- Why I’m Not Reviewing Self-Published Books – A post about how a few self-publishers who won’t respect boundaries ruin it for everyone. Author K.M. Jackson linked this on Twitter then pointed out that this backlash especially affects authors of diverse books that publishers are reluctant to buy. Authors then turn to self-publishing, where they have to deal with this stigma.
The article starts with a problematic statement from the get-go: “What’s the difference between a self-published author and traditionally published author making their way in the writing world? Online—nothing.” Actually, there’s a big difference: gatekeepers. Even beyond editors and the content of the books themselves, which we’ll set aside for now, most self-published authors are not supported by a team with the professional knowledge to help them properly market their book. What does that lead to? Bloggers being spammed on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads or added to mailing lists without their knowledge. Mailboxes full of e-mails from authors who don’t take the time to read review policies or even a few blog posts to see if their book would be a good fit with the content of a site. Of course, not every self-published author can be lumped into those categories, but bloggers certainly see trends.
- I Take the Low Road About High Culture: A Rebuttal – Olivia Waite responds to an Open Letters Monthly piece that made me want to slap the condescending prick who wrote it.
Our author cannot grasp the idea that people can participate simultaneously in so-called high and low culture, even as he gives himself free license to do so. This is allowed, presumably, because he does so while knowing that High Culture is superior. When in fact, most people I know alternate between so-called high and so-called low culture, fitting the medium to the mood. Thrillers in the summer, art films in the fall; cartoons when we’re sick, opera when we’re feeling fancy. As an author of commercial romance who also does her own Latin translations for fun, I have a vested interest in high-versus-low culture debates. I could no more choose between low and high than I could choose between my right and left hands.
- “I Do Not Know What My Gender Is”: On Messy Transitions – A non-binary person who was assigned female at birth talks about how he defines his gender and the twisty, confusing path he’s taken so far to get here.
As a gender-different person growing up in the arms of Livejournal comment threads, I learned pretty quick that when talking to cisgender people – parents, friends, therapists – you sometimes have to bend the truth to be taken seriously. I vividly remember sitting on the lumpy sofa in my therapist’s dark office as a senior in high school, telling her brokenly that I had felt trapped in the wrong body for as long as I could remember. Constricted by the DSM and the WPATH Standards of Care, most healthcare providers (especially in my conservative hometown) look for a particular checklist of experiences and feelings before diagnosing a person with gender dysphoria. I knew, before walking into that office for the first time, that I didn’t meet the majority of the criteria for the diagnosis but I also knew – yes, at the age of eighteen – that transitioning to male would make me happier. I could not and cannot explain how: my gender identity has always been an amorphous and unstable mystery. As of this writing I feel closest to what I would call masculine agender (that is, I don’t identify with any gender, but I feel more masculine than feminine.) A few weeks ago I was adamantly identifying as a man with a transgender medical history, and several months before that I embraced my genderqueerness.
- Black Life, Annotated – Christina Sharpe (@hystericalblkns) reviews Alice Goffman’s ethnography “On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City” and it’s a must read for anyone interested in sociology or popular non-fiction.
So, the black communities of 4th and 6th Street continue to be laboratories in which Goffman and other student and faculty researchers at the University of Pennsylvania do field work. With its frisson of “authenticity,” On the Run may have a long and varied life ahead ( mini-series? feature film?) shaping misperception and abetting black narrative and material subjection. I already know that this book will be chosen for First Year common reading programs and that all over the US, historically white colleges and universities with small black undergraduate and faculty populations will read and then reproduce as truth On the Run’s ethics and methods; which is to say its relations and practices of power. In the neoliberal “engaged” university, On the Run is sure to be a primer for how to do immersive “urban” ethnography. And so continues, into the next generation, within and outside of the university, what Sylvia Wynter has called our black narratively condemned status.
- Twitter Won’t Stop Harassment on Its Platform, So Its Users Are Stepping In – Twitter’s inaction on the platform’s harassment problem has spawned a number of third-party solutions.
The company’s typical response to complaints about abusive and harassing behavior on Twitter is to advise users to fend for themselves. The network tells abused individuals to shut up (“abusive users often lose interest once they realize that you will not respond”), unfollow, block, and—in extreme cases—get off Twitter, pick up the phone, and call the police. Twitter opts to ban abusive users from its network only when they issue “direct, specific threats of violence against others.” That’s a criminal standard stricter than the code you’d encounter at any workplace, school campus, or neighborhood bar.
What this approach fails to recognize is that online harassment is a social problem (one that disproportionately affects the same folks who are marginalized offline, like minority groups, LGBT people, and women), and making the Internet a safe and equitable place to communicate requires a social solution. So now, some Twitter users are stepping up to provide ad-hoc fixes where Twitter itself has declined to dabble. On Monday, Jacob Hoffman-Andrews, senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, unveiled Block Together, an app that is “intended to help cope with harassers and abusers on Twitter” that allows users to “share their list of blocked users with friends” and, if they like, “auto-block new users who at-reply them.”
- First Night in Kyiv – This is an infuriating object lesson in why there aren’t more women in journalism.
He’d invited me to stay at his apartment, where the male journalist slightly older than me had also recently stayed. Now, I don’t know for certain, but given that the journalist who had stayed with the Very Respected Journalist before me went on to write two articles the following week, I imagine his visit to Kyiv went as I intended mine would – the Very Respected Journalist was inviting me to stay as a fellow journalist, a co-worker in the field of writing, and I’d go to sleep and get on with my work.
I was halfway through talking about the political situation in Britain when the Very Respected Journalist called me “baby” (really, people can say that without irony?) and shoved his beer-and-whisky-churned-together tongue down my throat. After unironically ‘baby’-ing me a few more times, the Very Respected Journalist pushed me towards his bedroom. And suddenly the authority and presumed ‘expertness’ ever-present in his writing contorted itself, with the grotesqueness of a Francis Bacon painting, to a wholly new context. I kept telling him to stop, that I didn’t want him to keep kissing me, that I didn’t want him to push me, that he should stop telling me to ‘be a good girl’, but – unfortunately – my voice obviously commands less authority, less expertise, than his own.
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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.