Susan the Gentle

Thoughts On Pin-Ups

I have a disclaimer I feel I should make, and since it's not particularly bookish, it seems to fit better here than in the actual book blog.

See, I am not opposed to pin-ups. In fact, I actually quite like them. It takes a lot of skill on both the parts of the model and the photographer to come up with an appealing image of a woman that displays her feminine attributes to their greatest advantage. Pin-ups are their own art form, and in fact I took a workshop on How to Pose Like a Pin-Up which was both entertaining and educational. Pin-ups are awesome!

The thing is, though, pin-ups cater to a very specific idea of femininity. It's all soft lines, soft curves, pouty lips. In my posts about gendered poses in urban fantasy book covers and gendered poses in romance novel book covers, I question why some of the women are set up to look like pin-up models. This isn't intended to be a commentary on pin-ups being inherently bad. What I do think is bad is pretending this is the only way a woman can be considered appealing. There are as many different ways to be womanly as there are women in the world, and pretending soft curves is the only way to be appealing insults pretty much everyone. It seems to have become the default, though, the only way we're meant to understand this woman is attractive. And that's what I find problematic, why I question pin-up poses on book covers where it's not appropriate. Sometimes it might suit the character, and that's fine! Most of the time, though, it doesn't, and is a blatant attempt to sexualize the female character in a very specific and codeified way.

Style is a choice. Pin-ups are one style, and a lovely one. However, it becomes problematic when this is the only way we can think of to present a woman.
fairy tale

Girls are stupid and so are their movies

I'll admit, when I see a man's name attached to a review for a movie geared to women, I roll my eyes. More often than not, that's enough to get me to pass it over. I've found that more often than not, when a man is reviewing a movie aimed at a female audience, his comments essentially sum up to "this is a movie for chicks, and I am not one. Since it didn't cater to my tastes, it's not a good movie. Now let us turn our attention to the current schlocky action movie..." No, not every romantic comedy is a masterpiece, but they should be judged fairly. I often wonder why more newspapers don't have women reviewing movies, actually. It would save us from reviews like Ebert's take on Red Riding Hood, in which he says:

Of the classics of world literature crying out to be filmed as a sexual fantasy for teenage girls, surely "Red Riding Hood" is far down on the list. Here's a movie that cross-pollinates the "Twilight" formula with a werewolf and adds a girl who always wears a red hooded cape, although I don't recall her doing any riding. It's easy to imagine a story conference in which they said: Hey! Let's switch the vampires with a werewolf and recycle the theme of a virgin attracted to a handsome but dangerous hunk, only let's get two hunks!

What this inspiration fails to account for is that while a young woman might toy with the notion of a vampire boyfriend, she might not want to mate with a wolf. Although she might think it was, like, cool to live in the woods in Oregon, she might not want to live in the Black Forest hundreds of years ago because, like, can you text from there?

When I read this, I was outraged on several levels. Not only are the comments misogynistic, but he's presuming to speak for women without doing so much as a google search, so I guess we can add lazy on top of that. Red Riding Hood is full of sexual fantasies for women, as the huge number of erotic novels would tell you. And yeah, werewolves are sexy, as anyone with even a passing knowledge of contemporary fantasy can tell you. And let's not even get into the part where "no girl would want to be in the woods." Ugh, so much rage.

Yeah, this review pretty much encouraged me to see the movie just to be contrary. And you know what? I actually kind of liked it. It wasn't a perfect movie, but it wasn't as pandering as certain white male reviewers would have you believe.
not paid enough

Boosting the signal

Cross-posted from genrereviews because awareness is good.

Hey, guys! Remember all that SOPA and PIPA stuff, where everyone on the internet pretty much came together to give a great big howling no? And hey, we won! There was so much noise raised about it, enough people dropped their support the bills couldn't go through. And the peasants rejoiced.

Unfortunately, the US isn't the only country trying to put through laws like this. In fact, SOPA has an evil Canadian cousin known as C-11. Yeah. It's bad. And it's been so quiet most people don't even know about it. WIth two weeks left, that could be disastrous. Indulge me some quoting for a moment, if you will:

We’re not going to get Google or Wikipedia to go dark up here. We don’t have as robust a tech industry to act as a public counterbalance to entertainment industry interests. We have a Prime Minister (that’s French for Dear Leader under the current regime) who doesn’t give a suckling goat what the people think about his policies.

