foreverlasting: (Butterflies)


Adding policy:

Feel free to subscribe or unsubscribe at will. I won't be offended. The majority of my posts seem to be leaning towards the public realm for now, and so I think I'm going to keep it that way. Only the occasional writing-related post will be protected. If I think we'll click, I'll subscribe you back.
foreverlasting: (Default)

Well, hello there.

Just dropping in to say I've moved over to a new account,[info - personal] manifesta. Same snarky feminist commentary and book-lovin' goodness, but more of a focus on my own writing. I know some of you have just recently friended me and I haven't gotten a chance to know you, but you're all invited to follow me over there.

Best of wishes!

Kayla

 

foreverlasting: (Dangerous)

Last month over at Fangs, Fur, & Fey on LJ, one poster discussed a conversation she overheard in the fantasy section of a bookstore

Dude: Man, look at all this.
Pal: Wha?
Dude: I'm getting so sick of seeing this shit.
Pal: Wha?
Dude: This, and this and this (*pointing to books on shelves I'd have to crane my neck to identify*) and this and this.... All these books with heroines who wanna be the hero and shit.

(At this point, if I'd been drinking a beverage, I'd have spit it out.)

Dude: And vampires, man, quit with the stupid vampires. We need more books like this.

(He picks up the latest video game tie-in.)
Wow. Just.... wow.

Oddly enough, only a few commentors remarked on the misogyny underlying the conversation. The rest of the commentors discussed the legitimacy of being frustrated with the vampire fad.

Frankly, I don't give a shit if they have reason to bash vampire fiction or not. That wasn't the main point of their conversation. The fact that they're assholes who don't respect women? Yeah, I care about that quite a bit. 

The question of whether or not there are too many heroines and not enough heroes in current fiction was also raised. I've personally considered if I should be writing about more heroes. The conclusion I eventually came to is that the fantasy/scifi genre has historically been dominated by male leads and male writers. This is not exclusive to the genre; it mirrors real life. As much as I dislike how far too many authors portray the new kick-ass heroine in UF, I will admit that it's something that did not exist on bookshelves about 10-20 years ago. And it's such a pervasive concept for exactly that reason.

So, no. I don't think there are too many heroines and not enough heroes. Perhaps one day when women aren't paid seventy-five cents to the men's dollar and one in four women aren't raped and we don't need domestic violence shelters because there isn't domestic violence and other people cease attempting to control, shame, or distort our perception of our bodies and...

Maybe then I'll reconsider.

foreverlasting: (Butterflies)



Coming 12/22/09 from Bloomsbury...
 
Nimira is a music-hall girl used to dancing for pennies. So when wealthy sorcerer Hollin Parry hires her to sing accompaniment to a mysterious piano-playing automaton, Nimira believes it will be the start of a better life. In Parry's world, long-buried secrets are about to stir. Unsettling rumors begin to swirl about ghosts, a madwoman roaming the halls, and Parry’s involvement in a group of corrupt sorcerers for whom the rules of the living and dead are meant to be broken for greater power. When Nimira discovers the spirit of a dashing fairy gentleman is trapped within the automaton, she is determined to break the curse. But even as the two fall into a love that seems hopeless, breaking the curse becomes a perilous race against time. Because it's not just the future of these star-crossed lovers that's at stake, but the fate of the entire magical world.

Want to win an ARC with original sketches from the author inside? See http://fabulousfrock.livejournal.com for details!
foreverlasting: (Dangerous)

The other day Lynn Viehl posted at Genreality about her interactions with aspiring writers. 

