- Love, color, and blindness – It seems like a bunch of “love is blind” posts made the rounds recently, and Sunita weighs in with where they fall down for her.
Color doesn’t play the same role in every person’s life, so it obviously isn’t going to play the same role in every relationship. But society doesn’t let minority people forget their color even if they want to. The reality for minorities is that everyone’s skin color provides a social cue, whereas majorities don’t think of their own skin color as providing social cues at all. Maybe the desire to emphasize the “love sees no color” condition comes from a wish that we could all have the freedom not to notice. But that’s not the reality. And the color-blind fantasy takes away not just what is difficult in our lives but what is good and wonderful. I like who I am. All of it. The bad experiences made me as much as the good. I’m OK with that and that’s the reality I want to see in my romances.
- Marieke Nijkamp: The Trope of Curing Disability – A good post about the Throwing Off the Disability trope, using The Secret Garden as an example. It got me thinking about the Beauty and the Beast trope in romance and how having the disabled/scarred hero change a bad attitude to better fit with society is in this tradition.
Now in Colin’s case, it might be argued that he was never disabled at all, just weakened and made ill, but to me, it felt like a betrayal. Again. He wasn’t the first character I met who overcame his hardships and was miraculously cured, and he wouldn’t be the last one either. In fact, for disabled characters, being cured is a common trope. What’s more, in most of these narratives, classics as well as recent kidlit, the characters are cured because they’re better than they were at the start of the book: kinder, gentler, braver. And finally, finally, they’re normal and whole.
And quite frankly, that trope needs to GTFO.
- Really? Quality, Craft, and Reader Expectations – Author Tamara Hogan talks about reading and judging books for the Rita award and how self-published works compare rather poorly with their traditionally published counterparts when it comes to editing and formatting.
How many points do you award “The Writing” when the book features beautifully descriptive language, deep and authentic POV work, evocative love scenes…yet contains dozens of grammar and spelling mistakes? When an author uses some of the most original metaphors and similes you’ve ever read, but the book is riddled with text formatting errors?
I hold such a book in my hands, and it’s breaking my heart.
- There’s a Place for Us, Just Not the Kitchen – This NYT article talks about unbelievable movie sex, and it seemed relevant to our interests as romance readers.
It was about a form of movie sex I think of as the Countertop Heave: The leading man, too passionate to wait or perhaps hoping to grab a snack afterward, lifts the lady he desires onto a kitchen countertop and does the deed there. I know, from years of being on the home-design beat, that Americans are crazy about their kitchens, particularly if there’s been a recent renovation. But I also know that the standard floor-to-countertop height is 36 inches.
You would have to be a pro basketball player to consummate. You would also have to make room, swatting the Hurom juicer and smoothie maker and the Jura cappuccino machine to the floor and risking breakage. And believe me, the people who have this stuff would rather give up sex.
- Rage Doesn’t Exist in a Vacuum, or: Understanding the Complex Continuum of Internet Butt-Hurt* – Author Kameron Hurley responds to the latest SFF debacle – which Natalie Luhrs details in this post – with a spirited defense of anger and a pointed dismissal of certain men’s “weariness” at all the outrage.
My specialization is in the history of revolutionary movements, and let me tell you, folks – being nice and holding hands didn’t get shit done. Or sure, it was one tactic. But never the only tactic. I wish a nice circle jerk got shit done as much as the next person, but if it were so, history would look much, much different.
Change is messy. It’s angry. It’s uncomfortable. It’s full of angry people saying angry things, because they’ve been disrespected and forgotten again and again and again and again, and they’re tired of being fucking nice because it makes you uncomfortable if they act in any way that is not deferential or subservient to you and your worldview.
- Animal Rescue Questionnaire: Are You Good Enough To Save This Dog? – Shelters near me here in Boston rarely have dogs to adopt, so if you want a dog and want to avoid a pet store, you kind of need to work with a rescue organization that ships dogs up from the South. This parody of rescue applications is almost indistinguishable from the real thing. I despair of ever managing to adopt a dog.
By completing this questionnaire, you help us in determining whether you and your family are indeed ready for pet guardianship, and if the animal (fur human) you are interested in would suit your (almost certainly unsatisfactory) lifestyle. Should you agree that adopting a pet is a commitment throughout this lifetime (and any afterlives, depending on your pet’s personal spiritual beliefs which are entirely valid and not to be criticized) of your companion animal, please fill out this questionnaire.
*We find the term “adopts” problematic as it reinforces an owner/owned, parent/pet, human/animal, master/subaltern dynamic and reject it in favor of less loaded terms like “co-reside,” “engage on this journey of life together,” or “mutual existence”
*The word “animal” is an act of violence and corporate fascism
by Beks • • 7 Comments
Two kids and a divorce later, Creigh De Luca figures she’s pretty much done with diapers and late night feedings. That is until a little blue stripe turns her world upside down. Never in a billion years would Creigh have thought she’d become pregnant from a one-night stand, nor could she have ever guessed the unforeseen pregnancy would warrant unexpected help…from her ex-husband, Dean.
