Links: Thursday, February 6th

February 6, 2014 Links 7

Book cover for a pulp novel entitled Our Flesh Was Cheap by Eve Linkletter. An illustration of a woman in a low-cut, yellow dress sitting in a dingy room and knitting.Saved From The Paper Drive – A collection of pulp novel covers.

  • African American Romance: My Take, Your Thoughts by La-Tessa Montgomery – This post reminded me of the discussions we had here around the Multicultural Romance Roundtable post. How many white readers who participated and said they want more of these books on the market have picked up and read a multicultural or African-American romance since then?

    Over the last few years, I’ve gotten closer to the industry, both in my former life as a reviewer, and now in my role as an author, and I’ve noticed that not all people are open to reading all stories. Not everyone is open to reading about lead characters that do not look like them, or come from the same cultural background as they do. Some are, for whatever reason, very closed-minded about what they will or will not read. And this goes both ways.

    Of the AA romance readers and authors I’ve spoken to, about 90% of them still read across the many subgenres of romance, regardless of the lead character’s race. Yet, when I polled my non AA friends and writers, only about 5% of them have ever read, or plan to read, an AA romance, or any story featuring minority leads. I’ve wondered why this is so, and if this discrepancy will ever cease to be a factor in whether or not I am able to successfully sell my work. The optimist in me hopes it will. A good story is a good story regardless, right?

  • The Real Men Who Read Romance Novels – Some people in my feed seemed to like this post, but I was definitely making a distinct jerk-off motion while I read it. There’s the gender essentialism and the sense that male attention is just so cool you guys, and then there’s this ridiculous section of male opinions on how to make the genre more appealing to men. /fart noises

    Dare we suggest that the genre become less girly? Are we, the 91 percent, keeping out a potential readership with all the PINK! And naked man chest! And girly words! And MORE PINK! Vos says: ” I think most men shy away from the word romance. Find a way to promote it without using that word and you may have a chance.” Similarly, Ron Hogan, blogger and co-founder of Lady Jane’s Salon (a national reader series devoted to romantic fiction) adds, “I mean, there’s the obvious “solutions,” like making the covers and/or the titles less “romance-y,” but at what point do you risk losing the existing audience by diluting the presentation”

  • Blame it on the internet – Al-Jazeera’s Sarah Kendzior writes one of the better responses to that awful piece in the Nation last week that took aim at Twitter’s popular group of feminists of color.

    When the powerful condemn the medium of a marginalised messenger, it is the messenger they are truly after. Most recognise that in authoritarian regimes, the demonisation of social media is a transparent play for power. Few who see themselves as advocates for justice support the condemnation of those who use it to fight for their rights.

    That is why it is startling to see social media portrayed in nearly identical rhetoric by those who claim to support social justice.

  • Black History in YA Fiction: A Time Line – Book Riot compiles a list of YA historical fiction, organized by time period. They include a list of links at the bottom.

    It’s black history month, and rather than offer up a straightforward book list of young adult titles that highlight aspects of black history in the United States, I wanted to do something different — and something that would be much more visually arresting.

    I pooled together as many YA books that were historical fiction (meaning no magical/fantastical elements) and featured black main characters or stories. The pickings were so meager, I also looked at middle grade novels which could appeal to young adult readers. But even with those titles included, I hope that this time line is not only illuminating in terms of what is out there, but I hope it’s even more illuminated about what books are not out there. It should be noted, too, many of these titles are older, and some may no longer be available to purchase.

  • Piers Morgan Insufficiently Worshipped for Interview With Transgender Woman – I enjoy the advocacy work Janet Mock does and I didn’t care for Piers Morgan’s sensational treatment of her when she was on his show. When Mock and others took to Twitter after it aired to call him on it, he threw a tantrum that would’ve been amusing if not for how disrespectful it was to trans* people. It’s hard not to see this as calculated behavior, it’s just so over the top.

    But is there any excuse for not knowing how to interview a transgender author in 2014? If mainstream Morgan and his producers couldn’t figure it out on their own, Grantland’s tragic treatment of Dr. V and Katie Couric’s bombed interview with Cox and Carmen Carrera offered recent, viral examples of what not to do, spawning lengthy debates that ought to have clarified a few points. For example: Asking Mock if she ever second-guessed her decision to become a woman delegitimizes gender dysphoria — the condition that explains why Mock was never, as Morgan claims, a man. And asking Mock if her transgender status sent any of her boyfriends running reinforces the myth that trans women trick and emasculate straight men, often cited as the cause of their too frequent murder.

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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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7 Responses to “Links: Thursday, February 6th”

  1. Meoskop

    I hate you for including the Morgan thing, Miss Ridley, I sincerely do.

