Supplement to my Google books library, for things I read that don't have ISBN numbers, i.e. fanfiction and e-books.Ask me anything
If you’re a boy writer, it’s a simple rule: you’ve gotta get used to the fact that you suck at writing women and that the worst women writer can write a better man than the best male writer can write a good woman. And it’s just the minimum. Because the thing about the sort of heteronormative masculine privilege, whether it’s in Santo Domingo, or the United States, is you grow up your entire life being told that women aren’t human beings, and that women have no independent subjectivity. And because you grow up with this, it’s this huge surprise when you go to college and realize that, “Oh, women aren’t people who does my shit and fucks me.”
And I think that this a huge challenge for boys, because they want to pretend they can write girls. Every time I’m teaching boys to write, I read their women to them, and I’m like, “Yo, you think this is good writing?” These motherfuckers attack each other over cliche lines but they won’t attack each other over these toxic representations of women that they have inherited… their sexist shorthand, they think that is observation. They think that their sexist distortions are insight. And if you’re in a writing program and you say to a guy that their characters are sexist, this guy, it’s like you said they fucking love Hitler. They will fight tooth and nail because they want to preserve this really vicious sexism in the art because that is what they have been taught.
And I think the first step is to admit that you, because of your privilege, have a very distorted sense of women’s subjectivity. And without an enormous amount of assistance, you’re not even going to get a D. I think with male writers the most that you can hope for is a D with an occasional C thrown in. Where the average women writer, when she writes men, she gets a B right off the bat, because they spent their whole life being taught that men have a subjectivity. In fact, part of the whole feminism revolution was saying, “Me too, motherfuckers.” So women come with it built in because of the society.
It’s the same way when people write about race. If you didn’t grow up being a subaltern person in the United States, you might need help writing about race. Motherfuckers are like ‘I got a black boy friend,’ and their shit sounds like Klan Fiction 101.
The most toxic formulas in our cultures are not pass down in political practice, they’re pass down in mundane narratives. It’s our fiction where the toxic virus of sexism, racism, homophobia, where it passes from one generation to the next, and the average artist will kill you before they remove those poisons. And if you want to be a good artist, it means writing, really, about the world. And when you write cliches, whether they are sexist, racist, homophobic, classist, that is a fucking cliche. And motherfuckers will kill you for their cliches about x, but they want their cliches about their race, class, queerness. They want it in there because they feel lost without it. So for me, this has always been the great challenge.
As a writer, if you’re really trying to write something new, you must figure out, with the help of a community, how can you shed these fucking received formulas. They are received. You didn’t come up with them. And why we need fellow artists is because they help us stay on track. They tell you, “You know what? You’re a bit of a fucking homophobe.” You can’t write about the world with these simplistic distortions. They are cliches. People know art, always, because they are uncomfortable. Art discomforts. The trangressiveness of art has to deal with confronting people with the real. And sexism is a way to avoid the real, avoiding the reality of women. Homophobia is to avoid the real, the reality of queerness. All these things are the way we hide from encountering the real. But art, art is just about that. Junot Diaz speaking at Word Up Bookshop, 2012 (via clambistro)
I do not have the words to express how fucked up, wrong and disappointing I found this pilot episode; this show. I’m going to try and find the words, however. And I realize now some people are just going to look at me a goggle and a boggle and think I’m ‘harping’ and ‘noticing nothing’ and ‘I have issues’.
To which I say now that yes, I have issues. I’m a queer, black female living in the US, with relatives who weren’t born here and relatives who were. I learned a lot of history outside the US public (or private) educational system. And I’ve spent years studying media; since I was small actually, because that was my mother’s job. And unlike being the child of a doctor, while you can’t take your kid into your practice with you when they’re little or into surgery or into a courtroom with you if you’re the child of a lawyer - the child of a media studies higher education graduate DOES get sat in front of tv and books, music and advertising and gets asked questions and gets taught.
