Despite fighting serious feelings of apathy this week w/r/t this roundup of links, these are the articles I’ve been reading and thinking about this week. It’s short. You’ve been warned.
On “Slut Shelves” and Eating Our Own in Fiction (Book Riot)
There was this interesting thing last week that I caught on Twitter about a shelf on Goodreads called “Slut” and which featured a handful of YA novels wherein the girls were audacious enough to have sex. Author Alexandra Duncan talked about why it was so upsetting to see her book shelved there, but she was careful not to call out the reviewer on Goodreads specifically (it wasn’t hard for the internet to find her, though, and from what I can tell, she’s removed her review since then).
Jensen’s piece is a nice recap of that blog post, the resulting conversation on Twitter, and the larger implications of a shelf like that. This part is particularly important:
What’s problematic here isn’t this shelf in particular, nor is it the shelves of any of a number of other Goodreads users who perpetuate the idea that girls who like sex in their books are sluts and therefore lack value. It’s not the reviews of books that are left on Amazon or blogs or anywhere else that equate a female character’s worth with her sexual appetite.
Those are instead symptoms of a much more pervasive problem of sexism and reading altogether.
Of course, there’s more to unpack here, and like usual, Jensen does a great job of getting to what is so profoundly disturbing about shelving fiction in this way, about what is so wrong about thinking about female characters in this way:
Women’s voices in fiction are drowned out and forgotten. What it means to be a girl ismade into a myth — the myth that girls are meant to be easy to digest and the myth that the right girls are “not like other girls.” We label books for young readers as being books for boys or books for girls, and we perpetuate the idea that one gender is far more important to cater to than the other. That the voices and needs as females don’t matter as much because “what about the boys?” We call books where girls dare to make choices about their own bodily pleasure smut, and we treat them as lesser, and we call books where girls have their bodies taken advantage of the same damn thing.
Black Box is Quite Possibly the Most Thoroughly Awful Pilot Ever Made (Previously.TV)
I’m not going to lie: I hadn’t even heard of this show before I heard Sara D. Bunting talking about it on the Extra Hot Great podcast this week. But after she talked about it a little bit, I sought out her review of Previously.TV, and it is amazing. Not only is Bunting really smart and incredibly funny, she’s also a pretty great writer (and, I think, might be my TV spirit animal):
This? Is unrelatable. This thinks “the tumor will grow, so will the pain, and you will die in agony” is how doctors speak to patients about their diagnoses, and that Dr. Black would have to explain to the surgeon, who is looking at the x-ray, that the tumor is in a delicate spot. This fetishizes the self-destructive and melodramatic aspects of mental illness, but has absolutely nothing new to add to the way we understand it (the Blacks’ mother filled her pockets with rocks and walked into the sea, because I guess nobody but Jones read Kate Chopin in college OR HAS HEARD OF VIRGINIA WOOLF for the love of beer and fucking skittles).
Amazing. Go check out the full review and laugh. And then cry, maybe.
What did you read that got you thinking this week?