Category Archives: Genres

97th Discussion: Naked Killer (1992)

Attendance: Asy, Scott, William, Aaron, Ernest, Raj, Pamela, Maya, Timmy, Rachel.

Is this really our 97th discussion? As usual, the snacks served (courtesy of Ernest and Raj) were in theme: sausages, meatballs, and cream puffs.

Most people find the movie bizarre and illogical. We talked about the emasculation of men, phallic and yonnic symbols, motifs (milk and big hats), sex scenes, and strong women characters (Sister Cindy and Princess.)

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Filed under Crime, Hong Kong, Lesbian, Love

96th Discussion: Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club

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Attendees: Raj, Rachel, Maya, Asy, Vicky, Scott, Pierre, Timmy

Keeping in theme with the book, we had Mexican food to munch on as we animatedly discussed about the book. Continue reading

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Filed under Americas, Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Bisexuality, Class, Family, Food, Gay, Love, Mexico, Politics, Queer, Race, Religion, Short Stories, USA, War

Book Discussion: Queering Fat Embodiment edited by Cat Pause et al

Attendees: Timmy, Asy, Raj, Nicole, Olivia, Zoe, Mya, Daniel, Jess, Alex, Aaron, Vic, Fiona

We had super delicious homemade deep-fried Indian food and curry puffs, packed with aromatic spices (Thanks Raj!), as we discussed about the book. The book seems to present (mostly) cis-women’s perspectives on queer fat studies, very different from Peter Hennen’s Faeries, Bears, and Leathermen, which we did last year. We spoke about the cultural discourses around fat studies such as the terminology (fat VS obesity) but perhaps the authors could deal with topics of denial of ill health and obesity. We also discussed the paradox of fat pride yet wanting to lose weight: there is no win for fat people. If you lose weight, you hate your fat self but if you remain the same weight, you don’t love yourself.

This complication about fat manifests in many other ways such as the “Forgotten Women” chapter in which the author points out the contradiction that fat women are sexually voracious but also seen as sexually undesirable.

Perhaps it is also because that fat studies is so complicated that different authors assume different things about the gender of fat without substantiating their assumptions. Some claim that fat is feminine, and some say it is masculine. Furthermore, there is an easy assumption that because fat bodies do not belong in a heteronormative narrative, fat is seen as queer. Surely fat and queer overlap in some ways but some rigorous scholarship is required here, instead of blanketing them together by the editors. The third assumption that went unchallenged in the book is that fat is subversive; sure, maybe it is but nobody ever says, “I want to be subversive, so I got fat.” Some editorial explanation may be required here to deal with the three assumptions.

Besides some editorial explanations, we were also disappointed by the article on fat and internet. There is much potential to discuss the “disappearance” of a fat body in cyberspace yet much of the article pontificates on how the internet can help with the movement.

We talked a lot about the portrayal of fat people in media, especially in comedy, relating it to Jack Black, Seth Rogen, Queen Latifa, Modern Family (specifically Cam and Jay), Amy Schumer, Margaret Cho, Melissa McCarthy, Rebel Wilson, Kevin James, and Louis C.K. While comedy embraces fat people, comedians are merely falling into stereotypes and not challenging any social structures. Perhaps other than This is Us, there are few body-positive depictions of fat people. Timmy brought up an excellent counter-example to the American shows, Under One Roof, a local sitcom where there are many fat people in the show but they are depicted as ordinary people who are not ashamed by their bodies.

Talking about performing fat, we wondered if it is so easy to transpose Butler’s theory of performativity onto fat studies. For one thing, while gender is a performance that creates one’s identity, a fat person cannot take off their fat like pants or skirts. A man can pass as a woman, and a woman can pass as a man, but a fat person can never pass as a thin person (unless they are in cyberspace, and that’s why we were disappointed about the article on internet and fat).

We also talked about the intersections of fat with race, with social class, with Asian culture (“You look healthy,” “You look prosperous,” and also fat can be considered beautiful in some Asian cultures), with consumerism, and with disabilities.

But perhaps most importantly, we celebrated Vicky’s birthday. Happy birthday!

