Last week I read, liked, and then even commented on Ari Laurel’s post titled Who Run the [Dystopian] World? [White] Girls
dys·to·pi·a [dis-toh-pee-uh] noun – a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding.
She’s talking about the glut of YA fiction on the market today, and how nearly every female lead is a [white] brunette with a backbone, the brains of her fifty-eight year old self at sixteen, and who always gets to drive the bus.
I struggle with this concept mainly because of my utter dislike of all things Twilight. To me, the female lead is the most repugnant and boring of females on the planet. She has no personality, there is no spark of life in her – lack of soul – and I hardly liken her character to anyone heroic or lovable.
Yet she has become the standard-bearer for all things YA, and it’s just plain wrong.
Race issues – sad to say – aren’t going away until everyone hops on the QUIT IT boat and learns the true meaning of fair play. This post isn’t so much about that as it is our ability to let someone else MANIPULATE the outcome of our own imaginations.
Crazy bullshit I’d rather not think about, much less believe is actually true.
The bottom line in this issue (regarding publication) is stereotyping even when the industry claims NOT to behave that way.
Dumb blond jokes have been around forever while the brunettes receive a majority of the interest – and marriage proposals. In reality, I know countless blonds (male and female) who are more intelligent, like-able, and who don’t lack substance versus the brunettes (mostly female) who put the dumb blond jokes to shame.
Men make these rules, not women, so why do we continue to follow and abide by them? Go right ahead and dye your hair in order to snag a husband, stick to your species to appease the bigoted masses, and only write about characters who ‘resonate’ with a narrow-minded audience.
What really got me about the post was that the original cover art was changed by their respective publishing houses … in order to satisfy this racist, bigoted mentality.
And, in a dystopian world, too.
Prior to my re-entry into campus life, I took offense with the thoughtless posts by a select few (males) on my FB feed that depicted older women as useless, fat, lazy, with hairy legs, and sagging breasts. After arriving on campus, it became more than apparent how untrue the sagging breasts analogy actually is. I saw more belly-button touchers/jigglers in their twenties than I do with my Gen-X variety of female.
So, where, exactly, did this foolish nonsense originate anyhow? Ah. Yeah. Of course. In the minds of the [white] male species. Right. I get it now.
It never occurred to me that I was being avant-garde about who and what my female leads looked like or what their hair color revealed about them. I tend to base things off the reality I am faced with everyday and just incorporate those facts into my fiction.
Bandwagons are not a good thing. Lemming mentality that only lends itself to perpetuation of such things as all brunettes are powerful bitches with balls, stamina, and expert martial arts skills who dominate in bed.
And, again, not realizing how rebel/renegade my writing actually turns out to be, I’ve yet to write anything that DOESN’T include gay or bi-sexual characters, mixed-race couples, or a strong male, a subservient male, and the reserved yet believably strong female lead. Some of my women are weak, vulnerable, and struggling to survive. They’d like to be someone else and haven’t quite figured out the answer yet.
So what. Is this a crime? I don’t think so.
If I’m going to incorporate substance abuse into my writing, it won’t be the black man or woman who is in that downward spiral (but maybe the YA female brunette – hehehe).
My Asian character will never be a Harvard grad with an IQ in the low 200’s, either. Unless he/she is the antagonist.
I simply choose to avoid stereotyping. Okay?
Oh, and another thing. More than half my male leads are from another country. One is Native American. I’ve actually met a few over the years, and two of my girl friends are natives. One is defensive bitch with issues while the other is sugar-sweet silly stupid. I can hardly tell myself that they represent ALL nations, though. That would make me stupid, and I try very hard not to be or even come off that way.
I think the key to avoiding the perpetuation of racist bullshit is to not include it in your writing. Make your leading lady a black woman all the white guys (and Asians) stumble over themselves trying to at least seduce if not win the heart of … and if your publisher shakes his/her head about it, FIND A NEW PUBLISHER.
Bottom Line: IF anyone dared attempt to change or make me change those aspects, much less manipulate the cover art, I know I would not sit by idly and let it happen, that’s a given.
I think the real problem is adults who are in charge of things. I think this may well have always been the case since time began, too.
I think the underlying problem in all of this has a lot more to do with publishers and publishing houses rather than the writers of fiction themselves. Again with the rules, dogmas, and credos set before our bleary eyes about what we can and can’t do, how we should and shouldn’t write, and which subjects-characters-issues we should concentrate on versus anything that isn’t hip, now, trendy, fashionable, or in the know.
Out with the old and in with the new in an antiquated, sectarian, hegemonic way that only works to slap itself in the face realistically.
But again, I have come to terms with not accepting the glut of bad information and creativity-killing information I’ve come to abhor on the internet. I will continue to write in my own style about my own creations and hope it flies at least enough to earn enough for all the effort I put into that work.
I hope you plan to do the same thing and NOT let anyone change things to make it more marketable, and so that only a typifying-minded audience will want to read it.
I’ll close by including a List of 171 Interracial Romance Novels for your perusal and convenience. 😉
and a YA list (though I’m not sure how many of them include [white] brunettes as the leading lady – sorry)