Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Damsel is a Word not a Trope

I have noticed lately a trend in which the word "damsel" is used as short-hand to mean "damsel in distress."

As in:
"I need you to scream for me."
"Like a damsel?"

"I imagined a story where I didn't have to be the damsel."

This chaps my hide.

"Damsel" is not an intrinsically pejorative word. It simply means "young, unmarried woman." The word itself has no relation to powerlessness.

In fact, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary, the word damsel comes to us (by way of French) from the Latin domina which means mistress, as in a female master.

So the entire foundation of the word damsel is rooted in power.

It just happened to share the same first letter as the word distress, and thus someone, who confused alliteration with wit, coined "damsel in distress."

To conflate the "damsel in distress" trope with the actual word "damsel" is NOT A GOOD THING. 

Because -- remember, damsel by itself just means woman -- what you're actually saying is:

"I need you to scream for me."
"Like a woman?"


"I imagined a story where I didn't have to be the woman."

When the word those screenwriters were really looking for is VICTIM.

"I imagined a story where I didn't have to be the victim." 

That is what Dolores should have said in the most recent episode of WestWorld. The show has rubbed our faces, across multiple episodes, in the victimization of Dolores, beating us over the head with how she is intended to be raped and murdered. That's her storyline, because that's all the men who visit WestWorld want -- to rape and murder an innocent farmer's daughter.

But her being a woman isn't the thing that needs fixing. She can be a woman -- a damsel -- who fights back. She can be a damsel hero. A Big Damn Damsel Hero.

What she wants fixed is her role of victim falling foul of evil, murderous men.

And the word WOMAN is NOT a synonym for VICTIM.

I don't care that what you really meant to refer to was the trope. What you're SAYING and what people are HEARING -- whether consciously aware of it or not -- is that women are victims. They have no other role. They can't be heroes. Women are by default "in distress"-- so much so that you don't even have to add the "in distress" part, you just say woman and the audience will fill it in on their own.

Oh, and only women can scream, apparently. That's adult women for ya, sniveling, crying, screaming. Men never do that.

I've only seen the trailer for that Tarzan movie, not the movie itself, but apparently the scream/damsel exchange was considered important because it's in said trailer. WHY?? Why does that merit a spot in the trailer? That's how our heroine is defined, is it? Ooh she's better than Ordinary Women, she's not a damsel!

Of all the comebacks she could have snarled, and this being a period piece, she could have spouted some very worthy phrases of disdain (I SAID GOOD DAY, SIR), all she does is throw shade on damsels? 

You can do better, screenwriters.

If for no other reason than the fact that "I imagined a story where I didn't have to be the damsel" is an ehh line given strength by the situation, but "I imagined a story where I didn't have to be the victim" is MOVING, with call-backs to all the scenes of victimization we've witnessed before, where Dolores, Special Victim Extraordinaire, takes back her power and violates her programming to defend herself.

Eschewing stereotypes and trope trigger words in favor of being ACCURATE is just BETTER WRITING.

Try it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Why Is It Always Planets?

I only recently was able to watch STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS. And I have a question about the Star Wars universe, in general.

Why is it always planets?

Original Star Wars (the 1977 movie) had the Death Star and destroyed Alderaan and I get that. Special effects of that type were totally new, and it made an impact. It also proved how irrevocably, irredeemably EVIL the Empire was.

Except of course, it WASN'T irredeemable. Somehow the most irredeemable character WAS REDEEMED. (Don't get me started.)

Back to the Death Star.
Even though it had a total major design flaw, the Empire decided to rebuild the Death Star for Return of the Jedi.
I guess because thinking you can repeat the exact same motions and they'll result in a different outcome is one definition of madness and the Empire is pretty insane? I dunno.

Death Star 2 is also destroyed. And in spectacular ignorance of the saying, "the bigger they are, the harder they fall", the First Order decides that the problem was IT WASN'T BIG ENOUGH.

So now we have Starkiller Base, which can destroy five planets at a time, in contrast to the Death Star's measly one.

Which I suppose makes the First Order MOAR EVIL.

But honestly, did we need that?

The human brain can only process so much. Does the audience feel five times the shock as we did at the annihilation of Alderaan? Do we have time to feel *anything* before the plot moves on?

