December 11, 2019, 02:08:17 PM

Author Topic: never Heard of this award before  (Read 493 times)

Offline Rostum

never Heard of this award before
« on: November 01, 2019, 04:09:24 PM »
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-50260627

A new award I have mixed feelings on this.

Offline Bender

Re: never Heard of this award before
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2019, 05:03:43 PM »
Social injustice is a crucial theme for many books and I'm not sure we should move away from writing about social reality. MeToo happened because women spoke and wrote about their experiences. Perhaps reading about such incidents would inspire others or at least prove to be a learning experience.
"I shall hunt your firstborn children and laugh with glee as I tell them of your death in terrible detail, with many unpleasant adjectives!" - M-Bot

Offline Yora

Re: never Heard of this award before
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2019, 06:21:55 PM »
The intentions seem good, but the approach appears to not help at all.

There are good arguments to promote that writers should not rely on cheap exploitation because they are lazy. Serious issues should be reserved to make serious points. I can fully get behind it.

But this award doesn't do anything to further that cause. All it does is to be a generic best book award that excludes a (presumably substantial) number of contenders regardless of context. The absence of something is not award-worthy. If you want to praise a work for something, it needs to be for something that it does well, not for something that is not included.
We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on a big tower of other dwarves.

Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

Offline abatch

Re: never Heard of this award before
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2019, 07:37:49 PM »
Um...women are 51% of the population. Excluding them completely in the interest of discouraging violence against them seems misguided and unrealistic...and also unnecessarily burden to authors, imho.

Offline cupiscent

Re: never Heard of this award before
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2019, 09:58:31 PM »
I... don't understand. The prize is for books (specifically, thrillers) that don't have violence against women. Are you telling me the only way to include women in a thriller is to have them be the victim of violence?

Seriously?

Honestly, this prize sounds like a breath of fresh air. I can only imagine how exhausting it must be to be a female reader who enjoys thriller stories but knowing that odds are you're going to see someone like you being a victim of violence in reading them. (It's sometimes quite exhausting being a female reader of fantasy for similar reasons.) The shortlist (or longlist, I hope they provide it!) for this prize alone would be a godsend.

The prize is for the best literary work that fits certain criteria. Like, y'know, every other literary prize.

Offline Rostum

Re: never Heard of this award before
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2019, 03:09:59 PM »
The reason I have mixed feelings is

The prize, which is in its second year, recognises thrillers in which "no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped or murdered". OK I am not a great believer in censorship of books by either law or social pressure. I choose not to read certain books within the SF and fantasy (most of what I read) genre due to rape and torture being a plot device.

One of the shortlisted books is about a 15th century murder of a man. Does this not make it hypocritical? I think I would have more time for this if it was no one instead of no woman.

I note the article also has a number of dubious statements about equality and that most violence is against women in fiction. I can totally Agree with Bridgette Lawless about the depiction of rape within film and understand that what is often a harrowing scene in the book winds up a pornified scene in the film (which is a far worse medium fo sexual violence). I don't think there is a need or demand for another exclusive award, but it does no harm to keep questioning


Offline Nora

  • Dropped in from another planet avec son sourire provocateur - et Hades and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Dragonrider
  • ***
  • Posts: 4587
  • Total likes: 3529
  • Gender: Female
  • The Explorer
    • View Profile
Re: never Heard of this award before
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2019, 09:30:25 PM »
But this award doesn't do anything to further that cause. All it does is to be a generic best book award that excludes a (presumably substantial) number of contenders regardless of context. The absence of something is not award-worthy. If you want to praise a work for something, it needs to be for something that it does well, not for something that is not included.

While I fully agree with your sentiment, you're only seeing this because it's presenting itself in the negative.

But an award that says "no male MCs" and "Starring Female MCs" bring the exact same stories to the table. One sounds exclusive, the other sounds like strict guidelines.
They're the same though, they're stories that star a woman and not a man.

Call it a "wholesome female roles award" if it makes you feel better.

But honestly I see where they're coming from. Women being victims is a recurrent theme, everywhere, from games to graphic novels through any novel. Just like women getting rescued, plugged in as love interests, etc. There is strong evidence also that reducing the instances of "thing X" happening helps reduce the normalcy of "thing X". If we had less naked women in our ads and less dead women in our books, it would probably be less normal to expect women to be naked or dead in our entertainment.
And that would be good for women at large.

It's the exact same argument as saying gay people should stop being in media just to have a sad ending or to die. Or the black crew member to always go first. Because this shit caters to our negative ingrained stereotypes.

