dude_the is here for our traditional Superbowl Sunday festivities. Yay! His plane was delayed due to weather, so he got in quite late, which might explain the slightly punch drunk conversation had during the car ride from the MARTA station. Banter revolving around the state of the world resulted in him suggesting that an "automatic sporker" was needed, which then led to discussion of the feasibility of a "nuclear spork" (spork of mass destruction?). I was, and remain, inordinately amused. Spork the world! Mwa ha ha haaa!
I got my first hate (e)mail today. Well, actually, that's way too harsh. It's really not hate mail--unless hate mail's a lot more civilized and courteous than I've been led to believe. There was no name calling or swearing. I think it's more accurate to call it "grumble mail" or perhaps "somewhat-aggravated mail."
I've got strong views on a number of controversial issues, and my beliefs tend to make an appearance in the fiction I write--theme and content-wise. So the part of my brain that braces for unpleasantness while the rest of me goes bopping about, oblivious and optimistic, has been busily stacking sandbags, collecting canned goods, and making sure there are extra batteries for the flashlights. It's been preparing my psyche for this moment, with fortifications started as soon as I began having some success publishing-wise, accelerated into frenzied duck-and-cover mode once my more thoughtful work started seeing print.
Suffice it to say I'm not staggered, speechless, or spooked.
However, I am perplexed. Not because I received correspondence from a dissatisfied reader (can't please everyone, and it was only a matter of time before someone felt compelled to type up an email letting me know how much they didn't like something I wrote), but because it had never occurred to me that this particular story would be the one to elicit reader ire. It wasn't the one with the drug use, or the sympathy-for-the-devil-with-undertones-o
My anti-fan--I'll call her "C"--took issue with what she considered my negative portrayal of lesbians.
For the record, it was not my intention to offend or otherwise nettle, provoke, or aggrieve any lesbians, or cast any negative aspersions whatsoever on non-straight sexual orientations and relationships. My sincere apologies to anyone who found "My Friend is a Lesbian Zombie" anti-gay.
But, okay, here's the thing. C was piqued because the zombie lesbian in question slept with a man at some point in my tale, and that my narrator still refers to her as a "lesbian" and not "bi." Granted, I've never quite got the hang of labels; they typically leave me blinking in the dust. But according to both the Human Sexuality class I took in college (admittedly ages and ages ago) as well as my own first-hand, interpersonal experiences, a large percentage of straight folks experiment with same-sex relationships (especially in college, for e.g.) and yet still consider themselves "straight" and not "bi." Likewise, there's a number of gay folks who experiment with different-sex relationships and who still consider themselves "gay" and not "bi." So labelwise, I don't get why a lesbian having an affair with a guy is cause for dissidence. My take on the matter is that you love who you love, whatever their physiological composition is, and screw the labels.
Not to mention "My Friend is a Bi-Sexual Zombie" doesn't have the zing that "My Friend is a Lesbian Zombie" does.
C also thought my portrayal of lesbians in general was negative--the main one in question being a zombie and therefore having many disagreeable traits that are part and parcel of walking deadhood, but also her romantic interest who is a goth-type with necrophile tendencies. Yet, I thought my characterization of the lesbian characters was leaps and bounds more positive than that of the straight characters--one of whom is a psychotic serial killer and the other is a shallow, borderline neurotic with profoundly skewed priorities, overly preoccupied with the state of her worldly possessions.
Regardless, I wasn't trying to make a statement; my goal was to write a funny story. I'm there at the front of the "humor is hard to write" line, waving my "I wish I could write funny" placard, so I'll just nod and acknowledge that I missed C's funny bone, alas.
Hey, does that mean I'm controversial now? Another milestone, woohoo!
Except the part of me prepping for psychological/emotional cataclysm and disaster is scratching her head, inventorying the pile of unused sandbags and putting away all the cans of vegetarian baked beans, with a bemused and somewhat put out air. I think I'm going to need to placate her by watching CNN for an hour or so . . . or subject myself to a re-run or analysis/commentary of George W's State of the Nation speech. That should mollify her.
Club 100 For Writers
For the second time today, I am reminded: people who expect offense/discrimination/etc. tend to find it, even where it doesn't exist. It's human nature. Oh, well.
I wonder what your anti-fan would think of a certain story we have under serious consideration right now.
I don't think I'll be able to make your signing, but good luck, and have fun!
Your I'll sign anything comment reminds me of one of Kinky Friedman's political tag lines: "I'll sign anything but bad legislation." Click the hyperlink to watch the talking doll political ads -- including one called "I'll Sign Anything" -- they're frickin' hysterical.
