Bad Reviewer Clapback

Hoohooohooooooo! Hahah! Take THAT, haters!

I’ve been redeemed on Amazon as someone (full disclosure, it’s someone I know who thought that review was 100% bullshit bigotry) clapped back at my crappy reviewer.

ltot-book-coverDear Kindle Customer,
When you review a book, you are expected to comment on the quality of the writing, not whether or not you agree with the plot points. If you want a different ending, write your own story. This is a coming of age story, not a “story of decision”, which means that it is about the twists and turns of being human. Not every person’s story is the same, and in a world where 99% of the art reflects the lives of heterosexual people, the need for stories representing same sex relationships is huge. That IS the real world. What you are suggesting is actually a tired trope where the girls kiss and then return to their socially acceptable boyfriends. That is a Katy Perry song, not an actual literary suggestion. If you value original writing, then stop tearing down independent writers who are sharing their voice. Write a book, tell a story, start a blog; just CREATE something rather than destroying what someone else has created.

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Right? Thank you, literary avenger!

See the original here.

 

Spank Your Inner Moppet and Get Over It

One of the things that bothered me the most about my crappy book review was this statement:

“If you want to write a story of decision then make the protagonist have a real choice. … When three quarters of the book is about the two girls you know how it is going to end.”

Because… the REAL choice had nothing to do with sexuality. And I mean, obviously, the reviewer didn’t understand that (or much else, apparently) but I’m wondering if my real meaning was lost in all the bi-phobia.

The main character’s two options for love interests were:

  1. A teenage fantasy of forever love and dramatic declarations
  2. A comfortable friendship with romantic underpinnings

And while option 1 is what the MC thinks she wants because her entire culture tells her to want that, option 2 seems like the better choice.

I’m not saying it doesn’t matter that option 1 is a boy and option 2 is a girl. That plays into the whole cultural influence factor. But it’s not just “should I choose the boy or the girl? Whoops, now I’m a lesbian forever.”

The other thing that REALLY REALLY bothered me, although more because maybe the reviewer is a little twisted, was this gem:

“Have some of the girls be mean to the guys or even molest some of the other girls.”

Um… there was no molestation in the story. There was a sexual assault by a boy, AGAIN because that plays into the cultural influence of boy/girl dynamics, and it was not graphic or gratuitous at all. So to REQUEST girl on girl molestation is… well, it’s freaking twisted, man. WHO SAYS THAT? Ugh, there’s not enough ick in the world already?

I promise that this is not about getting a bad review and dwelling on it. This is about just… a really nasty, bi-phobic, ignorant, disgusting review and I am so disappointed that no one else of the hundred plus people who downloaded and/or read the book haven’t commented on it or written a less horrid review to combat it.

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Ugh, I hate it when nasty people get away with such yuck.

 

Ruined Childhoods and Inherited Bigotry

I started this blog as shameless self-promotion of my writing but I’m finding myself lecturing a lot lately and I’m not sure how to feel about it. This post is no different. I’ll try to write it well, I guess?

The children and teens I work with are generally the most lovely, thoughtful, intelligent young people I’ve ever known and I delight in speaking with them to the point where we often lose track of the lesson they’re actually there to learn. Just this past week, someone mentioned Ghostbusters and that conversation went on just long enough for me to feel guilty I didn’t move them along sooner. But it was gratifying to see a group of both boys and girls, of different ethnic backgrounds and religions, having a pleasantly respectful conversation about an apparently divisive film.

Some of them said they thought it would be funnier. Some of them said it wasn’t enough like the original. Some of them said it was too much like the original. Most of them said it was really pretty great and they wouldn’t mind seeing it again.

But there was one boy, a white upper middle-class 11-year-old Christian boy who took the discussion to that other place. That place where reason and discourse goes to die. The kid became a walking comments section, regurgitating all of the small-minded, bigoted, hate-filled inanity that has plagued the film from its announcement (without the swearing or the slurs, obviously, because I would have kicked him right the hell out).

The original Ghostbusters came out in 1984. I was elementary-aged and didn’t see it until at least a year later when my dad bought it on VHS. I loved it because it was funny and exciting and different than a lot of what I had seen before. Ghostbusters 2 came out in 1989 as I approached adolescence. That one, I may have actually seen in the theater and loved just as hard, possibly more so than the original because the walking Statue of Liberty and the people of New York banding together to spread lovey peacey thoughts was a simple symbol of hope and inspiration in my young mind.

screen-shot-2016-02-20-at-4-10-12-amThis kid, on the other hand, was born in what? 2005? Almost 20 years after the first came out. The cartoon based on the movie went off air 14 years before he was born. Ectocooler changed its name 8 years before he was born. I can guarantee you that this kid’s childhood was not ruined by adding ovaries to his favorite show. So where, oh where, did the hate come from?

"St. Vincent" Premiere - 2014 Toronto International Film FestivalMemes and repetition by biased and/or unreliable parties. The same place too large a chunk of Americans get their news and form their political opinions. Why else would he be preaching the gospel of Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd with absolute ignorance of their roles in or praise of the new film? He hadn’t even seen it. And there’s no way he was going to, he asserted, because it’ll just ruin the experience of the original.

