Monday, September 26, 2011

The LFL and Feminism

The Lingerie Football League:
A Feminist's Quagmire
I don't even know what this is called, but I know I can't do it.
I've actually been struggling for quite awhile with this question. I have several friend who play in the Lingerie Football League (ladies I met without knowing it was their sport). I won't mention who exactly, but you might be able to piece it together from my Facebook friend list. I'm also a feminist, so there's a pretty obvious conflict here for me. But I'm ALSO a lesbian into athletic women (see my girlfriend's abs for confirmation) so there are biological concerns as well. It's a whole mess and one I haven't really figured out an answer for yet.

For those of you who may not know what the LFL is, it's not entirely what it sounds like. When my friends did finally tell me where they were playing lingerie football, I was kind of horrified until I actually saw them play. And then I was horrified that they didn't have nearly enough padding for how hard everyone was hitting each other. There is a very small...loud...actually kind of large part of me that wishes they were given full uniforms so people would take the athleticism of it all more seriously. For a toughness factor, these girls have roller derby beat by a country mile, but when it comes to respectability, they're still lagging behind because it started out as a strange wet dream for really pathetic guys.
I can't be the only one who sees how the uniforms are fairly similar in size and composition.

Then something odd happened:  people started watching for the football. The models who couldn't run, throw, or hit vanished and women with far sturdier bodies (translate--thicker) and real athletic ability took their place. This isn't to say there weren't real athletes in the early days, they were just so ridiculously good by comparison that they obliterated the lingerie models every play. The uniforms still disgust me though.
You don't get abs like that without being an athlete; trust me, I've tried.
As a feminist, there are elements here to be proud of, but also a lot of gross stuff. It's televised women's athletics, which is good! But it's televised on MTV2, which is bad. It's women playing a professional contact sport for real money that was once only allowed to men, which is great! But they're basically only wearing underwear while they're doing it, which is bad. Right now, the women who are playing are real athletes who take real hits and receive real injuries and bruises from it all in front of a cheering crowd, which is good! But the stadiums also tend to be really empty most of the time, which is bad considering men's high school football sells out more often than the LFL does. The women of the LFL have realistic bodies (5'7" 148 lbs and heavier kind of normal), which is good! But they also sell game-worn "uniforms" on the LFL website, which makes my skin crawl it's so disgusting. I love my friends who play and I love that they're playing football, real professional football in front of crowds of people who paid to be there to see them play, and I'm so fucking proud when I see #1 make a really vicious tackle that would make most men cry. The supportive fan and lover of women's athletics really wants to like the LFL, but the feminist in me is screaming the entire time, "They shouldn't have to wear lingerie to be watched!"

How did anyone even tell them apart without uniforms?

One of the angles I've taken on this, and it's helped rationalize it a lot, came from the ancient Greeks. The original Olympics, which were men only, were participated in while entirely naked and often lubed with olive oil. I'm not going to get into the whole homoerotic side of this and the affinity the ancient Greeks had for all things man-love, but I am aware it exists. The point was, the greatest athletes of their era refused clothing for athletic competition at one point in human history, and it couldn't have been about turning women into sexual objects or pieces of meat, because those naked athletes were all men. When I look at the LFL uniforms and think of them more as gladiator armor designed to show off the marvel of the athletic form, which was the goal of the lack of uniforms in the games in ancient Greece and Rome (again, all men), it becomes slightly more tolerable as long as I ignore the real intent.

This didn't match my preconceived notions either.
Taking the feminism angle out entirely, there are some other, more pedantic, problems for me. When my LFL friends ask me why I don't go out for a team (there is one in LA when I lived in SoCal and there are a few in Florida so it's not like access is an issue), I always came up with a laundry list of excuses:  I'm small, I'm slow, I'm a baby about pain, I smoked up until very recently (so I can't really use that one anymore), etc. And most of those excuses were valid reasons, but my real conflict was...I don't want to wear the lingerie in front of people. I hate myself for having to admit this, but one of my major conflicts was the completely anti-feminist hangup of thinking people would think I didn't have a good enough body to be wearing something that skimpy. As enlightened and advanced as I try to be, I still have those hangups about how I look, and as brave as I like to think I am, these women who are clearly participating in a male-dominated fantasy, are braver than me when it comes to a positive body image. That kind of sucks to have to admit; I mean, I couldn't imagine how much worse my nose would be if it got broken playing tackle football or how my top would be largely ceremonial since I don't really have boobs enough to fill out most bikini tops. It's strange to find out exactly how far we really are from enlightened when something like this brings up all the ways we're just like everyone else in our shallow fears.
Maybe I'm just weird, but this looks like a lot of fun.

