kaigou: this is what I do, darling (3 break out of prison)
[personal profile] kaigou
Read these anyway, because they're worth the time.
  • University of Fantasy's hush hush, the designated love interest and gender relations in YA
  • bookshop's Bad Romance (or, YA & Rape Culture)
  • Fugitivus' Another post about rape
  • Inwhichagirl's Why YA Romance Needs to Change
  • Shapely Prose's Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced
  • Feministe's Predatory Theory
  • YesMeansYes' Shroedinger’s Rapist And The Imagined Right To Intrude and Boundaries
    Note: obvious potential triggers, given all posts are about rape and/or rape culture.

    For those of you coming here after the dust settled, here's a quick summary. I asked for people to list any YA story details they'd like to read, wherein the story's basic plot would be "ordinary girl defeats stalker-rapist, wins the day and love in the process (and that true love ain't with the stalker-rapist, either)."

    The comments started piling up, and... well. Most replies were overwhelmingly positive, and even the critical comments were still polite, don't get me wrong. But taken as an overwhelming whole of all the replies together, it became impossible to ignore that something was really wrong, and the majorly-revised post below was my answer to what I saw going down.

    I'm not sure where things failed per communication, but come on.

    I'm not enjoying being jumped on by readers assuming that because I didn't put up a neon sign that says YES NOT-USIAN IS OKAY and instead only said "anywhere in this world" that I must automatically be US-only and US-biased. Way I see it, if someone is going to interpret "anywhere in the world" as really meaning "only in the US" then that's someone else's bias, and not any bias actually existing in the text.

    I'm not enjoying being lectured about enforcing heteronormativity -- me? seriously!? -- when I thought it was pretty obvious that M/F was not required when I said "does he (or she!) notice [the protagonist] for the first time..." And then revised to remove all pronouns, and then further revised to include both male and female pronouns. What more does anyone want, a freaking neon sign that says YES COULD BE GIRL?

    I'm not enjoying feeling like I'm having to moderate so heavily because people would rather tell me all the things I'm missing when I'd only intended to ask questions to get ideas started, rather than lay down maximum guidelines that anyone had to pick from.

    I'm really not enjoying feeling like I must have really really misstated somewhere, when the focus of nearly every reply has been on either not-this-world fantasy, or future-setting science fiction.

    I know I can be wordy, but it's been a long time since I've felt like I've been this freely misinterpreted, and I'm not feeling anymore like I should be the one apologizing. I've revised and revised and revised, and now I've reached the point where I'm willing to say: no, it's NOT me, for crying out loud. I really am getting read through a lens of other peoples' biases, and I'm not enjoying being repeatedly put on the defensive because someone else is reading too fast.

    As for the last -- the not-our-world, not-our-time versions -- that pisses me off the most. What's the message in there? That to write a story where a girl stands up against the rape culture is only possible and believable if it's not in our world, and not in our present day? That we need to wait twenty years -- or be on another planet altogether -- before it'd be okay for a young girl to tell a guy where to get off and have her demands be respected?

    When the stories doing the worst damage right now are all stories set in our time and ostensibly taking place in our world, how can anyone possibly argue that stories not in our time or not in our world could have near enough power in comparison, let alone enough to undo the damage?

    It reminds me of stories published in the 1800s that described places or worlds where women could vote or where blacks were equal to whites: oh, it's a nice idea, certainly, and the story can even be popular, but a lot of that has to do with the fact that a sexist or racist reader can justify enjoyment by saying, that doesn't really apply, that is not our reality. They can dismiss the story, even as they can pay lip service by saying, "sure, if we lived in that world or that time, then maybe we'd all be equal or women wouldn't have to see every strange man as potential rapist or pigs would fly" -- and the real message that comes through is that since we don't live there or then, so none of those lessons need apply.

    And that is not a message that I think is okay, not at all, not when we're obviously up against a trend so horrendous -- that it's not just okay, but right for young girls to be stalked, terrorized, abused, assaulted, raped, and their fears ignored or outright dismissed, and that having suffered through all this that it's not just okay, but good when they then fall in love with their stalker-rapists.

    Yes, science fiction and fantasy have their place. I'd be one of the last to argue otherwise. But in this context, in this genre, the contemporary has a power that cannot be defeated by "what it'd be like in thirty years" or "what it'd be like if we were all blue and living on Pluto" -- it can only be defeated, I've come to believe, by showing our next generation of women that the things they deal with, here and now, can be changed, should be changed, and that we -- the generation who went before, who now produces the works that these younger women read -- are aware of what they face, and we are using our own experiences to give them paths to follow, to lead them out of that goddamn cage of the rape culture, and that yes, as a matter of fact, that we do not believe that the only path to true love is to accept the stalker-rapist, that we call that as bullshit and are here to help them see there is a better life -- a better world! -- possible.

    That's all I'm asking for, all I wanted, to see how many people would be willing to say, to articulate, here are ways and means I'd want to see that better storyline played out. Maybe I should've expressed it in some other way, maybe I should've come up with some easier way for non-writers to outline their response, maybe I should've figured out how to put it to make it clearer that one approach would be to list what readers wanted to read -- and didn't get or find -- either at that age, or now when wanting books to give their own daughters.

    Maybe I should've done a lot of things, including keeping my mouth shut. Since that's always a possibility, I'm going to try that route now, and if you want to push a meme of the same ilk, do it on your own posts.

    This entire post is now frozen.
  • whois

    kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
    锴 angry fishtrap 狗

    to remember

    "When you make the finding yourself— even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light— you'll never forget it." —Carl Sagan

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