[DWJ] Controverisal themes (was Re: Twilight and New Moon)

deborah.dwj at suberic.net deborah.dwj at suberic.net
Mon Aug 20 08:53:11 EDT 2007

Note: I'm speaking a little bit as a participant in a little bit
as listmod in this post. I think there's the potential for a
really fascinating discussion here, so I don't want to shut it
down, but I would like everyone to be INCREDIBLY CAREFUL about
phrasing in the ensuing discussion. This could be a very triggery
topic for a lot of people, so let's keep talking about books,
shall we?  Thanks.

On Mon, 20 Aug 2007, Rachel Ganz wrote:
> Any cultural practice, in which someone consents to something that we perceive as damaging, due to their social norms, falls into this range:
> For example:
> breast implants
> female circumcision
> joint damage in sports

Fascinating -- and I'm sure intentionally loaded -- parallel
there, Rachel. *g*

Has anyone else read Rita Williams-Garcia's YA novel about FGM,
_No Laughter Here_?  (FGM being, of course, an *extremely*
value-judgment-laden and loaded term for female circumcision.)

> Incest seems to be a loaded and specific example of this. If someone has given full, conscious consent to intercourse, it is not rape, whatever the social reasons that caused her to give consent.

Okay, I really want to keep this bit of the conversation about
*books*, because that's the list rules when talking about
anything this controversial.  (I can almost guarantee with a pool
of 183 readers, which is what the list currently stands at, we
have at least a few people here who are incest survivors for whom
this conversation will be troubling. We might have people who,
for whatever reason, feel the need to defend consensual incest.
And -- though it's somewhat less likely, given the countries
listers self identify as being from -- there might be people here
for whom female circumcision is a very real issue.)  All of these
are very painful and difficult topics, and I don't want to debate
their rightness and wrongness here.

So it would be much easier to do so if we took away the puzzle
and had  a real example of the book, Minnow.  Is it a book that
accepts the notion that there *can* be such a thing as full,
conscious consent in the circumstance you describe? Or is it a
book that condemns the behavior in all characters, including the
ones in question? Or is it a book that condemns the behavior and
most people, but thinks that the characters in question are
exceptions to the rule?

I would call, say, the works of VC Andrews to be books that don't
accept incest as a possibly functional, sane, consensual
lifestyle even while they present the incestuous protagonists as
heroes for whom the reader feels empathy. But there could be
other books which create a different world with different moral

I'm often troubled when I read a book which has an underlying
moral/ethical structure with which I disagree, but which works
completely if you accept the ethics of the author. On the other
hand, though, because in these books is so easy for me to pick
out the strawmen used to dissect opposing opinions, it makes me
more aware of the strawmen in the books for which I *agree* with
the  ethical underpinnings.

I read Proust in my room while eating marzipan.
 	-- Walter Benjamin, 1926

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