All tagged Feminism

Smart & Satisfying: No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah Maclean

Or, in which Sarah reads a historical romance... and actually likes it!

My complicated relationship with historical fiction has been well-documented on this blog at this point, I believe. Despite that I'm a colossal history nerd, I just have the hardest time finding historical fiction that works for me--as a novel-lover and a history dork, I find that the balance rarely hits the right notes. 

Historical romance is even a harder genre for me. I'm an extremely picky romance reader as it is, and the settings (Regency England, primarily) and class issues (nearly exclusively featuring the titled classes) just don't appeal to me, and neither do the gender dynamics (power, female virginity obsession, etc.) endemic to the time periods popular in historical romance. 

However, I also try to keep an open mind and when so many people with excellent taste rave about an author, I'll give one of their books a shot, even if it's something I would normally shy away from. 

Such is the case of Sarah Maclean's No Good Duke Goes Unpunished, which surprised me with its awesomeness. 

Links + Things: It's Finally Ironic, Women in Television, Good Deals on Print Books + More

Welcome to an unexpectedly lengthy edition of Links + Things! I hope you enjoy this roundup of interestingness on the web, and the special print-only edition of my book deal roundup. 

And! Happy early birthday to CEFS blogger Sandra, who's birthday is Sunday and a belated happy birthday to on-hiatus CEFS blogger Rebeca. Two to are 100% AWESOMESAUCE!

Video of Awesome!

My good friend Mookie sent me this phenomenal video made my two sisters who fixed Alanis Morissette's un-ironic "Ironic" song. This makes me unbelievably happy. 

Required Reading

“The question often goes misinterpreted and instead we get these two-dimensional superwomen who maybe have one quality that’s played up a lot like a Catwoman-type or she plays her sexuality up a lot and it’s seen as power,” she says. “They’re not strong characters who happen to be female—they’re completely flat and they’re basically cardboard characters.”
— Tavi Gevinson

Brenda Chapman (who's a very interesting person herself) highlighted an old (well, a year old)TED talk from Tavi Gevinson, teen blogger, and media sensation. She critiques the way "strong" female characters are developed as actually quite flat and uncomplicated and the real-life ramifications of these depictions. 

Links + Things: It's Been Too Long Edition

It's been a couple of weeks since my last link roundup, and I've collected a ton of interestingness to share with you--hope you enjoy! Also, I've found a bunch of good deals on good books lately that will keep you reading for awhile, so make sure to scroll down to check out these bargains. 

Required Reading

“We can start with the money. White people sell, on the surface. The truth is people of color sell too, when their stories are given the proper exposure. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is always a movie I like to point out. Amazing, award-winning film and not once have I heard anyone say, “That really could have used more white people.” It did well in the US market because it was a great film that got proper exposure. Marketing matters, people. When it’s really difficult to find positive and realistic stories about people of color, white and people of color alike think those stories don’t exist. ”
— Rebekah Weatherspoon

Romance Around the Corner hosted a fantastic week of posts celebrating and deconstructing heroines in romance-focused fiction. (I was thrilled to participate, with adiscussion and recommendations for brave YA girls.) While all of the posts were thought-provoking and compelling, author Rebekah Weatherspoon's post about representation was the one that I kept coming back to. It has over 50 comments at this point, and that discussion is definitely worth reading as well.

Today in Ridiculous B.S.: "The Julie Taylor Test"

Today, Laura tweeted a post from Salon's entertainment section, to which I reacted quite viscerally.

This (somewhat link-bait-y) piece is called "The Julie Taylor Test," referencing the daughter fo Eric and Tami Taylor on Friday Night Lights, and it's absolutely dripping with sexism. The author, Willa Paskin, asserts that bad acting can be identified by comparing the performer suspected of bad acting to Julie Taylor on Friday Night Lights, portrayed by Aimee Teegarden.

She argues, 

Enter the Julie Taylor Test, an easy way to identify bad TV acting: Ask yourself, is it  to imagine the inner life of this character? If no, is it possible to imagine the inner life of the characters surrounding him or her? It was all too possible to imagine the inner lives of every character on “Friday Night Lights” but Julie.

The thing is, using Paskin's own example, Julie Taylor has an immense inner life (watch The Giving Tree, S3E10, if you don't believe me).

However, her "inner life" is that of a teenage girl, so there are two strikes against Julie the character and Aimee the actress.

Links + Things: Zelda & F. Scott, Feminism & Social Class, More Plagiarism Wackiness, Speak, Rutger, Cheapo Books + More

I'm back with a round-up of interestingness on the web!

