Links: Monday, July 21st

July 21, 2014 Links 3

Tall platform heels covered in thumbnail-sized romaance novel covers and glittery pink tape around the toes.Twinkle Toes: Bookish Shoes for Literary Feet

  • Romance covers … what’s wrong with them – Author Joanna Bourne wrote this a while ago but I just saw it today and it’s still relevant, sadly.

    Now let us look at Historical Romance, 32 romance books, shall we? These are all well-regarded popular books. Picking out some random covers… And we have a passel of women with their clothes falling off. Sometimes, men with their clothes falling off. Sometimes both.

    Forgettable covers. Essentially these are the same cover decked out in different colors.

    Don’t get me started on the trite, interchangeable, forgettable titles.

    What does this say to the world about Historical Romance?
    It says, “One Romance book is like another.” It says, “No story inside this book, Ma’m. Just pick one at random.”

    This is so much lack of respect.

  • Not Your Sassy Black Sidekick – I saw this on Dear Author and thought I’d link it here too. It might be preaching to the choir, but wevs.

    Though the sassy sidekick trope negatively affects all black women, the target group is usually dark-skinned black women. Used as the go-to “homegirls” for shock value, the popularity of white pop stars using these black women as accessories in their performances is one of the most recently done forms of the trope. Performers such as Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry are notoriously problematic in their performances as they only interact with the black women performing in their shows by reducing them to caricatures of what they think black women act like. The women are reduced to body parts and exaggerated gestures while said pop stars enjoy the spotlight and immunity from cultural stigma while being lauded by mainstream media as having inside knowledge on facets of black culture.

    We are not your accessories, and we are not your token black friend. Our feelings do not come second to yours and we are not your personal encyclopedia for all things black culture. The emotions and actions of black women are legitimate and should be treated as such.

  • Weird Al’s “Word Crimes” Video – It’s been kind of frustrating to see this song going around to uncritical praise. Not only is mean prescriptivism no way to teach people about language, but it makes a number of nasty, disablist inferences. As a “spastic” who often drools, I’m not super amused by being the butt of the song’s joke.

    But just as I’m thinking “Maybe I could love this,” he heads back into negative territory, beating on how he wants to kill people who use literally to mean “figuratively,” and generally insulting people. This is where he completely loses me:

    You write like a spastic.

    I hate these word crimes.


    Get out of the gene pool.

    Try your best to not drool.

    I could easily overlook the lack of subtlety in his grammar lessons. I don’t expect a music video to get into the details, but what I see is that he’s appealing to the base instincts that I’m tired to the bone of seeing: The call to feel superior and to put other people down for writing errors. Prescriptivism sells. Encouraging people to rant against the “morons who can’t spell” sells.

  • No more Mr Nice Guy: When disabled people get nasty – Comedian Laurence Clark (who, as someone with cerebral palsy, would be one of the “spastics” Word Crimes refers to so disparagingly) shares some of the times strangers’ attempts at “helping” without first asking what he needs and listening to his reply have sorely tried his patience.

    Although I’m a wheelchair user, I can walk up steps if I take my time and use a handrail. It may look like a horrific accident waiting to happen, but I’m actually quite steady. What gets in my way, however, is someone being spontaneously nice by grabbing my arm to give me support which can cause me to lose my balance and fall.

    If a total stranger accosted you and made you tumble down a flight of steps, you’d be justified in telling them where to shove it. But when they act nicely, with the best of intentions, supporting me because they’re worried I might fall. You can’t shout at them and feel good about it. Perversely, in some ways I find open hostility easier to deal with.

  • How My Social Justice Failed My Family – A black sociologist shares his feelings on not going into a higher-paying field and the guilt he feels for not being able to help his family financially.

    I was on track to accomplish all of the things everyone had set out for me. I was on track to save us, to end our struggles. But somehow along the line something happened. I failed to meet my end of the bargain.

    I didn’t lose my way in the kind of extravagant fashion that would make a good movie. I didn’t lose my scholarship because of a drug conviction. I didn’t even get anyone pregnant. My deviation was much more subtle. Rather than going to school to be an engineer or a pharmacist, or even a zoologist as I dreamed in high school, I chose to be a sociologist.

  • Red Wings Generously Agree To Accept Huge Sums Of Money From Public – So Detroit, where about half of the city’s residents have been threatened with having their water shut off, is giving hundreds of millions of dollars to the multi-billionaire owner of the Red Wings to build a new arena. Just FYI.

    You might remember the uproar over the arena deal—which includes $284.5 million in public investment—when it was originally announced last summer. Isn’t this a terrible idea for a city wading through bankruptcy proceedings, people asked? (Yes, it is.) Couldn’t those tax dollars be better spent on other infrastructure improvements in the area instead of lining the pockets of a wealthy pizza magnate? (Yes, they could have.)

    The arena itself is estimated at $450 million, of which the city is paying $262 million—by way of tax increment financing (TIF)—for construction costs. That’s 58 percent, not including any cost overruns. The entire project, including the mysterious promise of ancillary investment within five years of the first puck drop, is pegged at $650 million, with $284.5 million of that coming from the TIF.

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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: Monday, July 21st”

  1. SuperWendy

    I’ve obviously had my head in the sand – first I’ve heard of the Red Wings stadium deal. There is so much wrong there it’s impossible to know where to begin the rant.

  2. lawless

    I don’t know how much can be done about the sameness of historical romance covers and titles other than to use other locales and periods than England and the Regency. More specific covers cost more and require more accuracy in costuming (one of my big bugaboos). Less generic titles may convey what a book is about (like Black Silk, To Have and to Hold, and Miss Wonderful, to cite a few I can think of off the top of my head), but not necessarily that it’s a historical romance.

    Jeannie Lin’s Tang dynasty books have wonderful covers and distinctive titles because they’re not competing against umpteen books about the same period and place.