- Romance Novelists Don’t Know What Fisting Is, and It’s Hilarious – This is pure clickbait garbage journalism, but I’m almost amused by the new take on sneering at romance: arguing that writers are using a word wrong and that they’re therefore ignorant of its sexual connotation. Keep reaching, my friend.
I’m not a romance reader, and you probably aren’t either. Most of my experience with romance novels comes from pulling them off the shelves in a coffee shop and reading excerpts out loud with my friends. Romance authors know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to hair tugging and florid descriptions of the first moments of old-fashioned, penis-in-vagina fucking. However, they have a serious blind spot where fisting is concerned. They don’t seem to know that “fisting” means putting your whole hand in someone’s vagina or butt.
The first few examples are the most common mistake: using “fist” instead of “grab.” This just isn’t used in modern parlance, except when someone places something pointy in her fist to make a weapon, as in, “When the assailant got close, she fisted her key, preparing to strike.” Outside of clueless romance novelists, that’s literally the only time people fist things other than butts and vaginas anymore, and it’s still pretty rare and weird.
- Writing Romance Fiction Is A Feminist Act – I dislike these articles nearly as much as the sneering ones. I hate the hailing romance as feminist thing because romance loves to tell stories that are based on oppressive portrayals of women. Romance is a reflection of society at large and it repeats those same patterns of sexism, racism, heteronormativity and ableism. Writing romance *can* be a feminist act, but often it’s not.
When I walked into the biennial conference of a local chapter of the Romance Writers of America, I expected to learn something but also find lots at which to snicker. I expected to find breathy-voiced women with long nails talking about fine young stallions looking to sweep willing young women off their feet. Romance writing isn’t taken seriously. Even though I, along with my wife, had been writing and successfully selling romance fiction for several months, I didn’t really take it seriously either.
I didn’t find anyone who fit the above description at the conference. There was the woman who seemed to drink champagne wherever she went, and a token male in a kilt, but most of the attendees wouldn’t have looked out of place picking up their kids from soccer. And increasingly, as I listened to the speakers, I started to feel that I was at a feminist event, possibly the most feminist event I’d ever been to. I started to think that writing romance fiction was a feminist act.
- The Dark Side of the Bookstore : The Problem With The “African-American” Section – Here’s a post that touches on an issue we talk about kind of often.
So what is it about the African-American section of a bookstore that seems so foreboding? You can find Jhumpa Lahiri, Paulo Coelho, Amy Tan, Khaled Hosseini, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and other non-White but also non-Black authors in the regular fiction section in their alphabetized places. In fact, besides the African-American section, the only other fiction shelf that I see earmarked by ethnicity is the Spanish-language section (which also houses popular books like Twilight and Harry Potter en espanol).
Black author such as Toni Morrison or Alice Walker will sneak into the regular fiction section, and specialized fiction by Octavia Butler and Walter Mosley end up sorted by their genres and not by the authors’ race. But this, too often, is the case only when an author has gathered a nice-sized following to expand past the limits of their skin color. Popularity, however, does not keep non-Black authors limited to a certain area of the bookstore.
- Giving Indigenous Stories a Voice Against Stereotypes in Video Games – I love this idea. Involve people from the culture being portrayed instead of creating something then asking them if it’s ok. How novel.
From inhumanly buff, tribally vague warriors in combat games to targets in cowboys-versus-Indians epics, video game representations of indigenous people have been spotty at best. This October’s release Never Alone — based on Inupiat culture — is planned to be the first of a series of game collaborations that give indigenous people a platform.
Colin Campbell at Polygon reported that Never Alone from E-Line Media, Upper One Games, and the Cook Inlet Tribal Council (CITC) is paving the way for the “World Games” initiative, which “will release games based on cultures that have hitherto struggled to find a voice.” A continued collaboration between E-Line and CITC, World Games has reportedly already attracted interest from groups in Hawaii, Azerbaijan, and Siberia.
- “With All the Grace of the Sex” – A great piece on women working in the trades during the 16th-18th centuries. (Heads up for auto-playing audio. You can toggle it off at the bottom of the page.)
Traveling through the English countryside in 1741, William Hutton happened upon a blacksmith’s shop, where he saw “one or more females, stripped of their upper garments, and not overcharged with the lower, wielding the hammer with all the grace of the sex.” If Hutton was taken aback, it might not have been so much by the costuming as by finding women working a trade usually practiced by men.
Journeyman Gayle Clarke is working in the James Craig silversmith shop on a typical July day in Colonial Williamsburg. Her sleeves are rolled, she’s sweating, and she’s swinging a forging hammer over a thick piece of silver. In spite of the Tidewater humidity, there’s a fire blazing in the fireplace so Clarke can anneal the ingot when it’s hardened. Guests mill about the shop. A woman looks around, walks into the back, peers down the hall, turns to her companions and says, “Oh, I guess none of the silversmiths are working today.”
- Woman Discovers Husband, Father of Her Unborn Child, Is A Disgusting Internet Troll – Trolls are real people. Most of them are probably voters. I’m not sure what good it does to ignore them.
In an update she says she “very tamely” confronted her husband, asking him “flat out, if he was harassing and bullying people online. He said yes, and immediately withdrew. After telling him that I needed to know why — really why, not just ‘I don’t know’, he said he needed time to think about it.”
When he finally gave me his answer, I was disappointed. He said he trolled/bullied people because it was an outlet for him to relieve stress. He said he didn’t view the people as real, or what he was doing as anything other than a joke, and if it hurt feelings, “those people have bigger problems and it’s not my fault.”
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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.