My wish would be that the more traditional tackle football leagues for women would gain more support and get the television contracts they deserve. Or, if the LFL does have to be the face of women's football, that it'd take more of a roller derby angle to it where the women get to modify their own uniforms as they see fit and have a more active hand in how the league is run. In the meantime, I'll just have to be conflicted about it all.

Monday, September 19, 2011

One on One Interview

I'm going to have a total cop-out blog post this week! (I feel like if I put the exclamation point on the end there, you'll feel excited about the impending cop-out...but now I'm wondering if I've spoiled that by telling you. Damn!) I did a one on one interview with Sally from Bibrary Bookslut and I thought I'd repost the link here so you can read for yourself how it went. I had a lot of fun, and I'm so thankful she had me.

Here's the link to the interview:

...and here are some pictures of boobs I like, just so you don't feel completely ripped off by this cop-out weekly blog post. (Yes, I know, what I'm doing is basically tumblr, but I'm not signing up with a whole other website for one post about an interview and boobs)

That is a kitty between boobs from Cats 'n Racks blog

Christina Hendricks from Mad Men has some amazing boobs.
This is apparently called "butt cleavage" and being a skinny white girl, it's yet another type of cleavage I don't have.

Those are boobs advertising gambling.

Those are not actually Hillary Clinton's boobs.

Those are Bianca Beauchamp's boobs (friend on Twitter) doing the rare upside down cleavage thing.

...and finally, this is a Blue Footed Booby doing a little dance for you. See you next week!

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Gunfigher and The Gear-Head Chapter 1

My favorite cover to date!
I'm going to do something kind of unprecedented here, and I'm going to skip the preachy blog about sex advice, relationship tips, and feminist rhetoric. I know what you're thinking, and no, I don't have that crazy bird flu from the Contagion movie; I'm just feeling less opinionated and more giving right now.

I will say this briefly though--the reaction to this book thus far has been amazing! And, if you really need sex positive talk, relationship advice, and feminist brouhaha, this book has all of it in fiction form, which makes it much more fun to read. Enjoy!

Chapter 1: Short flights cut shorter.

“Coming up on the teeth of the line now,” Ramen’s voice buzzed through the static-riddled intercom.

The dirigible thrummed and breathed like a living thing through the hot air being pumped constantly from the boiler into the zeppelin cylinder and beating with the thumping of turbines of the engines providing the forward thrust; both created an unimaginable din, preventing direct communication without the intercom between her and the automaton running the major systems. Along the underside, between the ribs of the armor plates, ran a walkway the entire length of the airship from the boiler in the back to the primary weapon in the front. Gieo scampered down the narrow walkway, using the handrails to keep upright as the airship swayed and jolted in its flight path.

Tamping her leather top hat down on the four, purple braids at the four corners of her head, she lowered her green-tinted goggles over her eyes. The hat didn’t fit right, leaving her with three options as she saw it:  find a new hat, fix a chinstrap, or wear her hair in the four thick braids. It was an easy decision as far as she was concerned. Sliding down the ladder into the ball-turret on the nose of the great, sturgeon-shaped airship, her riding boots hissed against the copper piping.

“Go serpentine, Ramen,” she shouted into the intercom cup next to the base of the ladder.

“Aye, aye, ma’am,” the automaton’s voice crackled back.

The immense gears of the airship’s bat-like wings engaged with a squeaking, rumbling cacophony. Gieo strapped herself into the reclined seat of the ball-turret, affixing the leather belts across her chest, clipped into the metal tongs on the lapels of her tailed tuxedo jacket, holding tight against the brown, leather corset she wore beneath. As the chair lowered down into the Plexiglas turret, she hooked the rubber hose from the air-hydraulic feed into the leather and chain choker she wore, pumping fresh air up around her head to cool her and aid in breathing.

