A Totally Random Post

romance
You don’t have to believe it, just enjoy it like you would Cinderella.

I’ve been watching Romance is a Bonus Book, a Korean series on Netflix, and have just seen the first episode of Younger, the American series Romance is based on. I can’t believe it’ll be in its sixth season this year — seems like just last year that it was a new series.

Romance is totally implausible, but I’m finding it quite easy to suspend my disbelief and just enjoy the story, absurd details and all. The protagonist, Dan-i, has irritating mannerisms, but I like how practical and kind she is. Not whiny at all, which is always a plus. The male lead? I call him The Poreless Wonder. Korean cosmetics are really advanced!

I did not like Younger, but I will continue watching to see if it improves. It’s less implausible than Romance, but I don’t like any of the characters. The protagonist, Liza, seems basic AF, the sort of person who stays home to look after her child and decides that this means she can tune out the rest of the world. And then, even her twenty-something self is inspired by Katniss Everdeen and listens to One Direction (the series premiered in 2015). Like come on, surely she doesn’t have to be that kind of twenty-something. Then again, I guess she is that sort of forty-something. I know people like that and this is probably why she annoys me as much as she does.

Oh, there’s a scene in which twenty-something women react in horror to Liza’s unshaved pubes. Sooooo, women feel that way too? Or is it just American women? I wonder what the norm is here in Malaysia. The men I meet through dating apps sometimes express a preference for hairless pubes (I think what they see in porn has a lot to do with it), but I’m not sure how millennial Malaysian women feel about their bits. And over in the West, are men’s tastes (dictated by porn), shaping the way women see and present themselves? Perhaps I should run a poll.

Anyway, let’s see how much more of Younger I can put up with.

younger
‘Don’t look now, but I think your bush needs trimming.’

 

Durian Abuse

As I do not have my finger on the pulse, it was not til today that I heard about chocolatier Paul A. Young’s box of chocs that was created for the Woman’s Trust Valentine’s Day campaign to highlight domestic abuse in the UK. The box contains three salted caramel chocolates and one that is … durian flavoured. Why durian flavoured? Because Young thinks it tastes like vomit.

I’m seeing red.

Most white people find the taste and smell of durian disgusting, sure, but Young goes several steps further. On the campaign’s page, he says ‘Chocolate is associated with luxurious, indulgent and pleasurable experiences which leave you wanting more. By contrast, the fourth chocolate, like domestic abuse, stays with you long after your first encounter, so it seemed like a perfect way to illustrate the heart-breaking experience of so many women and raise awareness of a cause I feel passionate about.’

TLDR? Basically, durian tastes like the heartbreak and pain of abuse.

In this article, Young further explains his decision to use durian to symbolise the nastiness of domestic abuse: ‘We chose durian for this project for its polarising nature and because it was essential to provoke a reaction from those who eat it — we wanted to start a conversation about a cause that is incredibly important.’ Hmm … so, really, Young chose durian because he wanted something that would provoke a negative reaction from most white people. How the millions of Asians who love durian would feel about the chocolate didn’t matter to Young … either because we didn’t even cross his mind or because everyone knows most Asian food is weird anyway and so, how we feel doesn’t rate.

Fashion Valet Fail

‘breaking stereotypes and embracing your curves no matter what size you’re in’?

Do you know why that line from Fashion Valet’s Min Luna X page is so much bullshit? Because if Fashion Valet and the designer were really interested in ‘breaking stereotypes’ and ’embracing curves’, they would have …

1) used plus size models instead of the usual ‘regular’ sized one you see modelling the clothes.

How can FV and the designer talk about embracing curves when they’re not willing to embrace any in their campaign? And how are women with curves supposed to assess how these clothes look on themselves, i.e. women who have curves, when they are only shown on a model with next to none?

2) made the clothes available in sizes larger than just the current UK14 maximum. (There’s a limit to embracing one’s curves, I guess.)

3) not given the outfits insulting names like ‘Look Taller’ ‘Hide Your Flaws’, ‘Cover Up Jacket’, ‘Hide Your Bum’, ‘Slimmer Thighs’ and ‘Longer Legs’.

So, first they say women should ’embrace’ their ‘curves’ and are ‘all beautiful’ in ‘unique’ ways and then they suggest that
a) these unique curves should be covered and hidden;

b) that these curvy women who are beautifully unique should aspire to longer legs and slimmer thighs?

c) that these vertically-challenged women should try to look taller because … all heights are uniquely beautiful, but some are more beautiful than others?

d) that these same women should hide their ‘flaws’? What flaws? I thought everyone is beautiful in unique ways?