No one seems to have any idea how much money the average professional writer in the U.S. makes. They never believe me when I tell them it’s about six thousand dollars. What about that girl who wrote Twilight? they demand. She made fifty million last year! And my idea for my book is far superior to hers.
Marjorie M. Liu followed up with an entry of her own:
Technically, nothing wrong with that. But those first essays would come back, marked blood-red, practically apocalyptic in appearance (none of us were spared), and those same girls and boys who thought they could write like Annie Dillard would scream the loudest—and then become so preoccupied with this injustice inflicted upon them (because how dare a professor not find them geniuses) that they would forget that they had come there to learn.
A while back,Tess Gerritsen at Muderati also had some things to say about taking advice. The reason I went looking through her entries is because she actually wrote an even better post on a similar vein a couple years back, but I haven't been able to locate it. I think I may have a hardcopy at my family's home. I'll look for it when I move out of my apartment on Wednesday.
foreverlasting: (Dangerous)
I recently ran into an entry by Carrie Ryan where she discusses Breaking Dawn in the context of sex and violence. I know I've already beaten this topic over the head, but with the new Twilight movie come out this year, in many ways I feel like I can't say this often enough.

I'm particularly a fan of this bit:
I'm not a fan of challenging books. I also don't have a problem at all with Breaking Dawn or the violence in it. I give full props to Stephenie Meyer for writing the book and concluding her series the way she felt it should be done. But I'm just shocked that the collective fear of sex in YA novels is so strong that it outweighs any problems we have with violence or potentially abusive relationships.
Apparently some parents are (have been? this was a while ago) pissed that there's sex in the final installment of the Twilight series. Between two married couples, no less. Admittedly, I myself have never understood this country's determination to get its offspring hitched before they could, ah, consummate, but you would think the fact that Bella and Edward waited until their honeymoon to get down and dirty would placate conservative readers. I guess you can't please everybody.

Meanwhile, that scene with blood, gore, and Edward ripping her open with his teeth? A-okay.

Ryan points out the hypocrisy inherent in our society: We're fine with teens reading and watching violence, but sex? Oh, sweet cheesecake, NOT SEX!!!

I have issues with the young adult label. Many issues. The primary of which is the limitations and restrictions. Some publishers literally have checklists where sex or varying amounts of violence can tip the scale from YA or adult. The violence, I understand. But sex? We are a culture initimately familiar with violence. Sex is not violence, or at least, it shouldn't be. In fact, sex could be perceived as the exact opposite of violence. I don't see why the two are clumped together. Especially since abstinence-only education doesn't work.

My parents never told me I couldn't read any particular book (though they probably would have asked me to put back any erotica if I picked it up). I started reading adult novels when I was 12. Granted, I was an advanced reader, but many 'young adult' readers read books above their age bracket. You know what happens when children (13 and under) read something sexual? If it's not too explicit, they'll either a) become curious and ask questions, which you would think any parent would be qualified to answer, or b) they don't even pick up on it. As for years 13 and above, I'm intrigued as to what people think teenagers think about. Or, hell, do. Okay, here's a hint: It's not their homework.

Oooh, ooh, and here's my favorite comment of the day, courtesy of anywherebeyond @ LJ:
Considering HALF the teens polled about the Chris Brown assault on Rihanna think that she was responsible, I think it's time we quit acting like hysterical ninnies about teen sex and start taking a hard look at teen violence. I don't think a book should be challenged for EITHER reason, but it makes me crazy that people think nothing of the 1500 people who die at the end of Titanic, but hesitate because Leo and Kate might get hazily busy before the ship sinks. It's absurd.
ZOMG, THANK YOU. You don't know me, but... *loves*

As a violence-prevention advocate, it's incredibly frustrating trying to get into schools to talk about this kind of stuff. Most parents don't want their daaaaahling children objected to learning about basic biological processes and the very cultural implications associated with them.

We need to change the way we view sex and violence, and we need to do this in the schools. Critically ripping apart analyzing Twilight is only the start.
foreverlasting: (Woods)

There have been a lack of posts lately because I've been bouncing back and forth between ballrooms (four, to be exact). Last week I was finally able to make an Argentine tango practica that I've been attempting to attend for months now, only for it to be cancelled due to a lack dancers. However, the instructor was kind enough to let us dance while he waited 10 minutes for other people to arrive. 10 minutes turned into 45 before he finally closed up. He didn't charge us. Huzzah!

foreverlasting: (Default)

We've seen time and again that covers often don't reflect the characters in a book. Going back to the example of Anne Bishop's books, her covers featuring Cassie (The Shadow Queen and Shalador's Lady) are extremely inaccurate. In the books, she's described as having curly, frizzy hair, a full figure, and in her early 30s. The model on the books is thin to the point of potentially being unhealthy, her hair ramrod straight, and she's young. Very young. In Shalador's Lady she looks closer to 21 than 30. In The Shadow Queen, closer to 16.

