking it seriously. And I remember, I was kind of close to her and she gave me a copy of it, and I remember just thinking like, ‘Man, you’re not a literature professor, but like you take this stuff seriously.’ And what does it mean to not just dismiss the things that young people are into, especially in the case of Twilight young, primarily young women, but -- what does it mean to take these kind of stories seriously and ask the questions of them. Yeah, I don’t know, I kind of went off on a tangent.
S: No, but, I mean you’re so right. I -- I, because of Suzanne Collins releasing The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, I think it’s called, the prequel to The Hunger Games series, I’ve been re-listening to the audiobooks of The Hunger Games series and I’m on the second one now. This is my second time this year (laughs) re-reading this series. I --”
S: I read it probably at least once a year, because I’m nerdy in that way, and I don’t know, like familiar books give me just like, a feeling of comfort? And, uh --
S: Yes, familiarity, there you go, and I like cannot help but read books through this like, embodiment lens anymore. Like, it just, it comes up everywhere, because it is the reality of an embodied life.
J: I agree. I have the same experience. I re-read my childhood favorite book. Um, I say childhood, but you know, early-adolescence, whatever. And I, when I re-read it, I was just shocked what happened when I was reading it through an embodiment lens. Like, the, the fat-shaming --
J: It was kind of out of control.
J: And, how I had never seen that. But I know that I internalized it, um because it was my favorite book. I read it so many times, and that was such a formative age.
J: And being a fat person myself, like, what messages did I learn about my own body through this book that is so beloved to me?
S: Hmm. Yeah. Oof.
J: Um, so, a quick disclaimer -- we’re hoping to strike a tone here, that’s not entirely the heaviest thing in the world.
J: I’m a huge goofball, so I will probably be you know, telling weird stories and um, trying to crack wise, I don’t know if it will work, but, we’re not trying to drag anyone’s life down (laughs) we’re trying to take life seriously but find joy in life at the same time. Because you know what, complicated emotions exist within complicated beings like humans and I think we can handle some of both.
S: Mmm, yes, so well said. I totally agree. I am also incredibly silly and so I hope that is able to come out in this podcast --
S: Because, Jenny, sometimes our conversations are so weird.
J: To transition, one thing you had mentioned that we might talk about as a, as a place setting -- we’re setting the table -- as a place setting for talking about bodies, is -- Shelby, what is one thing that you love and appreciate about your body?
S: Oh, yes, I have been thinking about this, and was like, am I gonna… you know, force myself into some sort of self-love when I’m really struggling with self-loathing type of thing… and was like you know what, that’s really complicated.
S: Relationships with our bodies are often complicated, I think the first book that we’re exploring um, really gets to that well. So, honestly I’m gonna say that one thing I really love about my body is my taste buds. Because --
S: You know what, I love food. I love that I love food. And, I, just like, I -- I think I experience food in a way that not everyone does. Like, my spouse, Patrick, I mean he talks all the time --. We had fondue the other night, for my birthday.
S: And I was just like, ‘how are you not, like obsessed with how this cheese tastes right now?’
S: He’s like (pitching her voice lower), ‘yeah, I just don’t think that I like, get the same kind of enjoyment from food as you do.’
J: continued giggles.
S: So, yeah.
J: That’s awesome.
S: What about you, Jen?
J: Okay, I was thinking about this as well, and believe it or not, I have three things.
S: Yes! I love that!
J: The first thing, so, not a week ago, I got a little tipsy and texted you about how much I love my hair.
J: And a brief disclaimer, when I say ‘a little tipsy,’ I have the alcohol tolerance of an anemic chihuahua, so --
J: So I’m talking one drink. And I was sending Shelby texts about how my hair is amazing, and anyone would be lucky to have my hair. Um, so --
S: And it’s true, it’s gorgeous.
J: So, my curly hair. And, um, my legs. I -- I have strong legs. They can take me lots of places. In high school, I could, I don’t know what it’s called. Leg press? I think it’s called leg press. I could leg press more than the linebackers. And I was just like back-up.
S: Hell. Yes.
