manifesta: (Battle Eyeliner)

A new SF anthology is coming out titled "Before They Were Giants." Of the 15 contributing authors, only 1 is a woman.

[livejournal.com profile] cassiphone's periodic table of SF women:

"One of the most frustrating responses I heard to the ‘Before they were Giants’ discussion, itself the latest in a long line of TOC rows, was the kneejerk “but there just aren’t as many women who are giants in the field.”

"[...] Because of course there were women. And it’s time to stop and think about the fact that the majority of authors considered “giants” in the history of field are male. Is it really because their books were better? Because what they were saying was more important? Because more people were talking about them, critiquing them, being influenced by them? Are we absolutely certain that none of those things could have been affected by societal pressures other than the pure “quality” of the text?"
The editor of the anthology responded here. (Also indicates that nonwhite and LGBTQ authors were not considered.)

[livejournal.com profile] strangedave on the lack of female representation in SF anthologies. Apparently and a few others have been criticized for criticizing the lack of diversity.
"And we are still having this conversation in the SF field after at least 35 years. If just politely helping people become aware of the issue worked, we wouldn't still be talking about it. And yet, it keeps happening, again and again. People are still putting together anthologies without even thinking about gender as an issue — and the only way to make them think about the issue is to make sure it isn't thought of as just a nicety, just another thing to try and improve that fellow editors will give you hints about (like font choice, or cover layout), but rather as something that is a major mistake if you get it wrong, something that will attract not mild criticism but anger. Anger is entirely appropriate. No one should expect not to get publicly called on their big mistakes, rather we should all endeavour not to make them, and learn to handle them gracefully when we do (as, to his credit, Sutter largely has)."

When fail is put on the interwebs, I consider it free game. If it's relatively isolated incident that doesn't impact a ton of people, I might contact the author(s) privately or on their own site and address the issue there. But this is an anthology that we're talking about; it's going to be on physical bookshelves and it's going to impact people who will never run across the discussions that are happening right now on the internet. That anthology is not going to come with a disclaimer that apologizes for its silencing of nonwhite, LGBTQ, and female SF writers. And so if the only option availiable is to discuss its inherent privilege all over the internet, then that's what I intend to do.

For additional reading: A partial podcast transcript about the debacle.

brb, finals

Jun. 7th, 2010 02:06 pm
manifesta: (Default)

 
Not dead, just slogging through finals week and trying to nail down funding for Sirens Con. The downside of running a journal that's all about the meta is that when I don't have the mental energy to think, content tends to slow down. Parts 2 and 3 of the romance series are still forthcoming, and possibly some thoughts on books I've read recently. For now, links!

[personal profile] holyschist on Moonshine by Alaya Johnson, an intriguing 1920s urban fantasy with a feminist female protag.
[livejournal.com profile] melissa_writing (Melissa Marr) on sex in YA books.
[personal profile] kaigou on the dynamics of fandom part 1. With colorful diagrams!
[livejournal.com profile] kaz_mahoney  is hosting a summer writing camp. Sign-ups end tonight, so hurry!
[personal profile] wild_irises posting in [community profile] wiscon:  An Open Letter to People Who Didn't Feel Safe at WisCon 34.
[personal profile] megwrites on science fiction and ablism.

On the bright side, my experiment is DONE DONE DONE and I has coffee.
 
manifesta: (Dangerous)
I promise the 3W4D book posts are forthcoming; my life should wind down considerably after today. Expect the first book analysis sometime tomorrow.

