Anne Bean

I make delicious words. // I make words delicious.

Tag: complaining

And Another Thing…

Apparently, it’s Things That Bother Me Week. Well, who am I to say no to the opportunity to complain on the Internet. (Complaint is the purpose of the internet, after all. That and porn.)

So. Something that bothers me: Chick Lit.

Chick Lit, to me, literature by women for women that probably has some literary merit, but at the end of day is about Getting A Man. It’s Bridget Jones’ Diary, Sex in the City, modernized versions of Jane Austen that don’t involve zombies* (e.g. Clueless), and other works of literature where sassy spunky heroines decide that their existence is sad and pointless without a man. Chick Lit is the magical lifestyle that Cosmopolitan is trying to sell to you. Chick Lit is close to a lot of feminist ideals that I treasure (sassy spunky heroines, for example), but then falls on its face and undercuts said ideals. Bridget Jones must lose weight to feel worthwhile. Charlotte isn’t allowed by her friends to stop dating just because she has a more fulfilling relationship with her sex toy than she does with men. I love Elizabeth Bennet to death, but she really couldn’t function without eventually finding Mr. Darcy.

The biggest appeal of Chick Lit, to me, is that most of the heroines are Bad Girls. Cameron Tuttle, author of Bad Girl’s Guide series, says, “Bad girls make it happen. A bad girl knows what she wants and how to get it. She makes her own rules, makes her own way, and makes no apologies. […] A bad girl is you at your best–whoever you are, whatever your style.”

This sounds remarkably like my definition of badass. I’d like to see more Badass Girls.  I’m talking girls with a wide range of interests and abilities, for whom romance may be a factor of life, but is not the be-all and end-all of existence. (Who knows, perhaps I’m just sick of stories about marriage.) Now, I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for a woman who’s willing to kick butt and take names, but that’s not the only type of Bad-Ass Girl I can think of. I’m thinking of women who can hold their own, keep to their ideals, and shape their own destinies as much as possible. To name a few:

  • Scout Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Emilia, Othello by Shakespeare (tragically bad-ass, but still.)
  • Molly, Neuromancer by William Gibson
  • Mary, Mind of my Mind by Octavia E. Butler
  • Morgaine, Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
  • Tiffany Aching, The Wee Free Men and series (In general, Terry Pratchett’s writing is filled with Bad-Ass women.)
  • Many many heroines of young adult literature. Really, most female characters in the fantasy genre tend to be quite Bad Ass…except Bella Swan, who is the most milquetoast human being possible.
  • And, I’ll admit, of the 1800s British Chick Lit characters, I find Elizabeth Bennet and Jane Eyre to be the least obnoxious. Secretly, though, I think they’ve got nothing on Becky Sharp out of Vanity Fair

Anyhow. While making that list, I found that it was way easier to come up with Bad-Ass heroines for whom marriage wasn’t an option: the very young or the very old. Also, a lot of young adult literature is filled with exciting strong women. So then what happens to our girls (and boys!) who grow up reading books filled with strong girl characters? As adults, the literature featuring women that gets any kind of publicity is Getting Married Stories with varying levels of Sex and Plot. I guess it begs the question: How much of modern femininity is still defined by the woman’s societal duty to marry and/or pop out babies? Am I just jaded because so many of my high school and college friends’ Facebook pictures are weddings and pregnancies and babies?

I’m curious. What’s your take on Chick Lit? How do you define it? Do you find it appealing? Worthy? Vile? Subconsciously antifeminist? What say you?

*I have not yet actually read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and I think I should. Perhaps I would like it better?

A Letter.

Turns out that this blog doesn’t just update itself. 🙂

Here’s something I’m working on for my class, wherein we write everything except poetry or short stories….

***

To whom it may concern:

I write to you today, not to complain per se (because I know that actual complaint is a bit ridiculous in a place like this), but rather to make an amiable suggestion, as a client, since I am after all one of the multitudinous throng whom you serve so tirelessly. In recent years, here on Level Eight, I’ve felt a little—how shall I say it—bored, perhaps, or at least having a level of ennui that was never, I’m sure, intended by The Management. A certain type of boredom is expected in some Levels, for example the Swamp of the Wrathful and Sullen, but certainly not all the way down here. I would imagine that a sense of impending doom, awe, and of course pant-shitting terror would be more far appropriate to the milieu. My drift, Gentlemen, is this: I believe I could manage Level Eight in a far more modern and efficient way than the current staffing.

I do not wish to overstep my bounds as a client; I simply feel the need to share feedback from my customer service experience. When I was assigned to Level Eight, I had the highest hopes that I would be plunged into an eternity of soul-wrenching pain, and indeed when I first experienced the skin-blistering heat of the lakes of burning pitch, I was impressed. My enthusiasm for Level Eight began to wane when it was over six earthly days from my arrival before I got personal attention from the staffing. Even then, the staff member in question merely prodded by buttocks and spleen with a pitchfork that was only slightly rusty, causing me little lasting damage and only a brief moment of fear. This level of service correlates poorly with the heinousness of my earthly crimes. I am personally responsible for the bankruptcy of hundreds, the starving of children, the disbanding of at least a dozen families. I took people who trusted me implicitly and turned them onto their cold, broke asses. Should I not be punished accordingly? Is a slight poke on the bum what The Management thinks is fitting punishment for someone who is responsible for the suicide of three people and the alcoholism of fifteen? Sirs, to be blunt: I was saddened by the current state of the Organization, and I wish desperately for changes to be made.

Firstly, and most importantly, the current scenery needs a major update. To be frank, burning lakes of fire and demons with whips are tacky, totally stuck in the 14th century. Considering the seven centuries of technological advances since then, it’s a wonder no use of modern technology has been made: no napalm, no nuclear radiation, no fiendish ways with hairspray. Perhaps in the era of Dante an effective contra-passo punishment for political corruption might have been being prodded by demons in a burning lake of fire, but in the 21st century? Please. Some kind of literal shitstorm, or possibly a sort of re-living of the most desperate moments of those whom the clients harmed would be more appropriate, don’t you think?

Aside from the actual landscape of the Organization, I’m quite sure that the current staff is being used in a fiendishly inefficient way, if you’ll excuse the pun. From my extensive Human Resources and campaign management experience, I would be able to downsize the staffing needs of the entire Organization by 25%, freeing up essential personnel for client intake services. We could be serving million more every day, if only we could allocate the staffing resources properly. (I suppose “Human Resources” isn’t an entirely accurate term.)

Finally, I feel that the Eighth Level in particular should be restructured to incorporate all of the varieties of fraud relevant in today’s world. Street pimps are in the same ditch as the Henry VIII and Charles Ponzi. Dot-coms and corporate fraud are a whole different kettle of fish than simony and sorcery. This level of disorganization is simply unacceptable, given the long-standing reputation of the Organization. I understand that chaos is an important value to the Organization, but let us make it controlled a chaos, a streamlined chaos, all-in-all a chaotic pit of terror that best serves its ever-widening client base while meeting the Management’s mission and vision. Please consider my offer of restructuring and assistance, as I am wholly your man.

Yours sincerely,

A Concerned Soul

Dear Concerned Soul:

Consider yourself hired.

-MGMT

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