In case you missed it, recently on CEFS, we've highlighted ourfavorite reads from the last month, posted a new podcast about "new adult" fiction, Laura wrote a very insightful review of Eleanor & Park, Sandra found one of her certain favorite reads of 2013, and I got a bit ranty about libraries and ebooks and pleaded for help finding some good audiobook listens.

Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post for your cheap-o book fix!

This Week's Video of Awesome

Open Culture recently shared this intriguing YouTube of rare photos and video of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. They bring up some concerns about whether or not some of the images and clips are properly identified, but most are clearly of the pair, and it's pretty amazing to see so many collected in a single place.

Links + Things: Critiquing "Oz," Network TV's Vision Problem, How the Quiet Car Explains the World, Feminist/UnFeminist, Strong Female Characters + More

How is it Thursday already? This has been quite a week, particularly since--at long last--we launched the Clear Eyes, Full Shelves podcast. Give it a listen--we hope you enjoy the blend of discussion, humor and hijinks. 

This has been a bit of a slow week, bookish news-wise, but there's ​still loads of interestingness in the world. Check out a few of the tidbits I've gathered and don't forget to scroll to the end for book cover news and cheap book deals to feed your reading habit.

This Week's Video of Awesome

​You Tube user dair to love created this fan-freaking-fastic tribute to Friday Night Lights. It got kind of dusty in here when I watched this the first time. Ahem.


No doubt the focus group responsible for “Great and Powerful” convinced themselves that female protagonists weren’t marketable (odd coming from the studio of Disney Princesses), and that a pouty, doubting hero would draw in a wider range of moviegoers. It was probably believed no one would ever see an Oz film unless it directly tied into the version they already knew and loved, and that trying to draw on original Oz tales would be too confusing and difficult. Audiences can follow along with Marvel and Tolkien, but the origin of Ozma would undoubtedly be too complicated. Why bring in Betsy and her mule, when we can have a Hollywood hunk on the poster, and witchy cleavage at the denouement?

​Over at, Elizabeth Rappe dissects Hollywood's prequel to The Wizard of Oz, Oz the Great and Powerful. She points out that in the Oz novels, L. Frank Baum created stories with strong women as the leads, but Hollywood's interpretation reflects none of that.The new film falls back into the gender stereotypes present in nearly every blockbuster flick. It's been a long, long time since I read a number of the original Oz novels, and I'm interested in revisiting them now .

WTF: GQ's "Reading Man's Guide to Dirty Books"

December 2012 GQ Cover - WTF: GQ's [Hey, Mom, you don’t need to read this piece, okay?]

The latest installment in the continuing chronicles of, “OMIGOD! Women are reading about S-E-X! The end of the world is nigh!” comes from in the form of GQ’s unfortunate (print-only) article by Tom Bissell, “A Reading Man’s Guide to Dirty Books.”

Bissell, identified by the magazine as a “connoisseur of the finest literary smut” (he’s actually a professor at Portland State and an expert in video games*), argues,

“The best way to seduce an intelligent woman? It’s shockingly simple, really. Read to her.”

Because, obviously, if the men in intelligent women’s lives aren’t selecting dirty books that said men will then read aloud to their lady friends, those women may make “bad” choices in “trashy” reading materials and who knows what might happen?

Oh, noes! Women may even read “trashy” novels written by women, which chronicle the female experience with a healthy, sex-positive, point-of-view on women’s sexuality. Gasp! 

Sarcasm aside, I think it’s interesting that Bissell advocates removing women from the equation and men literally reading to them “erotic” books written by men (and I’d argue for men) so they can understand and apparently be titillated by sex through the male gaze.

Bissell points specifically and banally to the Fifty Shades of Grey craze as a problematic sex-filled read (apparently, according to Bissell, there is a veritable a “litter” of sequels, not just two—someone tell E.L. James), arguing that the women of the world are picking up these novels for one (extremely sexist) reason. 

“It was then I realized why women across the Western world were firing up their vibrators at the thought of Christian Grey flogging the imbecilic Anastasia Steele. The story was the wand by which E.L. James had transformed the realm’s every mom-jeaned frump into a preciously violated princess. You could argue that we see the male equivalent of this dynamic all the time in sitcoms wherein the pudgy dork cohabits with the curiously hot young wife. The crucial difference is we don’t masturbate to sit-coms.”

I know, y’all, I know

Let’s get this straight: 

  • Women only read Fifty Shades of Grey as masturbatory fodder;
  • Women read Fifty Shades of Grey because it fulfills their frumpy “mom-jeaned” fantasy that they obviously couldn’t achieve in their own lives due to the whole “mom jeans” issue; and
  • This is what Bissell chooses to tell the 75% male readership of GQ about women and their erotic reading “needs.”

Obviously, Bissell is Extremely Alarmed.