Obviously, publishers are pandering to the notion that youth and beauty are what sells. What a shame to finally see a non-traditional heroine (and the only one of Bishop's lead characters who doesn't posess a dark jewel) reduced to 'what sells.'

On the bright side, Justine Larbalestier recently saw a victory. Her latest book, Liar, features a non-white protagonist with decidely non-white hair. The cover features a white girl. With, yet again, long, straight hair. After laying out the details on her blog, fans flooded her with support. Eventually, her publisher, Bloomsbury, caved.


Before and After

Major props to Larbalestier for handling such a delicate situation with strength and grace. It could have easily turned into a Bloomsbury-bashing party. Not that they don't deserve it. Check this out: 

"[Bloomsbury's] original creative direction for Liar – which was intended to symbolically reflect the narrator's complex psychological makeup – has been interpreted by some as a calculated decision to mask the character's ethnicity."
And by 'complex psychological makeup,' do you happen to mean one that is WHITE?

I call bullshit.

Either the publisher was a) too damn disinterested in a middle-list YA author to give two shits about the accuracy of the cover art, b) they're utterly oblivious to the mechanisms of race in our society, or c) this was, indeed, a calculated attempt to draw on what is perceived to be the greater audience, i.e. white buyers.

Although Labarlestier is an Austrailian author, Bloomsbury is her American publisher. If someone in America is oblivious to the affects of race in our society, they're either in denial or they've been living under a rock for a good long time. I vote either a) or c).

EDIT: Okay, I'm willing to grant that it's possible that Bloomsbury--the artists, the editors, everyone--looked at the cover and didn't even think about the implications of race. Maybe. I'd like to see a breakdown of just how many of the Bloomsbury staff involved in this decision are white versus non-white. Further, if they did simply look at the whitewashed cover and think, "Awesome! Off to the printers we go!" it could imply yet another scenario where white privilege remains unexamined and unchecked.

Being white and thus in a position of power often times means not having to  think about other people who view things from a different vantage point. Bloomsbury may not be utterly oblivious, but I'm betting they were thinking from a privileged perspective.

Maybe it was b) after all.
foreverlasting: (Jasmine Sultry)
My roommate moved out today, taking her microwave, toaster, plates, and more with her. Our sink it also clogged, for some unfathomable reason. The plumber is coming tomorrow. In the mean time, it is currently a toxic swamp, due to all the chemicals used in an attempt to clear it. I'm afraid to go into the kitchen. I love this little Parisian-esque oasis, but the 1920s plumbing (with perhaps a few modern adjustments) is wearing on me.

A friend is going to be crashing with me until I have to move out.The people he was going to be subletting from bailed on him, leaving him homeless. Snarl.


Some links I found interesting:

Dear [not just urban fantasy] author, Part I by [personal profile] kaigou. A wake up call for authors, in 3 parts, with change. Long read, but important.

A User's Guide to PTSD, Part I by[info - personal] rachelmanija. One person's experiences of PTSD and how NOT to write characters with PTSD. 3 parts. 
 
foreverlasting: (Jasmine Sultry)
I know I'm behind on this, but:



Release Date: March 2010.

With the exception of Dreams Made Flesh, I'm not a huge fan of the newer Anne Bishop covers. (I've warned anyone who borrows my Black Jewels books not to damage them-- or else --because the original covers aren't being printed anymore.) The colors of this one are particularly acid trippy. I've decided that I like the red of the dress, but not when combined with the bleached-looking blonde of her hair. The fountain's cool, though.
foreverlasting: (Psych Major)
Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa at Psychology Today has some, ah, interesting views on feminism:
First, modern feminism is illogical because, as Pinker points out, it is based on the vanilla assumption that, but for lifelong gender socialization and pernicious patriarchy, men and women are on the whole identical. An insurmountable body of evidence by now conclusively demonstrates that the vanilla assumption is false; men and women are inherently, fundamentally, and irreconcilably different.

