Make sure to check out the Twinja Book Reviews Diversity Month, where they feature interviews and guest posts from all sorts of great bloggers and authors– it’s happening now!
I’m catching up on Orange Is the New Black as we speak. As a long-time Netflix basher, I finally caved in and became a subscriber. Even though I’d bought the first season on DVD, I couldn’t wait to finally watch season two, to see all these interesting stories about women unfold.
I saw relationships end and start. Platonic relationships, romantic relationships, even (my new penned word) Frene-lationships (those frenemies you love to hate). Most of all, I witnessed relationships. With women. Women connecting with other women. And to be honest, it’s one of the most beautiful things cable television doesn’t show.
I don’t identify as queer, even though I could be borderline Quiltbag. I would never turn down the opportunity to connect with another person based on sexual orientation or identity. Since I write for a diversity book blog, I also want to read about these types of relationships.
It started out as a small idea in passing, to never give up on the books I liked, even if they weren’t diverse; but in exchange, I would include books on my shelf that contained main characters of all backgrounds, religions, races, socio-economic statuses, sizes, and yes, sexual identities and orientations. The more I moved forward with this idea, the more I read diversely and craved it, needed it, and un-regrettably gave up on books that failed to see the world for how it really is: diverse.
As a woman, naturally my kryptonite is diversifying my shelf with main characters who are women, both similar to and different from me. I want to read about a girl who becomes a superhero, or a girl who struggles in a “boy’s” club, and yes, a girl who falls in love with another girl.
Yet as I reach for The Necessary Hunger (by Nina Revoyr), a story that explores an Asian-American teenager and her attraction to her black queer “stepsister”, I am disturbed. There are a ton of queer titles out there, but F/F romance doesn’t always garner the same interest in women that slash fiction depicting men does.
I needed to know why it required more detailed searches to find these desired titles, when M/M romance is on the up. Upon further research I got my answer.
Women in love are “catty,” “bitchy,” or “petty,” all words spoken about F/F romance from OTHER women. Those were actually just the nice words. What is interesting is that many of these women are straight—and love M/M romance books.
This isn’t to suggest that stories between two gay men cannot be genuine if written by straight women. In fact, I find that when done successfully, the stories far outweigh some of the overdone tropes you see in books featuring two heteros. But it’s a sad truth that many M/M romance titles that gain mainstream success are not penned by the audience they are intended for. In fact, many of the readers are straight women. Everyone is welcome to love the books they love, but that should tell you all you need to know about some of the most popular slash fiction available for consumption.
This isn’t just a problem in books with queer main characters. As a reviewer of books, I love reading other peoples’ reviews. Many of the purchases I make are based on what a person liked or disliked about the book. Usually if I can live with what a fellow reviewer disliked, I consider an immediate purchase.
But our media has taught women to hate women in love. I can’t count how many reviews I’ve read that stated something along the lines of, “The girl was a goody two-shoes/lovesick idiot/no-common-sense wench, and I hated her.” But you flip the review around and you read comments like, “Insert-guy’s-name-here was a complete asshole/stalker/abusive archetype BUT I JUST LOVED HIM.”
Where did I miss the memo that a man is allowed to mistreat you as long as he loves, but a woman who loves is a complete idiot?
I can’t swallow that. Media spends too much time convincing viewers, readers, basically anyone that has eyeballs, that a woman’s
story is not a universal one, and that she can still be secondary to her own story. She isn’t allowed to be multifaceted; otherwise, she’s seen as clingy, weak, or a demanding bitch. A woman in love can get so much shit for just existing, whilst men in love are romantic and know what they want and how to get it. Do they forget that these men are pursuing women and other men?
I’m more of a liberal feminist. I don’t police anyone’s right to express their feminism in the way they choose. Feminism, or the advocacy of women’s rights on social, economic, and political levels, is not a one-size-fits-all fanny pack. But even though there can be a lot of things feminism is, hating women is definitely what it’s not.
I want to live in a world that accepts that women, trans or cis, can be in love—without shaming them as weak for showing emotion. I want to see more stories where women meet, fall in love, have relationship problems, and are allowed to have relationship problems without being flooded with comments about how catty they are.
Diversity of all types has become too important to me over the years to turn my back on. We totally get it, love is awesome no matter who it’s coming from. And I love my men—straight or queer, I got nothing but love for you. But I love my girls too!
Yeah, I know The Flash has totally got a thing for me…
But I kinda think Poussey does too!
Guinevere Zoyana Thomas is one half of the ever so silent and deadly “Twinjas” @Twinja Book Reviews. When she isn’t perfecting back handsprings, or working on her red belt in Tang Soo Do, she’s going H.A.M. editing her diverse time-travel YA novel under the pseudonym “GL Tomas.” Check out her blog tour company “Diverse Book Tours“, a virtual tour company that brings diverse books.