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: (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: (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.

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foreverlasting

June 2012

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