Not like other essays

I’m not sure if you’d heard or not, but I’m going on vacation at the beginning of July. Also, I’m neurotic. These two facts intersect quite well and have left me wound so tight that I actually hum at all times.

Like a guitar with only one string.

That’s badly out of tune.

Right now I’m dealing with my travel anxiety by reading all the Netgalley ARCs I have that are due to be published before August. I’ve got a spreadsheet of them. I printed out a calendar and used sticky notes to mark when each review should go live. Not content with that, I also made a digital version.

Both are up to date.

So since the beginning of June, I’ve read thirteen books. All of them ARCs from publishing houses. Eight of them have been trash. I’m not talking bodice ripping frowned upon titles… I would never call those trash. I mean poorly crafted and/or offensive. Either ableist, racist, phobic, or- most typically- misogynistic.

It was to the point that I thought maybe *I* was the problem. After all, none of the other reviewers were pointing this shit out. Doubting myself, I shared snippets of text with friends. Feminists I look up to and admire. They confirmed that it’s not just me.

It’s not just me…

Which begs the question, why? I mainly read romance. Most of these misogynistic titles were written by women. That means that the majority of these titles that aren’t fit to line my theoretical bird’s cage are suffering from serious internalized misogyny.

Why?

Why are we writing men who are not worthy of our time? Why are we crafting heroes who are not flawed, but are deeply sexist? Why are we not only allowing toxic masculinity but praising it? Casting it in a starring role of our fantasies and escapism.

I deal with the patriarchy in my everyday life, I don’t need to get it from my prose too…

Anyone with a feminist inclination could agree that we want equality. We want to crush the patriarchy, end toxic masculinity and stop misogynistic statements from being commonplace. We want to end the double standard of “boys are boys but girls are victims in the making.” The idea that there’s a right way to express your gender identity. That you shouldn’t be like other girls. That it’s not up to girls to dress less provocatively.

To end rape culture. To promote personal autonomy. To build a better world for our children and future generations.

This starts internally. We need to look inside ourselves at our own prejudice. We need to read non-fiction books, essays, and articles that tackle these tough issues. We need to look to people who have studied these issues already and are more knowledgeable on the topic. Then we need to put these ideas into action, changing our culture.

What is a great medium for presenting new ideas? For shifting culture? For providing different perspectives?

Art.

Books, movies, music, paintings, sculptures, little cakes with decorative toppings. All these things and more form a bedrock on which we build our culture. That’s why it’s so important to have diverse creators out there given the same opportunities. It’s why women should direct and star in movies. And not just one or two films, but a serious percentage of films coming out. And not just white women, but women of color.

Not just heteronormative romances, but every color of the rainbow. Especially asexual, aromantic, and agender folks who generally get ignored or erased.

And it’s why we have to stop wasting our time writing and reading books that promote misogynistic male leads or viewpoints. Tropes that damage and harm women. Fat shaming. Slut shaming. Basically, shame that’s not a consensual kink of any kind.

For fuck’s sake… if we can’t even write this shit out of our prose, what hope do we have for changing the world?


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