Divorce papers haven’t changed a thing for Dean. He’s still as in love with his ex-wife as he’d always been. Despite the fact he’s not the father of her unborn child, Dean is determined to help Creigh during her pregnancy–whether she wants him to or not.
Creigh has never stopped loving Dean, but she’s not going to let him back into her life just because she’s expecting a child, especially since she is determined to keep the father’s identity from Dean. But Dean refuses to be dismissed so easily. He knows that with a little patience, forgiveness, and love they can still live happily even after.
Of course after I write this whole post talking about how I have no time to write, I end up seeing this book on tumblr, buying it, and then finishing it in practically one sitting, taking a few hours in between to sleep. I paid for it the next day, trust me. I actually think I’m still paying for it. I just fell asleep during a House Hunters: Where Are They Now? marathon. But enough about my problems.
I was instantly drawn to this book and at the same time, a little put off. I’ve been looking for more titles by women of color and this met that criteria. The heroine is also a woman of color, another plus. I also have this weird thing for romances with moms and kids/expecting heroines. A while back I asked twitter for recs that fit that bill, and was put on to Morning Glory by LaVryle Spencer, one of my favorite romances to date. The Blurb told me that HEA had pretty much everything I was looking for, without Dean also being a lesbian cowboy.
I was nervous, though. See that little part of the blurb – Dean is determined to help Creigh during her pregnancy–whether she wants him to or not. – had me concerned that I’d be dealing with a Grade A Alphahole. There’s a window annually when the planets align and I haven’t had an argument with my mother in a while and I’ve just received a book check and had a good meal, when I can handle a dick head hero, but this was not one of those times, so yeah, the blurb’s portrayal of Dean had me a little nervous. Instead of watching The Adventures of Rick and Morty, I climbed into bed with Happily Even After, and I have to say I’m glad I did.
Matthews jumps right into the story in the first scene with Creigh dropping her kids off at Dean’s house for the weekend. She knows she’s pregnant, and she knows she’s going to keep the child, and she knows she has to tell her ex. The framing of the reveal was well done. Creigh isn’t freaking out about what Dean will say or do. She’s genuinely worried about how her other children, who are 7 and 9, will process the information. Even though Dean is worried and extremely pissed, he agrees that he should support her and their children through this surprising situation. This first scene warmed me to both Dean and Creigh. Matthews does a great job of writing realistically uncomfortable situations without making either character unlikable with their reactions. I felt for Creigh ‘cause HOLY SHIT AWKWARD! and I felt for Dean because he is a good father and still very much in love with Creigh.
I was waiting for Dean to pull some dumb caveman shit, but luckily he kept it together. He does drive by Creigh’s house just to check on her and the kids, but I saw that more as he was lonely and missing his family, not a craze stalker. The kids, alone, make it necessary for Creigh and Dean to see each other. Their interactions are never forced.
As the story moves along, you find out why they split and why Creigh is hesitant to take Dean back. Again, Matthews paints both characters as people who are reasonably hurt. No one is the villain. Rather, two people who are bad at communicating their anger and frustration are SURPRISE, bad at communicating their anger and their frustration, as well as their genuine appreciation of each other. By the end both characters do change in ways necessary for their marriage to work.
The story features a white man and a black woman. I didn’t know how much Matthews was going to touch on race. It is mentioned a few times in regards to their kids who are biracial, the paternity of Surprise Baby, and then in both Dean and Creigh’s dating life after their marriage is over. Matthews specifically states that though both are not on that color-blind crap and both acknowledge that their race is an issue for other people, in terms of them being together, they simply love each other and have since they were kids. I think this is the way it should be done.
Another thing I liked about this story was the supporting characters. Dean’s parents have passed away and Creigh was raised by a single mom, but we do meet her mother who was great, as well as Creigh’s cousin, A-mei, Dean’s brothers Serigo and Gino, and of course, their kids, Hamilton (I kept thinking of the Great Hambino from The Sandlot) and Harlow. All of these character were sweet and funny, but I loved Harlow and Hamilton. Hamilton was freaking adorable, and one scene between Harlow and Dean had me sobbing like a fool. I also have this headcanon going where A-mei and Sergio, who both work for Creigh at her flower shop, are knocking boots behind Creigh and Dean’s backs. I also might have emailed the author about it. Maybe.
The only thing I didn’t love about this story was the length of the sex scenes. They were very well written. Creigh lets herself go and Dean is just a stud in the bedroom. And the kitchen. And the living room. And in his car. Matthews also does a good job of portraying Creigh’s insecurities about her changing body. However, I felt that some of the later sex scenes were too long. The writing is so good and the characters so interesting I wanted more of that and less of the humping. All in, Matthews creates extremely likable characters and a gripping plot. I wanted this family back together. There is a follow-up title with Dean and Creigh that I may read.
When I finished I did a little digging and realized I had another of Matthew’s titles on my to-read this. I will be checking out He’s So Shy and The Good, The Bad and The Naughty pretty soon.