My, oh, my. Inherently, fundamentally, and irreconcilably different, eh?

Dr. Kanazawa, let me introduce you to what must be your first venture into gender role theory from a scientific perspective: The Gender Similarity Hypothesis by Dr. Janet Shibley Hyde.

Don't let the word 'hypothesis' fool you. The GSH is one bad-ass meta-analysis of more than 2,000 cross-cultural studies of gender differences, and it is quite possibly one of my favorite documents in the known universe. Occasionally you'll hear me bemoan the vast divide between conducting research and actually applying it; not in this case. The GSH speaks for itself.

-At least 78% of all gender differences are so small they don't even matter.

-There were two gender differences with large effect sizes: motor performance (specifically, throwing things) and sexuality (but ONLY in frequency of masturbation and attitudes of casual sex). There was a moderate effect size for physical aggression.

-Y'know that pervasive myth that girls suck at math? Indiscernable difference.

I encourage anyone psychologically or statistically minded to read it. It's not perfect, but it's well executed.

It is also not true that women are the “weaker sex.” Pinker documents the fact that boys are much more fragile, both physically and psychologically, than girls and hence require greater medical and psychiatric care. Men succumb to a larger number of diseases in much greater numbers than women do throughout their lives.

Ah, so now there ARE genetic differences? There's this saying I'm trying to think of... something about having your cake and eating it, too...

It's true that boys are physically weaker than girls at birth. Psychologically? That's a new one. I could dig up some research on this, but I have a feeling the only reason Dr. Kanazawa made this claim is because of an illusory correlation. Us silly feminists know that men are much less likely to seek health care throughout their lives because they are socialized to function independently and not ask for help. Could this large gap of disease-related deaths be because of--gasp!--gender roles, and not genetics?

Finally, modern feminism is evil because it ultimately makes women (and men) unhappy. In a forthcoming article in the American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania show that American women over the last 35 years have steadily become less and less happy, as they have made more and more money relative to men. Women used to be a lot happier than men despite the fact that they made much less money than men. The sex gap in happiness (in women’s favor) has declined in the past 35 years as the sex gap in pay (in men’s favor) narrowed.
Just a humble guess, but could women's increasing unhappiness have anything to do with the fact that--in addition to all that money women are apparently making now--women still do the majority of housekeeping and taking care of the children?
The feminist insistence that women behave like men and make as much money as men do may not be the sole reason for women’s rising levels of dissatisfaction with life; a greater incidence of divorce and single motherhood may also contribute to it.

And here all this time I thought I was walkin' and talkin' like a human being.

There are multiple reasons why divorce is so much more common these days: Western culture is incredibly individidualistic; sex ratios are lower, which encourages men to be less committed to any one partner; the stigma against divorce isn't nearly what it used to be, etc. I'd also like to note that it takes two to get a divorce. Married couples are still together as long as they've always been. The difference is that, instead of dying at younger ages, they're still alive and kickin' for a good long while. Until recent history, we've never had to adapt to living a monogamous lifestyle for any extravagent length of time.

Tell me, if until recently marriages were typically ended in one partner's death, and men are typically more likely to die at younger ages than women, why is it that divorce is now what makes women oh so unsatisfied?

The underyling notion behind this article is nothing more than misogyny. It's important to keep in mind that Dr. Kanazawa is an evolutionary psychologist. Ev psych has the amazing ability to connect the dots in ways other fields of psychology can't or don't. However, consider an evolutionary psychologist's motives: traditionally, we have been divided into a male-female world, and this divide has been maintained for thousands of years. It's easy to assume that the gender roles we come to expect in our day-to-day interactions are steeped in genetics simply because some of them may have once supported the human race's survival.

This is a tricky bridge, one I'm personally wary of. It's one thing to say "this is how were once were." It's another thing to say, "this is how we once were, and how we still are."


That said, light the candles! I'm 20!

foreverlasting: (Dangerous)
Apparently, Laurell K. Hamilton believes she's the pioneer of the sexy vampire genre. I'm not sure why anyone would be proud of that, but regardless, people are ripping her apart for that statement. And rightly so. Hamilton isn't exactly known for her humility, but, wow.  This is a new low.

