Links: Tuesday, June 17th

June 17, 2014 Links 3

Screencap from Assassin's Creed: Liberation. A black woman in dark pants, a light shirt and a tricorne hat crouches on a rooftop in colonial New Orleans.Ubisoft Refused To Talk To Me About Women

  • Women writing m/m, yada yada, redux, etc. – I’m putting this here but I don’t agree that the authors writing the books are irrelevant. m/m is a genre run, edited, written and read mostly by women, largely straight women, and I don’t see how you can say that’s not important.

    There are so many things wrong with m/m romance in terms of appropriation, fetishization, the pressure to be part of the m/m community and “family,” etc. etc. But these problems are not confined to books by women writers, or straight women writers, or any other kind of writer. Crappy books are written by all of the above (including bona fide gay men), and great books are written by all of the above (including same).

    So stop focusing on the creator and focus on the product. There are shit books that are full of appropriation and fetishization. Name them, shame them, and stomp on them. There are great books that are not like that. Celebrate them and force your m/m-suspicious friends to read them.

  • Drawing The Lines Of Consent In Romance – This post is just bonkers. Books can’t cause harm because they’re fiction? Bullshit.

    At the same time, the romance community is chock full of smart, educated, self-directed and dynamic women. We’re all very clear on what is consensual sex and what isn’t. We’re an enthusiastically sex-positive group in general, big fans of love, intimacy and all that a good romance brings, both in fiction and in real life. For the most part, we decry slut-shaming, any kind of misogyny and sexual harassment or violence. We’re not the ones debating the definition of rape.

    So why do so many romances dance along the lines of less-than-full consent?

    Because we’re talking fantasy here. Fiction. Not real life.

  • Sunday Salon: The Critical Role – A great little post about what good criticism looks to accomplish.

    In an NPR interview last weekend, Graham addresses some of her critics, and one of her statements caught my attention:

    You know, the job of criticism is to make distinctions between good things and bad things and between complicated things and simplistic things.

    Is that the job of the critic? Recently, Rohan at Novel Readings wrote an excellent post about liking and disliking certain books, and Tom of Wuthering Expectations noted in the comments that what he wants is for critics to show him what they saw in a book that he does not see. I like Tom’s view much better. The trouble with making critics the arbiters of good and bad is that critics don’t even agree on what’s good and bad, never mind the fact that there are many different ways to be good and bad. What, specifically, is the book good or bad for? I hated Wuthering Heights the first time I’d read it because I’d been led to believe it was a beautiful romance. It’s a marvelous book, now one of my favorites, but it’s a terrible love story.

  • We Need to Listen to This – Melissa McEwan reminds us to listen to people when they tell us about sexual assault and save our questions about what they could’ve done differently or if they misread what happened.

    Every time there is a rape case in the news, the chorus of apologists emerge to sing the same refrain. What if s/he’s lying? How do we know? Where is the proof? La la la.

    This is an argument no person could make who has listened, really listened, to so many survivors’ stories. No one who has looked into the eyes of a person who shares the betrayal done to them as though they’re the ones who are confessing to a crime; no one who has heard the hurt and the anger and the regret; no one who has seen every emotion, from hatred to indifference, on the faces and in the voices of survivors, could make this argument.

    They would know too clearly, too unavoidably, that there is no upside to the invention of such tales. Not for most people. Not for anyone to whom I’ve ever listened.

  • Everything Wrong With New York Magazine’s Terry Richardson Cover Story – I try not to link to Jezebel, but this was a damning look at photographer Terry Richardson and how the media seems to want to enable him.

    “Is Terry Richardson an Artist or a Predator?” wonders New York Magazine. Phrasing the proposition in that way — as an either-or binary — is not only insultingly reductive, it’s also wildly misleading: as though it’s possible that the end product justifies the sexual coercion that created it, or that a respected photographer isn’t capable of preying on the women who pose for him.

    Benjamin Wallace’s extensive Richardson profile, billed as a more nuanced look at a “vilified” man, opens with Richardson lamenting the fact that “people can just do whatever they want, say whatever they want” on the Internet. In the third paragraph, Wallace mentions that an English model tweeted a screenshot of a Facebook message from Richardson telling her that he will exchange sex for a Vogue shoot, then dismisses it as “clearly an impersonation.” It’s not until the sixth paragraph — after enumerating all of Richardson’s professional successes and accomplishments — that Wallace explicitly mentions Richardson’s history of allegedly coercing unwilling models into sexual acts with him:

  • On masculinity, homophobia, and cutting the grass – Mychal Denzel Smith is at Feministing talking about how we define manliness in terms of heterosexual marriage duties and how his father thought he was gay for preferring baking with his mother over mowing the lawn.