Final Assessment: Definitely read it. This is interracial romance done right. Grade: A-/B+
Series: The Second Time Around Series (book #1)
by Ridley • • 6 Comments
- Triggered – The New Republic published an article the other day entitled “Trigger Happy: The ‘Trigger Warning’ Has Spread from Blogs to College Classes. Can It Be Stopped?” I thought it was both poorly argued and mean-spirited, and Melissa McEwan does a good job of breaking down how the article fails her.
Well, first it’s important to understand what a trigger warning actually is. And for that, it’s important to understand what being triggered really means: Being triggered does not mean “being upset” or “being offended” or “being angry,” or any other euphemism people who roll their eyes long-sufferingly in the direction of trigger warnings tend to imagine it to mean. Being triggered has a very specific meaning that relates to evoking a physical and/or emotional response to a survived trauma or sustained systemic abuse.
To say, “I was triggered” is not to say, as it is frequently mischaracterized, “I got my delicate fee-fees hurt.” It is to say, “I had a significantly mood-altering experience of anxiety.” Someone who is triggered may experience anything from a brief moment of dizziness, to a shortness of breath and a racing pulse, to a full-blown panic attack.
Speaking about trigger warnings as though they exist for the purposes of indulging fragile sensibilities fundamentally misses their purpose: To mitigate harm.
- The Trigger Warned Syllabus – Not everyone is a fan of trigger warnings, of course, but I find their arguments unpersuasive. Is it so burdensome to state upfront that you’ll be discussing something upsetting like sexual assault, abuse or warfare? Can’t lecturers list it on a syllabus so students can prepare themselves or speak to the teacher ahead of time?
But, I’m not sure that’s at all the kind of deliberation universities are doing with their trigger warning policies. Call me cynical, but the “student-customer” movement is the soft power arm of the neo-liberal corporatization of higher education. No one should ever be uncomfortable because students do not pay to feel things like confusion or anger. That sounds very rational until we consider how the student-customer model doesn’t silence power so much as it stifles any discourse about how power acts on people.
- Forget The Oscar: Jared Leto Was Miscast in Dallas Buyers Club – Time ran this and another piece criticizing Hollywood’s practice of using male actors to portray trans women. Not only does it limit the work available for trans actresses, it perpetuates this idea that trans women are just men in a dress and makeup and playing a role.
As a trans woman, I’ve been watching movies that have major roles with trans characters for years. Film after film, I’ve sat on my couch or theater seat and wondered to myself why the directors almost never get it right. Why is the main or supporting character played by a cisgender person when they have plenty of other actors in the film that are trans, and giving a stellar performance? Did the investors of the film decide it was too risky? Was it the director who felt that the trans people who auditioned were not good enough? Did the director even audition trans people?
- It Turns Out My Partner Is a Woman, So What Does That Make Me? – I thought this was an honest, thought-provoking look at how gender and orientation intersect and when language can’t quite do it justice.
When you find out that the person you love is of a different gender than you’d thought, you end up with a lot of questions. Amidst the cacophony of questions I had about her, her experience, her thoughts, the vocabulary, the pronouns, the medical information, the surgical plans and all the other minutiae, the one thing I kept circling back to had nothing to do with her. It was about me:
I’m a self-identified gay man whose partner is a woman, so what does that make me?
- Let’s Call Sex Work What It Is: Work – Melissa Gira Grant is over at The Nation with an excerpt from her book Playing the Whore where she advocates decriminalizing sex work and treating it as work to lift the stigma that dogs those who do this work.
Opponents of the sex industry, from the European Women’s Lobby to reactionary feminist bloggers, like to claim that sex workers have the audacity to insist that their work is “a job like any other.” By this, it’s safe to say, anti–sex work activists are not simply agreeing with sex workers that the conditions under which sexual services are offered can be as unstable and undesirable as those cutting cuticles, giving colonics or diapering someone else’s babies.
What sex work opponents actually have in mind when they cringe at the idea that sex work could be “a job like any other” is that sex work does not—and cannot—resemble their work. When anti–sex work crusaders think of “jobs,” they’re thinking of their more respected labor administering social projects, conducting research and lobbying. To consider sex work to be on the same level as that work breaks down the divisions that elevate some forms of labor while denigrating others.
- May Day 2014: Scarleteen Strikes (Or, With Your Help, We Don’t.) – It’d be a shame if Scarleteen had to go offline. They’re a wonderfully accessible source of accurate sex-ed for teens and young adults.
We’re deeply disheartened to announce that we effectively were able to raise nothing from this year’s ask. Nothing from the one big ask we depend on to keep going, whose returns, when we see them, are needed to pay for our basic costs so we can provide things people rave about day after day, year after year.
What we’re left to work with at the present time, then, is what we receive on average from donors right now, which only comes out to around $3,000 a month. That’s less than the monthly median household income in the United States to run a single household, when we’re an organization that serves millions each year; one of the few places online created and run expressly and solely to provide truly comprehensive sexuality and relationships education, information and support for young people, for free, and has been doing so for a decade and a half as a pioneer and leader in the field. That’s not enough for us to do all that we do.