ALSO. I feel like (men,) and women who've been raped, beaten, nearly escaped death at the hands of a partner, or know one who has, or one who's died by violence, deserve to have a prize that showcases books that won't spring any triggering, nasty content.
"Here, have a shortlist of books we found praise worthy that don't contain stuff like the horrid shit that happened to your sister". isn't that nice?
Surely we can have as many awards for as many people as we care for.
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Offline Nora

  • Dropped in from another planet avec son sourire provocateur - et Hades and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Dragonrider
  • ***
  • Posts: 4587
  • Total likes: 3529
  • Gender: Female
  • The Explorer
    • View Profile
Re: never Heard of this award before
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2019, 09:54:43 PM »
Quote
One of the shortlisted books is about a 15th century murder of a man. Does this not make it hypocritical? I think I would have more time for this if it was no one instead of no woman.

Sorry for double post, but reading this makes me unhappy.

Seriously, it's the exact same argument people had when Ann Leckie brought out a scifi book where everyone was she/her regardless of biological gender, and half the male readership lost their minds saying "boo, why not everyone he/him?!"

A work that is meant to not bring violence to "women" doesn't have to do the same for men. Men aren't the topic. Men don't need protection. Two men don't die each week at the hands of their current or former partner in the UK, but women do.
Books featuring men certainly don't feel the obligation to make their work egalitarian. Will you propose every crime novel from now on should always have either no death/beatings or deaths/beatings of both men and women, in perfect ratio? No. Of course. It's fine for men to write about women being raped and cut in pieces by men, and a man catching that man, so the girl's dad/boyfriend can feel better, unless he's the culprit! But if a woman writes a book in which a man dies and no woman does, for an award that refuses titles that show harm done to women, that is worthy of note, of discomfort, of a forum post.

What if someone decided to bring out a book prize that says "Gay people don't die or have a sad ending in these books". Will you come out and say it's bullshit that a straight person dies? That a straight person has a sad ending?

Please tell me no, because that would simply be reactionary. And I feel like this "dubious reaction" to a prize that no one forces any of you to read is a knee jerk reaction. It doesn't affect your lives. Other people will read the books and other people will finance the award. You don't have to care. You don't have to even know it exist, just like you may not know about this award :

"The Stonewall Book Award is a set of three literary awards that annually recognize "exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience" in English-language books published in the U.S."

Have you heard about it? read from its shortlist? cared? Has it affected your lives as writers or readers?

Is it something to complain about too? Because a minority wants to showcase itself and to offer a shortlist of good works to people who can identify with them?

Maybe that new award that protects women isn't for you, but I sure am grateful for it, and apparently so is Lady T.

Let's not start a war on hypocritical behaviour related to prizes and awards and gender, because trust me, men wouldn't win it.

Edit: and if you wanna educate yourself on "book awards and women" and feel why challenging female representation is in bad taste, you can read this fascinating article : https://qz.com/838175/the-national-book-award-and-other-top-literary-prizes-seriously-under-represent-women/

Pretty damn shocking to see these numbers. 90% of awards going to men in massive awards in france, spain, international. Awards existing for over a hundred years barely giving away 12 spots to women!
And then you have us, with the Hugo, leading the world for fairness in representation with a shitty 30% going to female authors.

And the closing words :

Quote
Of the 17 women who’ve won the National Book Award, seven did it in the last 15 years. But as well as the gender gap in prizewinners, the literary world has to also contend with the gender disparity in the winning authors’ main characters. Novels in which the main character is female win far fewer prizes than novels with a male main character.

So yeah, dissing on small, female driven prizes is in real bad taste. Let us have something to enjoy please.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2019, 10:10:48 PM by Nora »
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Offline Dan D Jones

Re: never Heard of this award before
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2019, 01:48:31 PM »
But this award doesn't do anything to further that cause. All it does is to be a generic best book award that excludes a (presumably substantial) number of contenders regardless of context. The absence of something is not award-worthy. If you want to praise a work for something, it needs to be for something that it does well, not for something that is not included.

While I fully agree with your sentiment, you're only seeing this because it's presenting itself in the negative.

But an award that says "no male MCs" and "Starring Female MCs" bring the exact same stories to the table. One sounds exclusive, the other sounds like strict guidelines.
They're the same though, they're stories that star a woman and not a man.

Call it a "wholesome female roles award" if it makes you feel better.

The problem I have is that it's NOT a "wholesome females role award." A book featuring a "strong, wholesome female" lead would be disqualified if the killer she's tracking down killed another female. A book featuring a male protagonist tracking down a female killer with lots of weak, stereotypical women characters who rely on men to solve their problems would be eligible if none of the killer's victims are female and none of the weak female characters were the victims of violence.