In fact, I've been nodding along in wry amusement until the end of this entry:

LKH says: 
"They like the idea that [Bella] was like the fairy princess and [Edward] is the handsome prince that rides in and saves her. The fact that women are so attracted to that idea – that they want to wait for Prince Charming rather than taking control of their own life – I find that frightening.” 
Makes sense, yeah? Despite her arrogance, she makes a point.

However, then the author of the entry replies:
"Also why is it such a bad thing for women to wait for Prince Charming? By waiting for Prince Charming a woman is taking control of her life and not ending up with some loser or having to settle. Why can't a woman have her Prince Charming and take control of her life at the same time. If you think of it, Bella did just that. Some may not think Bella being with Edward is the best, but Bella made her own decision with Edward. Even when Edward pushed her away, she still made the decision to be with him. She felt that was right for her. And to those who read New Moon, Bella ends up saving Edward's life."
This paragraph reminds me of when political conservatives flip feminist rhetoric on its head and use it for their own devices. Certainly, a woman can have her Prince Charming* and be in control of her life at the same time. No arguments there. But I will argue that Bella did not choose to be with Edward of her own accord, and saying so ignores the cycle of violence within their relationship and how our culture fine-grooms women and girls to enter into relationships like it.

I'd also like to add that no where in her statement did LKH say you can't wait for your Prince Charming and still be strong. Rather, she used the example of Bella and Edward to illustrate her point. Bella puts her life on hold when Edward is around and goes into a meltdown when he's gone. Though there's nothing wrong with being caught up in a romance or having a breakdown when it's run its course, Bella takes it to an extreme. That is not strength; that is putting her life in Edward's hands at Edward's whims and that is sure as hell not taking control of her own life.

Later, in the comments, the author added:
"That is what is so sad about Anita id [sic] you think about it. She is willing to have sex without love."
Holy freaking cheesecake. Do I need to explain how wrong that statement is? Do I, really? Wow.

And:
"But if LKH isn't a romantic, then why does she had Anita boiking [sic] everyone she comes in contact with?"
Sex == Love? What?

Maybe I do need to explain the previous statement, because apparently, the author does not understand that sex is not always nor should it have to be associated with love (or vice versa for that matter).

Honestly, I can't believe that after all this time this is still being argued. I have a niggling feeling that author of the entry and several commentors after her were simply looking for ways to validate their opinions and continue bashing her instead of thinking critically about what she said and the context she said it in.


Humblest apologies to [personal profile] shiegra  and others for yet another Twilight post.

*Don't even get me started on the concept of Prince Charming.
foreverlasting: (Jasmine Sultry)

Saturday night I went blues dancing for the last time until I'm guessing October, and Sunday I went with friends down to Deception Pass, where we had a picnic by the bay. We curled up in blankets and read in the sun. Perfect.

I've been leaving all the windows in the apartment open because of the heat wave recently. This morning when I woke up and padded across the creaky floor in shorts and a tank top, I was greeted by several blasts of cold air. I took a hot shower for once and even put on a sweater. At Haggens today I was contemplating how I could justify buying hot chocolate. Despite how much I love summer, I'm looking forward to the fall.

I'm mere pages away from finishing Nora Roberts' Blood Brothers, the first in her Sign of Seven trilogy. Tomorrow I'm going to amble down to the used bookstore and buy the next two. I bought this one because I was craving a romance whose characters didn't actively piss me off, and the typical NR romance usually leaves me fluffy and happy. Granted, damn near every romance uses gender roles to a certain extent, and Roberts' books aren't the exception, but her female characters aren't whiny and pathetic, and her male characters aren't complete assholes. It's a start.

Also: her male characters in Blood Brothers are not only against rape, but also seem to understand what that entails. I can appreciate that.

I used an ex-boyfriend's mother's recipe the other day and made peanut butter spaghetti. Not as good as I remember it, but still wonderful.
 

foreverlasting: (Rory/Logan)
I'm currently waiting around for the mail carrier to re-deliver what I'm guessing are birthday presents from my parents. To my joy, I got a card from them earlier today. It has a picture of a cupcake on it and in it describes me as "sweet." Yup. That's me. Sweet as raspberry lemonade.