I said I wouldn’t do it.
In 2011, when a government shutdown loomed, I made with the wacky Twitter yuk-yuks.
I figured that was it. It was, after all, just one joke — a weirdly specific one, granted, with its “(Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome +Lovecraft + Whatever Meager Scraps of 11th Grade Civics Class I Could Scrape from my Hippocampus) = KOMEDY JOKE” structure — but still, it was just the one joke, over and over.
That’s more or less what I told people who asked if I’d dust it off last December, when a federal budget shortfall or whatever threatened. There just wasn’t any juice left in it.
But then last week, another government shutdown threatened. And I found myself in a dayjob SEO meeting, a thing that leaches light and hope and joy from the world. In desperation, I got on my old dead horse and beat it so hard it turned to glue.
But I did want to challenge myself. I also wanted to cop to the fact that I was shamelessly milking the original. So I decided to make the #duringthegovernmentshutdown hashtag even stupidly longer, and test drove a few options in my head:
(No, I did NOT consider #duringthegovernmentshutdown2electricboogaloo, thank you VERY much, Mr. Hacky McHackery of Hacktown, Hacksylvania.)
Settled on #duringthegovernment2piginthecity. Because it was the shortest. And because Babe 2 is hell of a lot of fun.
I’d effectively chopped my available space for japery down to 90 or so characters. It was not easy. The tone of the dumb thing depends in part on archaic words and syntax, which are not ideally suited to Twitter. Over and over again, I had to completely rephrase the joke, or lose it entirely. In more than a few cases, I made compromises that still rankle.
Losing definite articles, for example: “The Were-Hares take Warren Buffet’s corpse …”, is, I avow, an objectively and implicitly funnier phrasing than “Were-hares take Warren Buffet’s corpse….” Can’t tell you why. Just is.
I started it up again on Thursday the 26th, thinking the shutdown would be averted and I could stop when a compromise was reached in a day or two, as in 2011.
But the bastards blew it up. So I kept going.
I resolved to stop once the actual shutdown occurred at 12:01 a.m. on October 1st. Because once basic, vital services stop reaching the people that need them, the whole notion of shutdown gets a lot less funny.
I should have started later. Really thought they’d compromise, and I wouldn’t have to keep it going for FIVE DAMN DAYS.
Easily the most RT’d/Fav’d one was the zombie/Bikeshare one, followed by the cupcake one. I came VERY close to deleted each one before Tweeting it, figuring they were both tired references (zombies? cupcakes? still?).
SO, THIS IS ALL JUST RIPPING OFF WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE, RIGHT?
Lookit: I love Welcome to Night Vale. I have proselytized for Welcome to Night Vale. The writing on that show is crystalline, perfect. But, you know, they didn’t patent the Lovecraft joke. Nor did I, back in 2011. So back off, sonny. Next question.
ANY YOU’RE PARTICULARLY PROUD OF?
"Proud" is the wrong word to use when the subject is dumb Twitter jokes. But the Tarot one, I sort of like. Air & Space. Merpeople. Patrick Leahy. The cabs vs. Uber one is funny to me, and me only, and allowed me to make a Mister T reference, because as seen above, I got my finger on the pulse of the today’s hip, happening youth.
ANY YOU’D TAKE BACK?
I didn’t love going back to the White House organic garden twice. I really did try not to cover the exact same ground as before. For example, I consciously avoided use of the word “fleshpit,” though I love it a lot and it’s ideally suited to this endeavor, because I’d used it back in 2011.
Here they are, after the jump, in their dumb entirety: five days’ worth of my sweaty attempts at mirth, in the order I Tweeted them. If you followed my feed during all this, thank you. You are good people. If you unfollowed, know that I get it. And that you can come back now, because normal service (fish puns and dad jokes and shameless promotion of my book, SUPERMAN: THE UNAUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY, which I wrote, which is a book you should totally buy) has returned.