Of course, the Kinkster is also a successful mystery novelist (NYT BS list) and former lead singer for Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys, so one can only hope he'll be Texas next governor.
let me just say that for the record you're absolutely right in that there are plenty of gays and lesbians who occassionally have an indiscretion with someone of the opposite sex and still identify themselves as gay or lesbian and not bi.
as far as that and the negative characterizations you're accused of, it sounds like the person in question is channeling her own issues onto your story.
if she really wants to find a negative portrayal of lesbians to gripe about, have her watch the l-word.
The gay/lesbian vs. bi can be a very touchy line for some of the folks within those communities. I heard similar complaints about the movie Chasing Amy. My outsider's perspective is that it feels like a cheapening of identity, if that makes sense.
Is it me, or have rejection notes gotten kind of weird recently? This one actually says: "As you may have noticed, this is a form rejection." *blink* Okaaay.
I have to wonder what writers are saying about TTD's rejection letters... they're all over the map, really.
You can be gay/lesbian/straight and still experiment a few times with the other side to see what it's like, WITHOUT being Bi.
Obviously, "C" doesn't understand that being called something doesn't mean you are 100% that. Silly widget.
No, but what "C" is saying is that it's a stereotype that is damaging to lesbians and frustrates the lot of us. In a way, it's like having a black character REALLY LOVE watermelon. It can be tongue in cheek, but that doesn't mean the average person isn't going to refrain from construing it in a racist light.
Sheesh. You'd think the hint at necrophilia would be more offensive than whether or not a character was labeled "Lesbian" or "Bi-". Um, "C" does know that almost everybody loves Lesbians, doesn't she?
I have been wondering, though. If said corpse is a walking, talking zombie, then is it really necrophilia since it's not fully dead? And if it is, wouldn't that apply to vampires as well? And if it applies to vampires, then wouldn't that mean a lot of people are, in fact, closet necrophiliacs, what with the popularity of vampire fiction and all?
Gee, some of my pondering scares even me!
:grins: Don't worry. Sooner or later, you're bound to need all those sandbags and baked beans. It's a cruel world, after all! ;-)
I don't have the guts to try to drive in Atlanta, but I'll be thinking of you tomorrow! Have fun. :hugs:
Okay, to be honest, I don't care about the portrayl of lesbians for anything - and I repeat ANYTHING - except sleeping with men.
Thus, I agree with your critic on this point. I understand if it is not your intent and in no way am I accusing you of being homophobic, because you're obviously not. But if in the story she identifies as a lesbian and then sleeps with a male (and this was not considered a mistake, or made her feel bad, or way in the past before she was experienced) you are further perpetuating the stereotype that all of us have to live through. Especially us girly ones.
The stereotype in question of course is that ALL LESBIANS WILL SLEEP WITH A MAN if a good enough one comes along. So yes, I completely agree on this front, and even if it was tongue in cheek which I expect it was - most people will take that as a reinforcement of said stereotype, on top of whatever prejudice they had in the first place. It is a somewhat damaging thing to do.
Just my two cents, here.
"But if in the story she identifies as a lesbian and then sleeps with a male (and this was not considered a mistake, or made her feel bad, or way in the past before she was experienced) you are further perpetuating the stereotype that all of us have to live through."
Actually, the narrator isn't the lesbian in question, and it is never explicitly stated what Mandy (the zombie) says her sexual orientation is. Also, the narrator mentions that Mandy is “technically bi” in the opening. I really think that ought to have covered my identity crisis bases.
"The stereotype in question of course is that ALL LESBIANS WILL SLEEP WITH A MAN if a good enough one comes along."
In my story, sleeping with a man is the source of all badness. It is a straight relationship which causes Mandy’s misery and sorrow, and a gay one that turns everything happily ever after. I intentionally made the serial killer male to avoid perpetuating the psychologically disturbed/violent homosexual stereotype.
I honestly do consider “My Friend is a Lesbian Zombie” to be pro-gay. If you have the time to download and listen to the podcast, I suspect you'll find it to be far more of a homophobe-bashing tale than anti-lesbian--since the straight narrator is shallow and has profoundly skewed priorities, being overly preoccupied about the state of her worldly possessions. Although her antipathy to Mandy-as-sex-partner could also be interpreted as stemming from Mandy's undead state rather than her gender.
Regardless, I didn't write this story to push an agenda. My goal was to be funny. Or at least entertaining.
This is a subject I've been thinking about a lot recently, in the flack of an essay about how anti-feminist the new Battlestar Galactica series is (an opinion that I wholely disagree with). It's a nasty situation right now, because minorities are underrepresented in the media (I was thinking of gender and race, but sexual orientation fits, too), but any portrayal of a minority character that isn't 100% positive calls down a rain of criticism. Apparently, only white male (straight) characters are allowed to have character flaws. Which is a shame, because a character without flaws is supremely uninteresting.