- Reader Assistance Request: Bad Sex Bingo – So this is a week old and all, but I thought the post and comments were good for a chuckle. My pet peeves are “her core” (for a vagina), “his manhood” (for a penis), and any sexy use of “nub” or “nubbin.”
Jill emailed me asking for some Bitchery assistance. She needs some additional terms for “Bad Sex Bingo.” (I think I actually heard many of you sit up straight in your chairs!)
I’m co-teaching a workshop on how to write a sex scene. To illustrate the importance of proper vocabulary, I’m thinking of having the group play Bad Sex Bingo, an idea inspired by your Romance Novels Workouts.
I’m looking for the wince-inducing doozies–cliches, words that may be correct but just sound awful (such as turgid), sexist concepts (such as “one concession to femininity”), etc.
- A (Brief) Guide to Transgender Terminology in Romance – John Jacobsen is at Heroes and Heartbreakers with a sort of Transgender 101 primer. Happy to see the topic hosted on a mainstream publisher’s site.
When romance readers encounter books with transgender characters, there can often be a lot of confusion, lack of understanding, or even defensiveness and fear. The specific hate, prejudice, and subconscious fear of transgender people is called transphobia. Often, transphobic commends occur because people lack the knowledge of how to refer to someone who is transgender. What pronouns do you use? What name do you use? What questions are and are not appropriate to ask? What things about them are othered by assuming they’re difference?
Questions are our best way of learning, but, in the wrong context, our questions can make people feel less-than-human. The romance community needs accessible education about transgender identities so it can be less inherently transphobic. Listed below are pieces of terminology to use and to avoid when reviewing, writing, and discussing romance with transgender characters.
- I read books by only minority authors for a year. It showed me just how white our reading world is. – While I’m not sure about how accurate/useful “minority” is in this context, this was another example of books by non-white authors being equal in quality to the white-authored books that dominate lists and awards but being harder to find. Frustrating.
In 2014, I decided that for the entire year, I would not read books written by white authors. My goal was to address the reading practices I developed growing up in Australia, where white authors have dominated the literary world. My high school reading list was filled with the “classics” — Shakespeare, Austen, the Brontes, Euripides — and well-known modern writers such as Margaret Atwood and T.S. Eliot. After school, my pleasures came from bestseller lists, which also were filled with Anglo names: John Grisham, Peter Carey, Hilary Mantel. Then I read Questions of Travel by Sri Lanka-born Michelle de Kretser. It moved me so deeply that I decided to evaluate the literature I was reading. I quit my standard diet to expose myself to new perspectives.
- Booktube Needs You! – Gay YA has a post by one of the Lesbrary writers talking about bookish YouTube and linking to LGBT booktubers she likes.
If you’re a bookish person, and especially if you’re a fan of YA, you should be exploring the wonderful world of Booktube by now. Booktube is the bookish community of Youtube. Hundreds of people make videos about books, from reviews to bookish tags to provocative discussion topics. It’s similar to the book blogosphere, but feels more interconnected. Being able to see people’s faces as they discuss book they’re passionate about makes it a much more personal interaction, and you quickly begin to feel like you really know the people you follow.
Booktube is also an incredibly welcoming atmosphere. Youtube is notorious for hateful commenters, but booktube offers a welcome oasis. People will often seek out new booktubers and leave nice comments on their videos. Make any kind of effort to reach out, and you’ll find a network of people to interact with. And the scope of booktube is broad: you can find all sorts of genres discussed. By far the most popular genre, however, is Young Adult, so if that’s your preference, you’ll quickly find your TBR ballooning after discovering booktube.
- Sister Soldiers – Bitch Magazine talks about the ways black liberation movements have ignored female victims and downplayed or limited the roles black women played to organize the movement.
But what of Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Yvette Smith, and Rekia Boyd? Unless you’re looking for their names, you won’t find their stories—all Black women shot and killed by police officers in the past five years—featured in the discourse surrounding police reform. While media attention has focused on the tragic loss of Black cisgender men, it seems like we’ve forgotten that Black women are subjected to the same state-sponsored violence. Black women are also on the front lines of #BlackLivesMatter protests across the country. They are holding it down. They are daughters in the spirit of the Black women who fought in the Black liberation and feminist movements of the past, whose contributions have been minimized in the interest of maintaining the patriarchal, white supremacist status quo. Fannie Lou Hamer didn’t see the narrative on police brutality shift during her time on this earth, but these Black women are intent on ensuring the narrative is shifted during their own.
- Game of Fear – Boston Magazine interviews Zoe Quinn’s ex-boyfriend, who set GamerGate in motion, and gives him plenty of rope to hang himself.
Judge Tynes asked if Quinn had sought help from the police. She had, in fact— numerous times. She told Boston police officers what Gjoni had done, including her allegation that he had turned violent the last time they had sex over the summer, just before their breakup, while she was at a conference in San Francisco. Judge Tynes told Quinn he wanted to help, but stumbled to find the right words as he scribbled down the conditions of a restraining order against Gjoni, barring him from posting any further information about Quinn’s personal life online or encouraging—“What’s the first adjective?” the judge asked. “Something mob—What was the mob?”
“Uh, hate,” Quinn replied.
“Hate mob—all right,” said the judge. “I’ll put that in quotations. Good luck, ma’am. So long.”
And now here Gjoni sat before me. Over the past three months, according to Quinn, he had continued to defy Tynes’s order, divulging further details about her personal life and forcing her to return to court in Boston again and again to address his repeated violations. As of April, the court had formally charged him with four.