tevere: Jihae, solemn with hint of smile (Default)
[personal profile] tevere
Woohoo, it's Wednesday! (Wednesday is my Friday.) And by this time tomorrow I will no longer be a solo parent, and lo, life will be much improved.

I realise I haven't posted in... a very long time. I admit it: I've joined the migration to short-form platforms, in my case to Twitter. (If you want to know the minutiae of my life, I'm [twitter.com profile] ineketevere.) I haven't been fannish about anything for so long, and these days I spend what little creative energy I have on the Novel I Will One Day Finish Goddammit, so DW has been the thing to fall to the wayside.

I was in Dili last week (along with the kacang, who did not like it, even though she met Jesus and also a pig), and it was strange to see it so quiet, the familiar shops boarded up and expat supermarkets with empty shelves. I suppose it's the natural process of readjustment to domestic demand, now that the UN and other international forces have gone. On the other hand, there's also a new but vastly underpopulated mall (with a Gloria Jean's coffee chain!) and a cinema, so who the hell knows. People seem to be using Portuguese more often for marketplace transactions, and I haven't yet had a meeting in Indonesian, even if all the paperwork still is. The times, they are a-changing.

Reading

My reading on the redeye back from Denpasar was Anna Cowan's Untamed, which I didn't know a single thing about other than the hero was a cross-dressing Duke. When I started reading, though, I was fascinated to find that the cross-dressing trope didn't work at all in the way I'd expected. I'd expected to find a queered erotic tension due to the heroine thinking the hero is a woman, and falling for him regardless (a gender-flipped Coffee Prince dynamic). Instead, the hero is already queer (canonically bisexual, effeminate), the heroine is perfectly aware that he's a man, and there's little eroticisation of his cross-dressing. Rather than an erotic tension due to mistaken gender identity, I found that there was erotic tension in the knowledge of true (concealed) gender identity, both as a secret shared between co-conspirators, and also as the fraught but powerful possibility of that concealed gender identity being (consciously, deliberately) revealed. I was surprised to find that the sexiest part of the book for me wasn't, as I might have expected, a sex scene, but a single line in which the hero (who has adopted a long-term disguise as an exceptionally glamourous woman) offers to dress as a man in order to accompany the heroine incognito. I think perhaps the power of that line came from its jolting reminder of heterosexual potential, currently leashed and subverted but full of possibility. It's dangerous: a dropping of protective disguise, revealing a true self. And it's powerful: the resumption of a privileged gender identity, and a demonstration of the ability to thwart society by picking and choosing from the binary as he desires.

So, some really interesting things done with gender in the Regency genre! It felt exceptionally fresh to me, even as it didn't quite pull together enough at the end for me to find it completely satisfying as a romance.
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