However, today at Dear Author I found the perfect example of what I refer to when I say that not all readers, even educated ones, can recognize a forced seduction scenario as rape every time. I think this particular example highlights exactly how hazy the distinction can be and the cognitive dissonance we may endure when faced with two conflicting images: how we are inclined, as a society, to believe that if, later on, a rape is presented as though the woman wanted it, then we dismiss any other reactions she may have had.
"This is one of the problematic areas. Charlotte is not a prostitute but nor is she a virgin. At the beginning of the coupling, it appears from Charlotte’s point of view that this is unwanted and initially fights him off, yet the two proceed to climax. Later in the chapter, clues are given that Charlie not only consented but was a full participant. During the consummation scene, I wasn’t sure. I read it twice and came away with some ambiguity. However, the post consummation exchange displays what I enjoyed so much about this story."
This book received a B grade from Jane at Dear Author.
manifesta: (Dangerous)
fiction theory has a lot of good stuff to say:

"It boiled down to me wanting to say that I think we as writers have an obligation to remember that when we write about things that they've actually happened and will happen to real people, and that our works may fall into the hands of someone unfortunate enough to have some experience, directly or indirectly, with them. But more than that, what people read shapes their attitudes and their attitudes shape their actions (or inactions) - and I think people who seek to make a profit should make sure that profit does not come at the cost of influencing bad attitudes and bad actions or harmful inactions on the part of our audiences. "
and
"Further, I don't like the implication that romance - being a female dominated field - is somehow the child of a lesser genre in the world of literature. I don't like the idea that when a man writes a romance under another genre, it's a sweeping literary classic. I do not like that men's reflections on women are given so much credibility but women's reflections on men and on themselves are devalued, relegated to genre ghettos. I do not like that somehow the women in male-written novels are seen as characters and symbols worthy of praise, but the women in women-written novels are Mary Sues. When women dare to express our desires and fantasies and dare not to stake our claim to sexuality, dare to reflect our side of the conversation when it comes sex, love, and relationships that it is automatically cheap, tawdry, infantile."
*****

Some meandering thoughts.

I. One of the reasons why I can go on and on about the implications and ramifications that various types of romance novels present is because they're written by women for women and thus reflect women, even when written badly and have traditional gender roles strewn all over the place, more than books written by men. Romance novels are a series of conundrums that at once adhere to and defy social norms. Further, I think others' responses to them--that romances are "soft" or "guilty pleasures" or not nearly as "deep" or not "real books"--are even more telling. Why are romance novels disparaged so-- and what does the answer imply?

II. I'm attempting to pick a specific topic regarding romance novels for my big feminist theory paper. My current ideas are a toss up between analyzing (1) how a woman's strength is moderated by her sexuality in paranormal romance/modern UF and (2) how heterosexual privilege is perpetuated and justified through romance novels. I realize I've touched on the former periodically but never dissected it in-depth or outside the context of other issues; one of these days I'll drum up the energy to write out a case. In regardgs to the latter, I'm thinking the Lambda awards fail, the lack of non-hetero novels that are (a) shelved in the romance section, (b) are not erotica, and (c) are preferably written by non-hetero authors, as well as the mandatory HEA or happily-ever-after that defines the genre but often exists with the very narrow confines of engagement, marriage, and a baby (even when the last isn't logically feasible).

III. In writing academic papers like these, I've often found myself thinking, "Oh! Fiction-theory had something awesome to say about this!" but being unable to quote her because an online blog isn't considered a reputable source. Instead I must cite works that have been published and established as official "feminist theory" written by official "feminists." This is frustrating, because a large chunk of my education has come from the online realm. The majority of feminist experience has been from offline community work and Livejournal. 100% of what I've learning about publishing has been from five years of dedicated online research. There is so much more knowledge out there worth having that isn't taught, or is rarely taught, in the classroom.
 
manifesta: (Rory/Logan Snuggle)

Some follow-up links I've been hoarding.

On the Bloomsbury racefail, from Editorial Anonymous:

"One of the problems we have with racism today is that a fair number of people think that racism can only be deliberate. As in, it doesn't matter if something you say or do is racist. If you didn't mean it to be racist, then it's not.

"For the record, and I hope we're all really listening: THAT IS INCORRECT.