Perhaps Fashion Valet and Min Luna should think of firing their copywriter.

This fashion line is dodgy has hell, and stinks of insincerity and shallowness. FashionValet.com and Min Luna really need to do better. They need to STOP insulting women and STOP pretending to believe that women of all shapes and sizes are beautiful. It’s obvious that they don’t.

X5
‘Beautiful no matter your size … as long as your size is UK14 and under.’

 

Ursula K. Le Guin

‘If you cannot or will not imagine the results of your actions, there’s no way you can act morally or responsibly,’ Ursula K. Le Guin in The Guardian, 2005.

 

0815-ursula-le-guin-2_qrm2pm

 

She inspired many, and will continue to do so, through her stories, and her ideas and how she expressed them.

I have no words for the loss I feel, the loss I felt when I heard of her death. I surprised myself because I didn’t cry when Maurice Sendak died and when David Bowie died, and I know their work better, more fully, and so, shouldn’t I have felt their loss more acutely?

But it is what it is. (Come to that, neither Sendak nor Bowie’s work has ever made me weep.)

Is it too melodramatic to say that a book changed your life? A Wizard of Earthsea changed mine. It made me look at life differently by telling me things that I knew anyway, but in a manner that suddenly made sense. Maybe it was a matter of timing, maybe not. All I know is that book and the others in the series give me hope like nothing else can; and there are some passages I visit and re-visit like medicine because they clear a space and help me breathe and continue breathing.

Thank goodness we have her words although she is gone. Thank you, Ms Le Guin.

I found this list today, from an article by Karen Joy Fowler, written in response to Le Guin’s death. More wonderful words to live by:

1. There is no reason a book of ideas can’t also be deeply moving, gorgeously written, and inhabited by people who take rooms in your heart and never move out.

2. There is no reason a married woman with children can’t also be a committed artist. (This seems self-evident now but wasn’t immediately clear to me.)

3. Write what you want to write. Add as many dragons as you like.

4. You can regret a decision you made in an earlier book and correct it in a later work. (This is a hard one in our unforgiving times, when your previous missteps are eternal and only a google away. But there is nothing shameful in becoming a better person, a wiser person. Done right, it’s pretty heroic.)

5. The values of patriarchy are buried in the very plots of our stories. New plots are needed.

6. Other writers are not your competition. They are your sustenance. Writing is joyous, but never as joyous as reading.

7. Speak up for the books, poems, shows, music, and paintings you love even though you sound smarter and more discerning when you can’t be pleased.

8. There is no reason why your next book can’t be your best yet, no matter how old you are allowed to become.

9. But also, your next book needn’t be your best yet. You could save that for the next next book.

10. And finally—immortality has never worked out well for anyone. Avoid it at all costs. ~ From Ten Things I Learned from Ursula K. Le Guin by Karen Joy Fowler in The Paris Review blog.

‘Only in silence the word, only in dark the light, only in dying life: bright the hawk’s flight on the empty sky.’ ~ Ursula K. Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea

Women in Cars

For some reason I woke up this morning recalling how, when I was a child, it was always taken for granted that men would be the ones to ride shotgun in a car journey.

There’d be the driver, and then if there was an adult man and woman present, the man would have first dibs on the front passenger seat.

So, for example, if my father was driving, and the passengers were my mother and her brother, her brother would naturally get the front seat. If my uncle were driving, my father would get the front seat.

If my aunt were driving and the passengers were my mother and her brother, my mother would, I think, automatically sit at the back, unless maybe it was her youngest brother (she had five).

Back then, in my experience, women were always expected to take the literal back seat and it was done automatically. Discussing it with Malaysian friends, it seems it remains the case in some families. However, one friend (A) said that, in her community (Malaysian-Sri Lankan), people of the same gender are expected to sit together, unless they are married. So, if B and her dad are being driven by her aunt, B will ride shotgun and her dad will sit at the back. Another friend, B, a Malaysian-Chinese, agreed with me when I said I believed a Chinese man would rather die than sit in the back behind two women. It’s like Chinese men don’t even like the idea of being driven by a woman.

B also said that, if there are men present, her mother never thinks of her as the one who will drive. A man is always the default choice.

I wonder if this is an Asian-only thing.