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The Spearhead on Lady Lit 3: Electric Boogaloo

This baby knows more about contemporary women's fiction than all Spearhead contributors combined. (As does the kitten.)

There are really few things quite so entertaining as watching people as ignorant as a box of pig shit offering their opinions on literature. Especially when the people in question are W.F. Price and his gang of misfit boys at The Spearhead, who are back for yet another take on the whole Women’s Lit question.

At this point I’ve run out of jokes on this particular subject, so I’m just going to let Mr. Price dig his own hole here. Here he is, trying to argue that feminism has made terrible lady writers even terribler.*

[I]t appears that since feminism’s triumph, female achievement in the higher arts has deteriorated substantially. When women no longer have to excel to be read and recognized, but simply have to advertise the fact that they are women to be celebrated for dubious achievements, they won’t put as much effort into producing anything of quality. So the sorry state of women today is a direct result of feminist privilege, which absolves them of all responsibility and deflects any criticism. …

Yes, feminism has wrecked Western womanhood, reducing the young women of today to spoiled brats who can’t take a hint of criticism, and immediately turn to authorities to bolster their self-esteem. No woman can be too fat to be beautiful, too dense to be intelligent, or too dull to be creative. They are all equally super-duper goddesses, before whom men must genuflect and heap up mounds of praise.

Price of course gives no examples to back up any of his, er, “arguments,” and somehow I suspect he hasn’t actually read any fiction written by women beyond an odd title or two he might have been assigned in high school. I wonder if Price could even name a half-dozen living woman novelists without having to resort to Google — excluding JK Rowling, Stephanie Meyer and Jackie Collins (who hasn’t heard of them?) and Harper Lee (who wasn’t assigned To Kill a Mockingbird in high school?).

*I am aware that “terribler” is not a real world.

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NWOslave
NWOslave
10 years ago

Whoa, ithiliana, a teacher of womens books. Doesn’t that mean you teach 1/2 of a subject.

A professor in higher acedemia, that great bastion of political correctness and leftist culture. Disagreement with the purveying wisdom usually gets the boot. I’d always thought intelligence was measured by applied knowlege, not the knowlege itself. It’s seems everyone here is quite knowlegable. Ah well stupid slavey.

I apparently consume books like food and throw them away. Also if book “sucks” it’s good as well according to the high knowlege folks out here.

Funny when I said Game of Thrones books were at the top of my best books ever written I was deemed a fool, idiot, ect. Yet when the self proclaimed geniuses here deem it excellent reading material it is. Man = Bad, Woman = God I guess. (Oops, freudian slip God instead of good). Stupid slavey.

So many brilliant minds here how can I compete with the total monolithic agreement of self proclaimed genius?

speedlines
speedlines
10 years ago

I apparently consume books like food and throw them away.

Dude, you’re the one who described books as “meat ‘n taters.” And you admitted to throwing them away. So what’s the problem?

ithiliana
10 years ago

NWO: I have colleagues who teach ONLY British literature between a certain time period–are they only teaching half?

EVERY class makes some selection; nobody teaches ALL of “literature” (however you define literature).

Does a class that focuses only on contemporary poetry only teach part of a subject?

No.

I teach a number of writing workshops (creative writing, technical writing) in which the ‘textbooks’ are basically huge lists of all the writers, editors, agents, publishers who post online about the profession– men and women (John Scalzi is someone I recommend often as a good source for beginning writers to read, as is A.C. Crispin at Writer Beware).

I teach a Stylistics course where the primary text is by M. A. K. Halliday (stylistics is the application of linguistic principles to literary texts). Students write their projects on any text they wish.

I do define my work as teaching skills, rather than content, i.e. I can put Harry Potter next to Shakespeare (and have in my intro to lit courses) to reach reading skills.

Suck up the fact that there are courses these days focusing on works by authors excluded from the dead white male curriculum (you think Shakespeare was the only playwright of his time? Have you read ALL THE OTHER PLAYWRIGHTS OF HIS TIME? If not, well, how terrible, you only read one). (My undergrad advisor taught a course on Renaissance playwrights OTHER than Shakespeare — let me tell you, Hamlet looks downright tame compared to the body count in some of the works by his colleagues).

So, yeah, I teach African American literature; I have colleagues who teach Children’s literature. And, great glee and joy, I teach Tolkien. A MAN! A TERRIBLE TERRIBLE MAN.

Except, not.

ithiliana
10 years ago

NWO: When somebody says “X author is my favorite ever” that’s cool.

When somebody implies “X author is greatest author ever because I like them,” well, that’s not going to fly for many reasons.

I am not a huge fan of GRRM, and I don’t think he’s the greatest author ever or the greatest author IN HIS GENRE (medieval fantasy), but I think he does some very good things.

I tossed out the Great Author theory of life a long time ago.

What do you think about my claim that Martin’s work does not glorify war, or the men who engage in it, and that I suspect a woman is going to end up major ruler of the world because she doesn’t follow the heroic masculine ideal? Which is only one model of masculinity.