With no radical change in giving and support immediately — and a change that is permanent, not just reactionary — Scarleteen as we know it, and as our users use it, may just be over.
by Ridley • • 0 Comments
- The Girl Myth in YA Fiction (And Beyond) – Kelly Jensen talks about the ways gender influences how readers talk about book characters.
We talk at lengths, however, about female characters’ likability. And it’s a binary, with absolutely no room between the two end points. Female characters are either likable or they’re not — they aren’t allowed to be more dynamic or more than one of those two subjective, meaningless labels. Sure, she can be described as nice but with a wicked streak, but that ultimately makes her unlikable because she’s not easily identified as one simple thing.
Readers do this in their reviews and reactions to girls in fiction. I don’t know how intentional these reactions are or if readers are even aware they’re doing this, but it’s there, and it happens again and again. If a girl character doesn’t fit a pretty box, and if she doesn’t act in a way the reader deems acceptable — either via their own life experiences or perceptions of how someone in a given situation should act — she’s unworthy.
- Never Say Never Again – Author Emma Barry is back talking about religion in non-inspirational romance. She lists some books with religious characters in them and discusses the patterns that form.
This entire series began as a discussion of why religion was never mentioned in non-inspirational romance, but we quickly decided “never” was too strong a word—people of faith do occasionally appear in genre romance. But what purpose are these people of faith serving in genre romance in the absence of a larger conversion narrative?
So let us count the ways in which it’s acceptable to represent religion in genre romance!
- Jeannie Lin Tells Us: How My Worst Seller Became a Bestseller and What it Means to Write “Different” – File this under “Yay! Good news for Jeannie Lin and China-set historicals!”
A week ago, The Lotus Palace hit the USA Today Bestseller list. With how volatile the market is right now, I know not to take this blip as a gold ticket or validation or anything of the sort. All it did was answer a few questions: I saw that at a low price point, readers might take that leap. I also saw what immense support I had from readers and authors and bloggers within the romance community who wanted to see my books succeed. I haven’t seen anything else like it.
On the same day that I found out my worst seller had become a bestseller, I received another bit of news. A friend told me of a co-worker who studies romance and occasionally teaches a romance class at university. This semester one of my books, My Fair Concubine, was on the class reading list.
- Image Comics Publisher Calls Women “The Fastest Growing Demographic” In The Industry – This is music to my ears. If you haven’t read Image’s Saga yet, you probably should. It’s not perfect, and has some “I wouldn’t” moments with POC representations, but it’s really enjoyable so far.
“Right now, the fastest growing demographic for Image Comics, and I’m willing to speculate, for the entire industry, is women. For years, I’ve listened to people talk about bringing more women into the marketplace. Over the last few years, with your help, we’ve been doing exactly that.
We’re not the first to put out material that appealed to women – there’s a whole roomful of incredible people I wouldn’t be able to look in the eye if I made that kind of ludicrous claim – but I think we are among a select group in this industry who realize that there’s more to gain from broadening our horizons than by remaining staunchly beholden to the shrinking fan base that is supposedly excited about sequels to decrepit old crossovers like SECRET WARS II.”
- Online trolls are just “everyday sadists,” according to new paper – So, there. Maybe we can finally put to bed the idea that anonymity turns decent people into assholes and the key to establishing civil discourse is to make people comment under their real names.
In yet another instance of science belatedly confirming what common sense has already told us, a new paper from researchers at three Canadian universities concludes that Internet trolls aren’t just mean — they’re sadists and psychopaths.
The paper, published last week in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, surveyed a group of several hundred on their Internet behaviors and personal traits. It found that trolling correlated with higher rates of sadism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism, a certain lack of scruples when it comes to deceiving or manipulating other people.
“… it might be said that online trolls are prototypical everyday sadists,” the paper rules.
- The Flying Aces of the First World War – Historian Michele Haapamäki writes a fascinating little feature on the pioneering airmen of WWI.
At the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, historians are formulating revisions and counter-revisions about the larger aims of the conflict in an attempt to give it coherence and meaning. At the most basic level is the urge to make some sense of the War to End All Wars. Since the 1930s the ‘poet’s’ version of the stalemate of trench warfare and the slaughter of the Somme has predominated remembrance of the conflict. It is viewed as a chaotic mess of bumbling generals, poor Tommies, and Blackadder-style over-the-top charges into oblivion. There has, however, always been one class of fighter which managed (quite literally) to escape the inhumanity of the trenches. The intrepid fighter pilot alone embodied the individual agency and heroism of an imagined bygone era of gentlemanly warfare. They were viewed as a ‘breed apart,’ far removed from the indignities of ordinary warfare. The trenches of the Western Front dehumanized the individual man, but flying provided an alternative image of romance and bravery. Taking grave risks and facing enemies alone, the ‘Aces’ of the First World War were lauded with descriptions emphasizing the chivalry of their character. Their legend prompted intense interest in flying during the war itself, but there were also important carry-overs into the inter-war era. These developments had a powerful impact on how both air warfare and the solider himself would be viewed in preparation for the Second World War.