    Yesterday morning I was defending Piers and by the evening I was like, yea, ok, fuck that dude, but both parties were wrong. Mock needed to object to the framing of the conversation during the conversation, not as a controversy stirrer after the fact. But she’s smart as hell and it got a lot of publicity it wouldn’t otherwise have gotten, plus a second appearance Morgan badly mishandled. Both saw PR and both ran with it. That’s their thing.

    Back to the core of the issue – I think it’s disingenuous for Mock, who is promoting a book about life with gender dysphoria, to be outraged over questions or statements that deal with that. Certainly, if she were being interviewed about an acting role, a book on a different topic, a new business – then those questions are wrong. The screen crawl would be wrong. But if discussing gender dysphoria, gendered questions are going to happen.

    Asking if it caused a romantic partner to leave is not fostering hate or a myth of deception, it’s a recognition of the real challenge gender dysphoria may present in interpersonal relationships. Revealing anything outside the narrative default standard (your parents were in the mob, you’re bisexual, you’ve been married six times) is going to present interpersonal challenges. If you’re writing a book about it then asking about it is not a toxic misstep.

    Couric was wrong, full stop, underlined, exclamation point. Initially Morgan may have been less than adroit, but he wasn’t pulling a Couric. By the end of it he’d surpassed Couric and put a ring on it – but the start was a cordial respectful interview framed to present gender dysphoria to his audience without an adversarial slant. What I saw on Twitter after Mock objected was completely out of step with that. His bewilderment was (I believe) understandable and his intial response was inelegant but none of it had to happen. Mock is not free of responsibility for this tempest. Despite Morgan’s joyful leap into disaster, I can’t give her a free pass here.

  2. Rosly Holcomb

    That’s exactly how I felt Meoskop. Why on earth would you write a book about gender dysphoria then not expect any questions about the ramifications of it. The book is about gender, HER GENDER, yet questions about it are out of line, that’s the only reason she was invited on the show. If she doesn’t want to talk about it why go on a talk show? What did she expect him to ask her about?

  3. Roslyn Holcomb

    And just out of curiosity, why is there a certain “way” to interview a transgendered person? I mean, if Mock had come on the show to talk about a cookbook, then yes, questions about her gender are out of line, but she came on the show to talk ABOUT GENDER! I’m sorry, but this notion that people have to be tittyfingered with trans people just because they’re trans is absurd. They’re people just like everybody else and subject to the same scrutiny. I’ve seen interviewers query people about every aspect of their sex lives even when it didn’t pertain to the subject at hand. The notion that someone would write a book about gender then expect not to be asked about that topic is ridiculous.

  4. nu

    @Roslyn Holcomb and @Meoskop: Just watched the interview. I think Mock was most frustrated that Morgan kept reiterating that she was a “man,” which is a denial of her gender, said things like “became a woman,” and the headline said she was a “boy until 18.” I don’t think she would have known about the headline until afterwards, and maybe she didn’t know how to address her concerns in the moment. But she acknowledges in the Buzzfeed article that she didn’t expect sensitivity in mainstream media. Morgan is the one making a fuss, lol. She did mention that she didn’t want to talk about her relationship or “coming out” to her boyfriend, but I don’t think that discussion perpetuated deception myths, I think Morgan was just mining for juicy bits there.

    I like the “Blame it on the Internet” article! As to the men’s article, what pink?! And what are “girly words”?! Maybe some men should be a little braver. While we’re on the subject, someone needs to write about gender essentialism in the genre and how traditional gender roles are overemphasized. I feel like I’m being programmed sometimes or that the books are targeted at someone else who fits the description of what a woman apparently is, to judge from the voices (“Oh, em, gee, my inner goddess!”) and heroines. I don’t want to pooh-pooh traditional femininity if you relate to that, but what about the rest of us? Lol. The only concession to the spectrum of women seems to be the inclusion of casual sex (a la Samantha). Huh? I think there are more variances among women than in just this one miniscule area. Romance heroines are supposed to be stand-ins, but somehow this stuff still bleeds through.

  5. Meoskop

    I listened to the NPR bit but I already knew that about Goldberg. She stripped all context from her framing of Mikki Kendall. The sole “bullying” example she produced on Twitter was from 2012 and said she wanted to make someone cry – the someone in question had just written an article savaging Gabby Douglas and her mother based on… her hair.

  6. Roslyn Holcomb

    I have to assume then that Mock has never seen Morgan’s show, or really any talk show. With very few exceptions, they’re tabloidy and sensationalistic. She’s been around long enough to know that if there are topics that are off limits you have your publicist negotiate that beforehand. If she did and Morgan refused to leave those topics alone then she certainly had the option to not appear on the show. Nope, this whole thing reeks of publicity stunt to me. If you put your head in a lion’s mouth don’t complain about being bitten.