Tell us how you really feel
At Ars Marginal, Winterfox lambasts the internalized misogyny in Cindy Pon’s novel Silver Phoenix:
I’m not saying, exactly, that a book can only be feminist if the heroine shuts men out from her life (though wouldn’t it be nice if we see more lesbian representation?), but the behavior of male characters and Ai Ling’s attitude in Silver Phoenix are consistently problematic, with none of it being questioned or deconstructed. It ignores the fact that women have very good reasons to be distrustful of men; it rejects the vision of women banding together to form a support network and sharing solidarity. Ai Ling is a feminist’s nightmare. Her strengths come from a paternal role model. All her concerns center around men and garnering their endorsement and affection. When she encounters women who take away even a minute of her male companions’ attention, she immediately becomes hostile. In contrast, she is able to forgive even the villain who tries to rape her (yes, it’s a second rape attempt; yes, this book is full of sexual threat triggers) by praying for him and acknowledging that he “loved her in his own twisted fashion.”
[…] Silver Phoenix exemplifies the same problems seen in many urban fantasy heroines (Laurell K. Hamilton’s Merry Gentry and Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse are exceptionally obnoxious): it’s a narrative where the only empowered woman is the protagonist who stands tall among her gender by depriving every other woman of humanity and power. There’s no basis for positive relationships with other women, since they may steal her men or divert masculine attention from her. Femininity—elegant hands, embroidery and all—is villified. It’s internalized misogyny run rampant, unchecked, uncriticized.
And if this is feminist, then I’m the fucking Witch-Queen of Sparklepoo.
…then takes on the writing itself (“I’m starting to wonder if the editor reached a point of no return, screamed BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD, TENTACLES FOR SLAANESH and simply gave up all pretense at editorial input”), and shows her work to boot.
- God damn, does the world need another story where the love interest is a complete jerk?
- Having not read the book, I was a little surprised, because the reviews I’ve seen were largely positive. Have you got a book that you hate and everyone else inexplicably loves? I’ve got at least a couple…