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bear by san

February 2017



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bear by san

The venom cock just won't stay down.

The first rule of venom cock is, we don't talk about venom cock. I mean, I pretty much avoided this kerfuffle the first time, but the second time around it's just so stultifying that I have to participate. coalescent rounds them up over here (no flamewars, guys--it's a community for a university class, and I won't have you giving the English students a bad impression of my genre.)

That said, the whileaway post is really excellent. I haven't read The Sparrow, but that's besides the point; I think it narrows down the fuss nicely.

Now, I'm not going to talk about venom cock. I am going to talk about the Venom Cock Phenomenon (VCP.)

I will also say that I witnessed, though did not participate in, some of the WFC readings (which weren't as wide-spread as some say--it was more a 45-minute wonder), and the comments were less on the content, and more on the quality of the writing.

And the eye-dialect.

Neither of which I can comment on, because I haven't read the book (well, okay, I read the first paragraph of the excerpt. But I didn't inhale.)

I mean, Anne Bishop and suzych certainly swing some extreme content in their books (ratstration! horse sex!) and while I have heard people making flinchy noises discussing those books, I've never seen anybody moved to actually embark upon an eye-of-argonning of same. (That's what they were doing at WFC, by the way. There: the dirty secret is out. It was a mass, spontaneous eye-of-argonization. Nothing more elaborate than that.)

(Here's where I pull out my entitlement and stand on my privilege as a grown woman raised by lesbian separatists. I got better; so did they.) (I'd stand on my privilege as a man, but I haven't got any.)

The issue wasn't the feminism. The issue isn't the dragon smut, or the female circumcision. Feminism does not need saving from the patriarchy in this particular instance. The issue was that a quorum, even a super-majority, of WFC attendees found the prose in Touched by Venom laughably bad.

Feminism is never an excuse for laughably bad prose.

You may not agree. You may think the book has other virtues that make up for the prose. You may think the prose is good. You are entitled to your opinion. But by all you hold holy, please, people, can we go back to talking about something else? Feminism does not need saving from the venom-cock mockers.

I promise you.

Thank you. You may return to your homes.


I agree with you on all of this, but I don't think the SH review was implying that, for example, being feminist is all a book needs to be to be good: she was saying that being feminist in some way or other (which, if it is, was not apparent from the notorious excerpt) was one good thing about this book. I think that's a pretty big distinction that's been lost in some of the reaction to the review. She was also quite willing to admit and discuss the book's faults.

I know it's a boring argument - it's just that it has the word "cock" in it, you know?


"she was saying that being feminist in some way or other (which, if it is, was not apparent from the notorious excerpt) was one good thing about this book."

While also implying at the end of the review that the reason lots of people didn't like it because they couldn't handle feminism.

Tobias Buckell
Implying? She stopped just short of saying that only a FILTHY MAN could hate the book.

I read it. It was laughably bad, all the way through. I won't be reading any more of Cross' stuff, even for the giggles.
Yes, in the way that "stopping just short" means not saying anything remotely like that. After quoting a woman (excuse me, a WOMAN) who she disagreed with in the middle of her review, and after saying this:

"I realise that I'm coming dangerously close to saying I'm right and those who disagree with me are wrong, which is not my intention; of course tastes differ."

at the end of it. Sure.

Tastes differ. There is, for example, the taste of those who dislike the book, which is due to the fact that they too blinded by their own privilege to realize how good it is, and then there is her taste, which is exquisite enough to overcome her own privilege.

Henry's rhetoric there is vaguely reminiscent of people who offer up a casual insult, and then staple on a "No offense" at the end.

I do agree that she wasn't male-baiting though; she was class-baiting.
Yes, well. In her comment to Cheryl Morgan, she also said:

I did try not to go over the line of ascribing “false consciousness” to anyone who didn’t like the book. I don’t think aesthetic judgements are absolute that way! But since lots of people understood me to be saying that, I should try to be more clear next time.

which is a very gracious response, taking responsibility for her rhetoric, I think.
Well, I do appreciate that. (I haven't been following Morgan's blog on this, so thanks for pointing it out) I'd hope she'll change the review itself, as an advantage to publishin online is ad hoc editing.
I think we need to bring an infernokrusher sensibility to the venom cock debate. That would liven things up.


You know, like that.

She did seem to like the prose. So did ide_cyan. One woman's meat is another woman's poison, I guess.

But I do think trying to recast the mockery as somehow anti-feminist (which the reviewer does at the end of the article) is kind of not very helpful to the feminist cause. *g*

That's just my own shrill opinion, though.