J: Um, and my height. Which is kind of a sidebar to my legs. But, um, I’m 5’11”, and I have never been insecure about being tall. Like I’m insecure about a lot of things, but for whatever reason, like, I love being tall. I wish I was taller, so... (Laughs). Uh, not really. I wouldn’t change who I am. But, maybe I would. I don’t know. That’s a topic for another day.
J: But, so -- yeah. Hair, legs, and height. The trifecta.
S: Yes. So good. And I love that you chose three things. I had a hard time choosing one, which I think says a lot about like where I am with my body right now, especially living with chronic illness feels so crappy so much of the time. It can be hard, so… yeah. All bodies are good bodies. That’s just the phrase that I’ve been telling myself over and over. Yeah another thing that we talked about um, to sort of set the stage was favorite book of all time?
J: Um, you know, and it has to be, and I mentioned this just a minute ago, it has to be a book that I just recently re-read, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. Um, which is interesting because reading it as a twenty-six year old, I have so many questions and concerns about it, which I didn’t have when I was you know, nine through eleven reading it.
J: Um, but, there’s still things that I really love about it. It’s pretty unapologetic about the idea that, that young girls are taught to be obedient and that that is toxic. Um, and, we can broaden that conversation and we should, because it’s not just young girls, right? Um, it’s people in… you know… we could… it’s not even just young people, it’s people in all sorts of historically um, minoritized and disenfranchised groups. Um, but, you know, this idea that obedience is especially expected of young women, and it also really deals with this idea that you… it was the first book that taught me that it’s okay to not have a good relationship with your parents.
J: And it’s not, like, in your face about it, but she, like, at one point, tells her dad she hates him, and they never reconcile. And it’s just like, part of it, that she has a really bad relationship with her dad, and it doesn’t make her a broken person or a bad person, it’s just that… that’s what her relationship with her dad is. And as somebody that has a pretty… broken… relationship with my dad, that was something, to have modeled for me, in a book that I love so dearly, was really important. But, again, reading it now, like, so, it’s a Cinderella retelling. And it’s wonderful.
S: Because we love the fairytale retellings.
J: Oh, I love it. Um, but her, her quote-unquote evil stepsisters are (sighs), are evil but they’re also both fat. And --
J: And there’s a moment when she sort of first meets them, they’re not her stepsisters yet, and um, one of her first impressions of them is watching them eat and calling them grotesque because they keep going back for more.
J: And she talks about watching their double chins wiggle and stuff. And I just, I have never thought about myself in that space, bur reading it this time, I was just like -- I immediately pictured myself in that space, and all the times at parties when I was awkward and like, ate because I didn’t know what to say, and like, I have a double chin, and you know -- what someone else’s story about me might be.
J: Even though I, I hope that I’m a kind person, (laughs), unlike O-- unlike Hattie and Olive in Ella Enchanted. But um, you know, how reading that about myself really hurt.
J: And uh, I could do an entire series, I could do an entire podcast on Gail Carson Levine’s book, because her next, her companion book to Ella Enchanted kind of deals with these questions. But taking Ella Enchanted just on its own, um, it’s probably my favorite book of all time, but it’s not without… it’s not without its critiques.
S: Yeah. I think that that’s important to mention, to, that it is possible to, like cherish and enjoy a book that has its problems without like, glorifying those problems, or like accepting them and telling ourselves that they’re okay. My favorite book of all time is, actually, really just the entire series of Harry Potter.
J: I was waiting for this.
S: Yep, yep. I am an avid Harry Potter fan. My favorite book is the seventh book, I have read probably just under twenty times at this point. Um… I do an annual re-reading of the entire series and I’m trying to get my spouse to read them with me, but um, we’ve been on the third book for a while.
S: But I mean, yeah, I mean, Harry Potter isn’t without its issues either. I think it’s important that we say we do not support J.K. Rowling, because she is a TERF, and --
J: Among many other things.
S: Among many other things, um, but yeah. She says some really gross things about trans folks and trans rights, and we’re not about that life.