Currently rereading The Dragon Token by Melanie Rawn. It's part of one of those series that I can just pick up where I last left off and keep reading.

I went ballroom dancing last night for the first time in several weeks, and tonight I'm going blues dancing. As a street-ballroom fusion salsa dancer, it's very odd dancing with strictly ballroom salsa dancers. They have a certain formula about them that, unless they dabble in street style, prohibits a lot of independency and cool moves. Still fun all the same, but I can't wait to go to Century in Seattle next week and salsa for real.

Other than that, I've no real plans. I think I'm going to browse a few used book stores for new reads and hit the rec center later today. Or I might just sit around and watch October Road. Who knows.

Mmm summer. So glorious.

foreverlasting: (Dangerous)
I would like to personally extend a warm "FUCK YOU" to Governor Schwarzenegger of the state of California for his award-winning decision-making skills. What, the budget's too tight? Let's cut ALL the funding for domestic violence shelters!

Again and again we see examples of how little our culture thinks of women. When Chris Brown battered Rihanna, the media had a fucking shitstorm. Those not on Brown's side encouraged Rihanna to sue his ass. Others routinely victim-blamed her when she went back to him. She was a bad role model, they said, for returning to her abuser.

You know who's a bad role model? PEOPLE WHO SHUT DOWN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SHELTERS.


foreverlasting: (Logan/Veronica)
I exist. I swear. In between rewatching the final episodes of Veronica Mars and preparing for finals and sweltering in my non-air-conditioned apartment, I've been sleeping. Occasionally. My professor dumped some graduate-level reading on us last week. I'm not a graduate, in case you were wondering. And I've been baking. I made brownies over the weekend and breaded macaroni last night.

Done with my classes on Thursday, and then I'll be back.
foreverlasting: (Dangerous)

I finally finished reading The Prize by Brenda Joyce the other day. For a romance, it's pretty long. Nearly 600 pages. The irony is that they printed it on thinner paper, and so it's not even as thick as your average 300-pager.

The immaturity of both the main characters was irritating, particularly Virginia. I did like the setting, and how they went through a multitude of ups and downs before they got their HEA (not that I'm a huge fan of HEAs, but I digress).

However, one scene truly bothered me, to the point where I nearly stopped reading for good.

"Panic came. He was too big. She was only eighteen. He was her captor. She was afraid and she wasn't ready. What if he didn't love her!
[...]
"Devlin, don't," she began.
But it was simply too late. Crying out, he thrust into her..."

I think the only reason I continued reading from there was the ambiguity of whether or not there it actually was too late. But my first reaction was, "RAPE!" And according to the Yes Means Yes model, it certainly was. In retrospect, there was no enthusiastic yes. There was no communication. Nothing that would indicate actual consent. I really shouldn't have continued reading it. However, since I did, I would like to question two things:
 

1. According to the Smart Bitches, the trend for rape in romance novels has decreased since the 80s to the point of almost non-existence. Apparently, when books do include rape them them, huge shitstorms ravage the web from angry readers and other authors. A prelim search (Google, Amazon, popular romance review blogs) indicate that no one seems to identify the rape in this book AS rape. Some reviewers are quick to point out the characters' relationship as dysfunctional and cliche; as someone currently taking a romantic relationships psych course, I have to agree. There were too many drawbacks to the relationships from the get-go. That they were able to overcome them makes it an interesting story, but it also is highly unrealistic. (I must be one of those heretic younger readers who find outdated ideals offensive.)

The fact that no one is commenting on the rape in this book is disturbing, and I believe that it may point to even greater problems. If the ambiguity of whether there was consent threw even me, then what would the average romance reader think? Probably nothing. This leads me to wonder whether or not rape in romances is actually decreasing, or whether our definition of rape in romance novels isn't changing as quickly as our actual, real-world definition has. She didn't say yes? That's rape. In romances, however, we like our sex scenes as hot and suave as possible--and that may not include securing authentic consent. I have a bad feeling that many romance novels have their heroes forgo asking for a yes and are still banking on the absence of a no in order to create a sex scene that is sexy and not complicated with modern matters such as ensuring all parties are happy and willing.

