Links: Saturday, April 5th

April 5, 2014 Links 11

A white and orange tortoiseshell cat snoozes on a tree limb in a flowering tree covered in blooms.Cats in Flowering Trees

  • An open letter to the Sydney Writers’ Festival – I liked this letter commenting on a festival’s decision to not include romance programming in their schedule, but I do wish we could move beyond defenses of the genre that center how profitable it is.

    Your refusal to acknowledge this genre as a force within both the publishing industry and readers’ hearts is blind and foolish. You’re falling behind in a world that has drastically changed its mind about romance fiction, and the fact that you choose to turn the other way makes your snobbery all the more ridiculous. There is no place for that in publishing. Listen to your readers and writers. Take a look at some of the amazing talent you have in your backyard — the dozens (even hundreds) of authors eager to speak to readers and future writers about their craft and the genre that they love so much. Step down from your insane pedestal and realise that romance is a genre of worth. Then maybe reconsider your position and come back to us next year with a properly thought out program that takes into consideration the thousands of women who consistently work to make romance the best genre it can be.

  • Color-Aware Interracial Romance: Nina Perez’s SHARING SPACE – There are so many things wrong with this post that I could do an entire blog post that goes point by point with a red pen. I’d rather do something fun instead, so I’ll just link this here and warn you that it’s White Feminism writ large.

    Is the same true of interracial romances that embrace a colorblind approach to race? I’ve been wondering about this question as I’ve been making an effort to search out and read more romances by authors of color. Most of the interracial romances I’ve read do not suggest that a cross-race romance is or would be problematic in any way; few feature a character who questions or is unsettled by his or her attraction to a potential partner of a different race. This is likely a reflection of the fantasy aspect of romance as a genre, at least for readers of color: escaping the burden of having to think about the difficulties cross-race romance might entail in real life might be a large part of the pleasure in reading interracial romances.

    Yet is there no room in the genre for romances that gesture toward, or even confront, the difficulties that interracial couples might face in our purportedly post-racial society? Not only from social and institutional prejudices and stereotypes, but also from the different kinds of privilege that those from different races have been, through their own upbringings, taught to expect from life and love? Are there romances out there that draw attention to disparities of privilege, even while they celebrate couples that work to negotiate relationships in spite of them?

  • An Eighteenth-Century Pap Boat: Breastfeeding, Pride & Maternal Love – A great blog post about breast vs. bottle feeding infants in the 18th century. It includes some letters written by a breastfeeding mother that wouldn’t be out of place on a modern mommy blog.

    Pap boats were used for infants and invalids and were therefore fairly common household implements well into the nineteenth century. Designs vary from extremely simple earthenware scoops to highly decorative silver items that resembled a miniature teapot. The decoration on this particular design is unusual as it is quite elaborate despite being made of relatively cheap cream earthenware. As well as the pierced decoration, the handle is designed in the shape of an animal (though precisely what kind of animal I am not sure). On the spout is a moulded face which has rounded cheeks and may be intended to be an infant. The handles on the side of this pap boat are also quite unusual, and they have a flattened disk on the top which enables them to be gripped more securely by the person drinking from it. The presence and size of these handles suggests that it was made as an infant feeder rather than for an invalid, and I can just imagine a young infant in a middling eighteenth-century household being encouraged to grab the handles while its nurse could retain control by holding the spout at the back.

  • A Memorial Inscription’s Grim Origins – The National September 11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center includes an inscription on its wall that’s raised classicists eyebrows.

    On the wall is a 60-foot-long inscription, in 15-inch letters made from the steel of the twin towers: “No day shall erase you from the memory of time. Virgil.”

    It sounds fitting — except in the context of Book 9 of the “Aeneid,” from which it is translated. There, a reader learns who “you” are.

    “You” are not nameless. You are Nisus and Euryalus.

    “You” do not number in the thousands. You are two.

    “You” are not civilians. You are Trojan soldiers.

    “You” have not been thrown together by cruel chance. You are a loving pair.

    Your deaths are not unprovoked. You have just slaughtered the enemy in an orgy of violence, skewering soldiers whom you ambushed in their sleep. For this, the enemy has killed you and impaled your heads on spears.

