It’s spring here in the lovely Pacific Northwest, which I thought meant I was out of the woods as far as getting sick. Unfortunately, I thought wrong, and have spent the weekend in various states of comatose and/or highly medicated. I went back to work today, and took my boss up on her suggestion that I leave a little early and get a little more rest. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen so I’m writing a blog post instead.
Here are a few things that are on my mind recently:
- There have been a couple of fascinating blog posts on the subject of whether or not romance novels should come with content warnings. I’m in the comments of the first post, and apparently I made sense there because there’s a link to my comment in the second post, which gave me a warm fuzzy. Anyway, the comment threads of both blog posts are worth reading. Ultimately, I think if anyone can avoid being triggered however that needs to happen, everyone’s life will be easier–the author of the potentially triggering book, the person who might be potentially triggered, and even just other people.
I don’t have many triggers, if any. The closest I can think of is that I quit reading the Virgin River books at the one where Mel decides she’s getting fat because of all of Preacher’s cooking and it looked like she was going to blow a fucking gasket about it for the whole book. I wouldn’t say I was triggered exactly, but the whole thing looked to be badly handled because on the one hand you’ve got a woman being ridiculous about her body, but you’ve also got her husband being all, “Oh sweetie. Don’t you worry your pretty little head about anything.” I thought both characters were awful, it was also not even remotely their book, and I have refused to read another word of that series, because you know where I don’t need people preaching condescendingly about weight? My romance novels.
I did appreciate the warnings on Heidi Cullinan’s latest book. She warns for hardcore BDSM, including water sports. I think if I’d been reading along and come to a scene of someone peeing on someone else, my happy id feelings would vanish really fast. Since she warned me to expect that, I’ll know not to be surprised, and I won’t feel betrayed because the author went down a darker path than I’m willing to go.
- I do want to write sometime about consent in romance novels in general and my feelings on same. Surprisingly, they’re complicated and I feel like I’ve been wrestling with thoughts on those issues for years. I do know that I am one of the minority of women who would say that she doesn’t have rape fantasies of any kind, although with an author I trust I can enjoy the occasional, “My heart is saying no, but my body’s saying let’s go!” type scenarios. Also, I won’t lie. Sex pollen, we-have-to-fuck-or-the-world-will-end, or even Aliens Made them Do It scenarios get a pass from me. I also find slave scenarios really fascinating. But I have to keep all of them in the right perspective. I can suspend my disbelief for a master and slave falling in love in generic fantasy land, or a couple getting together because if they don’t, the world will literally end, but give me a book where the hero kidnaps the heroine and forces her to go on a journey of debauched shenanigans involving drugs, actual real-world sexual slavery, or whatever, then I can’t handle it. So I guess for me the key word in “dubious consent fantasies” is the “fantasy”.
- Sunita’s post also makes me want to write more on disability in fiction. I don’t quite know how I want to frame that post, because I’ve written about my issues with disability tropes enough here that I’m sure you could all play Shannon’s Post mad libs and come to the right conclusions. I think the only thing I really want to say is that even though a lot of disability is handled so abysmally in fiction, we still need more of it, because eventually, someone is going to write stories with disabled protagonists who are neither fetishized nor used as pillars of inspiration. This has to happen, right? On the theory that if an infinite number of monkeys bang out at an infinite number of laptops, one of them is bound to write a disabled character I can personally identify with, right?
- In completely unrelated news, I’ve been listening to podcasts over the last few days, because they don’t require the same amount of emotional investment as actual books. One of the things I ended up discovering was PRX Remix. They hand-curate segments from various podcasts and you can hear them at random. It’s so interesting, and has convinced me that my decision to subscribe to the Snap Judgment podcast was a good one. (The other reason is that the host of that show has a voice I could roll around in all day… a sentiment I have never thought about Ira Glass.)
- One of my friends, also named Shannon, has begun doing audiobook reviews in various places. Her first review for All About Romance is here. She does an excellent job, and I’m proud of her, since as I’ve said, group reviewing projects don’t seem to work very well for me.)
- Right now I’m reading Stephen Cjboski’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I know it’s a YA classic, and I should probably give up, because it’s been an exercise in me being unable to care at all about this kid long enough to keep going with the story. I also find myself annoyed that this is a YA classic, but if it had been about a girl navigating the waters of high school, first crushes and dealing with various related issues, it would have vanished into mid list obscurity. Which is where this book belongs, unless something changes in the next three hours of audio reading.