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On Feminism, women, & men

 Though I am an advocate of gender equality, I don't care to refer to myself as a feminist, because (though often untrue) the term seems to imply to people that feminists believe that women are better than men, which I don't believe. But feminism and woman's issues have always fascinated me. In fact, looking up feminism revealed to me a huge variety of the philosophy, with many versions contradicting the others. Reading up on all, I have learned not only that I am a feminist, but so is the majority of the population to some degree.
So I have decided to do my own spiel on my opinions on gender, culture, class, and a bit on race. Please note that I do not have a doctorate in anything that would give me "room to talk" about this other than the fact that I am a human being and a woman. I may offend many people, but I do welcome the arguments and opinions of others.

On being a woman: I believe that women can do anything men can do. I used to add to this "except pee standing up" until I learned that women can pee standing up with practice. I think that is wonderful and hope to someday have the patience to learn this skill, which is one I fully envy in men. I got my degree in automotive technology and worked as a mechanic for a few years. I faced varying degrees of sexism as well as admiration during this period of my life. What I hated about it was that my gender had anything to do with my job, from people thinking women can't be mechanics to my boss hiring me to be his "token" female and showing me off to customers like I was some exotic animal in a zoo. To this I always responded, "What does what I have between my legs have to do with it? You turn a wrench with your hand, not your dick."  I do many "manly" things. I hunt, I fish, I work on cars, I support the family and I have a "guys" night out. But I also do many "womanly" things. I like to shop and dress up and put on makeup and jewelry, I like to cook, and I LOVE romance novels and chick flicks as much as I adore horror movies and novels.

My conclusion on this: Just because a woman can do things traditionally seen as masculine does not mean she is more or less of a woman. Some feminists encourage women to do what men do, others denounce it as trying to be men. I think a woman should do what fulfills her, no matter what is is. I also think if a woman wants to be feminine, it shouldn't be seen as a bad thing. If it fulfills her to be a housewife, to cook, clean, sew, and dress girlie, that is her perogitive and feminists shouldn't bitch about it. It's not like they are saying every woman should do this. And I don't believe homemakers and fashion fanantics unwittingly support the degredation of women, especially in light of the fact that many men love to do what was traditionally "woman" things. More on men soon. I have a tangent on them too =)

On Gender issues: I believe that gender issues should go away, just as those of race should. It shouldn't matter what you have between your legs or what color your skin is. We all have two eyes, two hands, one nose, one heart, etc. If you cut us, we all bleed red. I believe that we should stop gender segregation in all forms. For example we should have unisex bathrooms. For those that raise their brows at this, take this into consideration: Bathrooms used to be segrated by race until people decided that was wrong. (I always wondered, which bathroom did Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans, etc use?) Why is it not wrong to segregate by gender? If this happened, I suppose urinals would have to be enclosed... but why do men pee in front of eachother anyway? If there are any men reading this, please tell me!

I also believe that the segration in sports should end, especially in elementary schools, where at that age there is little bodily difference between boys and girls and many girls are bigger or the same size as many boys. Football would probably be the hardest sport, but there are many big strong women that could take a tackle as good as they could give one. As for baseball and basketball, why the hell are they segregated in the first place? It's not as if they are contact sports or require an extreme amount of upper body strength.

I think emphasis on gender differences in a child's early life and education should be toned down. Like the assignment of pink for girls and blue for boys. Some men love pink, some girls hate it. I love blue. I think gender difference shouldn't be there with toys. I hated when mom took us to Mcdonald's and when she ordered our happy meals they would ask if it was for a girl or a boy. I hated having her lie and say I was a boy just so I could get a bitchin' hot wheels car rather than a stupid barbie. I hate the pink "girls" toy aisle. I think boys should be able to play with dolls with no concern about him turning "gay" or "wimpy." Since there are few female action figures, my son has to borrow  the girls' dolls so he can have a queen for his castle or women soldiers in his armys...or a damsel to rescue. (I didn't teach him this, but I am proud.)

In the Media: I have mixed feelings about Disney movies with their perpetual princesses that need to be rescued. Although aspects of the feminist movement have influenced men that women don't need to be recued or cared for, I don't believe that this is an entirely positive thing. I think in many extreme cases it has influenced men to neglect women. Sometimes women do need to be rescued and cared for. I love it when my man takes care of me when I'm sick and sometimes when a stranger at the bar is being a little too overamorous, the most peaceful way to discourage him is to have one of my guy friends pretend to be my boyfriend. On the other hand, I believe that men should be rescued and cared for as well and there should be more media portrayal of this. I hate it when I encounter men with their cars broke down on the road and they won't let me help because I'm a woman. This shit needs to stop.

