*Shovel Emojis*

I spent like, 5 minutes looking for a shovel emoji. Here are some emojis they found more important than a shovel: 🗡🔫🔮⚰️⚱️🎎⚙️🕹

Anyway. Shovel talks. AKA when a well-meaning family member threatens a significant other. It’s possible I’ve broached this topic before. If so, let me reiterate: I loathe them. Would I want my SO to hurt me? No, of course not. But I also wouldn’t want to be with someone who only refrained from hurting me, because he was threatened. A relationship is a choice that two (or more) people make, and that choice includes accepting that you might get hurt. Respecting that choice means accepting the potential consequences your loved one may face.

So, when two characters are having problems and one of them gets hurt and a family member confronts the other party, it’s not my favorite thing. Especially when the other party has been completely upfront and honest about what they have to offer and has given the “injured” party plenty of chances to walk away. They made their own decisions: you can’t blame your family member’s SO when it’s their own choices that are hurting them.

I feel like I should have more to write, but I don’t. So. Then end.

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Now try it again, but this time with Real Human Emotions

I have found myself frustrated lately. As previously stated (I hope, I’m a bit too lazy to check) some of my inspiration comes from reading fanfiction. I recently started exploring in a new fandom and can I just say, fuck melodrama?

I am so sick and tired of stories that are supposed to be novel-length that are entirely without an actual plot beyond “I’m so scared of human emotion. I can’t love this person. It’s just friendship/sex/working together. Omg, I think I love him.” You can only drag out stupidity and cowardice for so long before it gets dreadfully boring and redundant. You gotta have actual THINGS happen, not just sex and emotionally stunted introspective ramblings.

Books aren’t always about realism, but unjustified and unnecessary angst for the sake of angst is just shitty writing. I wish that these authors would step back and try and write actual humans instead of caricatures of emotional unavailability.

Then there’s the other side of the coin: positive emotions in a situation in which they make you doubt the character’s sanity.

The number of times I have seen a story in which some dumbass treats the protagonist like shit and yet has her berating herself because, despite his atrocious behavior, she’s so “drawn” to him, is ridiculous. I had to stop reading just now because this particular heroine I’m reading about now got freaking kidnapped and she is excited that her kidnapper won’t treat her like a princess and even used a *gasp* innuendo. Like, I’m pretty sure that when a normal human woman’s kidnapper makes a sexual comment she doesn’t get excited, she gets scared that she’s going to be raped.

Could we stop having woman be sexually attracted to men who literally treat them like objects and garbage? That would be swell, thanks.

If you can’t organically redeem your male love interest and make him actually worthy of your plucky little protagonist, then don’t make him do shitty things. Changing him through the “power of love” is a fucking cop-out and is unfair to everyone involved. Stop making woman characters love unlovable people because they’re hot or whatever and then turning them into good people. Turn them into good people first. It’s not rocket science.

Sometimes authors should take a step back and ask themselves if they are doing their characters and story justice. Write compelling characters that stand on their own and an actual plot, without forced bullshit to prop them up, and you’ll be good.

(Even I’m sitting here going, “Oh, is that all?” I’m a fucking gem.”

Rape Culture and Romance Novels

Okay, so this is obviously a topic that gets people all up in arms but it’s been niggling at me for a while, so I figured I’d take a shot at discussing it.

Rape Culture: societal expectations that normalize rape and sexual assault by setting boys up as animals unable to say no to their primal desires, and girls as lying temptresses who put themselves in bad situations and complain when something bad happens. Basically, anyway.

There’s a reason that people say not to joke about rape and sexual assault and it’s true: if someone who is willing to rape or sexually assault another human being hears it get normalized by those around them, they are more willing to act on those desires. When I was in 8th grade I wrote a speech for class on serial killers, which required quite a bit of research. I came across a statistic that said 3% of all white males are sociopaths (since then, that has been folded into the umbrella of anti-social personality disorder). That’s a lot of people, yet very few of those people become murderers or serial killers, in fact, there are typically less than 50 active serial killers in the US at any given time. An article I read laid out the reason there aren’t more: societal expectations actually keep some sociopaths for giving into their impulses. The disdain for serial killers ingrained in society actually keeps people from killing. However, where society is more permissive, hate and sex crimes, there are far more perpetrators.

It’s not always something overt or malicious that sends the message that sexual assault isn’t a big deal or that’s it’s a girl’s fault: I’ve found countless casual, and subtle, references to it in romance novels. For example, how many times do our protagonists start getting hot and heavy when they’re trying to “take it slow” and the guys says something like, “If you want to stop, say so now or I won’t be able to,” or “There’s only so much I can take before I lose control,”? It’s small, but there is the clear message that there is a point of no return – if at some point a girl says no, a guy can be so worked up that he will be unable to keep himself from raping her. It’s a romance novel, so the love interest is not going to rape our protagonist, but she usually apologizes for getting him worked up doesn’t she? Like it wasn’t a mutual thing, like she’s doing something wrong by not taking care of his needs completely.

Obviously there’s another side to this. How often do our our plucky lady protagonists get asked if they’re sure when they’re about to throw the plan to go slow on get frisky out the window? All the goddamn freaking time. On one hand it’s annoying because it’s a little patronizing, on the other it’s problematic because our lady protagonist, never asks the guy if he is also sure. There’s this expectation that guys are just so hungry for it, all the time, that woman don’t need to ask if they’re up for it, because they have dicks right? It’s like whack-a-mole, once one erection goes down, another one pops up! It’s especially awful when the woman comes to a man who has the reputation for being a playboy and asks for sex, just expecting him to comply.

