- Gendered Violence, Annotated – Olivia Waite read through a writing guide and was horrified at the prevalence of violence against women offered as great examples of ways to add drama to your writing.
James Scott Bell, the author of Revisions and Self-Editing, is clearly doing his best to put together a useful writing handbook for any writer of commercial fiction. He takes care to vary the gender of his pronouns very thoughtfully throughout the text. It’s a nice touch and I didn’t want it to go unmentioned — but this is a surface-level thoughtfulness, easy to implement. Much harder to root out are the deeper biases the author may not realize he’s prone to, most prominently fridging/damselling, domestic violence, and rape/attempted rape as a narrative shortcut to reader sympathy. These things come up again and again, recommended by the author as exemplary plot devices. Because I am a huge dork, I went through with a pen and post-its and marked the following things: rape, domestic abuse, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Scarlet O’Hara, and instances of possible bias against female authors versus male authors
- Forgive me if I’ve fallen in love with romance novels – The author no doubt had the best intentions with this, but I’m rolling my eyes at the “Reading romance is a feminist act. Crazy, right? Who knew?” and this bit about how romance novels are an oasis from the outrages present in real life. THAT’S NEWS TO ME.
Because I live in South Carolina, I spend a lot of time being outraged. This spring has offered so many opportunities for outrage that I’ve been talking about it nonstop. I’m glad to be doing it — challenging homophobia, threats to academic freedom, and legislative tyranny is crucial. We need activists of all kinds working to support the full humanity of all of us.
But outrage is exhausting. And it doesn’t resolve issues quickly. We have to fight and fight and fight again. This is one of the crucial things for me about romance novels: no matter how dramatically awful the situation is, you know that it’ll resolve in a satisfying way. Knowing that the ending will be happy makes it worth it for me. I’m not afraid. I don’t have to gear myself up for the tragedy, the conclusion of the novel where I’ll have to sigh and acknowledge that the world does, in fact, suck.
- We’re losing all our Strong Female Characters to Trinity Syndrome – An insightful post on how most “Strong Female Characters” are systematically undermined in service to male characters’ growth.
And Valka’s type—the Strong Female Character With Nothing To Do—is becoming more and more common. The Lego Movie is the year’s other most egregious and frustrating example. It introduces its female lead, Elizabeth Banks’ Wyldstyle, as a beautiful, super-powered, super-smart, ultra-confident heroine who’s appalled by how dumb and hapless protagonist Emmet is. Then the rest of the movie laughs at her and marginalizes her as she turns into a sullen, disapproving nag and a wet blanket. One joke has Emmet tuning her out entirely when she tries to catch him up on her group’s fate-of-the-world struggle; he replaces her words with “Blah blah blah, I’m so pretty.” Her only post-introduction story purpose is to be rescued, repeatedly, and to eventually confer the cool-girl approval that seals Emmet’s transformation from loser to winner. After a terrific story and a powerful ending, the movie undermines its triumph with a tag where WyldStyle actually turns to her current boyfriend for permission to dump him so she can give herself to Emmet as a reward for his success. For the ordinary dude to be triumphant, the Strong Female Character has to entirely disappear into Subservient Trophy Character mode. This is Trinity Syndrome à la The Matrix: the hugely capable woman who never once becomes as independent, significant, and exciting as she is in her introductory scene.
- My Prestigious Literary Novel – Mallory Ortberg being Mallory Ortberg. I LOLed.
“Let’s have even worse sex than the sex we had before,” I said.
“As long as it represents something,” he said. “Bad sex has to represent something.”
“Okay,” I said, getting started. “This blow job represents Syria.”
- My Rolodex – This post by a guy who books speakers in the video games industry is a good example of how good intentions aren’t good enough.
It’s not just about women. It’s also about race. Both issues come back to the rolodex. In addition to booking high-profile guests (Palmer Luckey, Phil Spencer, etc.), I plucked from my rolodex, and that rolodex has, as it turns out, a fairly limited diversity profile. In retrospect, it’s of little surprise the shows looked the way they did. It reflects who I know.
“Patrick, you should book based on talent! Not just to hit a check box.”
That’s true. In theory. But that theory suggests that I’m pulling from everyone in the world. That’s not true. I want to book talent from a wider pool. The statement’s subtext is that there aren’t equally funny, amazing people outside of the people I (or Giant Bomb) already know. That’s certainly not the case.
- Meet The Native American Grandmother Who Just Beat The Washington Redskins – Suzan Harjo has been in a decades-long war to cancel the trademarks on the Washington Redskins and won a significant battle yesterday.
The woman who was the driving force behind the cases that led the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office to cancel the federal trademarks for the Washington Redskins Wednesday is 69-year-old grandmother and longtime Native American activist, Suzan Harjo.
“Suzan has been fighting this since 1992. Native American people have been fighting this since 1972. … The reason it has come up recently is because Suzan has worked really hard to bring this in the public eye,” Amanda Blackhorse, one of the five Native American plaintiffs in the case filed before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, told Business Insider.
“She’s just a tremendous woman. She’s a strong Native American woman, and I’m so happy to have met her and to have been a part of all this because this is what we need to do,” Blackhorse added.
- I Was Tony Gwynn’s Bat Boy – Baseball player Tony Gwynn passed away at the too-young age of 54 due to cancer. This piece by a former bat boy shows why he’ll be so sorely missed.
My first day at the stadium, I stood getting dressed in my sparkling new uniform in the bat-boy locker area, which was tucked around a corner from the main locker room, and located about 10 feet from the bathroom. Players filed by, most of them ignoring us. Suddenly, he appeared.
“Hey,” he said to me, holding out his hand. “I’m Tony. How are you?” Flustered, I stammered, “Uh, nothing much.” He laughed.
He laughed! Have you noticed that the tributes to Gwynn all seem to mention his laugh? The man’s laughter illuminated the room. “Best sound I’ve ever heard in my life,” ESPN’s Chris Berman said in the locker room one day, after I’d sheepishly hauled out my Chris Berman baseball card and asked for his autograph. Somebody—my memory says it was Bruce Hurst—said, “I know that’s your rookie card, Chris, ’cause you’ve got hair in that photo.” Tony laughed for the next five minutes straight, literally holding his sides he was laughing so hard. The joke was lame, but who cares? If the payoff is hearing Tony Gwynn laugh for five minutes, I’ll sit through anything.
- My Juneteenth Tradition — Eating Watermelon – Today is Juneteenth – the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the US – and Feminista Jones shared her personal tribute to Juneteenth and the reasoning behind it.
One of the quickest, most refreshing and filling(and plentiful) nutritional sources was watermelon…
— Baeminist (@FeministaJones) June 19, 2014
For ME, eating watermelon came to represent freedom, or at least the pursuit of it. It represented the will and drive to be FREE.
— Baeminist (@FeministaJones) June 19, 2014