Links: Saturday, January 18th

January 18, 2014 Links 4

A middle-aged Sikh man wearing a turban emulates the pose of the models in a Gap ad he stands below with his wife.Parents at the Gap – Cute parents are cute.

  • Writing Reality – Author Ruthie Knox has an interesting take on where the pressure comes from to write romance one way or another. I’m starting to wonder if I should be following more editors and seeing what they Tweet about. It sounds like their politics/values/assumptions shape books more than a little.

    We get edits that say heroes don’t have to go out and buy condoms, ever, because the fantasy is that the men we want to fuck are so sexually active already, they have condoms on hand at all times. They have them in their wallets. They carry them in their back pockets, for Pete’s sake, even though, dude, that is not a good idea.

    We get edits that say women with unapologetic sexual agency are sluts, so can you make it so she’s been in love with him forever, maybe? Or else have her thinking about how she doesn’t usually get horny like this, but this guy is special?

  • On Religion and Romance – Emma Barry has a great post on religion and romance. I’d love to read a romance with religious characters where there’s no conversion element or an atheist “inspirational” where a non-believer guides someone questioning their faith. That’s my fantasy: to save newly atheist men before Dawkins and the rest of the New Atheists get to them.

    But for my purposes in this post, I suspect there might also be a structural, narrative reason why religion doesn’t appear in genre romance in addition to a market-drive one. In the piece by Laura Vivanco that I linked to above, she suggests that romance might function as Marx suggested religion does: as an opiate for the masses.** But what if, in addition to or in supplement of that, romance offers its own conversion narrative? What if love is being offered as a metaphor or substitute for religion?

  • Should ‘Women’s Fiction’ Have Its Own Category? – I was nodding my head in agreement with this article while at the same time seeing why the “women’s fiction” label is valuable. It’s a double-edged sword. It likely sets up male authored fiction as a default, but it also allows women a reliable way to find the books that reflect their experiences. I’m not sure doing away with the genre label solves anything.

    Until then I’d always been coolly sympathetic to marketers’ embrace of “women’s fiction” as a way to move books. As a novelist, how could I not appreciate an effort to connect books with readers? It’s become a harder task, with more books published every year, and each of these competing not just with each other but with social media, blogs, games, and ever-longer work hours for readers’ attention. If the “women’s fiction” tag gets good books in front of readers, I thought, what’s the real harm?

    Now, in the protests of our readers, I believed I was seeing the real harm: if some subset of fiction is “women’s” then the rest is . . . not for women? This was the implicit message that at least some of our readers had received. The category had convinced them that literature is male by default.

  • I’m Fat, Forty And Single And I’m Having No Problems Getting Laid All The Time – I’m not sure what to make of this post. One the one hand, the way she owns her sexuality and gives no fucks is pretty great. On the other hand, her humblebragging about sleeping with hot guys with “gym-perfected bodies” who “have their pick of women” didn’t sit well with me. If not all men want skinny women, why would all women want athletic men?

    Early last year I ended a monogamous relationship with someone I had been with for more than a decade. In the aftermath of the breakup I decided that what I most wanted at this stage in my life was sex, and lots of it. I dubbed 2013 my “year of fucking recreationally” and set out to find some hot, sweaty, messy, dirty, uncomplicated fun with like-minded friends. And find it I did! Here are some things that I learned about what it’s really like to seek casual sex as a forty year old fat chick.

  • 15 Ladies Who Were Writing Sexy Lesbian Love Letters Before You Got Born – I enjoy reading old love letters, especially when forbidden love is at play. They really let the sappy stuff fly. It’s hard for me to read these and not see sexual love, but who the hell knows.

    Whether or not the writers of these letters were queer is not really certain, both because they’re all dead and we can’t ask them and because imposing contemporary ideas of sexuality and relationships on people in the past doesn’t work.

    In Surpassing the Love of Men, lesbian historian Lillian Faderman writes, “I venture to guess that had the romantic friends of other eras lived today, many of them would have been lesbian-feminists; and had the lesbian-feminists of our day lived in other eras, most of them would have been romantic friends.” Faderman, however, has also insisted on not imposing sexuality on women of other eras.

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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.

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4 Responses to “Links: Saturday, January 18th”

  1. Liz Mc2

    I think my favorite thing about the Gap photo is the Flames logo on the guy’s jacket. Not sure why.

    This is an extra great collection of links! When I was reading Ruthie Knox’s piece, I wondered about whether, thanks to social media, authors are much better positioned than editors to know what readers want–or rather, to know what some readers are saying they want. Publishers have big picture data on what is selling, but authors are talking to individual readers, and they are often aware if there’s a subset of readers (which we probably are) wanting something different. I think this all goes back to the issue of readers not being the publisher’s customer, but book buyers (are *they* paying any attention to reader discussions on social media? I doubt it). The best way to get traction on change is probably self-publishing success by authors who are serving readers looking for something different.

  2. Ridley

    @Liz Mc2:

    I think my favorite thing about the Gap photo is the Flames logo on the guy’s jacket. Not sure why.

    Funny you say that, as that’s part of why this caught my eye on my imgur trawl, and a bunch of the comments are “+1 for hockey fan.”

  3. Evangeline

    I don’t see the issue with the “women’s fiction” label. It encompasses a spectrum of plots and themes, from romantic storylines to suspenseful, from contemporary to historical settings, and at its core is about the heroine or heroines’ journey. The only people who dismiss or despise it tend to be those who don’t like the romantic side of the spectrum (we might be taken for a “trashy Harlequin” author/reader!).

  4. nu

    Thanks for the links, as always! Fascinating stuff! I got a rec from the religion and romance article!