Rape culture does a lot of damage, to both genders, and I think that books that claim to be celebrating love and connection, should do so by creating healthy, respectful, relationships.

Baby One More Time

This is totally petty and fucking stupid but I fucking hate when parents call their grown child baby. Chances are, in a romance novel, their partner will call them baby in a sexual atmosphere later in the story and all I’m thinking about is their mom. (Wtf isn’t there a puke emoji yet??)

(Full disclosure: My mom said something like “You’re my baby,” to me once and I just shuddered. I told her she was not allowed to call me that because what if in the future my hypohetical SO wants to call me baby? That would be so gross. So yes, this shit does originate and persist in my personal life, because, while technically a functioning adult, I’m also a fucking child.)

Barefoot and Pregnant

I have absolutely no issues at all with BDSM. I respect it and it’s practitioners as a strong, vibrant community. So, I have no problem with women being submissive, if that’s what they want. However, I do have an issue with protagonists that claim to be independent women who like to stay in control and take care of themselves, suddenly deferring to the male MC.

The lesson, of course, being that any woman would be happy to cede control and let a man take care of her it it’s the right man. So these women, suddenly allow some random man, often one they’ve just met, to tell them what to do and feel and totally take over their lives. Suddenly it’s “Oh, I always take care of myself and I like it like that, but here’s this sexy man and for some reason beyond my comprehension, I like it when he takes complete control of me and makes me beg.” What??

I’m not saying it’s bad to let your SO take care of you. It’s not, that’s healthy. Instantly becoming totally submissive and dependent on a man you’ve just met? That is totally unhealthy. 

Insta-love is a turn-off for most people (including me). Insta-lust is pretty much a staple of most romance novels. I have an issue with insta-trust. Especially when the protagonist then proceeds to enumerate all of the reason she has trust issues while still trusting the male MC way more, and way less, than is realistic.

Also, I don’t know a ton about kinks, but I feel like women don’t just spontaneously become submissives in bed just because they encounter an “alpha male”. I do buy them suddenly discovering a kink, but one that just erupts because of some dude? No thanks. But whatever, what do I know.
P.S. (Not sure I’m being totally clear with this one? If anyone’s offended, sorry, promise I’m not trying to kink-shame. It mostly just about how romance novels paint some fantasy of a woman becoming a sudden damsel in distress who turns herself and her agency over to a man -but only a sexy alpha male she barely knows, of course – completely, because 18th century gender roles.)

Sexist Bullshit Alpha Douches 😷💩💩

There are sooo many books that start off with some asshole who only has casual sex because he’s “damaged,” and is also, coincidentally, a sexist dickbag who doesn’t respect women. Of course, this all changes through the power of loooove. 

Excuse me while I barf. 

The number of times a hero has made sweeping generalizations about the clingy, manipulative and whiny traits of all women is the worst. Of course, the protagonist is the exception to the rule. (“You’re not like other girls.” *barfbarfbarfbarfbarf*). She’s also typically shy and victimized by all vicious, manipulative harpies that are all the other women in the world. On the rare occasion that there is another “good woman” she is either a relative or a married friend of the hero that he introduces the protagonist to, usually for a makeover of some kind. That way, he not only gets to provide her with his love and hard-won respect, but also her first female friend and the ugly duckling gets transformed into a swan *tear*.

I’m reading a book where the male literally says the tattoos are tacky on women. Not that tattoos are tacky, no, they’re only tacky on women. Our shy and inexperienced, yet also sexy and adventurous, protagonist decides to get one and he laments that she has decided to mar her body. Of course when it ends up turning him on, it’s because she’s the exception, not because his sweeping generalization was sexist bullshit and he’s a dick.

In theory, I get why people enjoy this dynamic. If someone is an asshole to everyone but you, it makes you feel special: their one exception. As a cat person, I get it. Reading is supposed to be about wish fulfillment. And yet, who wishes to be debased by an sexist dickface until he realizes she’s worthy of respect because she’s a virgin and he loves her??  Any self-confident woman who also respects other people doesn’t want someone like that because at the end of the day, not only are they still an asshole, they also hate every other woman. 

The acceptable compromise, of course, is the love interest who has safe, consensually casual sex with women he treats with dignity and respect, not scorn and disdain. That way, the protagonist still gets to be special, but to someone who isn’t an emotionally stunted, sexist jackhole. Victory.
*Here’s my disclaimer: Yes, plenty of protagonist make equally awful generalizations about men, and it’s just as annoying. Either way, the point stands.

Oh, the cuteness! 😊😊😊😚😚😚

Ok, so this one is huge for me: fake cutesy bullshit. I get that banter is awesome. I fucking love me some good banter, (Gilmore Girls, anyone?) but when every interaction is purely banter, no substance or whatever, it just becomes incredibly grating, especially when an author can’t handle it and their characters start coming across as simply childish, rather than intelligent and sexy. (Banter is supposed to be witty.) I end up hoping that someone will die tragically or get some horrific disease just to make things more interesting. 

It’s not cute, it’s not fun, it’s over the fucking top.

Also: playful hitting. Nope, nope, nope. I did that when I was in, like, middle school, so when someone is trying to portray a serious adult relationship that involves “flirtatious” hits, punches, slaps, pinches, whatever, it immediately lessens their credibility to me, and diminishes the relationship. Constantly hitting someone is NOT CUTE. It’s pretty annoying actually. Especially when the author specifically mentions that the person who was hit felt pain! What the hell? Why would anyone think that’s playful or flirty? It’s not.