In keeping with my 2014 policy of reviewing more DNF’s, I’m going to talk about the first few chapters of K.M. Jackson’s Bounce. At it’s heart, Bounce is about a woman rediscovering herself. We meet Sabrina struggling to emotionally connect to her husband after learning of his infidelity. Sabrina’s pain and conflict is realistic. She is presented in a different way than a woman in her position usually is. Meeting the primary couple during resentful sex was a unique way to open the book. Hats off.
Bounce is written in the first person. First person is like being trapped at a party with a stranger you just met. If you like the person, it’s a wonderfully intimate evening. While Sabrina was talking I was trying to make eye contact with anyone else in the book. Because of the daring opening, we’re asked to approve as Sabrina tries to force herself into willing consent. A few pages later we flash back to the night Sean revealed his affair. While I understood Sabrina better after that, I liked her less. Sabrina and I, we won’t be friends.
Sean has been failing her emotionally, then he reveals he was meeting up with a coworker. There’s no understanding of what led to this affair, or how long it lasted, or any of the details that would make his position a sympathetic one. Dude can’t keep it at home. Ok. Sabrina kicks him out. I’ve got her back. We’ll find out later why she let him come home and… Sabrina calls him home before he’s had time to find a place to sleep that night. She decides, with a complete lack of data, that her marriage is worth saving and they need to move forward. She shuts it all down and soldiers on. Look, I get that she’s operating from a place of fear and wishful thinking, but I’m not. While Sabrina wonders if the new nanny is too sexy to be around her man I wonder what the hell is wrong with this girl? Does she have a doormat kink?
We follow Sabrina to work, another refreshing change from the normal Lunch With The Girls post infidelity tradition. Here we find that she has a secretary who routinely fails her. Sabrina is stressed about the woman’s inability to perform simple tasks but gives her a pass because she’s too emotionally overwhelmed to do otherwise. By the end of the first few chapters it’s clear that Sabrina’s man is a cheater, her secretary is inept, her boss is a sexist racist, and her children are deeply disappointed in her as a parent. Sabrina immediately blames herself for everything. Hey, me too!
I get that Jackson is (probably) setting the stage for Sabrina to realize the problem isn’t her ass or her time management or any of the other things she’s stressing on. The problem with Sabrina is her inability to emotionally connect with her own desires and insist they be met. She’s fetishizing external approvals and needs above her own. She’s relying on a secretary to ensure promises to her children are kept instead of keeping them. She’s placing the concept of her marriage above her actual one. Sabrina probably gets her head straight over the course of Bounce and lays down some laws for everyone, herself included. I couldn’t stick around to find out. The more Sabrina focused on how inadequate she was the more I wanted to get away from her.
Bounce had strong word of mouth. With a broader point of view than Sabrina’s I might have really loved it. As it was I gave up after a month and moved it from the TBR to the DNF.
Final Assessment: First person with infidelity but it’s the lack of backbone that drove me off. DNF.
Source: purchased copy
by Ridley • • 6 Comments
Happy first of the month!
Read a book with a marginalized character you want to recommend? Run across a terrible portrayal you want to warn others to avoid? Just want to rant about the general state of the genre?
Let ‘er rip in the comments. Nothing is off topic, but no promo, please.
by Ridley • • 4 Comments
- Romance 101: Can romance novels turn non-readers into booklovers? – One of my favorite bloggers is Pamela/Badass Romance and this interview with her friend @RomanceProf Jessie Matthews, who teaches an undergraduate course on romance, is the kind of high-quality post that makes her such a pleasure to read.
Jessie: I teach best when I am teaching literature that fascinates me, and romance fiction fits that bill. I like the genre’s diversity, its history, and the questions it generates, such as why are romance novels so popular, and, in some circles, still so widely disparaged? But I chose to teach romance novels for a general education literature course, the one–just one–required literature course for undergraduates at my university, to see if studying the genre could change student attitudes toward literature overall.
So many of my students are resistant to anything literary because “literary” equals “difficult” and time-consuming. They proudly boast that they don’t read novels, hate poetry, and rarely, if ever, see a play. I wanted to see if I could change that “group think” and get students reading fiction (as well as poetry—we do a bit of that as well) by choosing a genre whose outsider status in the academy might make it less threatening, and a genre that focuses on a topic that is of great interest to college students: intimate relationships. I guess you could call this a pedagogical bait-and-switch, but so far it has worked.
- Color-Blind Love, by Seleste Delaney – This post makes me kind of uncomfortable. I’m not at all a fan of the term “colorblind” in this context and it really doesn’t sound like she understands why people are critical of the term. Also, I just don’t think anyone should write pieces on how to write a particular experience unless they share that experience.
