alisa alering

Writer of fantasy and other fictions

Friday Rant


The Dog: She’s tired of this stuff, too.

This was too long for Facebook, so I guess it’s time for a bonus post.

Be warned: ranting ahead. Ranty rant rant.

I like to listen to audiobooks when I go for a walk in the afternoon. It’s been a busy month, what with all 26,000 of those NaNoWriMo words I’ve been pounding out. So yesterday when it was time to choose a new book, I decided I’d have a mystery/thriller. An intellectual Scandinavian one. Not too vapid, but with atmosphere and plenty of plot.

I chose Jo Nesbo’s, ‘The Leopard.’ I got the audiobook a while ago, but I didn’t remember the description in any detail. I just remembered it was supposed to be good.

I got out on the street with the dog and it started out with some nameless woman being victimized by some nameless ‘he’. And, you know, maybe she gets all empowered by the end. And maybe it passes the Bechdel test and a kick-ass female heroine appears and saves the day and she and the erstwhile victim go on to be smart and funny and talk about things that aren’t men. But you know what?

I don’t care. Because, I just don’t want to listen to this. I don’t want to go along with some poor woman’s mutilation and humiliation one more time. I don’t want to be horrified, or titillated through horror, or whatever you want to call it. I’m tired of that whole trope. Weary, really. So I crossed the road, I turned it off, and listened to music for the rest of my walk.

Today I’m going to listen to “Broken Kingdoms” by Nora Jemisin instead.

Author: Alisa Alering

I write stories. I read stories.

5 thoughts on “Friday Rant

  1. Maybe try Karin Fossum: I thought Don’t Look Back was pretty good, though I don’t think it passes the Bechdel test because the sleuths are men.

  2. Clara, I’ve read Fossum’s The Indian Bride. IIRC, bad things happen to women in that one, too. Ditto the fantastic Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brody series where the whole point of the stories is a commentary on the terrible things that happen to women. I’m not saying it can’t be done sensitively or well. I’m not even saying that there’s not a reason why it shouldn’t be explored, or that I haven’t approached it in my own writing. It’s just a reaction I had one day when I was tired. And it was the first thing out of the [story] box- “Hey, let’s get everyone’s dramatic attention with this woman being terrorized by some guy.” And I Didn’t Want To Do It Anymore.

  3. I will have to check out this book to see if it can be redeemed by my brilliant (or “brilliant”) hermeneutic framework for reading cruelty in literature. FYI, Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 has about 300 pages of flat descriptions of women’s mutilated bodies (“anal rape” becomes a predictably recurring phrase), and yet there are (in my view) defensible ethical implications to this presentation, which refuses to sop up the violence with the usual detective fiction tropes. I guess my point is that misogyny may not be the only possibility (although I might read this book you mention and totally agree). Something to talk about on our next walk.

  4. PS I thought THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO was most obnoxious for how every women mysteriously wanted to sleep with the male protag, not (just) because of the violence against women in basements.

  5. PPS You should always feel free to quit a book. It’s very liberating!

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