Hey there, internets! I hope you all have had a lovely week, complete with a lovely Valentine’s Day, or a totally ordinary Wednesday, whichever you prefer. My week has been”¦ Intense. I’ve been juggling new duties at my job, trying to get students ready for a rank test in my martial arts class, and, on top of all that, finishing the first draft of a novel I’ve been co-writing with Karen Healey. Phew! But never fear – I have collected plenty of internets for you this week, even so.
The Ormes Society would be a bit of a stepping stone or gateway. It’d be a place where black female comic creators and fans could (1) find each other (2) share our creations (3) talk about topics that are important to us and (4) gain the courage needed to bring those thoughts and creations to the larger comic reading/creating audience. It would also be a place for editors, fans and fellow creators to find us and share their thoughts about our work and about topics that pertain to black women in comics (both in the pages and behind the scenes).
It looks like the project is taking off fast, so check out Digital Femme for updates on what’s happening with it.
I read a couple of posts (aside from my own totally hilarious and clever post, of course) about Valentine’s Day this week that I thought might be of particular interest to you all. The Heroine Next Door had some things to say about the ways in which Valentine’s Day advertising is gendered:
since when did “love” become synonymous with “express your love for your girlfriend”? While it’s nice to be pampered ever once and a while, Valentine’s has taken on this eerie chauvinist quality of putting women up on this foofy pink pedestal. It’s become something in which you don’t consider your girlfriend as an individual but merely as a “woman”, as a “girlfriend”.
Meanwhile, Julie Enszer, writing “Straight and In the Closet on Valentine’s Day” at AlterNet, discusses Valentine’s Day as an ideal time to explore issues of heteronormativity. It’s too late to try her experiment on Valentine’s Day this year, but I think it’s worth remembering for another time.
Moving away from the holiday, I saw several things on the internets this week regarding television shows and movies that you all may be intrigued by. At Adventures in Lame, Reb wrote about a well-written female character on Scrubs, while Megatrouble has a post up about angsty white dudes on LOST [post since removed]. The forums at Girl-Wonder.org have seen a recent upswing in posts about television and film, too – a few threads that might be of interest are those dealing with race and racism in Farscape, sexism behind (as well as in) the scenes in the movie industry, and, more cheerfully, favorite feminist films.
Through catering to the idea of men as the default protagonist, video games have helped to reinforce the culture of entitlement that makes things like discrimination in the workplace so commonplace. Men are entitled to be the heroes, entitled to the IT jobs, entitled to make sexist jokes about women. Women are not, and have never been, the default in the way that men are, and thus we are not entitled to anything (not even, according to bloggers like those at Kotaku, to bring up issues that affect us). When women are at best an afterthought in the popular media that we consume in our everyday life, how can that not seep into the way we conceptualize the roles of men and women?
If you put a story out there that does its very best to talk seriously about equality of the genders, it enters a conversation, not a void. The desire to silence criticism and declare that you are Enlightened and Above It All is silly. After all, if you want to continue writing stories about gender, you can take the valid critiques and do it even better next time.
Thus, what I propose here is a set of techniques, and they won’t and can’t escape criticism in and of themselves. They won’t all be useful; in particular, they won’t all be useful in combination. My gender-equal society is not yours, after all. But they may be useful if taken and twisted, or in the sense of sparking new ideas, even more than in and of themselves.
On the subject of writing, Sarah Frost has some thoughts about Mary Sues [post since removed], while at Brutal Women, Kameron Hurley is irritated by “strong” heroines with formulaic pluck.
Readers looking to avoid irritating, not-so-strong heroines might like to read some reviews before buying books or comics – this week, check out Amy Reads’s review of issues #2-4 of White Tiger, at Arrogant Self-Reliance, and poisonivory‘s take on a couple of Patricia C. Wrede novels.
Another useful tool for readers that I started messing with this week (I’ve known about it for a while, but hadn’t tried it out before) is LibraryThing. You can use it to keep track of your books, see what your friends have on their shelves (very useful for “hey, can I borrow ___?” moments!), and even have books you might like suggested to you. Neat, huh? My profile can be found here, for those of you who are just dying to see what I keep on my sci-fantasy shelf (I’m still working on adding stuff, by the way – I really do own some non-genre books, I swear!).
See you all next week!