I love romance novels and I don't believe that they are counter-productive as many feminists believe. Sometimes I wonder if these feminists have ever read a romance novel. The requirement for a good romance novel is a strong heroine. (The old bodice-rippers were a little different, but we have made strides from those) My only beef with romance novels is that the woman rarely rescues the man because the author is afraid of making the man look like a wuss. In my novels, the "rescue" is usually a group effort, with the heroine half-way there to saving themselves or I have them take turns saving eachother. Still, there's nothing wrong with the notion of "being rescued" one in awhile as long as you don't depend on it.

On Men:
Here is a big tangent. I love men! It makes me sick how many feminists and the media portray men as stupid and unfeeling. I have close relationships with way more men than women, so I know for a fact that most men are NOT stupid or unfeeling. In fact, in many ways I feel that men are just as much if not more discriminated against. In everything they say or do, their masculinity or sexual orientation is questioned and I think that's bullshit. Many men love to cook, love to take care of the kids, love to garden, love to dance, sing, and spend time with their partners. And men do love LOVE. So many of my male friends worry about finding love just as much as women on tv shows do. And I think it should be okay for men to cry or to hug their male friends without people thinking they are weak or gay. And if they are gay, so what? I hate that gay men are thought to be weaker than straight men, but more on that later.

 I hate that society and the media encourages men to have meaningless unprotected sex with multitudes of women to promote their masculinity. Many men truly are faithful to their partners and are not constantly fantasizing about other women. And in the long run, men do care more about personality than looks. Naturally, looks are the biggest influence at first, but women shouldn't bash on them for that. We are just as guilty. Have you or any woman you know thought to yourself: "That guy sure is ugly, but I'm going to flirt with him anyway because he might have a good personality." ?
I didn't think so.

One thing I love about men is that you usually know where you stand with them. If they don't like you, they usually make it clear. Unlike many women, who pretend to be your friend but talk smack behind your back. If a man has a problem with you, he'll say it to your face. I've been stabbed in the back by more women than men. I believe this is because women have been culturally conditioned to be enemies and rivals for a male's attention.

Another thing I love about men is their bodies. True the female form is beautiful and is objectified in the media. But I find great beauty in the male form and would love to see more naked men in movies. The penis is a beautiful thing. Due to the fact that sex sells and that there is a fine line between art and objectification, I don't think that women being objectified in the media will ever stop, so I believe a good counter-measure for this would be to start objectifying men just as much. As for the men who "don't want to look at another man's junk," Tough! We women have had to look at other women's "junk" in the movies and you don't hear many of us bitching. So bring on the naked mens!

Conclusion: Men are great! We should be partners and allies rather than enemies. To the feminists that think a man can't support feminist issues because they are not women: That's like saying a person can't support animal rights because they are not animals.

On Last Names: I believe a woman has the right to keep her own last name when marrying if she so desires. A woman taking her husband's last name stemmed from the tradition that the woman belonged to the man. Though this is no longer the case, some women believe that sharing her spouse's last name symbolically forges the family as a single unit. If that's what she wants, more power to her. I did take my first husband's last name, but changed it back after the divorce. I will not take my second husband's last name because name-changing is a pain in the ass. I think more men should consider changing to their wife's last name. A character in Anne Rice's the Witching Hour did that once. It was awesome. It is perfectly legal for a man to take his wife's last name and shouldn't be seen as a bad thing. Especially if his last name sucks. ::smile::

When it comes to children, I have the hard-core belief that if a living thing comes out of my body it should bear my last name. Which is why I took my last husband's last name as a compromise. Unfortunately in many states in the US, if a woman does not give her baby it's father's surname, she can't demand child-support from him if he is absent. That is bullshit. I don't plan on having anymore children, but if I did, the kid will have my last name. Maybe, just maybe I'll compromise and hyphenate. I think it's wrong when a woman nurtures a baby in her body and endures the pain of bringing it into the world and then the baby is given its father's identity rather than the mother's.

A woman always has a man's last name, whether it is her husband's or fathers. That kinda bugs me, so when I paint or write something, I go by my first and middle name. It may be silly and nit-picky, but that's how I roll.