As I stood there, listening to him mocking and shaming and mindlessly repeating the opinions of others, I had to make a choice. Do I call him out, this kid who doesn’t even really understand what he’s saying or why or what the connotations are in this room full of girls and POC? It’s not entirely his fault that his role models are dipshits and bigots. I’ve been reminded on more than a few occasions that children don’t always realize they’ve been brainwashed by their family members until they grow up and move out and experience the world for themselves, forming opinions of their own and disregarding the untruths they were conditioned to believe in their youth. But at the same time, isn’t it my job as a role model to provide an alternate perspective? Isn’t it my role as a leader in this small community to inspire positive change and help question negative assumptions? But the whole situation was making me unreasonably angry, which isn’t a good place to teach from at all.

In the end, I was saved from having to make a decision at all as one of the older boys, a Muslim in fact, interrupted my thought process by gushing about Holtzmann which steered the entire conversation in her direction. It’s not hard to get distracted by Holtzmann. And minutes later, I shushed them all and urged them to focus on the task at hand, putting a pin in the conversation until our session ended.

But I’m still thinking about the snarky white kid and his meme-inspired rhetoric. I’m grateful for all of the students who allowed opinions other than their own to be spoken without mockery. I’m even more grateful for the students who seemed to understand that the movie was kind of a big deal in terms of equity (teen girls mostly).

But that one kid. That one kid is the reason stereotypes persist, why sexism is pervasive, and why old hates don’t die: the old bigots hand it down like family heirlooms, insisting on their value despite the rot and rust that holds them together.

Maybe the opportunity will arise again to provide another perspective or at least to challenge him to reconsider what he’s been told. Maybe it doesn’t matter what I say because my voice will never drown out the bigotry that surrounds him at home. Just like the larger issues I have no control over, there’s only so much I can do and that is so very frustrating.

 

Woman, I Am Not Your Ally

It was whiny kid day at Target and I had sent mine off with his father to look for a present for his cousin’s birthday while I perused the clearance rack for some new summer duds. Yes, I heard the boy in the red wagon crying a few aisles over and yes, it was annoying, mostly because it was that “I’m not getting my way” cry I’ve been hearing so much of myself since my son hit toddlerhood. But it wasn’t my kid and it wasn’t my problem, so I ignored it the best I could.

That’s when Nosy McKnowBetter joined me and mumbled discontentedly in my direction. “Better take care of that kid,” she said, turning her head toward me. I ignored her. “Ugh, tired of ignorant people,” she mumbled a little louder. I moved on to the next rack.

Now I’m a hardcore, people-avoiding introvert who only engages with strangers when I feel the outcome is almost definitely positive. I respond to people who say, “Good morning,” and “How are you today,” and “Beautiful day!” I absolutely do not engage people who begin conversations with negative statements, even if I agree with them.

In this case, I did not agree. The child was whining because he wasn’t getting his way. Nothing bad was happening. Every once in a while, the boy’s mother would say, “No, you cannot get out. You need to stay where I can see you in your wagon.”

Even so, Ms. McKnowBetter’s grumbling got louder as she addressed me directly. “I’m so sick of these people having kids if they’re not going to care for them.”

Whoa. First of all, “these people”? Do you mean people with skin tones darker than yours or people with accents different than yours because either way, I am not on the “us” side of your “them vs. us” bigotry. Secondly, the woman was very clearly communicating in a firm but not unloving way that her intention was to keep the boy safe. Other than annoying incessant child whining, what was the actual problem here?

The problem is busybodies. It’s overly concerned strangers reacting out of context. It’s neighbors calling the cops on parents who let their children play outside or walk to school. It’s the goddamn parenting police who want you to know that you are one phone call away from losing your children if you don’t keep them under control at all times. And bigots, of course. Because even if the child is behaving appropriately, America can’t be great again until all of “them” leave.

Again, I walked away because no. No, I am not your ally. No, I will not engage in berating the parenting skills of a competent mother. No.

Apparently, she didn’t need my approval. She approached the woman and her child anyway, made a big ole scene about how she was NEGLECTFUL and ABUSIVE and the AUTHORITIES WILL BE CALLED.

The woman, goddess bless her fiery soul, shouted right back at her, “How is this any of your business? My son is whining because he’s not getting what he wants. What, have you never been around kids before? You don’t even KNOW me, you don’t know my son, and you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

And ain’t that a universal truth?

I would very much like to take a poll of the people who comment on the parenting skills of others, especially the ones complaining about normal child behavior. Question 1: Do you know what a child is? Question 2: Were you ever a child yourself? Question 3: What kind of idiot are you exactly?

I don’t know what happened next because I stayed the hellfire away from those shenanigans but I did hear the mother in question talking to her friend as they walked away. “Who does she think she is, coming up to a stranger and saying I abuse my kid because I won’t let him run around the store? You know she’d be complaining even more if I did. Stupid people. You just can’t win, no matter what you do.”

Amen, sister.