sabotabby: (books!)
[personal profile] sabotabby
Got a good kick out of this opinion piece, which argues that the problem with YA lit these days is that the boys are just too perfect. There is much handwringing about where this leaves poor actual adolescent boys with their bad teeth and acne and how they will have poor self-esteem because they can never measure up to dreamy Edward.

Seriously.

Best quote:
I can't help but wonder how I would take it if things were reversed - if male protagonists were always shown to fall for beautiful, fun, witty, confident, wealthy, kind girl-gamers, and men began expecting the same in real life. Surely, we'd crush their unrealistic expectations immediately.


You mean like every single piece of media out there?

This counterpoint is closer to reality (actually, there are a lot of less-than-physically perfect boys in YA literature) but fails to really skewer what is wrong with the first article.

First of all, the original article is talking about a problem that literally does not exist. I know a lot of teenage boys. I imagine that I know many more teenage boys (and girls) than Woodrow-Hill does, though maybe her regular job is as a high school teacher too. Not one of them has ever expressed self-esteem issues around a failure to measure up to fictional characters who serve as fantasy objects for teenage girls. Muscle-bound athletes, maybe. Sparkly vampires? Of all the boys I've taught, a grand total of two have ever copped to reading Twilight (I poll them every year; it's curriculum-related) and barely any will cop to reading anything, let alone YA books that are aimed at a primarily female audience.

Second, I know a lot of teenage girls too. You may be surprised to know this but they are, by and large, not stupid. Especially the ones who read. They can differentiate between fantasy and reality. Also, if they hold dudes to a slightly higher standard as the result of fiction (which is nothing new; a childhood infatuation with the Fourth Doctor left me with impossible standards. Also strange standards) and don't just get with the first mouth breather who snaps their bra strap because they think no one will ever love them—um, that's a good thing, right? We don't want teenage girls to date just anyone because they're afraid of being alone.

Other problems:

1) Let's talk about how fiction aimed at women is disproportionately demonized in the public discourse for its fetishization of male characters. The reverse is not true. Countless books, movies, and telly aimed at a male audience objectify women and place them on a pedestal, and few are mocked for it the way, say, Twilight or Fifty Shades of Grey are mocked for it. Yes, those books are execrable for a variety of reasons. But compare to, say, the Transformers movies, which are also terrible. The latter are rightly criticized but don't attract the sort of tittering that the former two do. Plenty of creepy middle-aged men watched those movies and drooled over scantily-clad Megan Fox, but we don't see concern trolling articles about them the way we did about TwiMoms or housewives who buy e-readers so that they can secretly read shitty BDSM porn.

I honestly don't see the appeal in 90% of fictional perfect-type dudes (I mean, I get fetishizing fictional characters in general, but the ones described as flawless are typically boring to read about and/or watch), but let the ladies have our wank fantasies, okay?

2) I can name far more fictional examples of pudgy, old, and/or balding dudes getting with gorgeous ladies than I can name examples of pudgy, old, or less-than-perfectly symmetrical ladies getting with smoking hot dudes. It may be that I don't read romance fiction or much YA, and largely read fiction that's aimed at a male audience, but I still think I'm right. Extend that to TV and movies and you barely see women who aren't conventionally attractive at all.

3) If we are going to talk about how dudes with acne are underrepresented in YA literature, can we maybe talk about the underrepresentation of everyone who isn't a straight, white, middle-class, cisgendered person in YA literature? Because that is a much bigger problem.

4) Even when female characters are "flawed," it's usually not in a way that is recognizable to actual women. Bella isn't plain and overweight; she's too thin (but not athletic), too pale, and adorably clumsy. There aren't many YA female protagonists with love handles and acne.

5) God, not everything is about boys and their self-esteem. Boys have enough self-esteem. Too much, sometimes.

6) Edward is really not that dreamy. Most teenage girls I know are Team Jacob. (Or were; they're on to something new now.)

Date: 2014-01-23 01:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] maeve66.livejournal.com
I am 100% with you on this analysis. Nothing to add; it's all absolutely true, from a middle school teacher's perspective as well.

Date: 2014-01-23 01:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jvmatucha.livejournal.com
Let's talk about how fiction aimed at women is disproportionately demonized in the public discourse for its fetishization of male characters.

You can surprise, and even offend, a lot of people by suggesting that a lot of Twlight hate stems from cultural sexism. Many people, including friends that (I try) to respect, revel in Twilight hating. Some of the arguments they use against it are pretty specious, such as the main character is bland enough so that any woman can imagine herself being her.

(Which, by the way, is who Ishamel is in Moby Dick. We're supposed to put ourselves in his shoes, which in my opinion, invalidates that criticism.)

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] jvmatucha.livejournal.com - Date: 2014-01-23 03:51 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] angiereedgarner.livejournal.com - Date: 2014-01-23 04:59 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2014-01-23 02:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyelid.livejournal.com
Some of the arguments they use against it are pretty specious, such as the main character is bland enough so that any woman can imagine herself being her.