Another character who doesn’t, Tyrion, is one of my favorites. So much for “glorify men they fight WARZ for us”–Martin’s WORK doesn’t seem to do that. Point me to any place in the four novels where WAR=GLORY is expressed by anybody but young men who have never fought in a war.

ithiliana
10 years ago

Footnotegirl (cool handle): I can tell horror stories myself of teachers — back in the day.

For one thing, when I hit first grade, they were teaching the phonics method of reading. I already knew how to read (and had learned as many self taught children do through word recognition–i.e. nag relatives to read the story a gazillion times, memorize it, figure out the words, and go from there). I got into trouble for READING WRONG. (Plus, they were using Dick and Jane, shudder.)

I was reading at the fourth grade level by their tests.

And I was doing it wrong.

There were conferences.

I’m afraid that I have a great deal of disdain for how READING (which has nothing to do with English as an academic discipine, sigh) is taught in this school.

I remember when one of the HP books came out–the really really long one? Fifth?

The newspaper had some review with a Reading Expert who said the book was too long for children to read in one setting therefore it was bad.

So, yes, it was ONE or two bad librarians, a gazillion years ago. Not all librarians.

Amnesia
Amnesia
10 years ago

NWOslave is doing his dance of willful ignorance again. Hold on, let me get some peanuts to throw at him.

ithiliana
10 years ago

Lady V; I’m sorry, I cannot stand forum formats–I even have to grit my teeth with the blog thing (LiveJournal/Dreamwidth SO much better for how I like to read/view stuff).

Women and plot: you’re right about those events in the past that are playing out today, but the initiating events I’m thinking about in the current time of the plot are:

Sansa going to Cersei (I notice they leave that out in the film).

Catelyn taking Tyrion captive

A whole bunch of what Cersei does in the last book or two to try to hold onto power.

I do like your point about mothers — I hadn’t thought about that.

Of course, arguably, Visaerys (sp?) grew up without a mother as well (though not from as young an age as his sister), and we see how well that turns out…

ithiliana
10 years ago

Someone upthread asked for more about Naipaul: I haven’t read his work, but I have read Derek Walcott’s who has PWNED Naipaul in poetry:

http://www.newstatesman.com/books/2008/05/derek-walcott-jamaica-naipaul

http://www.newstatesman.com/books/2008/05/derek-walcott-jamaica-naipaul

ithiliana
10 years ago

Johnny Pez: THANK you for that link!

A lot of my creative writing reading assignments come straight off the internet (resources for writers by writers, editors, agents, publishers, etc.)

*bookmarks*

Pecunium: Thank you! I was pretty pissed or I might have refrained from throwing my academic weight around! But I also know it’s not that outstanding a c.v. in academic terms (my uni has been pushing more resaearch but also requires a heavy teaching load, so…)

I may know some of your slashfan friends, ahahah — there are a slew of us on LJ/DW who are into slash and, often, into academia. Academia is a small small small world in many ways.

zombie rotten mcdonald
10 years ago

Librarian solidarity, brothers and sisters!

Pecunium
10 years ago

ilithiana: I figure you probably do. I’m not, quite, inclined to academia. What I happen to like about your CV isn’t the breadth, but the apparent depth; and in an area with a fair bit of scope for interesting things, it being a wealth of the sort of writing storytelling which in the past would have been invisible/lost.

I am certain we have acquaintance in common, at the very least on the net.

ithiliana
10 years ago

Amnesia: isn’t that sort of a waste of peanuts? I have some spare caltrops lying around…

The irony of his comment is that while I said I teach women writers, I never said I only teach women writers.

The assigned novels for my graduate seminar this summer (it’s a five week term, and they have secondary articles to read) are both, in fact by men:

Edward P. Jones
The Known World

Geoff Ryman
Was

BOTH highly recommended, btw (by me!).

Spoilers in the review and article below.

http://www.goonan.com/was.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/06/AR2009110603404.html

Amnesia
Amnesia
10 years ago

@ithiliana
Actually, I was just planning on throwing the shells.

Lady Victoria von Syrus
Lady Victoria von Syrus
10 years ago

Sansa going to Cersei (I notice they leave that out in the film).

Catelyn taking Tyrion captive

I’m not sure that counts as a long-reaching major disaster. It certainly earned Ned a broken leg, but what doomed Ned was the fact that he decided to take the honorable route when confronting Cersei. That, and Joffrey being a little shit.

A whole bunch of what Cersei does in the last book or two to try to hold onto power.

That’s true – Cersei’s main problem is that she resents being treated differently for being a woman, but then has no compunction against seducing someone to get her way.

But there’s also Sandor Clegane raiding a village on order of the Lannisters, which led to Beric and his band of merry men becoming Robin Hood style outlaws. Tywin Lannister has certainly been responsible for his share of the unpleasantness, as well. So I think it’s pretty much even between both men and women fucking up.

And, NWOslave, we actually had quite a good discussion about GRRM on the previous thread. It’s just that no one cared to talk to you about it – not because you’re a dude, but because you’re an obstinate jackass who is not pleasant to speak with.

Amused
Amused
10 years ago

NWO: As someone who believes the classics (as a category) are dull, you lack any credibility in criticizing college literature curricula.