With the wings flapping in machinated patterns, the great airship took on a wide swing to its flight, shooting back and forth in as athletic of zigzags as a fifty-meter long blimp could manage. Gieo spun the handles on the weapon system’s hydraulic feeds, sending steam power into the four guns positioned in a box around her. The desert floor, thousands of feet below, rolled back and forth beneath her, held at bay only by the glass ball she sat in.

“Leveling the outcropping at the precise center of our undulations,” Ramen’s voice crackled through the com speaker in the ball-turret.

“Have the smoke-screen loaded and ready.”

“Aye, aye, ma’am.”

“Disengaging now.” Gieo pulled the pins on the ball-turret’s gyroscope arm. The entire turret, with her inside, dropped down off the bottom of the armored airship, dangling by a ten meter, articulated metal arm and a dozen hydraulic tubes and hoses. She slipped her feet into the leather straps of the turret and took control of the swaying arm. All around her the hisses of steam and clanking of gears let her know the gyroscopes were functioning as intended.

Puffs of white smoke from the ground erupted out of an underbrush canopy nestled between the furthest most rocks of the outcropping. Shells whistled up toward the zeppelin, followed by explosions, and the clanking of flack bouncing off the airship’s armor.

Gieo leveled the gyroscopes to steady her gun platform even as the airship swayed in evasive maneuvers. She brought the targeting reticule of a large, copper hoop with four smaller hoops arranged in the center to indicate the four guns, on the outcropping, and pushed the two trigger handles forward.

“I see your teeth,” she growled, “now take a look at mine!”

The four guns around her erupted in steam-powered blasts, sending shells of explosive material down onto the antiaircraft battery four at a time. The shells exploded across the rocky surface in showers of white, magnesium fire. She saw a few of the scattering Slark trying to escape the kill zone, and she zeroed in on them to put the fire right across their path. She got some, more than some, several even, before a direct hit caught her dirigible on the port side, knocking free one of the wings with a shriek of metal and a resounding thump.

“Son-of-a…” Gieo kicked free the emergency hold on the main spring of the arm’s gyroscope, pulling the entire swinging arm of the ball-turret back into the body of the blimp. The swaying of the ship was replaced by a long, descending spiral, as the wounded blimp fluttered toward the ground with a torn cylinder and only one functional wing. Gieo unhooked herself from the ball-turret and scrambled back up the ladder into the main body of the ship. “Launch the smoke-screen,” she shouted into the intercom.

“On the way,” Ramen replied.

Four quick pops were followed by four loud explosions as the outer plates on the boilers blew off and the water content dumped onto the stoking fires. White steam and smoke poured from the dirigible, obscuring even the vaguest outline of the ship as it began its slow, spiraling descent toward the ground. Gieo scrambled back down the walkway to the radio room, cranked the hand-wheel to extend the antenna, and tapped out the distress code for a languishing aircraft.

“This is Dirigible Purple Six, going down,” Gieo shouted into the mouthpiece. “Do you copy, air-defense network?”

After a few minutes of trying and retrying the distress call, an old, familiar voice crackled back over the shortwave. “This is air-defense Tempe-2,” the dithering old man said. “There hasn’t been anything flying in years. My radio was buried under laundry.”

“There has too,” Gieo protested. “We went through this not six months ago.”

A long stretch of radio silence followed.

“Are you sure it wasn’t years ago?” Tempe-2 asked.

“Positive!” Gieo shrieked.

“Oh, well, I guess if you’re positive,” the old man said. “What’s your situation and location?”

“Situation is stable, but crashing,” Gieo said, “and location is sector 7-G.”

“That’s the Tombstone Three-Three-O,” Tempe-2 said. “I’ll see if I can get someone over there on the horn for a retrieval team, but don’t expect much luxury. Those Tombstoners are hardscrabble from tip to toe.”

“Whatever, it beats walking home,” Gieo said. “Dirigible Purple 6, over and out.”

This was her sixth crash in the last three years and the story was always the same. Tempe-2 was the only air defense network radioman left in the world as far as she knew, and he was half-gone most of the time. She suspected he was a methanol drinker, peyote user, or ether huffer. Every time she got shot down, it was like the first time for him. She was glad for his existence, as he always managed to get someone out from one of the free cities to pick her up, but he never remembered having done it.

