Links: Saturday, March 1st

March 1, 2014 Links 4

Four images of a grey and brown tiger cat looking very serious.Caturday is no laughing matter.

  • Romance 101: Can romance novels turn non-readers into booklovers? – One of my favorite bloggers is Pamela/Badass Romance and this interview with her friend @RomanceProf Jessie Matthews, who teaches an undergraduate course on romance, is the kind of high-quality post that makes her such a pleasure to read.

    Jessie: I teach best when I am teaching literature that fascinates me, and romance fiction fits that bill. I like the genre’s diversity, its history, and the questions it generates, such as why are romance novels so popular, and, in some circles, still so widely disparaged? But I chose to teach romance novels for a general education literature course, the one–just one–required literature course for undergraduates at my university, to see if studying the genre could change student attitudes toward literature overall.

    So many of my students are resistant to anything literary because “literary” equals “difficult” and time-consuming. They proudly boast that they don’t read novels, hate poetry, and rarely, if ever, see a play. I wanted to see if I could change that “group think” and get students reading fiction (as well as poetry—we do a bit of that as well) by choosing a genre whose outsider status in the academy might make it less threatening, and a genre that focuses on a topic that is of great interest to college students: intimate relationships. I guess you could call this a pedagogical bait-and-switch, but so far it has worked.

  • Color-Blind Love, by Seleste Delaney – This post makes me kind of uncomfortable. I’m not at all a fan of the term “colorblind” in this context and it really doesn’t sound like she understands why people are critical of the term. Also, I just don’t think anyone should write pieces on how to write a particular experience unless they share that experience.

    Writing Trevor was never about writing an African-American man for me. It was about writing Trevor, who happened to be African-American. I already knew the guy. I knew how he talked (because of who I envisioned as him, he had a British accent, but that’s beside the point), that he was extremely intelligent, and that he didn’t like most people. I also knew he had a thing for Marissa and hated himself for it because of her criminal past.

    That was Trevor, and other than looking like Idris Elba, he could have been any race. He was a person first. And so was Marissa. And so was every other character.

    Their romance isn’t one about breaking down racial or cultural barriers. It’s about breaking down the walls they built over the years to protect themselves.

  • Representation without Understanding – Derek Handley – This post highlights some of the problems I had with the previous link. If you don’t understand the marginalized experience you’re writing about, you run the risk of perpetuating harmful stereotypes. Not all representation is good.

    Representation is important. When you’re a kid, it’s about having a positive role model with your defining characteristics. When you’re an adult, it’s about being reminded that you fit in somewhere and escaping into that character. And when you’re going through a major life change, it’s about finding solace in stories that show you that someone understands and that maybe you can overcome the challenges you face.

    And that’s why representation without understanding hurts as much as not being represented at all.

  • The False Moderate Weighs In – Again, Tumblr’s medievalpoc is a national treasure. Here they thoroughly dismantle a concern troll who offered helpful criticism about the blog’s tone.

    The REASON this sounds more like an “angry tumblr blog” to you than a curriculum is because curricula LIKE it have been BANNED BY THE GOVERNMENT. The logical place to go in this day and age as an educator, if you have been prevented from educating, is somewhere you can continue to do so.

    This is why the societal segment of the relatively privileged come to tumblr and see a strange and topsy turvy world in which the people who have been systematically, economically, educationally, and and institutionally SILENCED are speaking, although it almost guarantees ongoing harassment as a price.

  • Ignorant Shit You Shouldn’t Say to an Adopted Child – The longer I’m on this Earth, the more I think people should be gagged in public until they learn how to behave. The microaggressions (or are some of these just straight-up aggression?) these girls have to put up with just stuns me.

    “One time, I was at the mechanic and the counter guy said to one of the girls, ‘You know that’s not your real sister, right?'” Kelley-Wagner recounts. “His coworker rushed over and apologized for him. On another occasion, a bookstore clerk asked, ‘Um, does she look like her real father?'”

    After fielding so many inappropriate questions and comments over the years, Kelley-Wagner was struck with an idea. “I wanted to turn this into a teachable moment, especially because I don’t want the girls to internalize this negativity.” So she asked her girls if they felt comfortable posing for photos while holding signs with the comments written out. “They were all for it,” she says. “Lily even said, ‘I think people need to know how rude people are.’ We sat down and made a list and I was surprised at how many incidents the girls remembered that I didn’t.” Kelley-Wagner titled their project, “Things said to or about my adopted daughters” and in January, she posted it on Facebook. This week it began making the rounds on the Internet after getting picked up by a few small blogs and websites.

  • Today in Fat Hatred – If you saw that awful piece in the Washington Post from an ER doctor talking about a morbidly obese patient, this post does a great job unpacking the dehumanization and hate in the article.

    He doesn’t mean ‘the abdominal pain so bad this man sought medical attention even knowing the rank amounts of hatred and disgust he would be subjected to,’ he means ‘the inner pain that all fat people have which they try to assuage with eating and laziness.’ Because no one is fat for any reason other than emotional dysfunction and a lack of loving themselves. Fat people are broken from the ground up and that brokenness is clearly proved by their fatness.

    This narrative is utter reductive, dehumanizing, and vile garbage. The only thing you can tell about a fat person by looking at them is that they are fat. You know nothing about their emotional state, their life, or their inner self; to claim that you do is to continue to silence, marginalize, and dehumanize them.

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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, March 1st”

  1. J.

    I feel bad for never commenting since I love your daily links so much. Lurking is in my nature. Thank you for all this. I adore medievalpoc. I learn a lot from her posts & I admire how she deals with the constant criticism & attacks. It’s different but I admire Tumblr’s Frogman too for how he deals with the constant attacks because he has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It took me a long time before I visited Tumblr because I heard so many bad things about it but I’ve found some great marginalized voices there.

  2. Fangs 4 the Fantasy (@Fangs4Fantasy)

    That colourblind piece feels like it badly missed the mark. Yes you shouldn’t write a Black person – or any marginalised person – as if they are a walking avatar of their race/marginalisation; but nor can we deny the experiences/culture/lives of POC and other marginalised people and how their lives are shaped by marginalisation, society et al. Writing someone whose character could be interchangeable with someone who was white suggests a lack of character development to say the least

  3. Sunita

    From the color-blind post:

    His attitude is that people are people first and their culture second.

    This is just wrong, wrong, wrong. There is no first and second. People are both things simultaneously. I am an individual AND a product of my culture. And so is everyone else. No one “happens” to be African-American, or white, or any other ethnicity.

    This sort of thing just makes me frustrated and depressed. I understand the intention, I think, and certainly for a fiction author their characters are individuals. But that doesn’t mean you pretend the worlds in which your characters *and your readers* live don’t exist.

    And, in the comments, the OP reiterates that she has friends from “many different cultures, socioeconomic statuses, gender identities, and sexual orientations.” Bingo!

  4. Liz Mc2

    Sunita said it much better than I was going to. It’s as non-sensical as saying “people are people first and male or female second.” In our world, gender shapes our identity and life experiences, often from *before* we are born. This doesn’t mean men and women shouldn’t be equal or that we have no hope of understanding each other. But to pretend gender doesn’t matter to who we are is silly.

    But I felt the author was a bit confused about culture anyway. In the comments she said she did a lot of research on African American life in the inner city Midwest, because that’s where her character is from. But also he apparently has a British accent because he’s her Idris Elba fantasy? This leaves ME confused about what culture means to her, anyway. (And I wish authors would keep it to themselves if their characters are based on celebrities. I prefer NOT to picture real people when I’m reading).