On Marriage: Many feminists decry marriage as promoting subjegation and slavery of women. I disagree. I think marriage is fine as long as it's treated like an equal partnership. I am one of those women who just can't be single. It took me years to accept this, but it's the truth. I get it from both parents. My mother was married twice, and my father is on his third marriage. Many men suffer the inability to be single, but no one bashes on them for it. I like having someone there with me. I love regular sex. I love having someone to help with my son. And I love caring for my man and having him need me. I also need him to offer moral support for the things I do. Which I get in abundance from him. Call me weak for needing a man, I don't care. As stated before, I love men!

I think trust and space are necessary for a healthy marriage. I like to go out drinking with my guy friends once a week. My man doesn't drink, so he doesn't go. He has no problem with my going out. He kisses me goodbye and says "Have fun, honey." People cannot believe it. Many women are jealous of me for that. Some even tried, unsuccessfully, to spread rumors that I was a whore and had a sexual relationship with my male drinking buddies. Since I've been a regular at the same bar for years, that didn't fly. Many times a male stranger to the bar will come to the bar and hit on me saying, "If you were my wife, I wouldn't let you go to the bar alone." To this flattering charm I reply "That's why I'm with my man, instead of someone like you."

In conclusion, I think women are great and men are great. We should all be equal and be allies not enemies. I welcome questions, comments, and arguments.

What I learned while making my first book trailer.

The first book trailer I saw was a fan-made one for the Black Dagger Brotherhood, by JR Ward. I thought, How cute. This person sure had a lot of spare time on their hands. Still, I LOVE that they picked Vin Diesel to represent Zsadist. That was exactly who I pictured. I thought for a few seconds about which actors/ models could represent my characters. Besides long-haired-vampire Brad Pitt as Silas, I had no idea. I wasn't technology-savvy enough to make a movie, and I didn't have the time anyway. All speculations on character casting and theme music retreated to my subsconcious . As for Brad Pitt, we'll get to him later. 

A little while back, "IF YOU GIVE A GIRL A PEN," a blog I subscribe to, had a book trailer contest. I'd participated in other contests and always had fun. I was sad that I couldn't do that one, since I didn't know how to make a trailer. I gave it no more thought until a couple days ago, when a lovely author from that sight complimented me on what I've posted here about my book. She offered to be my beta reader, to which I replied, "What's a beta reader?" Thank goodness she could not see my flaming cheeks.

I read her blog postings about her novel and was surprised to see that I was just as intrigued with her book trailer as I was with her excerpt....and inspired. Since I was too hungover to write on saturday, I played around online and started collecting pictures "just in case I learned how to work my windows movie maker."  On sunday, "If YOU GIVE A GIRL A PEN" posted the book trailer entries. I watched a few and decided to try it.

It took about six hours and plenty of amusement and frustration as I figured out how this mouse click did this or that, but that is not the most I learned. I learned how to bring back the mood of my story, and I remembered where my story came from. Ha, Ha, this is where Brad Pitt comes in.

When I was 13 or 14, I became obsessed with INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, the book and the movie. The TWILIGHT obsession would have had nothing on me. My very first crush was not on a boy in my class, but on a fictional character: Louis de Pointe du Lac. I would read the vampire chronicles, and watch INTERVIEW over and over, while daydreaming about him. (Oh, damn, writing about this makes me realize how smitten I was.) I would write stories about him falling in love with me in a little red diary that I kept hidden under the mattress of my waterbed. Eventually I burned it in embarrassment.

I began my first novel, (which will be the 3rd or 4th in the series) when I was 15 and sorcerers were my obsession. Then, when I was eighteen, I began what is now BLOOD PROPHECY. Silas's name was Angel originally, after the gunfighter in Johanna Lindsey's novel of that title. I changed it when I discovered there already was a vampire by that name in "Buffy." I had him look like Louis because he was hot, but with little remembrance to my obsession with him, even as one of the first scenes I wrote was nearly identical to one I'd scribbled in that clandestine diary: the scene where he firt kisses Akasha, which I posted earlier.

After hours of work on the book trailer, I remembered the influence of my hero. He now bears little resemblance to Louis in personality or actions, and I think if I would have taken Louis exactly how he was and put him into one of my books, he would have changed completely by the end of the story due to the influence and actions of my other characters. Without Lestat and Claudia to make him sad, he'd have no chance! 

Now, I want to know the things you discovered when making your book trailer, and, if you haven't, at least tell me, who influenced your characters? What have you written that you would have just died if someone discovered? I dare you all to bring back those memories. I think if  we forget, we lose part of what makes us writers.

Without further ado, here is the trailer for BLOOD PROPHECY. It is long, I know, but it is my first try. Feel free to rip it apart with comments.
Oh, and I forgot to accredit the music: Metamorphic, a string tribute to Tool's "Sober."