2. Why was this scene written? It's hazy enough that I could believe that the author didn't intend it as a rape scene. Then where did it come from? The heroine had doubts. She explicitly said no. Do not collect $200, do not pass go. But the hero both ignored her request (y'know, being so caught up in his uncontrollable passion and all) and didn't even pause to check in on how she was doing after the pentration.

I don't understand WHY. What does it do for the story, but to create an atmosphere of conflict? To indicate who is dominate and who is submissive? 

Forgoing the acquisition of consent is not sexy. It is not romantic. It is violence, and no matter how many layers of sugar you coat it, it will always be violence.
foreverlasting: (Psych Major)

My current read is The Prize by Brenda Joyce. Considering the epic failure of the last Joyce novel I read (I began an internal, mocking dialogue at about a fourth way through Dark Embrace--"Lookit me! I'm a female and simpering and you are male and thus so hotly tragic and I WILL HEAL YOU WITH MY FEMININE POWER IN THE NAME OF LUUUURVE!") I was hesitant to read another. This one's historical, which hacks off even more points, because by necessity historicals are lathered in gender roles. I really don't understand how any modern woman could even remotely consider historicals to be romantic. Or sexy. Perhaps it requires a suspension of disbelief that I simply don't posess. Whether this is a good or bad thing has yet to be decided.

That said, despite the multitude of improbabilities (young girl travels from America alone and is captured by a lusty pirate yet is not raped or even assaulted, even though his sole reason for capturing her is to stick it to her uncle) and tired/unrealistic plot devices (hello, stockholm syndrome), I'm amused enough by the heroine's antics to continue reading. I like her. Mostly. And I like the 1800s. 

Also: It could be a coincidence, but what's with the trend of Joyce portraying her heroines as previously chaste woman who suddenly cravecravecrave sex from the hero, who wants it just as bad, but continually refuses for unknown reasons and repeatedly turns her own desire against her as an insult? ("You want to have sex with me? You whore! You're not supposed to actually WANT it!")

foreverlasting: (Dangerous)

I got into an interesting discussion with my Romantic Relationships prof during break today, but first, a flashback to a Washington Post article from 2008. It was published shortly after the final Twilight book hit the shelves. 

"Yet on some level, it seems that children may know human nature better than grown-ups do. Consider: The fascination that romance holds for many girls is not a mere social construct..."

Yes. Yes it is. 

"...it derives from something deeper. In my research on youth and gender issues, I have found that despite all the indoctrination they've received to the contrary, most of the hundreds of teenage girls I have interviewed in the United States, Australia and New Zealand nevertheless believe that human nature is gendered to the core..."

No. No it isn't. I don't care if thousands of uneducated, hormone-driven teenage girls tell you it is; it's still not gonna be.

And for the record, would someone like to point me in the direction of the big flashing sign that says, "GENDER IS A SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION, YOU ARE WHO YOU WANT TO BE"? No? What do you mean it doesn't exist, and so this mythological indoctrination of anti-gendered ideals couldn't possibly exist either?

More to the point: If teenage girls haven't been subjected to social norms depicting more than two possibilities for gender, or told that gender doesn't actually exist, how could they ever believe otherwise?

"...They are hungry for books that reflect that sensibility. Three decades of adults pretending that gender doesn't matter haven't created a generation of feminists who don't need men; they have instead created a horde of girls who adore the traditional male and female roles and relationships in the "Twilight" saga."

They seek out books that reflect gender roles because we teach them from birth that women and men are opposites and can only function when divided into separate boxes. They adore these roles because our media tells them exactly what they need to look like, be like, and act like. People like to laugh when I tell them that our media is teaching young girls that they should grow up to be saved by men, and then I point out shit like Twilight. Throughout the entire series, Bella doesn't do a damn thing for herself. Meanwhile, Edward controls her, operantly conditions her be with him, renders her utterly dependent on him, and Meyer portrays this as love. Teenage girls think this is love.

