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: (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: (Dangerous)

To my dismay, today has involved quite a bit of me running around for what turned out to be a fruitless effort. Both the people I'm subletting from as well as my property manager neglected to tell me that I needed two additional keys--one for the mailbox, and one for the building's front door. Many hours later, 2 trips to the property manager out in the middle of a residential zone bordering on rural, 1 key wrongly copied, and lots of coffee consumed, I ended up back at my apartment without anything to show for it. A couple hours after that and additional phone calls made, they property manager had the right front door key copied and hand-delivered it to me. I think they felt bad. They didn't say anything to the effect of feeling bad--they're too arrogant for that--but I think they felt bad. Maybe. I still don't have a mailbox key.


A couple weeks ago, I lent a male-identified friend The Venus Fix by M.J. Rose. Romances aren't really his thing, particularly not psychological thrillers, and I knew this, but we had been discussing pornography at the time and The Venus Fix has a solid perspective on how it impacts people. He later came back and told me he could definitely tell the book was written by a woman. I asked him why. He said that when the heroine woke up and opened her eyes, the hero described them as an ocean (or a storm, or something nature related... whatever). He laughed and commented on how cheesy-slash-creepy that would be if a guy did that in real life. I have to agree with him. I'd probably fall off the couch laughing if a guy looked into my eyes and declared them to be wonderously similar to soil. Or something.

Outrageous nature comparisons aside, I think it's worthy to note that women-identified folk writing men don't necessarily write men's thoughts and behaviors as they typically might be. Which isn't to say that no man would ever compare someone's eyes to a raging venus fly trap (okay, I'm done now), but I have to wonder whether it's the author's--and, subsequently, women in general's--wistfullness to be considered special manifesting in print. Women are taught from the cradle that their worth is determined solely by their attachment to a male. Of course we would want to believe, and thus put down on paper, that men think our eyes are remarkable.

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.

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foreverlasting

June 2012

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