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: (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: (Rory/Logan)
Sex ratios are the number of men to every 100 women in a population. The higher the ratio, the more the men; the lower the ratio, the more women. It's worthy to note that, when looking into the past, sex ratios can be correlated with social norms. The higher the ratio and the larger number of men, the more women stay in the home, wear less revealing clothing, be less sexually expressive, etc. such as occurred in the Victorian Era and, more recently, in the 90s. A lower ratio and more women, and women are more likely to be in the workforce, wear shorter skirts, be more openly sexual, etc. such as the 1920s and the women's liberation movement. If you compare both sides, it's easy to see that one side giveth (in terms of less restrictions) while the other side taketh away. Logically, if men put more societal restrictions on women when they are in power, you would think that women would put more restrictions on men when they are in power. However, that's not what occurs.

After explaining all this, my Romantic Relationships professor went on a tangent to explain that the women's liberation movement was (is) not about raising one group over the other. He explained--at 8AM in the morning to roughly 20 summer college students--that its goal was to make women equal to men, without the constant power struggle.

It's really good to see someone teaching a class that is largely about gender roles from a psychological perspective who gets it.
foreverlasting: (Rory/Logan)
I ended up with three more books before leaving for the 'Ham yesterday;

-Hawkspar by Holly Lisle
-My Forbidden Desire by Carolyn Jewel
-Beyond Heaving Bosoms by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan

The last was even a signed stock-copy. According to one of the booksellers, she had been in town recently and was wickedly funny. I stayed up late reading it last night. I've been following Smart Bitches, Trashy Books for a couple years, but I still wasn't expecting the level of critical analysis and feminist scrutiny Sarah and Candy have packed into their book. My former roommate Kiki took an English course on romance novels last quarter and groaned the entire time. The list of books they read leaned heavily on the literary side rather than romances published AS romances. This is also ignoring the fact that they included Twilight as an assigned read.

Thus spawned this Facebook message. Consider it my review.

"So I'm currently reading a book that I swear should have been the ONLY book necessary to teach in your romance novel class. It's a snarky, sarcastic critical analysis of romance novels across the decades through a feminist lens that passes even my BS-detector (as in, the authors didn’t skip corners or sugarcoat the bad shit, which is what tends to happen when you’re trying to prove something isn’t awful and instead is totally feminist, which it is, and yet it isn’t, but I digress). They call the genre on its many (I typed ‘huge’ and then realized what a pun that would be) flaws but explain why not all romances are as stupid as their stereotype portrays them to be. AND THEY COMBINE SWEAR WORDS WITH FOOD ITEMS. NO, REALLY.

"I think you would appreciate its epicness, and I fully intend on bothering you, Harry Potter Puppet Pals-style, into reading it come fall. Just so you know."
 

Yes, Kiki and I have an affinity for combining random swear words with food items. Deal with it.

Books aside, I moved into my summer apartment yesterday, and it is glorious. I currently have Sara Bareilles blasting out of the speakers in the dining room, and I'm living off Ramen and bread. Class starts Tuesday. Woooo.
foreverlasting: (Psych Major)
My first final was at the grudgingly early time of 8AM. Not a fan, but I think I passed. Afterwards I crashed in bed to the sound of Kiki packing and dreamed of faeries and curses. When I came to, we had the following conversation:

Kayla: "You're so weird."
Kiki: "Like you're not? You're a psych major."
Kayla: "I'm justified. You're not."
Kiki: "Who're you to judge me?!?!"
Kayla: "...a psych major."


On an unrelated note, I've been the victim of hiccups off and on all day. The record is currently at 5 separate sets.

I'd also like to note the significance of the 5 typed as a number, rather than spelled out. This, ladies, gentlemen, and gender-benders, is the direct result of becoming a slave to the psych department. I used to be well-versed in MLA. Now, I practically breathe APA. I know, I know; it's saddening.


I was browsing Carolyn Jewel's site this afternoon, and ran across this pretty:

"By and large, Romances are written for women by women and historically and presently, the efforts and contributions of woman are culturally denigrated across the entire social spectrum. Professions once traditionally male often see a decline in prestige and wages when women enter the profession. If men were to read and/or admit they read, romances, the reputation of the genre would soar. Romances exist in a ghetto and a lot of readers simply never take notice of them because they're not mainstream fiction. Romances need to leave the ghetto."
 
From a feminist standpoint, it makes a lot of sense. I more than agree that romance as a genre is a powerful, pro-woman industry. Unfortunately, every time I read a romance and I find myself mocking the characters for their trite and over-played gender roles, I have to wonder whether romance novels leaving the ghetto will honestly do any good. It's may be a female-run industry, but is it truly feminist?

More on that when I have my thoughts in order. Back to studying for Stats.
foreverlasting: (Dangerous)
Kayla: "OH MY GOD. Obama just declared June the national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month!"
Kiki: "...All of them? They only get one month?"

May I present my roommate, Kiki.

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