  • Black Women Are Breaking Barriers But Still Not Getting Compensated For It – Just another story about how it’s not at all reasonable to expect people to yank on their bootstraps, work hard, and succeed. It’s more complicated than that.

    Young black women have increased their high school graduation rate by 63 percent over the past 50 years, more than tripling it and “virtually eliminating the gap with Asian women (down to 2%), and significantly narrowing the gap with white women (7%),” the report notes. That gap between the rates of black women and white women has shrunk from 22 percent in 1960. They’ve also decreased their dropout rates, particularly in recent years. In 2006, 12 percent of black women dropped out of high school, and that number has declined consistently since 2007, falling by more than 40 percent and reaching 6.4 percent in 2011.
    After they leave high school, black women have begun to dominate college. “Though all women lead their male counterparts in college enrollment and degree attainment,” the report says, “Black women do so at higher rates than any other group of women in America.” In 2010, they were 66 percent of all blacks who finished a Bachelor’s Degree, 71 percent with a Master’s, and 65 percent with a Doctorate.

  • Just Cheer, Baby – Working for “exposure” is such a scam. I hope the women who NFL teams exploit for free labor get what they deserve for all the time and energy they put in.

    Long before Lacy’s boots ever hit the gridiron grass, “I was just hustling,” she says. “Very early on, I was spending money like crazy.” The salon visits, the makeup, the eyelashes, the tights were almost exclusively paid out of her own pocket. The finishing touch of the Raiderettes’ onboarding process was a contract requiring Lacy to attend thrice-weekly practices, dozens of public appearances, photo shoots, fittings and nine-hour shifts at Raiders home games, all in return for a lump sum of $1,250 at the conclusion of the season. (A few days before she filed suit, the team increased her pay to $2,780.) All rights to Lacy’s image were surrendered to the Raiders. With fines for everything from forgetting pompoms to gaining weight, the handbook warned that it was entirely possible to “find yourself with no salary at all at the end of the season.”

  • From Larry Kwong to Brad Kwong, celebrating hockey’s rich Asian legacy – I ran across this blog today – Color of Hockey – and you know I had to link it. Hockey’s just the best.

    When the Flames won the Stanley Cup in 1989, the elder Kwong became one of the few people whose names are etched on both the CFL’s Grey Cup and the Stanley Cup.

    “He, of course, back in the 40s and 50s, experienced the racial stuff,” the younger Kwong said of his father, who also served as lieutenant governor of Alberta from 2005 to 2010. “He always just fought through it, never saw himself as different, and just kind of worked hard and achieved a lot, regardless of his race. He always instilled in my brothers and I to just do your best, work hard, and you’ll achieve the goals you set out for yourself.”

  • Why the 2048 Game Is So Addictive – If you’re like me and lost the past couple weeks to 2048, this post gives some insight into why that happens. Spoiler: it’s like drug addiction.

    Like Bejeweled, Candy Crush, and countless puzzle games before it, 2048 has eaten up hours, days, weeks of our lives. It’s not just about sliding numbered blocks into simple sums. Each 2048 session is a scrappy battle for space—a Zen meditation when clicking solo, and an all-out war when playing against others.

    But why can’t we stop? Judy Willis, a neurologist and adjunct faculty member at the Graduate School of Education at University of California, Santa Barbara, explains the neuroscience behind our 2048 addiction.

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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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11 Responses to “Links: Saturday, April 5th”

  1. lawless

    I also reacted negatively to that post on Romance Novels for Feminists, particularly in light of the earlier one to which she linked, where she seemed to expect people to know that she’d read and reviewed multicultural (and apparently not just interracial, because at least one book was by Beverly Jenkins) books on her Goodread account but hadn’t mentioned them on RNFF because she didn’t see them as having feminist implications instead of opening up a discussion about her perceptions, which may well be affected by her race and class.

    What Olivia Waite is writing this month on intersectionality is (so far) a primer in how to do this right, and so far she’s done it mostly with books in which both main characters are POC. The only exception is the one with a heroine and side characters who are deaf.

    From the description in the article, Norman Kwong’s attitude reminds me very much of my father’s, although my father was Korean-American and Norman Kwong’s Chinese-Canadian.