Writing Trevor was never about writing an African-American man for me. It was about writing Trevor, who happened to be African-American. I already knew the guy. I knew how he talked (because of who I envisioned as him, he had a British accent, but that’s beside the point), that he was extremely intelligent, and that he didn’t like most people. I also knew he had a thing for Marissa and hated himself for it because of her criminal past.
That was Trevor, and other than looking like Idris Elba, he could have been any race. He was a person first. And so was Marissa. And so was every other character.
Their romance isn’t one about breaking down racial or cultural barriers. It’s about breaking down the walls they built over the years to protect themselves.
- Representation without Understanding – Derek Handley – This post highlights some of the problems I had with the previous link. If you don’t understand the marginalized experience you’re writing about, you run the risk of perpetuating harmful stereotypes. Not all representation is good.
Representation is important. When you’re a kid, it’s about having a positive role model with your defining characteristics. When you’re an adult, it’s about being reminded that you fit in somewhere and escaping into that character. And when you’re going through a major life change, it’s about finding solace in stories that show you that someone understands and that maybe you can overcome the challenges you face.
And that’s why representation without understanding hurts as much as not being represented at all.
- The False Moderate Weighs In – Again, Tumblr’s medievalpoc is a national treasure. Here they thoroughly dismantle a concern troll who offered helpful criticism about the blog’s tone.
The REASON this sounds more like an “angry tumblr blog” to you than a curriculum is because curricula LIKE it have been BANNED BY THE GOVERNMENT. The logical place to go in this day and age as an educator, if you have been prevented from educating, is somewhere you can continue to do so.
This is why the societal segment of the relatively privileged come to tumblr and see a strange and topsy turvy world in which the people who have been systematically, economically, educationally, and and institutionally SILENCED are speaking, although it almost guarantees ongoing harassment as a price.
- Ignorant Shit You Shouldn’t Say to an Adopted Child – The longer I’m on this Earth, the more I think people should be gagged in public until they learn how to behave. The microaggressions (or are some of these just straight-up aggression?) these girls have to put up with just stuns me.
“One time, I was at the mechanic and the counter guy said to one of the girls, ‘You know that’s not your real sister, right?’” Kelley-Wagner recounts. “His coworker rushed over and apologized for him. On another occasion, a bookstore clerk asked, ‘Um, does she look like her real father?’”
After fielding so many inappropriate questions and comments over the years, Kelley-Wagner was struck with an idea. “I wanted to turn this into a teachable moment, especially because I don’t want the girls to internalize this negativity.” So she asked her girls if they felt comfortable posing for photos while holding signs with the comments written out. “They were all for it,” she says. “Lily even said, ‘I think people need to know how rude people are.’ We sat down and made a list and I was surprised at how many incidents the girls remembered that I didn’t.” Kelley-Wagner titled their project, “Things said to or about my adopted daughters” and in January, she posted it on Facebook. This week it began making the rounds on the Internet after getting picked up by a few small blogs and websites.
- Today in Fat Hatred – If you saw that awful piece in the Washington Post from an ER doctor talking about a morbidly obese patient, this post does a great job unpacking the dehumanization and hate in the article.
He doesn’t mean ‘the abdominal pain so bad this man sought medical attention even knowing the rank amounts of hatred and disgust he would be subjected to,’ he means ‘the inner pain that all fat people have which they try to assuage with eating and laziness.’ Because no one is fat for any reason other than emotional dysfunction and a lack of loving themselves. Fat people are broken from the ground up and that brokenness is clearly proved by their fatness.
This narrative is utter reductive, dehumanizing, and vile garbage. The only thing you can tell about a fat person by looking at them is that they are fat. You know nothing about their emotional state, their life, or their inner self; to claim that you do is to continue to silence, marginalize, and dehumanize them.
by Beks • • 3 Comments
First, I’d like to say thank you to Ridley and Meoskop for going along with this. You rock! When we started this party in the margins, I had more time to read, mostly because my life was kinda sorta in shambles and when you can’t leave the couch, reading is a great way to keep yourself company. 2014 is the year I pull my shit back together and that includes working more and writing more, which leaves practically no time to read if I also want to sleep.
I feel like I bum not reviewing books more often for this site, especially since I come across books I want to read for the blog all the time. So I’m going to share some of those titles with you, and not the blurb, but the honest and sometimes ridiculous and lazy HOW of how (?) I came across these books and why I want to read them. Enjoy!
Dangerous Curves Ahead by Sugar Jamison. Sugar did a piece for Heroes and Heartbreakers about being black and writing white characters. The piece was great. Sugar seems great. The blurb seemed great and I saw it at a B&N when I had no money so I still haven’t picked it up yet.
Lunatic Fringe by Allison Moon – Lesbian. Werewolves.
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill – I asked for horror recommendations on twitter and @awkwordly recommended this one. I marked it down to-read and went about my life. I really want to read it though even though I have no idea what it’s about.