By the way, if you’re counting, we noticed that, for the first time, there is finally some gender equality in the book club! 6 men, 6 women, and 1 genderqueer. Yay!

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Filed under Academic, Queer

Book Discussion: Candy Everybody Wants by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

Attendance: Henry, Daniel, Alexis, Timmy, Mya, Zoe, Vicky, Pierre, Raj, Aaron.

“Hopeful and optimistic.” — Timmy.

“It’s in the details!” — Vicky.

Candy Everybody Wants by Josh Kilmer-Purcell“But it’s the mid-west! It’s the mid-west!” — Pierre.

“Billy is the pet dog, right? Woof woof!” — Pierre.

“The space between the lines is huge… which makes reading easy.” — Alexius.

“Praise the author, not the characters!” — Zoe.

“We went in knowing this book is trashy.” — [I forgot whom]

“The book feels very noisy.” — Alexius.

We also discussed themes such as parenting, family, and diversity; and characters including Toni, Tara, Jayson with a Y, Helene, and Davin.

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Filed under Disability, Family, Gay, Josh Kilmer-Purcell, Race, USA, Young Adult

Book Discussion: Sappho’s Fables by Elora Bishop and Jennifer Diemer

Sappho’s Fables is a collection of three revisionist fairy tales (Snow White, Rapunzel, and Hansel and Greta) given a lesbian twist. Timmy, Shawn, Reynard, and Aaron thought that although it’s not written in a literary form, it is enjoyable. The authors have changed much details from the fairy tales, making it unexpected.

We talked about the sexualisation of the fairy tales and normalisation of sex, removing sex as taboo, providing a safe space in the fairy tales.

Most characters are complex without a clearcut morality. Shawn particularly disliked Greta who is a brat and couldn’t defend herself.

Like most lesbian novels, we wondered why men are portrayed as useless or evil. Perhaps, Shawn suggested, it is lesbians’ way to reclaim power. Seen in this light, the ragers with their physical prowess could be a symbol of hypermasculinity, threatening civilisation.

Interestingly, the stories could be read as the protagonists recovering from various medical conditions: schizophrenia a la Fight Club in Snow White; bipolarity and hallucinations in Rapunzel; paranoia, hysteria and eating disorder in Greta.

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Filed under Elora Bishop, Jennifer Diemer, Lesbian, Young Adult

Book Discussion: Ann Bannon – Odd Girl Out

Zoe, Raj, and Aaron discussed Ann Bannon’s Odd Girl Out, which is the second bestselling paperback in 1957. We discussed about the significance of the title, and how the three women, Emily, Beth, and Laura, are “odd” in their own ways.

Emily is a strong, loyal, independent friend who doesn’t deserve her ending. (Actually what is her ending? we pondered.)

Beth is sexually ambiguous. She is portrayed as a butch, attractive to both men and women, but she refuses to make any decisions about her life until the end. Although she is a “leader,” she is not a good friend to Emily, not advising her to stay away from Budd.

Regarding Laura: We questioned about the stereotypes of a possessive, jealous lesbian. We also talked about the circumstances of portraying a lesbian in the 50s: it was prohibited to have a happy ending for LGBTQ. But Bannon circumvented the censorship law by creating a strong and independent character in Laura, although how Laura grows out of her moroseness and morbidity is not clearly shown.

The character development of Laura is one of the many plot holes we found in the novel. Who sabotages Emily’s double stitching of bra? What happens to Emily in the end? How come the perspectives in the novel shift suddenly? These are some of the narrative weaknesses in the novel.

However, it’s refreshing to see a positive male character (Charlie) in a lesbian novel, a rare sighting among the lesbian novels we have read so far.

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Filed under Ann Bannon, Classics, Lesbian, USA

Book Discussion: Homosexualities, Muslim Culture, and Modernity by Momin Rahman 

Attendees: Veronika, Jon Gary, Alexis, Pey, Colin, Edwina, Jun, Hui Qing (?), Raj, and Aaron.

Awesome discussion.

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Filed under Academic, Politics, Queer, Religion