Riot Grrrls (Updated)

I'm sure you've seen the insanity that is Bitch Magazine deciding to remove three titles–Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels, Elizabeth Scott's Living Dead Girl, and Jackson Pearce's Sisters Red–from their "100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader" list based on a tiny (comments we can see) to nebulous (supposed emails) number of complaints, after apparently rushing to willfully misread (if you believe they even had time to read them) the books over the weekend, on the basis that they now assert the titles handle rape in problematic ways. If you haven't caught the uproar, Smart Bitches has an excellent round-up with relevant excerpts* from a thread that's now so lengthy it can be hard to swim into unprepared. (But is well worth reading.)

To claim Tender Morsels would give anyone the impression it endorses "rape as vengeance": INSANITY. I still can't quite believe this happened/is happening, and am incredibly disappointed in a magazine I used to subscribed to, still read on occasion, and was probably going to resubscribe to based on the original list (which wasn't perfect, no, but lists never are–still, overall, it was diverse and smart). I'm especially upset at how they seem to be ignoring further comments on the topic, including many incredibly well-considered and personal ones, and the wishes of authors who no longer want to be on their list. They owe their entire community a real response, not one buried in stray comments to this post. Dear Bitch Media: Stop trying to hide this debacle you created and are continuing to exacerbate with your inept response.

But, one thing's clear, the YA community rocks. (Even in the outrage, the hashtag #bitchplease** cracked me right up. My people are funny people.)

Perhaps my favorite response is this snippet of Maureen Johnson's:

Ladies, feminist media should be held to the highest standard. This kind of waffling and caving on comments is no good. Lots of people would have LOVED to use this list for educational purposes, but it's such a mess now that no one wants near it.

I request that either you get a grip or remove me from this list. If Margo is removed, I'd like to be removed with her. And please remember that young feminists are looking up to you. When they see you so easily intimidated, so easily swayed, so eager to make concessions . . . it sets exactly the wrong example.


I also really loved the comment that included a line that should be on a T-shirt: Strong Books Make Strong Girls.

Again: YES.

(Unrelated aside: I've been meaning to post more frequently here–hangovers still going over at the tumblr–but I can't figure out what I want to post about and am busy doing the usual freelance and falling in love with a new project and wishing for spring, etcetera, etcetera. If there's anything you'd like me to blog about, let me know and I'll see if I can manage it. And I reserve the right to suddenly come up with Ideas and pop back up too. And there are some really fun things in the works for Sandstorm promo next month. YAY.)

*Do not miss the media advisory labels at the end of the post.

**Which the fabulous Jenn coined. What is not funny, as Tansy has pointed out, is how frequently this hashtag is used with ABSOLUTELY NO IRONY on a daily basis. Eek.

EDITED TO ADD: Finally, a response that I really do respect and am glad to see from Bitch Media. It seems the most transparent of everything from them so far. AND they're starting an online YA book club, a good suggestion that someone had left in the comments. And readers are choosing the first titles via a poll, which includes all three removed books–I voted for Tender Morsels.

3 thoughts on “Riot Grrrls (Updated)”

  1. This is bizarre – I hadn’t heard! Thanks for your links. Worrying to see a magazine like Bitch join the trend for the lowest common denominator in fiction, which will if followed reduce eveything children are ‘allowed’ to read to bland pap. On one childrens literature forum I belong to, a (US) school librarian was pleading for help on titles for her classes of 8th and 9th grade advanced readers, after one mom demanded they read only books without divorced parents, sex, death, children behaving badly, trauma of any kind…
    It doesn’t leave much.

  2. Oh my gosh, I *hadn’t* heard about this. “Tender Morsels” a novel that endorses “rape as vengeance”??????? WHAT????

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