But we do have a lot more recourse in our political system to make politicians pay than our Yankee brethren do. (Yes I know I just insulted everyone south of the Mason Dixon line. I’m sorry. You trying caring about foreign geographical terminology when every person you’ve ever met from a particular country still thinks it’s the height of hilarity to ask if you live in an igloo.) We have things like votes of no confidence that can really bugger up a sitting House member’s day.

So, if you’re Canadian, or you’re friends with a Canadian, or you just really like bacon, click the link at the bottom of this article and share it with as many people as you can.

We can’t afford to lose on this one, Canada.

Canadians can click here to send your letter through a very clever letter wizard. Those who aren't Canadian, please pass the word along. We might not get a blackout, but we still need our "no" to be heard.

Reflections on the Fantasy Covers post

This is cross-posted from genrereviews because I know there are people who read here more frequently than over there. If you've already seen it there, feel free to skip past this version. Since, y'know, it's the same thing.

Last week I wrote a post about book covers, gender roles, and the bizarre depictions thereof. You may have noticed it.

That post spread around the internet in a way I was totally unprepared for, as the temporary blip in my bandwidth on Friday no doubt revealed. Sometimes it's hard to predict how well a post will go over, but I'd spent a fair amount of time on that one and was pretty pleased with the way it turned out, and being a feminist the subject matter was close to my heart. I'd hoped for a decent response, but I wasn't expecting a full month's worth of visitors in less than two days. I wasn't expecting to be featured at Publisher's Weekly's sf/f blog, I wasn't expecting to have authors tell me they planned to send their publisher to my post when it came time to talk about cover art, and I wasn't expecting to be used as inspiration for fantasy artists. This is all great stuff. Mindblowing stuff! I am so incredibly pleased at the response, my poor husband is wondering when the giddy is going to die back down.

You know what the best part is, though? People are thinking about this now. And talking about it. It's become a whole conversation, and that is so much more valuable than any of the things I listed above. Does this mean big changes in the way cover art will be produced from now on? No, of course not. But if we're thinking about it and looking critically, that's important. Attitudes of "oh, well that's just the way things are and always have been" don't do anyone any good.

And yes, my back is fine, thank you. It was stiff the next day, mostly from trying to get the spinal twist on the John Ringo cover, but I was careful to stretch it out when I could and was basically fine. And my knee is pleased to report no new injuries in that direction.

And now: a poem!

I'm feeling indulgent today, so I have decided to share a poem. I discovered this one when it was featured on karenhealey's blog. I'm not religious, being rather agnostic, but with this particular poem I don't think it matters. It's sweet and simple and makes more sense than most full religions.

God Says Yes To Me
Kaylin Haught

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don't paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I'm telling you is
Yes Yes Yes


Back in June, I lost my feline companion of 10+ years. It was hard, and not something I wanted to talk about, which is why it wasn't mentioned here before now.

The kids had a hard time with it at first, but for a couple of months now they've been asking for a new pet. Specifically a new cat, since I have raised a brood of catlovers. So today the husband and I went to the Humane Society and brought home Alice.

She's about 1 year old, very playful, and is adjusting well. She and I have become pals pretty quickly. And she has a beautiful purr.
Christmas Amy/Eleven

Holidays! Hurray!

I hope everyone's holidays have been awesome thus far and continue to be. Or, if you're done with your celebrations, I hope you have an awesome... uh, rest of the time where everyone else is still celebrating. Yup.

It's been busy at my house. Dec 24th we had Christmas with my in-laws, which involves food, gift exchange, and lots of games. Then we had the annual gift wrapping party at my parents' house. Dec 25th had us at home with the kids in the morning, then at my parents' for Christmas dinner and the big gift exchange with everyone there. Today is what's known as the Hardy Party, wherein a friend of ours (and my former roommate; guess her last name) is in town for just long enough to have a dinner party inviting all her local friends before she heads back home.

Also I should hit a boxing day sale today at some point so I can pick up a birthday gift for the husband. His birthday is January 2, so I usually use post-Christmas sales to get him something. Then at least I can be sure I'm not buying him something someone else has already gotten him for Christmas.

So it's been busy around here, but it's a good busy. The kids are exhausted, so it's a good thing we have most of today to chill. Hope everyone else's celebrations have gone as well.

2011 in Fandom

I did this Year in Fandom meme last year, and it was really fun, so I decided to bring it back this year. And, well, I thought it might be interesting to see the evolution of my fangirliness.

Your main fandom of the year?
Yeah, it'll be Doctor Who again this year. I'm pretty sure it's the only thing I've followed with any regularity in 2011, and while I have my gripes, there were some good times in there, too.

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