"And also for the record: those of us who objected to the cover were not objecting on the author's behalf. We were objecting on the readers' behalf. And especially on the minority readers' behalf, because some of us understand how excruciating and demoralizing it is to children to be made to feel that they are the wrong color. This is a question completely outside of the author's participation or non-participation."
On historical fiction, from[personal profile] naraht:
"If I can't even read about sugar on Elizabeth Bennett's breakfast table without thinking about slavery, then it becomes clear that the attempt to eradicate oppression and the products of oppression from the Regency period is doomed to failure. It's an inherently problematic project because it assumes that systems of oppression are window-dressing that can be easily stripped off and replaced with pleasant and happy-making equality for all. It isn't that simple. It never will be."

Read the entire entry. I think naraht elaborates more on historical fiction's inherent and interlocking systems of domination and oppression than I had a chance to.
manifesta: (Luxurious)
Drive-by update, seeing as I have class at 8:30AM.

A few days ago I was in a rush to get to some friends' apartment and I wanted a book to read (they're gamer guys; they game, I read, it works out wonderfully) so I grabbed Blood & Chocolate off the shelf. I've read it dozens of times and it's still as amazing as it was when I was 12. Vivian is one of my favorite heroines because she's strong and beautiful and she knows it. She's not torn up about being a werewolf; she loves it.

I won't lie, the ending pissed me off the first time I read it. Eventually I came to appreciate it, and now I wouldn't have it any other way

I'm in the final stretch of reading Skin Game by Ava Gray. It's a paranormal romance that's light on the paranormal (is there such a thing as 'low paranormal fantasy'?) and the dialogue between the two protags is snappy. Kyra is a stong heroine without the help of her powers or a gun, and Reyes is adorable. I seem to be on a streak lately for picking good books from categories that I normally take issue with.

******
 
Alexandra Bracken has an extensive list of current publishing trends. Most fall somewhere along the line of what I had anticipated. I hope to see more post-apocalyptics in fantasy sometime soon (instead of YA for a change). If Guild Wars can combine a post-apocalyptic setting with fantasy elements, so can books.

I have some rambles about BWW stewing in the back of my mind, but it's getting late, so I'll leave those for another time.
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: (Kahlan)
I think that the posts over at SF Novelists can be hit and miss sometimes, but I really enjoyed Marie Brennan's post today titled A Woman's Place is Not in the Refrigerator. In it she discusses how female characters are often killed off in order to propell the main male character's story forward and jumpstart their motivation.
"...it shows up in narrative media all over our culture. And, like many such tropes, the problem isn’t that it ever happens; the problem is that it’s a pattern. One which routinely treats women as the objects of violence, and as plot devices manipulated in the interest of a man’s progress."
I liked the post so much I checked out her website, where I found a backlog of some of her past posts, such as Tough Women, or Fascimiles Thereof, which outlines a lot of the problems I see in modern UF:
"...and instead of tough women we've always had an abundance of tough chicks, sexualized little things crammed into corsets, with guns to substitute for strength of character. I can think of exceptions to the rule, but they're just that: exceptions instead of the rule, and all too prone to getting undermined somewhere down the road."
as well as an essay on how she writes female characters. Between finding these gems and morning classes being cancelled due to high winds and power outages, it's been a lovely welcome back from my feminist weekend.

Brennan also has a ton of other essays that I haven't yet had a chance to peruse, but will as soon as I'm not drowning in psych work.* Being a fan of historical faerie fantasies, her book Midnight Never Come is now on my want list. Anyone read it?


*All the trials for my main experiment are (thankfully) done, which means I no longer have to get up at 6:30AM. The coding is also complete, leaving only the results analysis before I can write the paper. Alas, there are plenty of other things to do, such as prepping for two other experiments and reading a never-ending supply of psych articles.
manifesta: (Dangerous)

It looks like there might be a new genre in town. From Jmeadows

"Basically, it seems to be a genre between Young Adult and Adult with the age range around 20-26. More mature writing and ideas, but not full on adult stories."
As someone who's been reading 'adult' books since I was 8 years old, I find the notion that my age bracket suddenly requires a more watered down version of story both patronizing and repulsive.