To Love a Wilde by Kimberly Kaye Terry – I saw it on tumblr. You have no idea how much stuff I see on tumblr on any given day. I couldn’t begin to tell you who reblogged it. I just googled to try and find the original post. No dice. I like Westerns. I like Interracial. You give me an Interracial Western, you’re pretty much asking me to marry you. BTW it’s #2 in a series so I have to read book 1 first…
I Knocked Up Satan’s Daughter by Carlton Mellick III – Do I really have to explain? Another tumblr find.
Pleasure Under the Sun by Lindsay Evans – I secretly want to make the sweet sweet with Fiona Zedde. Don’t tell her. Ms. Evans is her pseudonym so when I saw she had a new book coming out I was all over that shit. Plus the cover is pretty.
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia – Honestly I don’t remember where I saw this first. It’s on the list though because I want to read about a young black girl coming of age around Black Panthers.
Gretel: A Fairy Tale Retold by Niamh Murphy – This was another tumblr find. I recently wrote a lesbian Hansel and Gretel short so I want to see how Murphy tackled it. Also, lesbians.
Ascension: A Tangled Axon Novel by Jacqueline Koyanagi – A queer woman of color wrote about a disabled queer woman of color in space. I say fuck yeah. I also saw this for the first time on tumblr.
Eating For Beauty by David Wolfe – I’m fat.
This is just SOME of what I want to read. I’ll probably be back some time with more. Thanks for putting up with me.
- All the Sporty Ladies: Female Athletes in Romance Novels – Does what it says on the tin. I’m all about athletic heroines. Give them to me.
But what happens when a heroine is the athlete? Fewer women make a living as professional athletes than men, and, as scholar Jackie Horne notes, this is reflected in the paucity of sporty heroines. Romance novels featuring gay and straight female athletes often have to address the pay gulf between men and women, the notion that female athletes need to put off love and family in order to have a successful career, or even the idea that muscles or competitiveness aren’t feminine or appealing.
Today, we’ll take a look at the issues facing sporty women of recent contemporary romance novels: the gifted amateurs, the retired pros, and the firmly-muscled crop of current competitors.
- Highbrow media’s sexist blind spot: Romance novels – Noah Berlatsky doesn’t really say anything that lots of romance authors and readers haven’t said a million times, but I did like seeing a romance novel spoken about like it could withstand the scrutiny.
Of course, these publications might claim they exclude romance novels not because they are often by women or appeal to women, but rather because they’re frivolous, poorly written crap. And some romances are crap; “Fifty Shades of Grey” is a terrible book, and I couldn’t even manage three pages of the last Nora Roberts book I tried. But there are plenty of mediocre books of all sorts, up to and including literary fiction. Is the self-conscious virtuosity of Jonathan Lethem’s “As She Crawled Across the Table,” with its thunking ironies and predictable magical realist absurdities, really any less formulaic than romance fiction? Certainly, the book’s exploration of love and creation seems clumsy compared to Judith Ivory’s Regency romance “Black Silk” and its meta-narrative.
- Confessions of a “Pretend I’ve Read It”-aholic – I feel like this dovetails kind of neatly with Berlatsky’s piece. It makes me wonder who decides what’s literary and what’s not and who’s just nodding their heads just to fit in.
I’ll admit, most books I pretend to have read are classics. I was “WHAT DO YOU MEAN”-ed enough in high school for not having dates. I didn’t want to be “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU! YOU AREN’T A REAL READER”-ed as a 30 year old woman.
Should I make amends and go back and read what I “should have read” in high school? Does it really even matter?
Truth fact: I’ve never read a Jane Austen book. Not a single one. Honestly, I don’t care to.
As readers, shouldn’t we read what we want to and not feel book-shamed, especially when it comes to books we haven’t read?
- Everyone Deserves a Happy Ending: Seeking Romance Novels Featuring LGBTQ Characters – Jessica Luther posts the final entry in her three-part series on romance for Bitch. She interviews editors from Storm Moon Press and Riptide to talk about LGBTQ romance.
Frantz: Riptide has seen exponential growth in all quarters we’ve been open for business, so there’s obviously a huge and growing market for what we publish. Non-default romance is edging into the default romance (JR Ward’s Lover At Last is the prime example). There have always been sympathetic LGBTQ characters in mainstream romance, some of whom have received their happy endings offstage, but now they’re ending up front and center. And the more readers see that LGBTQ characters falling in love is just the same as heterosexual characters falling in love, the more they’ll be happy to read about them. My prediction for the next five years is that an LGBTQ book will hit the bestseller lists from within LGBTQ publishing and that’ll happen very soon, actually. LGBTQ romance will become more mainstream, with traditional publishers releasing books and readers reading across orientations. But I think there will always be room for dedicated LGBTQ presses, the same way there will always be room for dedicated digital presses. Because if there’s one thing publishing is doing, it’s growing.
- “You can’t do that! Stories have to be about White people.” – This is an interesting piece from a teacher about how children internalize the “white default” from a young age and how having some multicultural fiction lying about isn’t enough to counteract it.
