Well. This has been an interesting few days here at the Radish. Hello, everyone! At least it feels like everyone.
First off–I’ve said this elsewhere but I need to say it here as well: I am extremely grateful to Strange Horizons for listening to my concerns and responding in such a positive and constructive manner. They’re one of my favorite speculative fiction magazines and I’m very glad they stepped up to the plate. It really means a lot to me and, I think, to the hard-working people at RT.
- Sassy Magazine LIVES How much did I love Sassy? LOTS. I was a subscriber from issue one until 1993 or so. These scans are wonderful.
- For all the women I have loved who were dragged through the mud (via) I’ve actually seen this phenomenon in action. It’s disturbing. Related: How to participate in fandom w/o being a misogynist fuckbagel (via)
- Chuck Wendig on “Indie First?” What Is Best In Publishing? and a great response from Ilona Andrews.
- Goatse and the Rise of the Web’s Gross-Out Culture Oh, Goatse Man. You are like a sign of a more innocent time these days.
- Geek Feminism on Structure and Justice.
- Astonishing and wonderful video from Edwardian England.
- Malinda Lo on Representing LGBT Romance on Young Adult Book Covers.
- Final Fantasy 7 and the Death of Aeris Gainsborough. Mixed feelings about this. FF7 is the best Final Fantasy game out there, but there’s so much more to it than just getting the Knights of the Round Materia in order to avenge Aeris’s death. I mean, my favorite part was the hours upon hours of chocobo breeding required in order to get the materia. Because nothing is more fun than making giant chickens fuck, amirite? (Also, just for the record, there is a long-running argument in my household over Aeris. Someone who is not me seems to think she’s dead. I say it was but a flesh wound and she got better. Dammit.)
- Two great posts from the lovely people at Wonk-O-Mance this week: Argue with Me and Hallelujah: Orgasm and Transcendence.
- Cyborgology on The Place of Blogs in Academic Writing.
- Some thoughts on interpretive protocols and the reader’s 50%
- Consent & Consequence at Cons: An Alliterative Appeal to Acknowledgement
- Time Travel Flora Borsi alters historic images to include an image of a woman with a camera (I don’t want to assume the woman is her based on the info in the post).
- 6 Amazing Facts From an Amazing Obituary of a ‘Human Computer’ You know what else would have been amazing? Using the woman’s name in the headline. Her name is Shakuntala Devi.
- All Skulls On: Teaching Intersectionality through Halo
- Four Words: TILDA. SWINTON. CONGA. LINE. I’ll wait. More awesome featuring Tilda Swinton–linking to this particular picture because I love the juxtaposition of the picture with the “beauty note”.
- Wikipedia’s Sexism Toward Female Novelists. And since anyone can edit Wikipedia, here’s some instructions on how you can help fix it.
- Seanan McGuire at Fantasy Cafe for Women in SF&F Month.
- Kari Sperring started a great hashtag on Twitter: #womentoread Lots and lots of wonderful recommendations there!
- Pictures of People Who Mock Me. So much interesting happening here. I think some of the looks are because she’s parked herself in the middle of a sidewalk, but some of the others? Totally damning.
- Fat-Shaming All Around Us.
- You are NOT Too Fat for Short Hair. Love this article, love the pictures. Love my short hair.
- I have opinions: What’s a writer? This got me thinking some more about boundary policing and gatekeepers and why it is that in the online circles I move in that I rarely see an acknowledgement of the amount of work that goes into non-fiction writing. There’s nothing in this post that’s anti-non-fiction writing, it’s just that I noticed the omission here. (Amount of time I’ve been working on this post–not including time to read and collect links: 4 hours. This is absolutely work–and I get value from it which is why I do it.)
- Mansplained Marxist (via) Aw yeah.
Then, well, this happened:
.@guygavrielkay You just totally proved my point about how the SF/F community often discounts voices coming from the romance community.
— Natalie L. (@eilatan) April 25, 2013
Low tolerance for this sort of comment today? Check. Person who has written some books I really, truly love pushing one of my buttons? Check. Sadness and upset on my part? Check. There was some back and forth and I then made the decision to not engage any further because my heart was breaking into tiny little pieces–at which point this happened:
— E ! (@TheBarbarienne) April 25, 2013
— Guy Gavriel Kay (@guygavrielkay) April 25, 2013
I was, not exactly happy, more like relieved that Kay was willing to step back and look at what he said and how it was interpreted by a number of other people and engage on the subject and then apologize. And I can’t help but respect that because getting called out really is not fun and so often brings out the worst in people.
Kay’s initial comment is very similar to many other comments I’ve heard about romance from the speculative fiction community and, as E ! pointed out, it really is punching down. And it definitely hit a nerve on my part and I am glad I spoke up. The more I speak up the easier it seems to get.
Romance is the easy target for a two main reasons: it is the single largest segment of the fiction market and it is dominated by women. And since 90% of everything is crap and there’s so much romance in the market, it can be challenging finding the really good stories amongst the crap. And, of course, what makes a good story is so subjective–each person has their own set of reasons for preferring some kinds of stories over others.
Sometimes the type of story being told is significantly more important than the way in which it is told–I suspect that this is why Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey have been so successful: they feed into the id vortex in ways other works don’t. They touch something deep within some readers in a way that allows to reader to disregard terrible plotting, problematic gender dynamics, slipshod grammar, et cetera. Most of the readers recognize that these–and other hugely popular novels–are of dubious literary merit and yet: they find value in them anyhow. I’m not arguing for the abolition of editing and proof-reading–I’m just saying that sometimes, for readers, the story trumps all those things.
Judging other people for the kinds of books they read or where they go to get recommendations is something that I think needs to be unlearned. I know I used to be a bit of a book snob (via) myself–I never openly talked about reading romance, I totally did it on the sly and only read science fiction, fantasy, or mysteries in public (with occasional forays into literary fiction). Do you know what cured me of that? Writing for RT and getting to know so many people who read, write, and love romance. Every book really does have its reader–it’s just a matter of bringing the two together (and that, ultimately, is what reviewing is: matchmaking).