The Story of Brooklyn Ann, Part Two.
While all the other kids were playing a game, Brooklyn snuck back into the cabin. Perhaps if she pranked the cabin counselor, the others would laugh and be nicer to her for a few days. She pulled a fake rat out of her backpack. It was large and a gruesome black with glaring red eyes. She didn't intend it to use it to scare anyone. She was pretending it was a pet. But most people were scared of rats, so it would do nicely for a prank. She placed the rubber rat at the foot of the counselor's bed and returned to her group with a Stephen King novel tucked under her arm.

Just when she was getting into her book, it was time to return to the cabins. Brooklyn lined up with her group and followed the counselor. Sure enough, when the counselor opened the door and saw the rat, she screamed. Years later, Brooklyn reflected that this scream sounded a little artificial, but her eleven year old self was satisfied. She expected much admired speculation on the culprit from her peers, but alas, there was none. The whole school knew she was weird, so naturally, all eyes and fingers pointed at her. Brooklyn felt her stomach lock up in fear. Oh, no. Now I'll get in trouble and they'll torment me worse.

The counselor laughed and the rest looked disappointed. A while later they departed with their pajamas on to the campfire to roast marshmallows and talk shit. The counselor hung back with Brooklyn.

"That was a great trick!" She said. "I think it's great that you like rats."

Brooklyn was so stunned that this older girl was being so nice. "Actually, I like cats the best. And I have two pet mice" She said shyly.

The counselor sat and talked with Brooklyn for about an hour. She talked to her like an equal, as if Brooklyn were an eighth grader like her and just as cool and beautiful.

Her name was Xochitl, pronounced Soshie. Brooklyn had never before heard a name that sounded so beautiful and exotic. The way it was spelled thrilled her to the soles of her feet. Brooklyn was a spelling bee champion and adored crazy spelled words.

If my name was Xochitl, everyone would like me and never dare make fun of me for anything.

Through the rest of the time at camp, Xochitl tried to include Brooklyn in every conversation with the rest of her classmates. When that failed, she ignored the rest and talked to Brooklyn alone. Her sunny personality was contagious and Brooklyn was left alone until they went back home to school. On the last night, when accomplishment awards were passed out, Xochitl presented Brooklyn with a creativity award for her stunt with the rat.

Though Xochitl and her kindness eventually faded from Brooklyn's memory, her name did not. Brooklyn invented a new character for her stories, a genetically enginneered humanoid black leopard with kick-ass velociraptor claws on her hind feet named Xochitl. When she reunited with her best friend, Rachel, they invented a best friend for Xochitl, a humanoid, jaguar/ wolf hybrid. Brooklyn filled pages with the adventures of Xochitl and Silvis.

In seventh grade, disaster struck. Rachel moved away.

How Twilight helps writers

Okay. This will be painful. I couldn't stand Twilight. I found it to be insipid and boring. There was literally no antagonist till page 373... or close. I had no respect or empathy for the spineless main character.
How did this sell so well? I wondered.

Every time someone asked me what my book was about they would light up at the mention of vampires in my story.
"Oh, like Twilight!" They would exclaim to my chagrin.
It's bad enough for a writer to be compared to another. We're supposed to be original. But I do miss the "Oh, like Anne Rice!" comments. I would love to have her talent. 

God knows how many times I retorted, "No! Not like Twilight. My book has a plot. People die in mine. My main character doesn't cry at the drop of a hat....etc."

I sat down and thought hard about the success of this book. I have decided that it fit in a niche that was gaping and begging to be filled. The only vampire romances were intended for adults. Now I can't have been the only 13 and up who devoured these books. I'm sure many parents didn't like their little girls reading sex scenes. Ms. Meyer created vampire romances for all ages and I give her my grudging admiration for that.

Recently I have thought about what this means for writers. Meyers books are drawing more readers! That in itself is a wonderful thing. The increase of illiteracy in America is a tragedy and the thought of kids reading ANYTHING lightens the heart.
Just think, non YA writers. These young readers are going to grow up and since Meyer turned them on to reading, they're going to keep reading. And maybe they'd like a book with a plot, or some spice. They might want your book.

So, love or hate her, Ms. Meyer deserves a toast for bringing us new readers.

writer's block

Tried once. It never works because a person can't keep herself under wraps for too long. YOU always come out, whether you like it or not


Have you ever tried to change yourself for someone you were in a relationship with (or wanted to be in a relationship with)? Did it work?


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