    Some people I know think we should do away with the concept of masculinity altogether. They think it’s too destructive and not worth redefining. We’d be better off just doing away with the idea. I see where they’re coming from. But I think it’s worth exploring because our conception of masculinity has come to define how so many of us see ourselves in the world. Maybe we can’t save it, but we’d do well to understand just how much damage it has done.

  • Prison labor’s new frontier: Artisanal foods – No wonder no one wants to end the drug war. They’d lose a captive workforce that makes only $0.60 a day.

    Some years back, a small Colorado goat-cheese maker called Haystack Mountain faced its version of a classic growth challenge: National demand was growing for its chèvres and other cheeses, and the company was struggling to find enough local goat farmers to produce milk. The solution came from a surprising source: Colorado Corrections Industries (CCI). Today six inmates milk 1,000 goats twice a day on a prison-run farm. After non-inmate employees cultivate the cheese at a company facility, it’s sold in Whole Foods outlets, among other stores.

  • High court will hear appeal over illegal threats – I have only a basic understanding of constitutional law, but it seems like subjective intent would be impossible to prove. Not that courts aren’t basically useless, but this might be worth keeping an eye on.

    The high court said it will consider whether conviction of threatening another person under federal law “requires proof of the defendant’s subjective intent to threaten.”

    For more than 40 years, the Supreme Court has said that “true threats” to harm another person are not protected speech under the First Amendment. But the court has cautioned that laws prohibiting threats must not infringe on constitutionally protected speech. That includes “political hyperbole” or “unpleasantly sharp attacks” that fall shy of true threats.

  • #YourSlipIsShowing: Documenting a Hoax – 4chan is currently flooding Twitter with accounts that impersonate Twitter activists, mostly WOC, and spouting the hateful nonsense that anti-feminists claim feminists stand for. Fiqah, amongst others, has been working hard to figure out their game and out phony accounts. This tumblr has a long list of phony users.

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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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3 Responses to “Links: Tuesday, June 17th”

  1. aragingquiet

    I’m sorry but did that post just say to force your friends to read M/M? What the heck. I’m fairly certain if I suggested forcing people to read romance novels about POC written by white people, I would rightfully be taken to task.

    I’m saying this as a queer person of color: I do not trust straight women to write M/M. I’ve been pleasantly surprised before, but I’m wondering if that writer doesn’t get that some of us are avoiding this stuff for our own mental health. I deal with enough queerphobia and sexism as it is, I’m not playing around with my pleasure reading as well. I don’t enjoy reading about queer people from a straight, often white perspective.

    I like to think I have the right to make that choice, but given that I’ve been called a homophobe by straight people for expressing my discomfort with a number of M/M tropes (in the context of fanfic, but there is some major overlap lbr), it seems certain people disagree.

  2. Las

    Putting aside the issues of appropriation and fetishization for a moment, I don’t see much difference between someone saying they won’t read m/m written by straight women and saying they won’t read self-pub, or authors with street teams and/or annoyingly aggressive fans, or any number of ways readers make choosing among thousands of books a bit easier for themselves. Do we miss out on lots of great authors and books by excluding a certain group? Certainly. Is it worth reading a lot of crap for the chance to find something good, or unknowingly giving our money to an author who’s views and/or behaviors we’d really rather not support in any way? Not for a lot of people. Is it fair to those authors who are talented/edit their books/don’t employ irritating marketing tactics/aren’t assholes? Eh, probably not, but no one is owed anyone’s patronage. It sucks, but there it is.

    A reader saying they won’t read m/m written by straight women doesn’t mean that straight women shouldn’t write m/m, it means that they’ve disliked enough of that m/m for whatever reason, or have been bothered by the things said by prominent authors/vocal fans that they feel it’s too much crap to wade through to find the worthwhile and non-problematic books out there. We’ve had this discussion multiple times about self-pub and serials and various subgenres–write what you want to write, read what you want to read, those who don’t want to aren’t trying to stop you. Chill.