Links: Tuesday, May 27th

May 27, 2014 Links 1

An aerial photo of a WWI battlefield today. It's covered in greenery but still looks pockmarked from the bomb craters and shows a long, snaking trench across the middle of it.Europe’s Landscape Is Still Scarred by World War I

  • Romantic Conversations, from Idle to Burning – I feel like a lot of people have been discussing their boredom with romance’s sex scenes lately and I’m right there with them. Pamela’s suggestion of swapping out the commonly used “heat index” for a conversation quality ranking sounds good to me.

    Which made me realize that it’s the conversations, more than anything else, that really make or break a couple for me. And that frequently the verbal intercourse is more compelling than the other kind, regardless of where the scene is set. Even in a crowd, good conversation is a powerful form of intimacy. And an author’s ability to write good dialogue, sometimes interspersed with telling gestures, is a big deal for me in terms of whether I will keep reading, especially when I’m in the relatively unfamiliar territory (to me) of, say, a contemporary motorcycle romance, or a Harlequin Presents…

  • Romance Slam Jam 2014 – I’m still going through my backed-up feeds after being at RT and ran across this post from Kaia at Aren’t I A Heroine? about this year’s Romance Slam Jam and the state of African-American historicals.

    I’ve been to New Orleans several times before for extended visits, so I didn’t do anytime touristy or of a historical exploration nature this time. But I did get to sit on two panels with African-American historical romance authors Beverly Jenkins, Kianna Alexander and Piper Huguley. The first was a discussion on the process of writing historical romances and the obstacles that African-American writers face in the genre. Audience members shared almost identical stories about being discouraged by the traditional publishing industry from telling their stories. However, readers in attendance expressed a desire for more titles in the sub-genre. So if you have an African-American and/or multicultural historical romance inside of you, write it and publish it by any means necessary. Contrary to industry opinion, the market is there and they’re hungry.

  • The Gaze of Objectification: Race, Gender, and Privilege in ‘Belle’ – Lots of people have mentioned wanting to see the movie “Belle.” I’ve seen mixed reviews, but this one seemed interesting.

    The film points to the multiple meanings of “gazing” at Dido: yes, due to her remarkable female beauty, as in the title, but also because she is “the Other” in 18th-century British society: aristocratic, educated, and biracial. In one scene, this is especially highlighted. Both Elizabeth and Dido are asked to play the piano for the Ashfords during their first visit to Kenwood House. Lady Ashford (Miranda Richardson) doubts that Dido will be able to play at all. But it is Dido who, between the two girls, is the more accomplished musician. In a later scene, the objectification of Dido in British society is more dire, as misogynistic James Ashford, who once called beautiful Dido “repulsive,” stares at her on a river bank, and then assaults her.

  • Elliot Rodger And Men Who Hate Women – Once news spread of the awful UCSB shootings, people immediately began talking about how he was “crazy.” Viewing this as a random act of violence is a more comforting thought than realizing it’s all part of a misogynist society.

    We don’t know if Elliot Rodger was mentally ill. We don’t know if he was a “madman.” We do know that he was desperately lonely and unhappy, and that the Men’s Rights Movement convinced him that his loneliness and unhappiness was intentionally caused by women. Because this is what the Men’s Rights Movement does: it spreads misogyny, it spreads violence, and most of all it spreads a sense of entitlement towards women’s bodies. Pretending that this is the a rare act perpetrated by a “crazy” person is disingenuous and also does nothing to address the threat of violence that women face every day. We can’t just write this one off – we need to talk about all of the fucked up parts of our culture, especially the movements that teach men that they have the right to dominate and intimidate and violate women, and we need to change things. Because if we don’t, I guarantee that this will happen again. And again. And again.

  • A Drop in the Ocean: #YesAllWomen Have Stories Like Mine – A piece on #YesAllWomen that many of us can likely relate to.

    I ask myself, if I were to speak out, which story should I share?

    Should it be the time I was stalked for months by a 20-something neighbor when I was 11? A man who hung around my elementary school, walked ten paces behind me through the market, and would suddenly appear sitting behind me in movie theaters, leaning forward to smell my hair and breathe heavily into my ear? A man who came up to me one day as I was walking to the corner store with a friend, asked how old I was, and when I told him, put his arm around my waist, leaned into me and whispered, in a satisfied tone, “Still a virgin”?

  • Rosa May Billinghurst: Suffragette on Three Wheels – I love this story. She and I would have got along famously, I think.

    In addition to being a regular fixture at peaceful protests, Billinghurst was drawn to militant action and demonstrations. In 1910, she participated in Black Friday, leading the police to try to subdue her by knocking her out of her tricycle, pushing it down a side street, removing the valves from the tyres, and restraining her arms. Never easily deterred, she was back a few days later for the next protest, only this time she came prepared to use her tricycle as a battering ram to get through police lines.

    The image above shows Billinghurst under arrest, possibly in November 1911 when she was charged with obstructing police in Parliament Square. These charges were likely justified. Recalling her impressions of Billinghurst, one veteran of the suffrage movement wrote, “I remember hearing startling stories of her running battles with the police. Her crutches were lodged on each side of her self propelling invalid chair, and when a meeting was broken up or an arrest being made, she would charge the aggressors at a rate of knots that carried all before her.”

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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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