Bee
Bee
10 years ago

Slavey: “Whoa, ithiliana, a teacher of womens books. Doesn’t that mean you teach 1/2 of a subject.”

WHOA! You sure told her!!!! Bro five!

I’m not really sure how that sentence makes sense unless one is under the assumption that all classes are called things like Math and Science.

Slavey at his local college registrar: “Wait a minute … COMPUTER science? ASTROphysics? WESTERN religion? I’m not paying good money to take PARTIAL classes! I’m outta here!”

Amused
Amused
10 years ago

On second thought, NWO, I think I understand why you don’t like Homer: the many reasons he lists why real men should go to war don’t include “to protect them fragile damsels who gratefully do your laundry for the rest of their lives”, so it shatters your myth about the cultural nature of warfare. “War will give you the opportunity to pillage and rape women” is a recurring theme, however. Not to mention how well Agamemnon “protected” the women in his family by going to war.

ithiliana
10 years ago

Amused: Not to mention how war gives you the chance to hand out with your best buddy forever, drinking and schmoozing, and doing all the Great Greek homoerotic stuff (boy did that movie wimp out by making Achilles and Patrocles COUSINS, ahahahah).

Ami Angelwings
10 years ago

I love how I was spot on on predicting his response (except the state xD ) incl the self flagellation xD He always gets like that when he feels insecure or realizes that ppl he’s arguing with (how did he manage to turn “books are awesome” into an argument? o_O ) are smarter and more knowledgeable than he surmised… 🙁

It also seems like he’s under the impression that the reason the white guys who are generally taught in schools is cuz they rly are objectively the best and nothing else out there is rly worth reading (except Star Wars, it’s like Bart in the Simpsons: War of Independence, World War II… and Star Wars! xD Star Wars is a great exception to everything :3 ) xD At least he believes that women are half of great literature out there :3

Also I wonder what a school of NWO would look like… would Calculus be too specific? Would even Math be too specific? xD Is there just a big course called “Learnin”? xD Or “Things and Stuff” (that’d be my course! 😀 )

Welcome, I am Professor Angelwings and in the next 1000 years I will teach you…. xD

Tho some would say any course where I teach what I know would last no more than… *looks at watch* well it’s already over! xD

I self flagellate too, but it’s more fun xD

ballgame
10 years ago

I’m slightly surprised that no one’s mentioned Doris Lessing yet.

Bee
Bee
10 years ago

“Is there just a big course called “Learnin”?”

That’s awesome. One million bee points. (Redeemable nowhere, sadly.)

tawaen
tawaen
10 years ago

Ok, my list doesn’t add to the literature giants, but they share my shelves with the likes of Pratchett, Gaiman and Eddings.

Tamora Pierce
Anne Bishop
Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick
Tanya Huff
Megan Whalen Turner
Robin McKinley
Patricia A. McKillip
Kate Elliot
Juliet Marillier
Kristin Cashore
Gena Showalter
Charlaine Harris
Laini Taylor

And I freely admit I googled a few of them, because I could remember the book titles but not the author name. However, I can take a snapshot of my IKEA bookshelves just to prove I really do love trashy and/or juvenile fiction. From male and female authors.

amandajane5
amandajane5
10 years ago

Okay, way late on this because I lost my internet connection, but seriously? I got dinged for Noel Streatfeild? I mean, I listed several authors I find more embarrassing than Ms. Streatfeild, and that wasn’t even a list of “authors I think are awesome” or anything, just a here’s what I see when I turn away from my desk. As I said, I can do a similar list for men, which from the way I categorize my fiction would start with Haruki Murakami, Eoin Colfer, Chang-Rae Lee, Douglas Adams, and L. Frank Baum. Just that same first shelf.

But really? Noel Streatfeild? I was expecting to be dinged on Helen Fielding or Maeve Binchy or Marion Zimmer Bradley, because they have written some crap books in their time.

Bee
Bee
10 years ago

Amandajane5: I don’t think you got dinged … although maybe I misunderstood or misremember some comments. I responded to your post because I LOVE the Shoe series and your comment made me remember that I should reread them. And also because it was the first time that I realized that Noel Streatfield was a women. As a kid, I guess I assumed that she was a he.

Then the illustrious Mr. Slavey called me out on being a snob for saying I had read her books when I was a kid. I responded by saying that they were actually children’s books and that he was an ass, etc.

But, for what it’s worth, I love Streatfield, and I would have her books in my collection today, if I had had the foresight not to abandon most of my books from that era at my parents’ house. (I do have “A Wind in the Willows” and “The Little Prince” though. Good stuff!0

amandajane5
amandajane5
10 years ago

I did end up being slightly dinged, but mostly by Mr. Slave who, you know, hasn’t read anything she wrote. I bought all of her books (that I didn’t already own) on eBay back in grad school, and have to point out that while her name actually was Streatfeild (yes, e before i and not after c) they’re frequently listed as Streatfield and it’s also helpful to know the book names as they were published in England because many of them were changed for American publication, and to have them fit into the “Shoes” theme. I highly recommend “The House in Cornwall” if you can find a copy of it. Mine’s from like, 1940, but it’s a great story, though more of a mystery.

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