Online ScarletBea

  • Welcome party and bringer of Cake. 2nd-in-Command of the Writing Contest
  • Powers That Be
  • Big Wee Hag
  • *
  • Posts: 11319
  • Total likes: 6535
  • Gender: Female
  • Geeky Reading Introvert
    • View Profile
    • LibraryThing profile
Re: never Heard of this award before
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2019, 03:16:09 PM »
I see Nora's point of view and I agree with it, but when I read the article it felt a lot more like what Rostum and Dan said: any book that didn't have violence against women, regardless of quality or if the plot made sense, could enter the contest.
Of course, we hope that the one who actually wins is a good book, but there didn't seem to be much filtering in the first place.
At home in the Fantasy Faction forum!

I'm "She Who Reigns Over Us All In Crimson Cheer", according to Peat!

Offline Skip

Re: never Heard of this award before
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2019, 04:39:54 PM »
Can't any book be entered into a book award, providing it meets the requirements, without regard to quality? I'm sure many stinkers get submitted to pretty much every book award out there.

I don't see any cause for upset. It's an award. There are jillions. People get to grant award for whatever purpose they wish, people can submit to whichever award they wish. It's so tough getting noticed, I say the more award around, the better for all. Take a look some time at college scholarship awards or business grants. Money gets handed out in all sorts of scoped ways.

I don't get too worked up over this in part because I've never seen literature as an agent, still less an engine, of social change. Literature *reflects* society, it doesn't cause society. So, wrt this particular reward, I see it as a reflection of changing cultural values. Change always upsets someone, somewhere, some time.

Offline cupiscent

Re: never Heard of this award before
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2019, 09:48:38 PM »
Agree with Skip. When I worked for a small press, we would send our books to EVERY contest they were eligible for, especially if there wasn't a fee for entry. I mean, we thought they were ok, or we wouldn't have published them, but ANYONE can do that. That is the point of a prize: marking the ones that are quality. (Thus longlist, shortlist, winner...)

Offline Nora

  • Dropped in from another planet avec son sourire provocateur - et Hades and Writing Contest Regular
  • Writing Group
  • Dragonrider
  • ***
  • Posts: 4587
  • Total likes: 3529
  • Gender: Female
  • The Explorer
    • View Profile
Re: never Heard of this award before
« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2019, 01:07:54 PM »
I see Nora's point of view and I agree with it, but when I read the article it felt a lot more like what Rostum and Dan said: any book that didn't have violence against women, regardless of quality or if the plot made sense, could enter the contest.

As Skip and Cupiscent pointed out, anyone can enter a book award if it is open to the public, so why judge the quality of entries before a shortlist is out, or a winner even? I assume an award is best judged by the quality of what it selects over some years.

I'm sorry if I came across as angry, it certainly flusters me to see people challenging why women should have anything that's free and doesn't take anything away from anyone, and I've been dealing with more sexism than usual IRL recently.

Overall I just don't understand why we're discussing the legitimacy of a new award, as we should all be pleased it means one more type of entry for a potential writer, and some truly silly topics exist out there, with plenty of room and freedom for writers who like their women raped and dismembered.
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Online ScarletBea

  • Welcome party and bringer of Cake. 2nd-in-Command of the Writing Contest
  • Powers That Be
  • Big Wee Hag
  • *
  • Posts: 11319
  • Total likes: 6535
  • Gender: Female
  • Geeky Reading Introvert
    • View Profile
    • LibraryThing profile
Re: never Heard of this award before
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2019, 01:11:23 PM »
No, I understood things better after Skip and cupiscent posted. I guess I just had the wrong idea about some things.
Thanks for helping me see the world differently :)
At home in the Fantasy Faction forum!

I'm "She Who Reigns Over Us All In Crimson Cheer", according to Peat!

Offline Dan D Jones

Re: never Heard of this award before
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2019, 03:56:52 PM »
I see Nora's point of view and I agree with it, but when I read the article it felt a lot more like what Rostum and Dan said: any book that didn't have violence against women, regardless of quality or if the plot made sense, could enter the contest.

As Skip and Cupiscent pointed out, anyone can enter a book award if it is open to the public, so why judge the quality of entries before a shortlist is out, or a winner even? I assume an award is best judged by the quality of what it selects over some years.

I'm sorry if I came across as angry, it certainly flusters me to see people challenging why women should have anything that's free and doesn't take anything away from anyone, and I've been dealing with more sexism than usual IRL recently.

Overall I just don't understand why we're discussing the legitimacy of a new award, as we should all be pleased it means one more type of entry for a potential writer, and some truly silly topics exist out there, with plenty of room and freedom for writers who like their women raped and dismembered.

I understand (and fully support) your passion. There's no need to apologize for that.

I don't think anyone here is suggesting that women should be denied more recognition, nor that there is any issue in having awards that serve to recognize writing that promotes women's interest. Rather, I just don't feel that this is an effective approach to achieving that goal.