deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
[personal profile] deborah
I just read Kate Elliott on the female gaze in FSF ("The Omniscient Breasts: the Male Gaze through Female Eyes") (h/t [personal profile] yendi), which is primarily I think talking about adult FSF. Inevitably when I read an article like this I want to send it to every feminist who trashes contemporary paranormal and dystopian romance for teens -- as, I admit, I sometimes do myself -- and say "look what the teen love triangles have that we should be down right thrilled about!"

Yes, ubiquity in any genre gets exasperating after a while. As a reviewer, trust me when I have a pretty good sense of what percentage of books for teens currently have almost identical romance plots. But when these books get trashed by feminist reviewers, we are ignoring that an entire generation of young leaders is growing up thinking the female gaze is normal.

I don't understand why Bella finds Edward Cullen's pasty skin and under-eye circles so attractive, but the fact is she does, she dwells on them, and she ogles endlessly. Clary Fray is far from flawless as a character construction, but that girl knows who she wants, and she is perfectly happy to leer and admire while she goes for it. So often we don't know that much about what these female protagonists look like, but we know everything about the physical characteristics of the objects of their affection. That's... pretty cool.

These books are usually still heteronormative and cis-normative. They are often still relying on fairly regressive gender roles, and can have bizarrely archaic notions of sexuality. But I'm really curious what we'll see from this generation of female and sometimes male readers who have learned to read with and not against the female gaze. I suspect it might be something pretty awesome.
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