Writing, Spaghetti Sauce, Sex, Gender Relations, Anti-Semitic Bees and Hollywood Woes

I’m inexplicably tired today, so here’s a Sunday linkdump:

Here is Dan Kois about why writers abandon novels at the New York Times. The short answer is, because they aren’t working, are broken beyond repair and have become a sprawling mess. I guess we all have a manuscript or five like that.

At Charles Stross’ blog Harry Connolly compares the variety of spaghetti sauce and mustard on the supermarket shelves with the variety of genres and subgenres on the bookstore shelves.

I rarely look at the WordPress News section of the WordPress dashboard, but sometimes you can find interesting stuff such as this video of writer Michelle Anderson explaining how she created an interactive novel by embedding media files via a WordPress plug-in. The site in question, The Miracle in July, is here.

Marissa Day continues her series on writing sex at the Book View Café and discusses why women writing openly about sex is not just a good thing but also still controversial to a certain degree, particularly if a female character is the one who pursues sex rather than allows herself to be pursued.

On a related note, Evan Hughes slams a new book discussing the concept of the sexual marketplace at The New Republic.

The first time I came across the whole concept of a sexual marketplace where men buy sex (with gifts, commitment, marriage, etc…), while women sell (against gifts, commitment, marriage, children, etc…), I thought, “Oh God, what a fucked up notion.” Because it’s wrong on so many levels, not just in reducing human interactions to pure economics (unfortunately a common mistake among economists) but also in the assumption that all men ever want from any interaction with a woman is sex, while all women ever want from any interaction with a man is commitment, because – gasp – women can’t actually be enjoying sex for its own sake, can they? Never mind that relationships, dating and sex sound about as enjoyable within this sort of framework as a visit to the dentist.

However, it seems that this concept is sadly common, not just on those terribly misogynist blogs by men who got dumped by their wife/girlfriend and now hate all women but even on blogs written by women who claim to be (and probably believe to be) giving relationship advice to young women. Luckily, it mainly seems to be a US thing, though.

In general, it seems to me as if the US is more conservative with regards to gender roles and definitely more conservative with regards to attitudes towards sex. And in many ways, those assumptions also explain a lot about certain dynamics common in American romance novels, TV shows (Sex and the City might just as well have been about aliens, because those women behaved like no woman I ever met) and other pop cultural phenomena. If you’re reading romance, this can become a problem because it can be difficult to avoid romances with creepy gender dynamics. If you’re writing romance, it can be even more difficult, if many people believe that this is the way things are. Though it’s a challenge to show that relationships can be different.

Shock: Is Maya the Bee anti-semitic? Well, not Maya the Bee herself, though the bee queen does peddle some problematic ideas in the childhood classic. But recent research suggests that the author Waldemar Bonsels most probably was.

Here is yet another “American film is ruined, because Hollywood no longer makes serious adult drama” article from that renown bastion of seriousness GQ. This time around, it’s the people of my generation who are at fault, because we all watched Top Gun (which I’ve never seen BTW) and used it as a model of what film should be like.

I think we all agree that Hollywood is in trouble, but I don’t think that “serious adult drama” or what passes for it in the minds of certain film critics is the only way to go. Treating films – every film and not just “serious adult drama” TM – less as product and more as art would help, though.

And why must those “Hollywood is dying” articles always be so terribly condescending anyway? It was okay, when Theodor W. Adorno railed against the culture industry, but then he was Adorno and a genius and – at least as far as sociologists are concerned – god. At university, we always joked that for sociologits Adorno is god, Habermas is Jesus and Horkheimer the holy spirit.

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1 Response to Writing, Spaghetti Sauce, Sex, Gender Relations, Anti-Semitic Bees and Hollywood Woes

  1. Pingback: Beyond the Greek Alphabet – Romance and Non-Stereotypical Gender Roles | Cora Buhlert

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