Category: Musings

Making power imbalances uncreepy, or, how authors can stop annoying me

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This is depressing, so have some kitty. With bonus bat collar!

Power imbalances are everywhere in romance. Although they’re ubiquitous in YA, they’re even more common in the adult romance industry. If you’re at all familiar with the romance genre, chances are you’ve read a story that features one. Maybe it was about a pirate captain who captures some British noblewoman. Or another billionaire and a random girl (God forbid!). Usually, the imbalance is skewed in the male character’s favor, for reasons that would take a whole post to get into. These types of stories often turn me off, but not because the premise is inherently bad. It’s just, well, authors screw up. A lot, in various cringe-worthy ways. Luckily, I’m here to show how to make skeevy gender dynamics more palatable! Continue reading “Making power imbalances uncreepy, or, how authors can stop annoying me”

The obligatory kitty post

Kitty is doctored up

Once upon a time, there was a Russian soldier named Leon Nasevich. Like most of the people I know, he is fictional. He can be found here (yes, sometimes the Dear America series stays with you ten years later, which reminds me–I need to buy this book). I bring him up because he says something relevant to this post, which is that kittens’ genders are stamped on their bottoms.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

YOU LIED TO ME, LEON. Okay, fine, there IS something down there in a kitten’s um, area, but what is it? WHAT IS IT? Even our vets can’t tell at that stage, they said so.

As you might have guessed, I have a new kitty. Actually, it’s not precisely new–we’ve had it since Halloween–but it wasted no time in inserting itself into our lives and routine. I refer to the kitty as “it” because it hasn’t decided whether it’s a boy or a girl yet. Currently, it is a non-gendered entity that occasionally goes by the name of Toothless. Continue reading “The obligatory kitty post”

Why do (some) girls like jerks? No, really?

Chicks fall for it every time.
Chicks fall for it every time.

Yes, I am aware that many stupid people have asked this question in many stupid ways, but a little factoid hit me out of nowhere, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I can’t find the link, for which I’m very sorry; you’ll just have to trust me. It went a little something like this: In a 1950’s poll, many women said they considered belittlement and mockery a normal part of a happy marriage. And then I started wondering–were romance novels in the 60’s and 70’s influenced by this attitude? And are we influenced by bodice rippers today? I may not be able to explain why many women like all types of jerks (because there are many, dear reader, there are many), but perhaps I can shed light on why they like a certain sort. At least in the world of romance novels.

But before we begin, let’s define what a jerk IS, just so there’s no confusion. Continue reading “Why do (some) girls like jerks? No, really?”

Stalking: It’s only okay when he’s hot

They're always watching.
They’re always watching.

In real life, when I hear about a guy following a girl home, I get scared. I hope she calls the cops. I hope they stop him.

In fiction, I’m more likely to get attacked by the warm and fuzzies. YA HAS BRAINWASHED ME, IT’S NOT MY FAULT I SWEAR. I’m just a victim of this misogynist culture. Okay, fine, it kind of is my fault, since I decided to fill my brain with a steady diet of the stuff. Ya know, no one forced me to do that. Continue reading “Stalking: It’s only okay when he’s hot”

What’s in a URL? Or, the story of how this blog got its name

Pup all prettied up
Pup, looking thoughtful on a sunny day.

I am incredibly lazy. Instead of actually writing this story, I’m going to reuse an old narrative essay about this topic. It’s a bit stilted, since I was (or am?) still figuring out how to merge personality with academic writing. With that in mind, I tried to make it more bloggable. Is that a word? No? Well, now it is.

***

       My first story was terrible. Using increasingly elaborate notebooks covered with lighthouses and bees, I carefully composed a narrative involving princesses, stilted vocabulary, and talking horses. After roughly five years of this silliness, my original story had fallen into a sad state of neglect. Seeking distractions, I was lurking on the Amazon Romance Forum, as I often did, when a poster asked what sort of romance heroes and heroines our pets would make. I considered this question deeply. I considered it so deeply, in fact, that I wrote a novel about it. Pup, my little pit bull heeler mix, I made my heroine, and Midnight, my black cat with an ego the size of Alaska, was the hero. With those characters, I wrote over a thousand pages of drafts and tidbits. I learned something about composition from my original story, but my pets were the ones who really inspired my writing. Continue reading “What’s in a URL? Or, the story of how this blog got its name”

Think queens, not kings

Years and years ago, when I first thought up a fantasy world, it was a cliched mess, but in fairness to myself, I was nine. It consisted of long-lost princesses, talking animals, and more cliched dreck. And the men were mostly in charge. This country didn’t have queens; it had kings–even though the primary religion had a goddess. Storywise, it wasn’t a terrible gender dynamic. Throughout history, we’ve seen a similar story play out; no matter how friendly to women a society might seem at first, men have generally ruled the lands. For an author who wants to write history-based fantasy (think Game of Thrones), gender roles like these are a great idea. It is not, however, the only model available. The point of fantasy is imagining what could be different, be it dragons, chimeras, or gender equality.

Or maybe even matriarchy.

Continue reading “Think queens, not kings”

Creepy Boyfriend Contest: Edward Cullen vs Edward Rochester

Well, I have finished Jane Eyre. For those of you who don’t know, Stephenie Meyer has counted Jane Eyre as a major influence in her work, so of course I read it. It was sitting around the house, so I thought, why not?

My relationship to Jane Eyre is nearly as ambivalent as my attitude to Twilight. Like Twilight, I read it when I was younger. Unlike Twilight, I still think the hero is a douche. I think I bailed right around the time Edward R. tried to trick Jane into a fake marriage (I had very little patience for Byronic antiheroes back then. I think I was like nine). So, Edward R. is douchier. I don’t think that can be disputed; he whines more in 500 pages than his vampire counterpart does in 2,500. Edward C. is just self-hating, but I don’t recall him blaming anyone else for his problems.

But the real question: Who is creepier? Hopefully, I can answer this in less than a nineteenth century tome, but I make no promises. Continue reading “Creepy Boyfriend Contest: Edward Cullen vs Edward Rochester”

One messed up love triangle, or, Twilight as Genesis

I’ve been doing some reading on Twilight–seeing what the blogosphere has to say, furthering my obsession, etc. Anyway, I stumbled upon John Granger’s Mormon Vampires in the Garden of Eden. While I disagree with most of it (somehow, I doubt that Stephenie Meyer is subconsciously using Twilight to defend LDS doctrines), the passages about Twilight’s connection to Genesis jumped out at me. Obviously, Twilight has some very strong Genesis parallels (the quote at the beginning of the book, the COVER), but I hardly ever see anyone talk about it. Granger asserts that Edward is Adam and Bella is Eve, but that symbolism just didn’t agree with me, and I figured out why a few days later.

In one area, I can see the draw. Bella frequently describes Edward as an angel; in LDS theology, Adam apparently doubles as the Archangel Michael. But then comes the problem–Edward is already fallen. Bella isn’t the one tempting him to stray (technically, she’s trying to seduce him, but in light of Edward’s vampirism, I hardly think sex is the biggest issue here). If Edward has already fallen, then how can Bella tempt him? Edward is the serpent–after all, he is the one who places the apple on her lunch tray. Continue reading “One messed up love triangle, or, Twilight as Genesis”