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 Bending gender, breaking the rules

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Toft
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PostSubject: Bending gender, breaking the rules   18th October 2011, 12:17 am

So guys! I know a few of you have sadfaced about books that reinforce stereotypes, so let's take ourselves over here and talk about ones that do something lovely with gender and sexuality instead. Very Happy

I could rec a lot of stuff here, heh. I'm really interested in this stuff. I really do actively seek out queer and feminist books, so if anyone has recs, then I will be all over that shit.

Let's see. I have plenty myself, but I'll try and just pick a few for now.


Girl meets Boy by Ali Smith is a modern retelling of the story of Iphis (as in Ovid's Metamorphoses). It's queer, it's genderqueer, it's a super-adorable love story. What's not to like. Well, I kind of wish it was longer, but that's seriously the only bad thing I have to say about it.


Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist is not exactly one of my favourite books like ever ever ever - it's just not really my genre. BUT. It's a straight romance in a world that's unashamedly queer, and that kind of casual presence of and acceptance of queer culture in young adult het romance? Nom. And it's full of music, which is kind of lovely, ALTHOUGH I am still vaguely irritated that one of the characters claimed patty smith was a poser. Kid, I will forgive you, but only because you're still a teenager. You have NO idea. XD Anyway, I used to rec this one really highly to the 15-17 year olds I taught, and if you like YA romance then this one is good.


Foxfire by Joyce Carol Oates. OK so I kind of... I have an ambiguous relationship with Joyce Carol Oates, but a pretty unambiguous relationship with Foxfire in particular. Girl gang! Like OMG! I am kind of a sucker for books where girls' relationships with each other are the focus, and while this kind of revenge fantasy stuff isn't exactly unproblematic either it actually makes me feel so happy that I don't even care. It's also gloriously homoerotic, bwahaha.


Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae West is both queer and feminist. God I love it so. It's hilarious and it's sad and it's frustrating. It highlights sexism but isn't resigned about it. It's a damn good read; it isn't often that I laugh as much as I did reading this one. It's basically a growing up story, following a girl called Molly, who is possibly an author stand-in... it doesn't really matter, I think. Anyway, it's from the 70s and kind of remarkable for how open and positive it is for a fairly literary book from that time. Very Happy


This is a comic, but Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is a completely amazing story, and I loved her exploration of gender and all the ways one is bound by it and subverts it, and how one can try to maneuver in restrictive situations. *___*


...and there, for now, I will stop. XD
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Apple Stardust
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PostSubject: Re: Bending gender, breaking the rules   18th October 2011, 8:44 am

I'm very interested in this discussion! I love genderbending things. Very Happy Sadly, I don't have any books I've read that deal with this, so I will just have to check out all of the books you post. :DD

Also, I didn't know Nick & Norah was originally a book! I own the movie, my fiancee told I just had to watch it that I would love it, and he was right. It's an ADORABLE movie.

Anyway, I will be stopping by and seeing if I should check out any interesting ones. Very Happy

Also, Foxfire sounds really interesting... I'll have to see if my library has that one.

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Zaithat
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PostSubject: Re: Bending gender, breaking the rules   18th October 2011, 6:30 pm

Oh Toft I love you. I'm going to have to try to find and read all of these books. I have a love for gender bending, especially female gender bending and things like that. I actually have a book to recommend here!

Ash is a wonderful book written by Malinda Lo. It's a retelling of Cinderella, but such a very different take to the whole story. The main character doesn't have the gender bending, but there's the King's Hunter, and she is a very bendy lady. I just can't say enough good things about it, and writing this review is making me want to re-read it. In fact, I thin I shall.
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Toft
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PostSubject: Re: Bending gender, breaking the rules   18th October 2011, 11:58 pm

Odds are pretty good on finding Foxfire, Apple, since Joyce Carol Oates is pretty well-known. Very Happy

I've heard about Ash before! I really must find a way to check it out. I know the SF bookshop in Stockholm has it but I'm not sure it's around in the library system... hmmmmmm. It really does sound interesting though.

(I'm interpreting my own topic fairly broadly, just so you know. If you have recs that are otherwise subversive when it comes to gender norms or stereotypes without being specifically genderbending in the traditional sense, go wild. Persepolis for example is much more about feminism than about queerness, but I think that it still has really interesting things to say about gender.)


Oh, and if you like literary history and so on! I have two recs for v. v. entertaining books:

- Strangers by Graham Robb is a history of homosexuality with a fairly literary spin, though it covers a lot of other material. It includs such memorable sections as an argument for just how strongly Sherlock Holmes is coded as gay and the use of Jesus as a gay icon in the 1800s, and the writing is amazing. Also not to be missed are the hilarious summaries of early lesbian literature and the general characteristics thereof.

- Inseparable by Emma Donoghue is a more specific history of desire between women in literature and the various ways it's shown up, been disguised and been overlooked -- or not. Again very entertaining, and oh man, seriously, so many classic books that I read in my teens and COMPLETELY MISSED the subtext of. (Must clearly re-read The Woman in White and then write the wild AU adventures of the manly sister.)
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PostSubject: Re: Bending gender, breaking the rules   19th October 2011, 7:23 am

Well, I have to admit that I haven't read from this genre since I was a teenager (when I was trying to figure out my own sexuality and accept myself for it). As a result, these are young adult books.

I used to love the Weetzie Bat series by Francesca Lia Block, who also wrote Girl Goddess #9. The back of the cover says "Francesca Lia Block's luminous saga of interwoven lives will send the senses into wild overdrive. These post-modern fairy tales chronicle the thin line between fear and desire, pain and pleasure, cutting loose and hold on in a world where everyone is vulnerable to most beautiful and dangerous angel of all: love."

The only other one that I still have on my bookshelf is "Keeping You a Secret" by Julie Anne Peters. From what I remember, it is basically about a high school 'coming out' experience.

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PostSubject: Re: Bending gender, breaking the rules   19th October 2011, 9:25 am

Ash sounds like a beautiful story, Zaithat. Luckilly my bookstore has it for cheap, so I shall buy it when I get my paycheck~~~!

Also, Venus Weetzie Batsounds interesting, too. Hahaha I don't mind young adult books, I still read them sometimes. xP

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PostSubject: Re: Bending gender, breaking the rules   14th December 2011, 11:24 am

I haven't had the chance to read Persepolis but I have seen and own the film. It's a really good story. People should check it out.

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PostSubject: Re: Bending gender, breaking the rules   29th December 2011, 9:20 pm

I wonder if any of these are in my local library? ALL of the books mentioned seem incredibly interesting and I love to read.

Actually when I was much younger, probably 14 or something I read this book called Pretty Things by Sarra Manning and it was a tale of 4 young adults who were all in love with the one they couldn't be with due to sexuality -it's quite hilarious, a sad love triangle-square thing.

It's not very in depth or anything, just a light and entertaining read is all.
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