men written by women
(and other myths white women love to tell themselves)
my last issue of this newsletter was much longer than it was intended to be, but in actuality, notes on scratch paper aren’t that long, so here’s a look at what this letter to you all is actually supposed to be.
here’s what I’ve been thinking about lately:
i don’t think the desire to label all romance-reading as feminist is useful— in fact it probably has more to do with the persistent self-surveillance that plagues womanhood AND white feminism than actual feminism.
not everything a woman does is feminist, nor should it be, not to mention it’s an absurd expectation to suggest that consumption of media can only be one or the other.
I know the word reductive is overused but it is. it’s reductive.
interestingly, we never really expect for all media men engage with to be feminist. we don’t actually expect very much of anything that men to engage with to be feminist, to be honest.
consumption of media isn’t, as we know, endorsement of its contents. i can enjoy succession and find billionaires reprehensible. ✨we contain multitudes✨read the billionaire romance✨
conversely, i want very much for white women in the book community to talk to themselves more honestly and with greater clarity about sexual racism within their reading habits, but i’m also tired and old and tiktok is a kids app for dancing.
relatedly, everytime i hear someone describe a white man with brown hair as a “man written by a woman” i am tempted to gently remind them that we know they are attracted to white men already, and they don’t need to conceal it behind pseudo-feminist catchphrases.
also it’ll be a cold day in hell before I look at a cop romance and call it feminist because a (white) woman has an orgasm on page.
so where do i land with this? i guess i don’t know yet. many of my thoughts are influenced by the genuinely brilliant @pagemelt on tiktok who talks about the importance of talking about media in thoughtful ways and keeping key information about the media’s impact in mind when doing so (its capacity to cause harm, namely). i reference their guidelines All The Time, but i think there is more to fill in here for me, personally. not just about what we platform and how, but what we do in our personal lives?
so what i’m puzzling on is that i think what we read Does say something about us unfortunately, especially if we are talking about it with lots of other people. i want to invite us to read for more than “how feminist” something is because it is a flawed metric and because We Shouldn’t Have To, and i want to encourage us to read broadly and diversely and to read feminist work, so we don’t replicate the same power structures of our world in our minds, and i want us to be thoughtful (if you have a platform or plan on cultivating one) about what we platform and how. maybe i am asking for an impossible/silly/unreasonable thing. maybe this makes no sense at all and i have contrived a problem that doesn’t exist. i hope to hear your angry replies if i have.
this horrible slate article reviewing the first bridgerton book, which made me want to positively review the Duke and I out of sheer spite (ultimately I didn’t, but it was only because I couldn’t come up with enough I liked to fake my way through one).
not that it’s relevant, but did you know that Julia Quinn won like 80k on a quiz show in 2001
and she went to harvard and got into yale med school (she left because she became wildly successful as a writer and simply didn’t need to stay)
the online person i admire above most others, raynecorp, wrote a newsletter yesterday that ruined my entire life because of how deeply perceptive it was about the commodification of identity— here are my favorite lines from it:
“i had to give up journalling because i couldn’t stop writing for the people who would read it after i was dead.”
“but, oh, it feels so good to be understood, even when it’s only as a caricature. this feeling is real because i have something to compare it to.”
“the aesthetics of consumption have, in turn, become a conduit to make the self more easily consumable: your existence as a Type of Girl has almost nothing to do with whether you actually read joan didion or wear miu miu, and everything to do with whether you want to be seen as the type of person who would.”
this journal article I’m reading for research is so upsettingly useful to every form of media analysis i've ever done
this line in the delightful and spectacularly horny romance i just read called I Got Drunk and Saved a Demon by Kimberly Lemming, which is really just resonating with me: “Mercy, you bog witch!”
so here is what i am thinking about- commodification, objectification, patriarchy, witches, and whiteness (so nothing out of the ordinary).