- The genre debate: ‘Literary fiction’ is just clever marketing – Not the most coherent post, but I’d agree that genre definitions are often marketing distinctions rather than assessments of the books’ content.
“Genre fiction” is a nasty phrase – when did genre turn into an adjective? But I object to the term for a different reason. It’s weasel wording, in that it conflates lit fic with literature. It was clever marketing by publishers to set certain contemporary fiction apart and declare it Literature – and therefore Important, Art and somehow better than other writing.
The term sneaks back into the past in a strangely anachronistic way, so that, for example, Jane Austen’s works are described as literary fiction. This is nonsense. Can anyone think for a moment that were she writing today she’d be published as lit fic? No, and not because she’d end up under romance or chick lit, but because she writes comedy, and lit fic, with a few rare exceptions, does not include comedy within its remit.
- Romantic Rivalry? Or Slut-Shaming? – I enjoyed this piece from Jill Sorenson on how the “other woman” in romance is often a manifestation of internalized sexism and patriarchy. The breast implant line made me chuckle. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen implants used as shorthand for “slutty ho-bag/skank ho.”
Kindness towards other women, even in fiction, is a form of kindness to ourselves. We can’t all be gorgeous twenty-two-year- old virgins. Are the rest of us chopped liver? Used chewing gum? The way the hero treats other women is important to me, too. If he thinks his ex is a raging bitch, red flag. You know that’s true, ladies.
With my June release, Backwoods, I tried to create a sympathetic ex-wife character. She cheated on the hero with the heroine’s plastic surgeon ex-husband, so she’s got a few strikes against her. But she’s not Evil. She wasn’t a bad wife and she’s not a bad mother. The heroine is the one with breast implants.
- Suffragettes Who Sucked: White Supremacy And Women’s Rights – If you thought #solidarityisforwhitewomen came out of nowhere, here are some famous suffragists and their quotes in support of white supremacy.
Suffragette: Anna Howard Shaw, 1847-1919 (Physician, Methodist minister, president of the National Woman Suffrage Association, inspiration for an episode of 30 Rock)
Hooray: “Around me I saw women overworked and underpaid, doing men’s work at half men’s wages, not because their work was inferior, but because they were women.”
Wait, What: “You have put the ballot in the hands of your black men, thus making them political superiors of white women. Never before in the history of the world have men made former slaves the political masters of their former mistresses!”
- Can you be a feminist and write “can you be a feminist and” articles? – Oh man, did I love this post. May I never see one of these clickbait articles again.
Writing an article examining whether one can be a feminist and do whatever the article’s about seem to be all the rage at the moment. From working certain jobs, to having certain sex, to liking certain media, to standing with your hands on your hips, all is fair game to be examined through this lens. It makes for an easy article and you can go home with your ninety quid fee from Comment Is Free and enjoy a nice cup of whatever beverage is still feminist to enjoy.
This whole format is asking the wrong questions, from the wrong perspective. To ask if one can be a feminist and positions feminism as a question of individual choices and identity as a feminist rather than movement. It’s hardly a surprise that this format has erupted to popularity within comment journalism, which typically focuses on a watered-down liberal model of feminism, devoid of the radical kick we need to Get Shit Done. It elides asking why things are as they are, and proposing solutions, instead lumbering blame on the unfortunate women who commit unfeminist acts, or lauding those who act adequately feminist.
- BuzzFeed’s Cultural Appropriation and Infantilization Of Black Colloquialisms – Trudy takes Buzzfeed to task for their latest appropriation of black American culture for a facile listicle.
BuzzFeed, which I loathe now, has posted an “article” (I use the term loosely with that publication; it’s usually a listicle) titled 23 Words Teenagers Love To Use And What They Really Mean. Most of the words included are Black colloquialisms, so naturally this disgusting appropriation gets stripped of race, cultural context (i.e. some words are specifically from the Black LGBTQIA community and particularly gay Black men, others are from Black women, and others are just among Black people in general), and of history, and then infantilized by the ageism that infers that if it is of “teens” then it must be silly and immature. This is standard White paternalism towards Black behavior, language and culture
- Female Journalist Gets Rape Threats Over Comic Book Criticism – I followed the links for this story and just about died laughing when the artist, Booth, tweeted that good critique requires that you include praise in your assessment. A lack of praise equals an attack. It’s precious.
It began when an artist for DC Comics decided she was wrong and personally insulting—even though this artist was not involved with the cover at all. This artist, Brett Booth, decided that Asselin’s opinion was “an attack.” Yes, Asselin “attacked” a poor comic cover. A picture. (And a not very good one.) Nowhere in her article does she actually attack individual people nor name-call, due to a rare Internet condition known as “being an adult.”
- A Browser Extension That Replaces “Literally” With “Figuratively” – If you’re a peeved language prescriptivist, do I have the browser extension for you…
If you’re a cool-headed, fair-minded, forward-thinking descriptivist like my colleague David Haglund, it doesn’t bother you one bit that people often use the word “literally” when describing things figuratively.
If, on the other hand, you’re a cranky language bully like me, it figuratively bugs the crap out of you every time.
Fortunately, Yahoo Tech’s Alyssa Bereznak has run across a simple remedy for this galling inversion of the term’s original meaning. Built by a programmer named Mike Walker, it’s an extension for Google’s Chrome browser that replaces the word “literally” with “figuratively” on sites and articles across the Web, with deeply gratifying results.
- Game of Thrones’ Most WTF Sex Scene: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau on Jaime Lannister’s Darkest Hour – I don’t watch or read Game of Thrones, but watching the internet discuss the rape scene in this episode has been fascinating. Most people, even on hockey twitter, seem to ID it as rape, but the director and actor seem to disagree, which is fairly troubling. At least we’re talking about it, I guess.
“It was tough to shoot, as well,” says Coster-Waldau. “There is significance in that scene, and it comes straight from the books—it’s George R.R. Martin’s mind at play. It took me awhile to wrap my head around it, because I think that, for some people, it’s just going to look like rape. The intention is that it’s not just that; it’s about two people who’ve had this connection for so many years, and much of it is physical, and much of it has had to be kept secret, and this is almost the last thing left now. It’s him trying to force her back and make him whole again because of his stupid hand.”
The scene plays out differently than the source material, A Storm of Swords—author George R.R. Martin’s third novel in his series A Song of Ice and Fire, upon which Game of Thrones is based. In the novel, the sex scene between Jaime and Cersei is more consensual. But here, it seems anything but.
So is it rape?
“Yes, and no,” says Coster-Waldau. “There are moments where she gives in, and moments where she pushes him away. But it’s not pretty.”
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An ice hockey fan from north of Boston and the genre's most beloved troll, Ridley enjoys reading contemporary and historical romance, as well as the odd erotica novel. As someone who uses a wheelchair, she takes a particular interest in disability themes.