Thursday, February 3, 2011

Warning: Contents Under Pressure

So for those of you who do not subscribe to Bitch Magazine (insert witty comment here), here's a quick catch up on what happened when they posted a list of YA books every feminist should read, and then removed three books from that list:

I've been following this story since the list was first posted, and I've read the comments as they come in. It was (as you can tell by the wonderful summation above) a quick spiral into insanity.

I would like to point out that, first of all, this is not an issue of censorship. As the magazine correctly points out, they haven't removed these books from their shelves, or even told readers not to read them; they simply did not feel they were right for this list. Of course, I also agree completely with the commenter who stated:

Is what you did censorship? No. It's editorialization. That's fair, and really, I wish people would learn the difference.

Is it cowardly? Oh, yeah.

I think that those complaining of censorship need to find a dictionary. However, I was horrified when I realized these three stunningly good books had been removed. LIVING DEAD GIRL was one of the most uncomfortable books I have ever read (right up there with LESSONS FROM A DEAD GIRL...obviously I have a thing for dead girls...), but I wouldn't unread it for the world. The main protagonist of the novel has been kidnapped by a sex offender and abused for years, and now that she is outgrowing her child-like features, her abuser is using her to find her own replacement. The story shows her numbness about everything that has happened to her, and the vicious cycle of abuse; it also shows how horrified she is about condemning another young girl to this life, but also how elated she is that this is almost over for her. It's a terrible story that is wonderfully written, and while I would be very careful about which hands I put this book in, in the right hands it will change their life.

This book was removed because it supports and perpetuates rape culture. I- have no witty comment. Words fail me. It has rape in it; but perpetuates? Encourages? What book are you reading? As one commenter does point out, LIVING DEAD GIRL was removed, but SOLD (a book about being sold into prostitution) is left on. There is no reason given, though another reader does complain that they feel the main character doesn't try hard enough to escape. I'm just going to let that comment go because I don't want to resort to CAPS LOCK OF DOOOOOOOM. But please, feel free to ponder that one. She didn't try hard enough, so obviously she's fine with it. Again, no comment because- just no comment.

SISTER'S RED does contain the passage quoted in the article:

The Dragonflies [pretty girls] laugh, sweet, and bubbly, and I groan in exasperation. They toss their hair, stretch their legs, sway their hips, bat their eyes at the club’s bouncer, everything about them luring the Fenris. Inviting danger like some baby animal bleating its fool head off. Look at me, see how I dance, did you notice my hair, look again, desire me, I am perfect. Stupid, stupid Dragonflies. Here I am, saving your lives, bitten and scarred and wounded for you, and you don’t even know it. I should let the Fenris have one of you.

Out of context, I can see how some people might see this as "they deserve what they get for the way they are dressed." And certainly agree with other cementers who defend her thoughts as jealousy or frustration. But I think we're missing the big picture here; the one you'll only see if you (novel concept ahead) read the book: despite these thoughts, she devotes her entire life to protecting these girls and (more importantly) protecting their ignorance/innocence. If she honestly felt they deserved what they got, she would lay down her weapons and go find her own happiness. With this context, how can you begrudge her these thoughts towards the girls who walk through the shadows with not a care in the world while she has given up everything for them, and they don't even know it. I feel that, without these thoughts, the character becomes flat and selfless. It would not have been as true a novel without these moments of doubt and resentment.

I'm not going to comment on TENDER MORSELS, though I would encourage those who are curious to read it; it was quite good, but like the other two books, it's intense. I will say that, once again, I am convinced that I must be reading the unabridged version, or a different book entirely, because I cannot fathom how anyone can read this book and come away with the impression that it promotes rape. Contains rape? Sure. Shows an ugly side of humanity? Absolutely. Promotes?

I'll let you decide.

1 comment:

  1. I forgot to add: the next line from SISTER'S RED after she states "I should let the Fenris have one of you" (the very next line) is "No, I didn't mean that."

    *headdesk* CONTEXT *headdesk* CONTEXT *headdesk* CONTEXT!

    Important lesson here, children: This is why we don't pick and choose our passages. This is why we read the whoooole book.