I believe we felt for Alderaan because we felt for Princess Leia. There is no emotional touchstone for those five planets. They're just fridged. They existed to be killed. And it's a waste, because they don't provide any particular motivation for our main characters that those characters didn't have already.

Not even the special effects justify it. We see awesome special effects all the time now. It's not 1977 anymore.

You may scoff, and say these quibbles are outside of the movie's reality. And you'd be right.

But I've got a problem with Starkiller Base WITHIN the reality of the movie.

Let's say I'm General Hux (because I'm assuming he's more likely to make calculated, strategy-based decisions on behalf of the First Order than Kylo I-do-what-I-want Ren). I would think the entire concept of Starkiller is a Really Bad Move strategically.

I get that the people on those planets are A Problem. And the First Order wants to Make An Example.


Each of those planets has flora, fauna, and mineral wealth. They have infrastructure, machines, factories, libraries. Why destroy all those resources when you could use them to strengthen the First Order?


If you wipe out a galaxy, doesn't that make traveling in that area more difficult? Like those "Last Gas for 100" miles signs? Take away all those planets and you impair the First Order's future logistics for shipping, refueling, and combat staging.

So I'd be ordering the brain trust that designs Evil Weapons to create a contagion - and requisite delivery system - that kills people, dissipates rapidly, and leaves the animals/ecosystem/infrastructure and other planetary wealth intact.

Because that is totally what the First Order needs. It would make empire building much cheaper, easier, AND more difficult to fight against because the delivery system could be mobile, and there could be multiple iterations, because it wouldn't have to be THE SIZE OF A PLANET ITSELF.

I was just getting warmed up on how this could actually work, and how you could make the special effects for that shit really scary, and it wouldn't have the same science-related problems that planet explosions have, but I've deleted it all because really, who needs that sort of Evil? And maybe that's the problem.
Maybe these thoughts are TOO EVIL for the Star Wars universe.


This is why I write Happily Ever After Romance.

Because at heart I'm really a Psychotic Space Ginger. *headdesk*

Monday, January 18, 2016

Review of Desert Tryst from Audible UK

I just discovered that a lovely person named Jumime wrote a fantastic review of Desert Tryst on Audible UK and it is just so perfect that I am going to share it with y'all:

"Short+Sweet+Hot, like a chilli Chocolate Brownie!"

Would you consider the audio edition of Desert Tryst to be better than the print version?
I haven't read the print version, but judging by the narration, I think it would be as good as the audio edition.

What did you like best about this story?
I liked that you can feel the connection and chemistry between the main characters and that plenty of backstory is given for them, despite the short length of the novel. I also liked how sweet a character Thomas was, it's easy to see why Dmitiri would be drawn to him.

What about Greg Tremblay’s performance did you like?
He's a fantastic narrator, my favourite by far. He really brings the characters to life, making each voice distinctive and adding real emotion to his performance.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
I definitely laughed at points, especially at Dmitri's internal musings, but mostly I aawww-ed at how these guys clearly want each other and have this chance to make it happen. I also really sympathised with Dmitri's hard life and upbringing and how, despite that, he's a strong character who's a good man at heart, if not in deed.

Any additional comments?
I like the fact that this is a short story because it's very well written and narrated, it avoids unnecessary 'padding' as some longer novels are prone to using to fill their stories and I can listen to it all in one sitting if I choose, as opposed to sometimes having to spread it out over a couple of days. I'm notorious for listening to a single book repeatedly. That being said, if a full-length sequel to this was written, I'd be all for it. Well done Susanne, this book is on my favourites list :)!

Thank you so much Jumime!!! I love you!!! :)

Click here to find Desert Tryst on Audible UK 

Friday, January 8, 2016

AudioFile Review of Desert Tryst

Why, look! A *lovely* review of DESERT TRYST in AudioFile Magazine! *much happy dancing ensues*

"Narrator Greg Tremblay impressively portrays the two men in alternating chapters."

"...the buildup to their belief in each other and passionate love is satisfying for listeners to hear. The New Mexico desert provides an evocative setting for this short yet enjoyable story."

Go get it! You know you want to. ;)


(on iTunes: