GOD I love this song!!! Cannot wait for this movie!
Me too! Confession: I pretty much write all super dramatic angsty scenes to Florence + the Machine. So whenever I hear their songs in other contexts (like on “The Voice” the other night) I get flashbacks to those scenes and am confused. :)
“Being part of the LGBT community, it was really inspiring and relieving to see you add a few LGBT characters into you CoB series. What inspired you to do so?”—
I accidentally deleted the name of the person who asked me this. For that I am EXTREMELY sorry.
These kind of comments are both incredibly complimenting, and make me a bit sad. I wish that there was no reason ever to ask me why I’d have gay characters in my books because they were reflected everywhere, and them being in my books wasn’t notable. I don’t think I did anything special by writing GBLQ characters — I just wanted to.
I have so many gay and lesbian and bisexual friends. My best friend is bisexual. My critique group has three queer members. My mother’s best friend, who I’m named after, is gay, as is my sister-in-law. When worlds and characters construct themselves in my mind, they have gay people in them.
A lot of my readers ask where all the gay characters are in books. They are out there —! and the best thing you can do to encourage there being more of them is buy and read books that feature them. That will show there is a market, and people excited and happy to read those stories. Here’s a good starting point to find them:
In my ideal world Dyke Ball is the space on campus where I feel the most safe all year. Everyone is wearing exactly what they feel most confident in whether that be underwear covered in googly eyes, a purple tux and tails, or a shimmering party dress. In this magical space everyone feels, safe, confident, and happy.
In the real world, I anticipate Dyke Ball with what can be best described as a sense of immense dread. The majority of this dread pertaining to feeling forced to wear a negligée or less.
In the day to day I am actually quite comfortable in the buff. As a child I spent the majority of my time running around the house naked (that’s me below on my mother’s 26th birthday).
As an adult I continue to think of my room as a pants-optional zone. However, when it comes to being naked in public…
Well, that’s another story.
Like many people I have suffered from problems with my body since I hit puberty. No matter how many body-positive websites and books I have read, the feeling that permeates my being has been that I am not enough or, alternatively, that I am far too much.
There are moments, like while I’m taking long, confident strides on a run around the lake or while I’m careening through waves in the powerful Atlantic, when I feel at peace with myself. I wish that Dyke Ball were one of those moments. However, instead of being the genuinely open and queer space it is intended to be, Dyke Ball has come to reinforce the hegemonic discourse on beauty by demanding that everyone strip down in order to get ‘sexy’ without acknowledging that not every person finds a corset or bodypaint empowering.
Last year, in the days leading up to Dyke Ball, as I was once again on the miserable hunt for five inches of fabric with which to cover my ass, I paused and asked myself why I was forcing myself into a tiny set of underwear that made me deeply uncomfortable. “Why don’t you just wear what makes you feel sexy? ” I asked. So, I took my own advice and went shopping for an outfit that would make me feel fantastic. I rolled up to Alt Dyke Ball in a pair of skin-tight, jet-black, high-waisted jeans, and black bra under a sheer black mesh crop top. I felt like the embodiment of a badass biker chick, so needles to say, I was feeling pretty goddamn great.
However, post-arrival it didn’t take long for one of my friends clad in a sparkly something or other to approach me and shout that I was “wearing too much clothing.” Said friend then promptly grabbed my belt loops and demanded that I remove my pants.
This sentiment, that there exists a point at which one is “wearing too much clothing” for Dyke Ball, is very troubling to me. Unfortunately, it is something that I have been hearing quite often in these weeks leading up to Dyke Ball. First years have nervously approached me and my friends with their planned outfits in order to have them “checked” for an appropriate level of nudity. Upperclass siblings too are highly preoccupied with discussing Dyke Ball attire, far more so than they ever seem to be about the dress for any other big event on campus.
I believe that the motivation for these worried inquiries is a desire on the part of the askers to get a feel for where they stand in the spectrum of attire, to compare their choices with those of others attending. Furthermore, I believe this need for comparison is rooted in a deep-seated fear that one will be considered too conservatively dressed and thus a prude or that one will be wearing something far more skimpy than every one else and thus over-confident and ‘slutty.’ Just because Dyke Ball is thrown by the LGBTQ org on this campus doesn’t mean that its attendees are absolved from the pressure of the classic virgin-whore dichotomy.
The fact that what is supposed to be the biggest queer event on this campus reinforces the virgin-whore dichotomy, negative self talk, and peer pressure indicates to me that Dyke Ball is not serving its purpose. There is nothing queer about feeling forced into attire that makes you uncomfortable, so uncomfortable that you must guzzle ten shots in order to feel safe. There is nothing queer about feeling forced to strip down in order to dress up.
During the Dyke Ball talk backs last spring many people in the queer community expressed concerns that Dyke Ball had become “a lingerie party filled with straight girls” and that said “straight girls” were the individuals adulterating our queer event. Although I too have a deep desire for Dyke Ball to return to an event primarily for the queer community, I think that Dyke Ball’s evolution into a lingerie party is not the fault of the straight-identified women on this campus.
It is the fault of the whole community.
It is a problem that everyone who has internalized patriarchal standards and projected them onto themselves and others must deal with if we want Dyke Ball to become a truly queer event. In the words of Judith Butler, “Gay identities work neither to copy nor emulate heterosexuality, but rather, to expose heterosexuality as an incessant and panicked imitation of its own naturalized idealization.” If we want Dyke Ball to be genuinely queer we need to begin by rejecting the desire to imitate heterosexual ideals.
So, this Friday, let us make Dyke Ball the queer event we’ve lost. Let us work harder at fighting against judging our bodies and those of others. Let us wear what makes our breath easy and our hearts sing. Let us wear what makes us feel like the powerful individuals we are.
Although I haven’t decided what I’m wearing to Dyke Ball this year, I do know that I’m going to wear whatever makes me feel infinitely badass and beautiful in that moment. I hope you’ll join me. After all, it’s about time we get truly creative with our creative black tie.
- Artemis, Café Hoop Co-General Manager
—> So, reading all this is FASCINATING to me as a Wellesley alum, class of ‘96, who was there for the first Dyke Ball, which I do believe was the brainchild of my friend Sarah Warn (who went on to found AfterEllen).
The Dyke Ball in 1994 (I think that might have been the first one?) was basically a lesbian/bi prom. We wore prom dresses! And tuxedos! And I sat in the corner being super moody because I didn’t have a date and wasn’t entirely sure what I’d do with one even if I had it. (I was innocent.)
Anyway, wow. I visited the Wellesley campus a few years ago with Sarah Warn and we talked to the queer student group (Spectrum?) at the time about the early Dyke Balls. We were really astounded with how they have grown in size, and also have changed in focus. I’m not saying we didn’t party down (I believe one of my friends may have tripped and fallen off the stage), but it was definitely different. I’m all for wearing whatever you want, but I hope that you can have a fun time while doing it. That was certainly the intention. To have fun, dress up — tuxes! I remind you — and be out and proud.
Hi, um I really like your work, it's the best thing i've read in a looooonnnng time. Total inspiration for me to keep writing my own story. I hope you keep writing.
Thank you so much! Every time a reader tells me they enjoy my books I feel A VAST SENSE OF RELIEF. I know, maybe I should feel satisfied joy or something, but really, it’s relief. Because I really want people to connect with what I write, and when I know that someone has, that makes every bad writing day and every moment of neurotic behavior writerly anxiety worth it.
So, thank you! And good luck with your own story! And yes, I believe I will keep writing. :) My next book (which is very different from my previous books — but different can be good!) comes out in September.
It’s been about 10 days since I turned in the first draft of the sequel to Adaptation. Since then, I’ve been catching up on the zillion things I didn’t do while making the final push to meet my deadline (OK, I missed my deadline by a week), but I’ve also been thinking about what it felt like, this time, to write a rough draft.
The common wisdom among writers (or at least the writers I’ve talked to) is that you never learn how to write books. You learn how to write each book. That’s because every book is different, so the process is different every time.
By and large this is true, but there are some things that you can learn in the course of writing multiple novels…
“The thing is, once we have reached a certain mastery of craft, craft is no longer the issue. In order to take our writing to the next level we must embrace our strange, unique, and often embarrassing selves and write about the things that really matter to us. We need to be willing to peel our own layers back until we reach that tender, raw, voiceless place—the place where our crunchiest stories come from. We need to get some skin in the game. It should cost us something emotionally to tell our stories. But many of us who come to writing do so because they were voiceless at some point in their lives, so doing that can be the most terrifying risk of all.”—The fabulous Robin LaFevers on second chances in one’s writing career (Writer Unboxed)
“Patriarchy is not men. Patriarchy is a system in which both women and men participate. It privileges, inter alia, the interests of boys and men over the bodily integrity, autonomy, and dignity of girls and women. It is subtle, insidious, and never more dangerous than when women passionately deny that they themselves are engaging in it. This abnormal obsession with women’s faces and bodies has become so normal that we (I include myself at times—I absolutely fall for it still) have internalized patriarchy almost seamlessly. We are unable at times to identify ourselves as our own denigrating abusers, or as abusing other girls and women.”—