“We’re at 750 feet,” Ramen’s voice came through the com.

“Get back to the shop,” Gieo replied. “Hopefully I’ll see you in a couple days.”

She heard her automaton’s escape tube fire and the telltale thumping of his helicopter blades as he flitted away, too small and well below the notice of the antiaircraft batteries. She climbed up the ladder into the spider room. The spherical room, dead center in the zeppelin cylinder, composed of a network of rubber tubing with a harness in the middle. She shimmied into the harness, hooked herself in, including the neck brace, and waited for the ship to hit the desert floor.

Crashing was becoming routine. She was more curious about who she was going to meet from Tombstone than she was afraid of the impending impact. She’d never met anyone from the Tombstone hunting camp, although their reputation for being hardcore, psycho Slark-killers was well-traveled.

Her thoughts were interrupted by four concussive explosions slamming into the underside of the airship—shoulder-fired rockets. One must have snuck through a chink in the ship’s defenses as the dirigible’s descent took a violent shove from soft flutter into chaotic tumble.

“Oh, you guys are dickheads,” Gieo growled. She reached into her pocket, thrust the mouth guard over her teeth, and braced herself for impact. The ship hit with an explosive crash as the blimp portion ruptured. The boiler launched itself away from the wreckage, and the pilot whipped around inside the spider room like whirling dervish.

If you've reached the end of this and you're all, "Hey, wtf happens to her?" The rest of the book can be purchased on Nook, Kindle, and Smashwords (for you Kobo and iPad users).

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Character Evaluation: Captain Val

Character Evaluation:  Captain Val
What if cloning wasn't creepy?
              There are characters and stories I love that I want other people to love as well. One of those characters and stories is Captain Val in Of Pirates and Politicians found in Lesbians in Space: Astral Liaisons. The long story made short about where the entire story idea came from was I needed a clone story for the science fiction book and I was kind of into group sex fantasies at the time. From this kind of banal beginning, the story exploded in my head (no pun intended) and all of a sudden I’m thinking this could be a book, or a series of books even! There’s this cool, cult following for the story that I didn’t quite expect. Someone even made “Captain Val’s Girl” their login for Barnes & Noble (totally flattered by the way). It was one of the reasons I brought this idea to a pitch session.
            Pitch sessions (play on words for bitch sessions—and yes, that’s my term for it, publishers call it something else entirely, but I like pitch session) is when you take a bunch of ideas for your next project and you hurl them all at your editor’s desk and they tell you which one they like for your next project. Parlaying Of Pirates and Politicians into a book was one such idea, which they tossed out immediately. Astral Liaisons is the lesser selling collection of mine and a traditional space opera about a lesbian space pirate and her clone girlfriends seemed too antiquated/fan fictiony/cross-dressing Han Solo to my publisher apparently. Whatever. Someone named their website logins after one of my book characters—they can’t take that away from me.
            The one they ultimately ended up picking, which was ironically source materialed of Astral Liaisons as well, was The Gunfighter and The Gearhead. This I pitched with sample chapters and agreed to the promise that it could be done well in advance of Cowboys and Aliens. I kept up my end, but the movie flopped, and the publisher didn’t have the book ready for a coinciding launch anyway.
            The next project after that they approved is going to be Fabled Fang Girls, which is going right back to lesbian vampires. After that’s done, it’s back for another pitch session in which I plan to pitch Of Pirates and Politicians again. If you like Captain Val, and you’d like my October pitch session to go differently, you could give me a hand on the sales figures with a plug or review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Hard sales numbers and money always appeals to for profit companies.
            Anyway character evaluation stuff:
-                     I love Captain Val because she’s uncertain about her course, but she’s a captain so she should always appear certain, which gives her some great moments in misplaced confidence.
-                     The sex was fun to write, but I also wanted to write a clone story in which the clones weren’t carbon copies of each other (nature versus nurture) and where a polyamorous relationship seemed just as loving and normalized as a coupling.
-                     If I were to cast Captain Val in a movie, I’d pick Kristin Kreuk. The clones would probably have to be played by Grace Park with Meryl Streep’s brain.
Enjoy the excerpt and hopefully you’ll fall in love with Captain Val as well!

