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Villains with Vaginas

I was on social media the other day (shocking, I know) and stumbled over a thread that piqued my interest. Someone had read a book in which women seemed to be vilified to the point of misogyny. The disappointed reader said it was a theme she’d been running into frequently and numerous other readers chimed in that they had the same issue with MM books. I haven’t read the book in question, so I can’t speak to its content, but women being portrayed negatively in gay romance is hardly a new phenomenon. Readers have been complaining about it for years.

When I first began writing MM, rumblings about women being cast as conniving harpies abounded on review sites–every female in nearly every book was pure evil. Or there were no females in books, in other cases.

Female sorcerer with two troll beasts

Long ago, I vowed to be super conscientious about how my female characters came across. And then I largely washed my hands of the worry. Seriously, I’m the girl who likes to joke that women can’t do X because their vaginas are so cumbersome they get in the way. I used to go to parties in HS to challenge dudes to mercy competitions just to prove what a bad ass I was. Well, and to drink (shot for shot with the guys, of course). Yeah, also to get laid because treating men the way I perceived they’d treated women since the dawn of time–like a piece of meat to be used–was my shtick, I’m rather ashamed to say (they rarely minded, for the record, so I guess I won’t feel too guilty).

My point is, I’m not the girl who thinks women are in any way inferior to men (really–why would any woman think that?). I mean, we squeeze squalling 8 lb beings from our bodies and then we’re like, give me some fucking pizza and let me walk around or I’ll drown you in breast milk. If anything, I’ve got a chip on my shoulder when it comes to how undervalued women are.

Yet, whenever I see these posts, I get paranoid.

I shouldn’t. I know I shouldn’t. I am woman, with better plumbing, carpentry, and electrical skills than most men I know. Hear me roar. I won’t even mention my chest hair (I blame gin).

Oh, but people were complaining about the evil fictional ex-wife! The evil mother-in-law!

Well, I’ve written a character mid-divorce in a nasty custody battle. Yes, his wife came off witchy, but she’d given her best years to a guy and wanted to keep her kid. No, she wasn’t nice to her soon-to-be ex-husband, but I’ve seen more ugly divorces than I can count, and I don’t think a bit of reality is untoward. Guaranteed, if I’d been writing from the ex-wife’s POV, Gio would have looked like a total cobnobbler.

Not that anyone has accused me of defaming women. But the conversation makes me rethink every female character I’ve ever written. Was she too bitter? Did I make all women look bad by writing one woman going through a shitastic stage in her life? Should I never write female characters I wouldn’t want to be friends with IRL? Should I never write a female as an antagonist for fear of being labeled a misogynist?

I have more awesome women than bitchy women in my books, when I do the math. Probably equal amounts antagonistic men to antagonistic women. Realistically, someone needs to be the adversary in contemporary romance.

And then I just wrote a rather unlikable mother-in-law(ish)…

Maybe exes and MILs are overdone at this point. Maybe that’s the problem, in which case, contemporary MM may be overdone too because, well, as I know I’ve complained before, we can’t just pull a (sexless) monster out of our asses to make a villain.

Now, is Greg’s mom in my latest book (Balancing Act~~Coming soon to a website near you! Shameless plug!) absolute evil? No. Not even remotely. Matter of fact, she’s based on a woman I happen to adore. Is she a horse-pill to swallow? Oh, you bet your ass. On the flip side, Kyrie’s mom is a love, she just doesn’t get major screen time in this book. Same for his cool friend, Liv.

Nice can be boring, TBH. Suspense doesn’t come from that totally humorous Comic-Con scene I keep contemplating. A book needs to move forward and then get kicked in the teeth to make it step back. It needs tension. Bad guys and bad girls.

Sigh. No one was complaining about my characters, so I know I shouldn’t get all twitchy about this. And, yes, if I happen to come across a book that makes me think the author hates women, I’ll get way fucking twitchier, but I hate how this conversation makes me think twice about using female characters at all. Much like complaints about authors writing persons of color incorrectly make me nervous about just writing any damn character that comes to mind.

I don’t want to shy away from female characters–or any characters. Occasionally, I even want to write a hard-nosed bitch. Just as sometimes I want to write a psychotic would-be murderer who happens to have a penis. Neither one makes me a misogynist or a misandrist.

I guess I’ll just keep reminding myself of that and follow wherever my characters lead. No fear. After all, they’re in charge–even if that means they come off a little cunty sometimes.

Hey, don’t we all?

-Kimber

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How About a #Freebie?

I realized this morning I wasn’t going to do a Wednesday post this week because it’s already Thursday. Doh! That MLK day really screwed with my head. I’ve been wonky all week (more wonky than usual, I should say).

The newsletter signup and freebie are a go, after much agony from Calibre for some reason I still haven’t figured out. So, make my pain worthwhile and use this link to sign up for your free e-copy of “The Ferryman Cometh.”

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I won’t spam you, I swear on all that is good and holy. I’ll only send the rare newsletter to let you know when I have something new coming out. Promise. Realistically, I can barely make myself blog, so that should give you an accurate sense of how often I’ll compose newsletters.

Okay, I’ve spent entirely too long in front of a computer today. I’m going to go pour a glass of wine and make some freakin’ meatloaf so kids can tell me it’s yucky in an hour because that’s the kind of day it’s been.

XOXO,

Kimber

 

 

 


What’s Up Wednesday

Hey, all! It occurred to me on Monday that I should come up with a clever little name for one day of the week and blog religiously on that day. What’s Up Wednesday fit the bill, but it was Monday, so damn. Luckily I’m uber-slow and got hung up on a billion other tasks. I blinked and it’s Wednesday!  Like magic, baby!

As an aside, I did a search for What’s Up Wednesday and found this YA author had a weekly hop with the title a few years back. Seems to be defunct, but I’ll give her full credit, especially since she has some swell blog post ideas I’ll probably borrow at some point.

So, what have I been up to? Seems a legit topic to begin. For one, I’ve been working on starting a newsletter and polishing up a short story I plan to dangle in front of your clicking fingers to make you sign up, so get ready for that. It’s the only way to get your hands on my tale, “The Ferryman Cometh,” a dark paranormal erotic MMM, so a tad off my beaten path with that extra M. 😉 I’ll let you know when that’s ready to e-ship, likely by next Wednesday if not sooner.

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I’m self-editing “Balancing Act” right this second. I’m about 2/3 done and then I’ll get it to beta readers. It’s a tough edit because I am striving to keep it just under 40,000 words so it doesn’t jump to the next price point with my publisher. At the moment, I have maybe 300 words of wiggle room, so I’m essentially fucked, but still gonna give it my all. The problem is, when I’m writing dialog fast, I often omit the tags and then come in later and add a bit of meat to make it clear who’s speaking. Hopefully I won’t hit any major rough patches in the home stretch that will require, well, more words. 😛

Okay, that’s it for now. Stay tuned for more newsletter info coming shortly, and more general blogging on Wednesday. Heck, maybe I’ll go do some crunches while I’m on my self-improvement kick.
rainbow logo

-Kimber

 

 

 


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