manifesta: (Dangerous)


Catherynne M. Valente on the intersection of politics and books:

"My story is political.

"I can write from the heart--and seriously, where else would I be writing from? I'm such a commercial sellout with my popcorn novels and my stacks of cash that I have to dig down to my Grinchy literary heart with both hands and even then I might not find anything but hot sparkly vampires? I'm all heart, baby. But I can write from my ventricles and still be political, because I am a woman and a feminist and queer and there is no telling my story, no matter how cloaked in fiction, without bringing all my uncomfortable politics in. That is telling my story. It means I worry about colonial issues, it means I worry about portrayals of gay sex, it means I consider the race and gender balance of a cast of characters, it means I think long and hard before committing narrative. Because my politics are the politics of thinking long and hard about things."
This is the reason why I dedicate a large part of this journal to the intersectionality of books, publishing, and social justice. When I criticize specific romance novels for ignoring the laws of consent or modern urban fantasy for only portraying women as strong when they're overly sexualized or the lack of strong female characters and woman writers in epic fantasy or the recent trend in YA promoting domestic violence as socially-acceptable and makes caricatures out of young women in comparison to their male paranormal counterparts-- THIS is why. Because books are the dark mirror to our reality and they reflect the subtle truths of our thoughts and beliefs and attitudes that the privilege inherent to belonging in an advantaged group disguises.
manifesta: (Black Jeweled Queen)
I'm in the middle of writing a ton of papers (in particular, the final paper for my main experiment), so I'm dropping in just to link an entry made by Sarah Dessen regarding domestic violence:

"I'm sitting here watching a segment on domestic violence on GMA, and it's breaking my heart. They're talking specifically about teenage girls, and what they are calling the "Rhianna effect," i.e. that since she came forward and talked about being beaten by Chris Brown on Friday night, calls to domestic violence lines---and specifically teen targeted ones---went up considerably. This is an issue close to my own heart, because I wrote a book about a girl in a similar relationship, and since then I have literally gotten hundreds of emails and letters from girls telling me about their own stories with abusive boyfriends. It's a terrible, terrible thing, that this happens, and I so respect Rhianna for coming forward and shedding some bright, needed light on the subject. I was never in an abusive relationship. But several of my close friends, in high school and since, were, and they were not weak women. They were strong and smart and just got overwhelmed. It happens. But it doesn't HAVE to."

Emphasis mine.

I loved Dreamland, her book that involved domestic violence, and so I really appreciated that Dessen made this statement. However, I'd like to note that violence doesn't just 'happen.' There are specific gender roles our society perpetuates that in turn fosters violence against women by men. Domestic violence or sexual assault victims/survivors do not simply 'get overwhelmed.' This implies responsbility, and that if they had simply done something, called someone, the violence never would have happened or it could have ended sooner. The responsibility to end the violence shouldn't be placed on the woman to make that call; it should be placed on the man to not engage in violent behavior.

I truly don't believe Dessen meant it this way. Unfortunately, semantics is half the battle. As long as we continue to blame women with our words, on purpose or on accident, we continue to support the violence that is being perpetrated against them.
manifesta: (Dangerous)
Marjorie M. Liu made heads roll a few days ago in her post regarding Roman Polanski. It's good to see such a prominent author speaking up. Carolyn Jewel did, too. (Edit 10/8/09: Amanda Downumhas also chimed in.) For those unaware, Roman Polanski is a U.S. fugitive currently undergoing criminal court in Switzerland to be extradicted to the U.S. to face trial for his offenses. Some people have even risen to Polanski's defense, neatly ignoring the fact that he drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl.

As someone relatively familiar with these issues, I'd like to address some of the language I've seen being used.

From TulsaWorld:
"Roman Polanski lost the first round Tuesday in his battle to avoid extradition to the U.S. for having sex in 1977 with a 13-year-old girl."
An adult does not have sex with a 13-year-old girl. Sexual assault laws vary across the U.S. regarding how many years can separate two minors for sex to be legal, but in every single state it is illegal and considered to be no less than rape for an adult to penetrate a 13-year-old girl. It is not sex. It is rape. Referring to it as anything other than such is to demean the levity of the assault.

I'd also like to note that, regardless of age, it is also illegal and considered rape if one or more of the parties involved is intoxicated because it is impossible for someone under the influence to grant consent. This is also standard in every state.

Polanski plied her with alcohol. Why there is even any discussion after this point, I don't know.

From Carolyn Jewel:
"I really thought we'd moved past the days when we blamed women for the violence committed against them. I really did. I didn't think anyone in America today could stand up and blame a 13 year old girl for the actions of a 43 year old man who gave her alcohol and drugs before he got around to having sex with her -- because, damn, she kept saying no!"
Good entry overall. However, in a nutshell: we as a society are no where NEAR over blaming women for the violence committed against them. Victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and rape apologism is on going, and it occurs among our peers, our workers, our friends, our family, our police, our government. In a world (and specifically, this country) that believes people get what's coming to them, the first question we ask is not, "Is there anything I can do to help you?" but instead, "What did you do to provoke him?" This is not the first case of a child molester, but it is a case that has been under public scrutiny because of the perpetrator's fame, the length since the rape, and his flight from the country.

Let me make this clear, folks: If the perpetrator had been anything other than famous, this uproar would be not be occurring.

There are thousands of women, men, and children who have had acts of violence committed against them, many of whom do not have their perpetrator's fame to speak for them. Thousands.

What's sickening that it's taken the rape of a child by someone famous for people to begin to realize that no, HELL no, things are not okay here. When the news of Chris Brown's assault and battery of Rihana manifested last Spring, people pointed fingers, tsked, told Chris Brown never to do such an awful thing again, and promptly dropped it. Over half of teens polled blamed Rihanna. Only when it's so clear-cut as to include a child, and alcohol, and a desperate flight from the country does the media consider it sensational enough to cover it, for people to sit up and pay attention.

It doesn't matter how many times she said no, or if she said no at all. Consent is not granted in the absence of the no. Consent is not granted even if she says yes, but is still intoxicated or underage. Consent was not only NOT granted, but she was not ABLE to grant consent, period.
manifesta: (Writer)
I finished reading The Drowning City this morning while hunkered down against the rain. It's a refreshing new spin on the fantasy genre, one that I appreciate. I hadn't expected some aspects of the ending, and I definitely became attached to some of the characters, particularly Xinai. My only wish is that Adam had had a little more presence; for a bodyguard, he didn't do much bodyguarding.

I just finished writing two relatively head-hurting scenes in Black Widow's Walk. They're transitionary scenes, and so their main purpose (among others) was to get the story from point A to point B. Thus led to me pacing around my room trying to think up ways to make them more interesting to read and less boring to write. I finished chapter two and started chapter three in the head of a secondary character with malicious intentions. Oddly, her head's fun to be in. I'm not sure what that says about me. I also found a historical tidbit that fits in very nicely with what I imagined when I dreamt up a book based on the title Black Widow's Walk. (The title came first, the story came after.)

On Wednesday I'm going to be moving into my new apartment! College doesn't start back up again until later this month, but I'm returning early to attend a week and a half of training workshops related to survivor advocacy and violence prevention. It's a yearly thing to brush up on old knowledge, and I'll get to bond with the new team members.

My cable will hopefully be set up by Thursday night. Unfortunately, the summer's pretty much over, and it's going to get busy from here on out. I'll update as often as I can!

Black Widow's Walk

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