            Captain Valentina Dex was lost in thought. It was a remarkable thing that she could be lost in thought considering what was being done to her. She was reclined on her bed, propped up slightly by a few pillows. Jesse was kissing her in a soft, loving way. Jane had pushed the front of her shirt up and was licking her breasts while stroking fingertips up and down the flat of Val’s stomach. And Jill was between her legs, flicking her tongue over Val’s clit and slowly working a whirring, vibrating toy in slow, deliberate passes in and out of her, tilting it on the way in to vibrate along the underside of her clit. It really was just about the most amazing sexual act Val could envision for herself if she wasn’t completely preoccupied.
            Jesse seemed to pick up on her distraction first. She pulled back from the kiss and grimaced a little. “You’re not enjoying yourself,” she said. Jesse was special, after a fashion, being the only blond clone to date that Val had found.
            “I thought you liked this,” Jane added. She was one of two redhead clones.
            “I did, I mean, I do,” Val said quickly.
            “She’s thinking about her,” Jill said, slipping the toy out of Val and turning it off.
            “I think it’s romantic,” Jane said.
            “You would,” Jill huffed.
            “It’s not a romance thing,” Val said.
            “So you keep saying,” Jill said.
            Their personalities were all so different. Jill was the dark haired beauty with a propensity to brood. Jane was the sensitive romantic type. And Jesse played the peacemaker in all things, sacrificing her own comfort for anyone around her. If Val didn’t know better, she would assume they were sisters. Of course, they didn’t treat each other like sisters; in fact, with the exception of Jennifer and Jesse having one brief introduction at a marketing conference three years ago, none of the six clones had even met before Val brought them together. The three clones with the longer names—Jennifer, Jasmine, and Josephine, incidentally the three older clones, were all straight and not remotely interested in the fun and games Jesse, Jane, and Jill enjoyed. The seventh clone Val had found, also the youngest by seven years, was in the ship’s infirmary, pulled off a derelict ship the day before, and hadn’t awoken from her coma yet. The name tag on her flight suit had identified her as Joey, and the ship’s log indicated she was fourteen, which was about all the information they’d managed on her thus far.
            “We could do something else,” Jesse offered, “maybe play a game on the computer.”
            Do you need something, Jesse?” the ship’s computer chimed in.
            “She was speculating on potential activities using the word computer as the indirect object,” Val snarled at the glowing blue eye set in the wall that was the computer’s primary sensor in her bedroom. She hated the ship’s artificial intelligence. It went by the name of ‘computer’ and so any reference to comp, CPU, or computer would immediately trigger its name recognition software. Plus, the default voice was set to incessantly-cheery, slightly-effeminate, British male.
            “If it bothers you so much, why don’t you just change its name?” Jill asked.
            “When I stole the ship, I didn’t exactly have time to ask the previous owner how every little thing worked,” Val said.
            “Screw it,” Jill said, “I’m going to go take a shower.”
            Val dove across the top of the bed, managing to snag Jill’s wrist before she could escape entirely. Jill regarded the sprawled out Val coolly. Aside from a few, minor alterations, all the clones had the same face that looked slightly reminiscent of Pacific Islander with a flattish, round nose, semi-slanted eyes, smooth cheeks, and a cute little chin. Jill tended to narrow her eyes a lot more than any of the other clones though, and had given herself tiny lines in the process.
            “I owe you,” Val said.
            Jill’s frosty demeanor melted some. She tucked an errant strand of her straight black hair behind an ear and smiled down to Val. “Pass mine on to them,” she said, nodding in the direction of Jesse and Jane.
            Val released her wrist. Jill walked out of the room via the j-shape entryway. That was one of the other peculiarities about the ship Val couldn’t quite understand:  there were no doors, anywhere. Privacy was accomplished by having curved or cornered entries into rooms without so much as a curtain anywhere. Val looked back over her shoulder to Jesse and Jane who were cuddled at the top of the bed, on the pile of pillows Val had formerly reclined on.
            “What did you two have in mind?” Val asked.
            “Exponential decline,” Jesse said quickly.