Happy 50th Birthday Modesty Blaise
Happy 50th Birthday Modesty Blaise
Have I ever mentioned how much I hate things like 5 and 8? What you can’t stand that there’s an insanely awesome universe full of fun and wacky hijinx? You HAVE to make some dumb fucking theory that “Oh, obviously there must be some subtext here” or “It MUST all be in their heads”. Well fuck you and your little hobby of making your stupid pretentious theories that limit someone else’s imagination.
The foster’s home one is a reference to the Tommy Westphall Universe. Hell, the Dialogue from the second page is directly from the final scene of St Elsewhere.
beginner’s guide to eurovision song contest
You are informed about a book’s perceived quality through a number of ways. Probably the biggest is the cover.
And the simple fact of the matter is, if you are a female author, you are much more likely to get the package that suggests the book is of a lower perceived quality. Because it’s “girly,” which is somehow inherently different and easier on the palate. A man and a woman can write books about the same subject matter, at the same level of quality, and that woman is simple more likely to get the soft-sell cover with the warm glow and the feeling of smooth jazz blowing off of it.
This idea that there are “girl books” and “boy books” and “chick lit” and “whatever is the guy equivalent of chick lit”* gives credit to absolutely no one, especially not the boys who will happily read stories by women, about women. As a lover of books and someone who supports readers and writers of both sexes, I would love a world in which books are freed from some of these constraints. Click here to read more about the perceived differences between ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ books.
This is a pretty interesting experiment from author Maureen Johnson.
I read this earlier today. Really, really worth looking at and thinking about. There’s a whole gallery of them.
Reminds me of this post I made earlier.
You know if that were the cover to Game of Thrones I would of actually considered it instead of making a pffft sound with my mouth and trying to wank off the imaginary little person with a two foot penis that stands on my shoulder.
Has DC ever put out a comic where Poison Ivy grows Iron Man/Power Rangers/Magical Girl style battle armour when she goes into battle?
If not, why not?
As much as I’d like to address the really terrible interpretations of my post (such as Summer’s Plan To Eradicate Sexism By Deleting All Female Characters Ever!), well, that ship has sailed. Dear god, has it sailed. I never expected an audience of 3,000 for that post, and I don’t think I’m gonna have an audience of 3,000 for this one.
So this is for the less-than-100-but-still-way-more-than-before of you who are sticking around.
It’s a nasty little trap, isn’t it? Female characters are really horribly underrepresented, and most of the time they’re present, they’re not given the primary roles. So we’re left scrabbling for representation among the sideplot and supporting characters, while the dudes get almost every protagonist and primary character out there. We’re left holding the characters who aren’t given complex characterization or character arcs. We’re left with the afterthoughts the authors tossed in while they were writing stories about [straight, white, etc] men. That’s a really raw deal.
And then there’s the pressure to take it with a smile. To be grateful for your handful of crumbs scavenged from beneath the groaning table loaded with a feast. While for some people, including me, those crumbs are desperately important, well, I’m tired of being desperate and I am not grateful for getting this much - I’m so angry I’m not getting more. We’ve been shortchanged by the writers, given half rations and stale bread, and we’re supposed to be just as satisfied as if we’d been given an equal share? I don’t think that’s fair at all.
I don’t think the responsibility for making and promoting good female characters should be displaced from the writers to the readers, to the fandom. I don’t want to have to write more depth into female characters, to reclaim them from stereotypes, to find power in sexist tropes. I don’t think it’s fair to make women do more work to make heroes out of side characters - I think we should be given protagonists. Good protagonists. Diverse protagonists. Well-written protagonists. Many protagonists. We’re allowed to be angry at being told to make our own protagonists, to write our own protagonists, to delve into the text and squirrel out all the ways the side characters could be as important as the people who are actually given primacy in the text.
And I don’t think it’s my fault, I don’t think it’s our fault, I don’t think it’s fandom’s fault that we sometimes just want to read a good story without having to do so much work to stitch ourselves into it. I think it’s a heartbreaking bind we’re in, but there is no one Most Feminist And Full Of Female Solidarity way out of it. And even if there were, I don’t think it’s our responsibility to scratch ourselves bloody on that high and thorny road all the time. It ain’t exactly feminist to decree that women have a responsibility to do more work, hard work, all the time.
I get tired sometimes. Once burned, twice shy. It’s hard and painful to slog through all the caricatures and vicious stereotypes and wooden writing in order to find the ones I really connect to, and I feel guilty sometimes about how many female characters I don’t want to invest in. But it’s not my job to love all female characters everywhere, just because female characters are so undervalued. Their stories can be important to someone else. Their stories can be fascinating to someone else. But I’m going to keep looking for what I want - my desires are not universal female desires, and I don’t think they should have to be.