On postadolescent fiction:
"But what about “postadolescent” fiction? That’s a bit harder to articulate. We, the “new adults”, have some perspective on our lives, but scope? We’re not old enough, we’re not experienced enough, we’re simply not grown-up enough. Our lives have immediacy, just as a teenager’s does, but we also possess the wisdom to understand that this immediacy cannot last for long."
I am not a 'postadolescent.' I am an adult. I live on my own, I vote on my own, I pay my own taxes, and occasionally I even wash my own dishes. It's true that not everyone is at the same stage in life at the same age. But considering how 'adult' I know some teenagers to be, I object to the idea that I'm automatically not _____ enough.

Further, as a writer, the line between adult SFF and YA is often blurry. The article makes it out to be clear-cut, but it's not. If reprinted, where would Mindy L. Klasky's Glasswrights' Guild series go--in the adult section, or in this 'new adult' section? It has a somewhat YA voice and a YA character, and there really aren't any of the hotbutton topics in it that would regulate it to the adult section, but it's still shelved there. Putting it into another genre completely would take away from the 'adult' audience that has been reading it for years.

I think fictiontheory put it well when she said:
"But the idea of "new adult" is pure ageism. It smacks of the idea that my "generation"* is so perpetually childish that we can't handle "regular adult" books until we're nearly in our thirties. It also implies that stories about older protagonists are somehow so repulsive to anyone who's younger than 30 that they won't get read. I think it's feeding into our youth obsession as a culture here in the United States to do something like that."
I can appreciate books that take on a 20 year old's perspective. What I don't appreciate is the patronizing pigeonholing that seems to be the route the St. Martin is taking.
manifesta: (Black Jeweled Queen)
So. I wake up at 6:30AM so that our group can meet at 7:30AM in the clinic. After arranging the room to our specifications, we went into the back where the hidden camera equipment is located... and discovered that no one had brought a DVD. No DVD, no tape of the room, no data, no experiment. We had less than 15 minutes before participants would be arriving. One of our group members booked it to the other side of campus, bought two DVDs, and got back in 14. We set up, we're awesome, we're waiting for participants to arrive... and waiting...

Turns out our experiment wasn't posted online. Which meant that no one could even sign-up let alone arrive.

After all the stress, one of our group members burst into tears and had to leave. The rest of us tried to pull it together and rescheduled the experiment, which is now online and hopefully being signed-up for. The graduate TA was very kind and didn't look at all pissed off that we had just wasted her time. She even tried to help us find DVDs when we realized we didn't have any. We're going to buy her coffee in thanks and apology.


In contrast to last week's racefail, I stumbled onto The Advantages of Being a White Writer on Justine Larbalestier's blog. Not only is the entry itself is good, the comments are either well moderated or the general community of her blog is thoughtful and articulate.

As someone who's sick of the bullshit, I really appreciated her beginning statement:
"I know that the title of this post is going to lead to some comments insisting that it’s not true that white writers have any advantages and that many white people are just as oppressed as people of colour. I don’t want to have that conversation. So I’m going to oppress the white people who make those comments by deleting them. I don’t do it with any malice. I do it because I want to have a conversation about white privilege in publishing. We can have the discussion about class privilege and regional privilege and other kinds of privilege some other time. Those other privileges are very real. But I don’t want this discussion to turn into some kind of oppression Olympics."
Go read it; it touches on some points regarding the intersection of race, white privilege, and publishing that I hadn't thought of. I only wish more blogs were moderated this way.