J: No, not at all. We want to make it clear here and now that trans women are women, trans men are men, non-binary folks exist and are valid, there are more than two genders, uh, and, we are not here to suffer any nonsense that those things aren’t true. Um, it’s worth noting that this has been something J.K. Rowling has espoused for a while, this is not new, and it’s worth noting that this is part of a larger trend of bigotry that she has espoused for a long time. So we’ve seen some racism, some sexism, even some fatphobia that are really, um, are really inexcusable. And we want to make absolutely clear that we are not supporters of her. But that does get really complicated, because you know, the books played a really big part in our lives.
S: Yeah, so like, all of that exists in the same space as my love for the series and honestly like, just the entire universe of Harry Potter. And I’m actually a part of this, um, Facebook group called “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text Common Room” and “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text” is actually another podcast um, that I listen to. And uh, this like Common Room on Facebook is a place where people can share a bit about like themselves and their experiences and one of my favorite threads on there um, was talking about Harry Potter and disability, and like, you know, even if the books weren’t imagined with disability in mind, like what, what cool things at Hogwarts or like in the Wizarding World are, you know, like what could make the Wizarding World more accessible?
S: Like how could we use magic in a way to, like, just expand accessibility?
J: I’m picturing like, hovering wheelchairs with like lights, and fairies attached and stuff.
S: Yes! I mean the comment thread was just amazing. Um, primarily disabled folks talking about, ‘okay, if I was at Hogwarts, this would be like a really cool accommodation.”
S: Um, one of the things that I said, was um, sort of like a Room of Requirement kind of deal, where like, if during class you are like exhausted and need to rest, because even non-disabled folks have those experiences, that you could sort of like go into this Room of Requirement, and time would freeze, sort of like a Time-Turner room sort of thing. So that you’re able to rest without it completely like derailing uh, you know what you’re trying to do.
J: I love that.
S: And someone added to that, was like, ‘okay but what if we could make it sort of like Hermione’s bottomless bag spell, type thing’ um --
J: A bag of holding.
S: Yes, and it could be like kept, like a room like that could be kept in a small space like that that you could carry around with you. Um, so that not only like in classes and stuff, but if anywhere you needed that sort of safe space to rest that you could have it. And it was just so cool.
J: Yeah, I think there’s something really, really beautiful um… I, so, this will come up multiple times, I’m sure, but I’m pretty active on tumblr, I won’t tell you what it is yet, you can find it, um… and, there’s been, I’ve been part of some discussions on there that’s kind of that same conversation. And it’s kind of really a larger discussion about death of the author and this idea that, you know, Hogwarts ceased to belong to J.K. Rowling when she published the books, you know, it belongs to every, every lonely child and every brokenhearted adult, and you know, it belongs to everyone that ever found a home there.
J: And so I think there’s something really beautiful and… creative and life-giving about saying, about people in the disabled community saying ‘this is our space, and what does this space need to look like for us, and what should this space look like for us, and what what would magic make possible for us,’ and really claiming it in that way.
S: And I think too, I’ve been reading some stuff more recently about like, ways that death of the author is sort of like, complicated, because --
S: Like, her beliefs have like, wormed their way into her writing as well, and there are parts of the books that are inherently problematic as well. Um, and I think it goes back to what we were saying about how you can love something and it doesn’t have to be perfect and it can have problematic parts and you can love it and wrestle with it at the same time. Um, but, yeah. There’s, there’s so much to talk about in regard to death of the author and whether or not you can separate an author from their work. Uh, it’s a little too much to tackle in this podcast episode.
J: (Laughs) This is not the last time you will hear the phrase ‘death of the author,’ rest assured.
S; And I hope that we can not only have those sorts of conversations on this podcast, but sort of spur those sorts of conversations, uh, anyone who listens, I, I hope that this sort of opens you up to the possibilities that, um, that books and magical worlds can contain. We are gonna focus mostly on sort of like fantasy, sci-fi, young adult books, um, partially because that’s what we’re super into --
J: What we like to read (giggles)
S: Um, okay, mostly because that’s what we like to read, um.
J: But also…
S: But also because, uh, I think that, uh, for young people to be thinking about these things adn the ways that books can reall yteach us something bout our world and about ourselves and about people who aren’t like us, too.
J: If you want to get in touch with us, you can contact us at email@example.com.
S: We’re also on Instagram, @chubrubbookclub.