...um, the complete absence of real personality in the protagonist of a book seems like a pretty reasonable criticism to me.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] browngirl.livejournal.com - Date: 2014-01-23 02:49 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] browngirl.livejournal.com - Date: 2014-01-23 03:00 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] eyelid.livejournal.com - Date: 2014-01-23 05:17 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] eyelid.livejournal.com - Date: 2014-01-23 05:23 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2014-01-23 02:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eyelid.livejournal.com
Won't someone think of the teenage boys traumatized by Twilight :(

I love how this author apparently is unaware of girls/women being held to unrealistic standards, like, EVERYWHERE.


6) Edward is really not that dreamy. Most teenage girls I know are Team Jacob. (Or were; they're on to something new now.)

I was totally Team Jacob, and I never even read the books. I just saw New Moon cause it looked like it would have cool werewolf scenes in it. Seriously disappointing on that head. But certainly, based on that one section, anyone with half a brain is Team Jacob.

Patrick got me a Jacob bookmark as a joke.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] eyelid.livejournal.com - Date: 2014-01-23 04:12 am (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] lienne.livejournal.com - Date: 2014-01-23 04:20 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] lienne.livejournal.com - Date: 2014-01-23 04:26 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2014-01-23 02:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] browngirl.livejournal.com
I wish I could offer to help finance the printing of this excellent post on a block of concrete to be delivered to the author of that foolish op-ed, ideally by trebuchet.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] franklanguage.livejournal.com - Date: 2014-01-23 04:25 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2014-01-23 05:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] angiereedgarner.livejournal.com
:))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

Date: 2014-01-23 04:34 am (UTC)
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (intellectual hottie (green))
From: [personal profile] ironed_orchid
Ridiculous.

Date: 2014-01-23 01:21 pm (UTC)
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (intellectual hottie (green))
From: [personal profile] ironed_orchid
The Onion agrees with you about every other piece of media out there.

Date: 2014-01-23 05:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] angiereedgarner.livejournal.com
6) Edward is really not that dreamy. Most teenage girls I know are Team Jacob. (Or were; they're on to something new now.)

I suspect Edward's appeal increases once one comes in contact with the realities of self supporting in this economy. Bank is dreamy.

Date: 2014-01-23 05:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] radiumhead.livejournal.com
There are probably some nerds who have low self esteem. But yeah, for most boys its still not a problem.

Date: 2014-01-23 05:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] radiumhead.livejournal.com
The chick lit thing totally applies. I know i hate Twilight cause i feel like it ruins vampires. Edward's a fucking pussy. Vampires are supposed to be thpically alpha male-ruthless, brutal, cool, insensitive, amoral. Edward is none of those things.

Date: 2014-01-23 06:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kryss-labryn.livejournal.com
This review, by the Nostalgia Chick from Team That-Guy-With-The-Glasses, I think breaks down why Twilight is so popular pretty well; I also (and particularly) love her reaction to the audience's reaction to the climax in Breaking Dawn Part 2 and the way it differed from the book.

Take a look. It's not very long (just over 10 minutes); I think you'll enjoy it. *Grin*
Edited Date: 2014-01-23 06:15 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-01-23 06:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] princealberic.livejournal.com
That paragraph you quoted... does that person live on this planet? How can I go to this magical place where that scenario never happens and you even have to wonder what it would be like.

And I agree with everything you've said.

Date: 2014-01-23 12:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] smhwpf.livejournal.com
Excellent post.

While on the subject of bad films, I just saw this (the article, not the film) and immediately thought of you as the only person I know who might conceivably dare to watch it...

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] smhwpf.livejournal.com - Date: 2014-01-23 09:18 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2014-01-23 01:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] frelling-tralk.livejournal.com
I agree, I haven't read 50 Shades Of Grey (or Twilight) personally, but I do think that a lot of the mocking of the "middle-aged women" reading it comes off as quite mean-spirited in a way that you don't get with equally trashy novels that are aimed at men

Date: 2014-01-23 05:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fengi.livejournal.com
Here's the other thing: because male experience is presented as the universal norm (from which others deviate), guys can identify with dude characters no matter what they look like - they can find something in common as an entry point and disregard the whole handsomer than thou part. Hell, most dudes can identify with James Bond - except for Richard Cohen who complains that Daniel Craig is so buff it makes him feel bad.

Particularly in print where readers are free to imagine characters no matter how they are described. And, though I can't speak for Twilight, a good deal of fiction doesn't bother to keeping those descriptions at the forefront of the reader's awareness - sometimes intentionally, to allow people to read themselves into the work.
Edited Date: 2014-01-23 05:42 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-01-24 06:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kryss-labryn.livejournal.com
Oh yeah this is completely irrelevant but as soon as I saw it I thought of you so here. *Grin*

http://www.questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=2266

Profile

sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
sabotabby

September 2017

S M T W T F S
     12
3456789
101112131415 16
17 181920 212223
24252627282930

Style Credit

Page generated Sep. 24th, 2017 05:08 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags

Most Popular Tags