Sometimes, I am just so tired of dealing with sexism in real life, and then turning to escapist fantasy only to find sexism. It’s complicated, and messy, and tiring to face microaggressions in my own bookshelf. Some of the authors I like are viciously sexist, or a little bit sexist, or just problematic in how they handle female characters. Some of them, I just want to take away their female characters so they can’t character-assassinate them any more - if they can’t write women well, then I don’t want to read how poorly they write women. Some of them, I flip between disappointment and cautious hope. Some of them actually do an amazing job. But it’s always a gamble, isn’t it? So much of the time I’m holding my breath, waiting for the hammer to fall. As Ami said, we’re trying to make it to the end of the book before the rape scene happens. I don’t think authors automatically deserve the benefit of the doubt. I don’t think it’s unfeminist to be wary, to have been hurt and to fear being hurt again. We’re not made of steel, and we shouldn’t have to be.
And given all of this shit, sometimes I just want to read books where sexism simply isn’t on the menu. I don’t think every story has to be set in a world where female protagonists are automatically challenged for being female. I don’t want the only books with female protagonists to be about women accomplishing heroic things and overcoming the obviously-terrible impediment of being women. I want more variety than that. Sometimes, I want being a woman to not be a terrible thing. I want sweet, simple escapist power fantasies. And if I can only find those with male protagonists, well, that’s a really painful bargain I have to make sometimes. It’s hard work finding the books with female protagonists and no sexism - believe me, I’ve been looking, and that’s part of why I’m so exhausted. It’s a matter of choosing which part of me is currently the most rubbed raw - the part that wants to see female protagonists, or the part that wants a protagonist who is not attacked and belittled by sexism. It’s a very personal decision, and one that changes regularly.
There’s no easy way out. I wish there were, I wish things were better for us all. Sometimes I wish that I can just give up, or ignore the problem forever because I wish it wasn’t my problem, but I can’t. So here I am. Not the endlessly-dissatisfied bogeyman in your fandom, ripping apart all the female characters you love because I will only accept the Platonic Ideal Female Character. Not the fangirl who is trying to assassinate the female characters in your fandom so I can ship my sweet, white, gay, male OTP. Not the bitter misogynistic reader who hates female characters. Just someone who is navigating some terrible, crocodile-filled muddy waters in order to fill her bookshelf, and is scared and tired of how hard it is sometimes.
Okay, let’s cover some groundwork here re: my post, On Female Characters.
1. It’s okay to call me sexist. You get to have your opinions about internalized misogyny, and I get to have mine. I’m not giving you my permission or anything because you don’t need it and I don’t have the right to grant it, but I would like to reassure you that I’m not gonna start fights about this, and neither are my friends, so don’t worry about me tagging you, coming over to your blogs, or starting shit in your discussions. I think the discussions you guys are having are cool and necessary.
2. I actually do want to read books with female characters. This isn’t my goodbye letter to female characters. I’m not uncritically searching out the whitest, dudeliest books I can find in order to insulate myself in that sweet, white cotton wrapping. Part of why I ranted in that post is that I’ve been sifting through a lot of books, looking for new books with female protagonists, and it’s tough going. I’m at the end of my rope right now, and am going to have to build up more calluses where I’ve been rubbed raw, and then I’m going to start this whole bloody process again.
3. While I do celebrate the cool female characters I find, that’s not my job. I’m not the Cool Female Character Review Board, nor am I handing out gold stars every time I find a mostly-not-sexist female character. It’s not my job to constantly hunt for good female characters, nor is reclamation, reinterpretation, and fiercely defending the scraps I like the only valid reaction to the current stew of sexist media. I am a person with particular interests, looking for particular stories, and I’m gonna be expressing both positive and negative opinions about the selection. Trying harder, all the time, no matter how much it hurts isn’t the only option. Sometimes you just run out of steam.
4. This is a post about my reading list, not your fandom. And honestly, it’s a post about the parts of my reading list I dislike, and the painful compromises I am making to read books that are otherwise interesting. This is my rage, my despair, my weariness, my frustration. Sounds like a lot of you are having a similar experience to me, and a lot of you are having very different experiences. If I had intended to write a coherent post about female characters, it would have been more than just “some shit that really got under my skin today”.
5. If you’d like to talk to me, try the inbox, because I’m probably not gonna notice anything in your tags or your reblogs because holy shit my dash is flooded.