Let me state this simply.

ABUSE IS NOT LOVE.

Taking advantage of someone due to an inbalance of power IS NOT LOVE.

Now to get to what my professor was saying: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer is the perfect reflection of the average teenage girl's romantic fantasy.

It's natural to obsess over a partner in a new relationship and part of the process. It's self-serving, because we constantly think about them, constantly want to be with them, which protects and promotes the relationship. This is fine, in and of itself. Where it becomes dangerous is when we combine this obsession with gender roles and effectively give the male-identified individual in the relationship more power than the female-identified individual.

We teach girls to obsess, to focus all their energy on being in a relationship. We. Teach. Them. We do this to them, we tell them that this is who they should be. And we tell them over and over and over again. Obsession might not be inherently negative, but when a girl/woman trades in her identity and free choice for a boy/man's and does so because society has been telling her she should since she could walk, we have a gender-based problem. Brushing it off the table by saying "Look here! Proof that this is what they want!" does nothing to address the issue.
foreverlasting: (Psych Major)
Jacqueline Carey is quirky and funny. Apparently she was a psych major (!!!) and found that useful for writing. No joke. Among many, many other things, I'm a fan of Holly Lisle's use of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to brainstorm conflict. She read an excerpt from Naamah's Curse, as of yet unpublished sequel to her newly-released Naamah's Kiss, which unfortunately I still don't posess. However, I did recently finish Santa Olivia and she signed that. Written by any other author, I would have found the first couple chapters boring, but her writing style sold it for me. She said during the Q&A that there would be a sequel, though I don't know how I feel about that. I feels more like a one-shot to me.

A friend and I discussed Carey's Kushiel series on the way home. She's written 6 books, 2 trilogies, and has started a third trilogy, all within the same world. Continuing in the universe and sometimes with the same characters is tough. All too often it feels like--and I say this tentatively--authors write more than one book because that's what sells. Particularly within the SF/F realm. If they're smart, they'll leave a couple doors (or windows, as Jacqueline Carey says) open and when it comes down to a three-book deal, they can write more than one book, and the series will be fluidly connected. It's easy to pick out when authors, especially first-time authors, don't think they're going to be writing more than one book in that world or with those characters. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer is one example (more on Twilight in another post). I have a strong hunch that Melanie Rawn did not intend for Dragon Prince to evolve into 2 trilogies. Not because the series itself was bad (it's amazing), but because the first book was so self-contained. I could be mistaken, but as it was her first published book I'm guessing she wrote it as a stand-alone, was at some point offered a multi-book deal, and went from there. The smooth transition from stand-alone to series is testimony to her skill as a writer above all.

Trilogies or series are what sell. When readers get hooked in a particular world, that's all they want to read (hence some of the outrage over Jacqueline Carey's switch to writing Santa Olivia, a completely different kind of book from her Kushiel series). Somehow, can Carey write an evocative series without it becoming trite or redundant (see: anything by Laurell K. Hamilton these days). Color me impressed.

Unfortunately, as much as I worship Anne Bishop's writing, I don't think the Black Jewels series needed to be continued past the trilogy timeline-wise.  I appreciated Dreams Made Flesh because it gave some closure and answered some questions, but Tangled Webs (albeit funny) seemed like a... complete tangent. The Shadow Queen seems like more of a return to her style in The Invisible Ring, but because it's after spoiler ), it's not the same world. The desperation that drove the characters in the trilogy and The Invisible Ring isn't there anymore. The characters may still have needs and conflict, but it isn't anywhere near the same scale. I'm still going to buy her books for as long as I can, especially if she switches to writing another, new world (don't touch Tir Alainn. Don't touch it. It's done, it's perfect, leave it alone). I still love her writing style. She's still my favorite author. But I think it's obvious that she didn't plan for these books past the trilogy, and her newer Black Jewels books don't resonate with me in the same way as the originals.

That said, meeting her was a buzz. She signed the copy of Daughter of the Blood I've been carrying around with me everywhere for the past 6 years, and a new copy of The Invisible Ring for a friend who introduced me to the books.

It's been a crazy week.

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foreverlasting

June 2012

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