I’ve spent almost two decades teaching in English primary schools, which serve multiracial, multicultural, multifaith communities. I want to explore two things I have noticed.
1) Almost without exception, whenever children are asked to write a story in school, children of colour will write a story featuring white characters with ‘traditional’ English names who speak English as a first language.
2) Teachers do not discuss this phenomenon.
- From One White Salon Writer to Another: An Open Letter To Michelle Goldberg From Across the Pond – This shredding of the recent “toxicity” narrative in online feminism is exquisite.
Several of your supporters are making absurd claims that your piece is “balanced” and “thoughtful”. To you and them I simply ask how you can say that about a piece in which minority voices are reduced to figures in a “perpetual psychodrama” and demonised as guilty of “slashing righteousness” and a “Maoist hazing”, which says that Mikki Kendall “sounds warm over the phone” but also “obsessed”, and which uses a line as spectacularly clueless as “now, it’s true white people need to make an effort not to be racist, but…”. When you feel the need to remind yourself of something as vital as that halfway through the article as if it were an afterthought, and then move on to something you consider more pressing before you’ve even finished the sentence, then it might be time to consider your priorities. Here’s another point at which you describe a problem vastly more important and destructive than the one you have chosen to dedicate an article to: “Clearly, there’s some truth here: privileged white people dominate feminism, just as they do most other sectors of American life.” That actually sounds like a hell of a lot of truth to me, and a grim truth at that, but once again you can’t let that stand, and quickly follow it with a caveat: “That doesn’t mean, though, that social media’s climate of perpetual outrage and hair-trigger offence is constructive.” Perhaps the biggest lesson we can take from this is to make sure whatever occupies the sentence before the “but” “nevertheless” or “however” cuts in is not more important than your preferred subject. “I’m not racist but…” is very popular among racists.
by Meoskop • • 0 Comments
I’ve been off Lorraine Heath lately, but the amount of domestic violence in Moonstruck Madness made me inclined to examine how a modern Avon author addresses it. It was interesting how less in charge of her life Winnie is than the heroine of McBain’s book. The set up for The Last Wicked Scoundrel involves two side characters from an earlier series. Winnie is the widow of a duke and William is the physician that saved her life.
Both Winnie and William have an abuse history. Winnie is an orphan abused by her dead husband. William is a child of the streets with multiple abuse points. Both of them blame themselves and excuse their abusers in a fairly predictable and natural way. William’s scars are internal, Winnie’s external. (Cue yet another round of Scar Kissing.) In the three years that Winnie has been on her own, William has refused to cross the class and wealth lines that divide them. Until suddenly, he does.
Winnie fears she’s going mad and her physician is a natural place to turn. Faced with a new proximity, and having spoiler related reasons of his own, William sets about seducing her. This was utterly boring. I was interested in the emotional development of Winnie and William within the short confines of the novella but suddenly we’re all about the licking and the stroking and the succumbing. Winnie never knew it could be like this, William has waited so long, yadda, yadda, yadda. Back to the plot.
While those surrounding Winnie consider her late husband a monster, he is properly shown to be a fairly average (if vindictive) man with entitlement issues. He murdered previous wives because they stood up to him. Winnie’s failure to do so preserved her life. His thwarted plan for her disposal seems out of character and a bit convoluted, but I was willing to go with it. The acknowledgement that the women prior to Winnie were emotionally stronger but equally abused is important. Abuse is dictated by the abuser. It is their choices that dictate the violence. It is their failings that trigger it.
Winnie compares a moment of emotional damage from William to prior physical damage from her husband. It’s important to me as a reader that she recognized it but it’s more important that William accepts it. He doesn’t tell her she’s wrong, he examines if he agrees with her. He does and he makes amends. She is a woman determined to break old patterns. She is not willing to be in any way diminished. Unfortunately the author is working a tough tightrope by having Winnie skirt into TSTL territory. Winnie goes from never confronting a threat to thinking confronting threats alone is a better choice. It’s not. It’s pretty idiotic. Let’s hand wave that and get back to William.
William makes assumptions based on his abuse history that are natural and logical and get left unresolved. Heath addresses his survivor’s guilt but leaves the possibility that his abuse was willingly enabled alone. Complicity in domestic violence is still pretty taboo for the historical romance world. Abusers are not monsters, in the sense that they can present normally and defend their actions. Collaborators may feel completely justified in their own choices or love the abuser to the point that they also subscribe to the logic of the abuse. (There’s a lot in that basket. Maybe we’ll unpack it in another thirty years.)
Overall The Last Wicked Scoundrel was worth the time. I would have liked less sex and more relationship building, but that’s pretty much a given for me. Winnie has a few TSTL moments, including one that completely discounts parental rights in the Victorian era, but overall she’s trying to take control of her life. William is wonderfully beta. I say give it a go.
Final Assessment: Decent use of short length, non-noble hero. B
Series: Stand alone novella closing out the Scoundrels of Saint James series.
Source: purchased copy