  2. Pamela

    That post about breastfeeding in the 18thc took me back to grad school and an essay that at the time was right on the cutting edge of feminist art history – about representations of domesticity and breastfeeding mothers in baroque and rococo French art. It seems crazy now, but back then it was a big deal to have an entire volume (in which this essay appeared) entitled “Feminism and Art History: Questioning the Litany” (1982). Anyway, there are some great images of “happy mothers” by Fragonard and other canonical French painters.

  3. Pamela

    Also, there are so many essays here in this Links post that I want to read, it’s a good thing I have some extra free time this morning.

    Re. women working for NFL teams – I think they just had Patriots cheerleader tryouts this week and stupid explotative photos of the hopefuls get splashed across Boston media – ugh. Wonder if Kraft offers them similarly shitty deal?

  4. Jill Sorenson

    I don’t always agree with Horne of RNFF–I remember a post about romantic suspense that I took umbrage to. In this case, I thought she was praising Perez for writing a “color-aware” romance. Is the issue that most IR romances ARE color aware, and Horne doesn’t know it? I read Roommate Wanted and found the frank approach to race issues noteworthy also. I liked that about it.

    My impression of the blog is that Horne posits questions like a teacher instead of taking a strong stance one way or another. I guess this encourages discussion. I don’t really know. One of her questions was “can romantic suspense be feminist?” and her answer seemed to be “no,” so that irritated me. This question (can IR be color aware?) was answered “yes.”

  5. nu

    I reacted more negatively to the assumption that race causes problems for people in interracial relationships. If you talk to people in interracial relationships, most of them will probably tell you race is the least of their problems. Culture, now that’s something else.

  6. Roslyn Holcomb

    “Color aware” interracial romances are incredibly dated. Back when they first started (late 90s) most of them made race an issue. Today if you do that in an IR romance that’s not a historical you’ll get tagged (and rightfully so) by readers. Readers prefer their IR romances sans racial angst. Having dated IR and being in an IR marriage for 15 years now I agree with the notion that race is seldom an issue, at least for us. We rarely even get a second look these days, though I will acknowledge both my husband and I are introverts who tend not to notice other people. Obviously I can only speak of black-white relationships in the Deep South. Other pairings might have a different reality.

  7. Ridley

    Honestly, my biggest problem was with Horne decreeing black authored BWWM romances to be sugar coating the way people of color navigate race. She’s a white woman who’s read a handful of books. What makes her an expert on black women’s experiences in interracial relationships?

    There’s a strain of arrogance throughout, like she has nothing to learn.

  8. Tina

    I read her term “color aware” as being more “race-as-issue.”

    I have zero problems with IR romance books being color-aware. It is disingenuous to believe that people who date cross-racially aren’t aware of their differences. However that awareness does not necessarily need to be problematic or even uncomfortable.

    However it sounds to me like she believes that unless the racial difference is a cause of concern then somehow that makes the romance comes off as less realistic? More fantasy? What? And she comes off as sounding like that just because she hasn’t read many they must not exist.

    As Ros indicates there are quite a few IR (esp. older B/W) romances out there where race is made the issue. But what a narrow little sub-genre we would have if that was THE romantic conflict the writer had to always hang her hat on. It would get real old, real fast (and frankly it did which is why we don’t see a lot of it anymore). It makes as little sense as presuming that every couple, regardless of their social or racial make-up must approach their relationship the same way.

  9. Jill Sorenson

    I think race can be acknowledged without it being a problem or an obstacle in the relationship. Awareness is a good thing. Colorblindness is not IMO. That is the source of my confusion. I saw color-aware as positive and complimentary.

  10. Roslyn Holcomb

    I dunno, but when I think of complimentary and race aware with a white guy, I get flashbacks to trust fund frat boys who suddenly start talking like Snoop Dog when I show up. Brown Sugar. Ghetto Booty. Back that thang up, baby. Uh no. Horny white dudes and race? Nothing good ever comes from that. There’snothing I loathe worse than “conscious” white guys, who are “into” black women. Gag. Not in the least bit romantic. Give me a guy who sees me as a woman, not a race.