I also really liked Larbalestier's On Hating Female Characters entry:
"Yet still readers call Isabelle (of Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments trilogy) a “slut” and have crushes on Jace who’s much more slutty than Isabelle. What can we do to shift such sexist assumptions when they’re so deeply ingrained in so many of us? Because even when we write books that challenge such stereotypes, readers put them back into the text by reading Isabelle as a slut and Jace as Hotty McHott Hero."
And I think this comment said it well:
"Which is why no one has a problem with girls reading a book about a boy written by a girl (Harry Potter), but people think it’s cool and different if a boy reads a book about a girl written by a girl (Twilight). And why Nora Roberts is not the same household name as Stephen King."
manifesta: (Dangerous)
Nathan Bransford recently revisited one of his older posts on themes in queries.
"So you know how you spent four or more years in college learning about what books mean and how to analyze novels for hidden meaning, and where you learned that the best books are the ones with subtext upon which you can write a twenty page paper on the use of metaphor as an elucidation of the philosophical constructs of the protagonist's society?

Yeah. Forget all that."
I kept telling my English teachers in high school that Elie Wiesel's Night doesn't have as much symbology as they thought it did, but they never believed me. Here's my favorite part:
"...so don't tell me what your novel is about. Tell me what happens. And hopefully you've written a novel in which things actually do happen. Because I like novels where things happen. Happening is good."
In the past I have had pseudo-writer friends who think themselves quite literary and want to write stories about the struggles of humankind. And when I ask them about what happens in their book, they talk about the pain the MC endures, the major themes, and describes the plot in very, very vague terms. Which means they don't really describe the plot at all.

Not that themes are inherently bad. However, if the theme of the story isforbidden love, then the reader will pick up on itif you describe the story as "two star-crossed lovers fight to be together." This is a straight-forward explaination of what actually happens.


Over at Dear Author, today there's a special guest post on cultural appropriation. It's a really wonderful discussion on the intersection of culture, white privilege, and romance novels. I highly recommend reading the entire thing.
"Romance suffers from the same problem SF/F does. It’s very, very white. It would also seem that readers are far more okay with reading about vampires and werewolves and demons and angels than characters of colour. That is not okay. Think about what this means for a second. And imagine, if you will, being erased in stories or always in the background, a victim, evil, maybe the best friend or sidekick. . .but never the hero of your own story. This is what appropriation does to people of colour."
Unfortunately, I knew before clicking the link that there would be a ridiculous amount of racefail going down in the comments. I responded to a few in the thread, but here are some extra special gems:
Lisa: "What an annoying post. The only point of it that I can see is to try to make me feel guilty because I like to to read about white people in love. I’m sorry but I don’t have the energy to read with all my great sense of “white guilt” for the racial sins of the past, present and future."
You don't have the energy to read about your white privilege? If only nonwhites didn't have to live with your racism!
Amber: "And as a “white” person living in rural America, most of them DON’T apply to me."

Caligi: "My point is that these “white” romances don’t even represent white culture all that well either. I don’t totally accept the term “white privilege.” You think white people are really that different? White people are as diverse a group as Asians and black Americans. Some of us play the game and succeed in politics or business, and the rest of us are shut out."
The majority of the comments were insightful. However, there was at least one occasion when a person of color made a statement about racism and white privilege and was informed that they were off-topic.

There are days like today where I just want to walk away from other people's ignorance. Unfortunately, there are people who don't have the option to simply walk away.
manifesta: (Default)
1) Nathan Bransford is hosting is Third-Sort-of-Annual Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Challenge!

Go, submit your first paragraphs. Particularly if yours is fantasy, because mine is feeling a little lonely up there.

2) Amanda Downum has unveiled her new cover for The Bone Palace.
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.

Profile

manifesta: (Default)
manifesta

contact info & some sweet links

manifesta at dreamwidth dot org
(or feel free to PM me if you're on DW)

Follow kaylalynn_ on Twitter

Creative Commons License

Subscribe via RSS.
Third Wave Foundation
Finally, A Feminism 101 Blog

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags