Smugglivus Smugglivus Guest Blogger

Smugglivus 2012 Guest Blogger: Elizabeth Vail of Gossamer Obsessions

Welcome to Smugglivus 2012! Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2012, and looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2013.

Who: Elizabeth Vail, book critic (she reads Romance, Fantasy, YA) and essayist over at Gossamer Obsessions, Heroes and Heartbreakers and more recently The Huffington Post

Gossamer Obsessions

Elizabeth is here today with the minutes of the year-end meeting of the Secret Society of Evil Ladies Bent on World LadyDomination.

Good evening ladies.

I hereby call this year-end meeting of the Secret Society of Evil Ladies Bent On World Lady-Domination to order.

This has been a stupendously successful year for us.

As the newer members to our ancient and esteemed order may not know (and whom I’m guessing are the ones at the back taking full advantage of our never-ending chocolate fountain), we Evil Ladies are dedicated to taking over the universe, enslaving the Male Race, and bringing feather boas back into sartorial relevance – that last one’s a joke, my darlings! For feather boas never left!

Over the years, we tried many sneaky and underhanded methods of brainwashing the be-penised members of the population into succumbing to our ladywill. Drugs in the water. Hypnosis through Superbowl ads. Subliminal messages encoded into movies about men who try to have sex with pies.

None of these tactics worked, unfortunately, and we started to lose hope. Most Evil Ladies already had full schedules incorrectly raising their children, coercing their Righteous White Male neighbours into paying for their birth control, and ordering chocolate fountains for our monthly meetings.

That was all before we founded the Male Illiteracy Initiative. Spearheaded by our most dedicated ladyagents, the Initiative is based on one of our founding precepts: that the stupider a man is, the easier it is to plunder his weak-willed manbrain and remake it to serve our ladywhims. If we could just find a way to stop teenage boys from reading, well, their underfed minds would be ripe for the taking.

With the help of a coven of diabolical ladyauthors, we have flooded the publishing market with novels rife with heroines. That’s right, ladies, books with Strong Female Protagonists. Plucky Damsels as far as the eye can see. Teenage boys who walk into bookstores will be mocked by shelf after shelf of Girls staring back at them, Girls who aren’t dressed in bikinis, Girls who aren’t the Pliant Love Interest waiting for a boy to rescue them, Girls who are really Evil-Ladies-In-Waiting.

A teenage boy in such a situation can only rend his clothing and weep in despair. Such a boy will be utterly terrified by the notion of Mysterious Girl Problems and will swear off reading for good – and after a few years of non-reading and intense Halo tournaments, his spongy cerebral cortex will be easy pickings.

Our plan was almost too easy. As we all know, Girl Problems exist on an entirely different plane of reasoning from Regular Human Problems. A female gender identity is all that’s required to turn a Regular Human Problem everyone can relate to into an Unfathomable Girl Mystery, accompanied by the flutter of veils, the smell of incense, and the piercing keen of a Justin Bieber single. There is no possible way a boy can empathize with or enjoy the point of view of a female character without descending into madness.

Our Initiative has also given us the unexpected bonus of more reading material for ourselves – for, similarly, our ladybrains are incapable of reading any story told from a male POV. I learned to read from the back of a box of Aunt Jemima pancake mix.

However, as we progress, we must be careful not to reveal our Master Plan. Our efforts have not gone unnoticed – already, people are starting to complain about the prevalence of female protagonists in Young Adult fiction. Will no one think of the teenage boys? Who will teach them to be Proper Men, instead of Enslaved Chocolate-Fountain Attendants to Evil Ladies? Our enemies will want to remove our evil, subversive books about Girls Overcoming Adversity and Hooking Up With That Guy They Like and replacing them with wholesome, normal books about Boys Overcoming Adversity and Hooking Up With That Girl They Like. We must not let that happen.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Thankfully, we have a horde of ladyauthors working diligently at scaring boys out of bookstores. We have Cathrynne M. Valente, whose book The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There uses a fantastically-devised world to explain the emotional perils of growing up. And Emily M. Danforth, whose The Miseducation of Cameron Post revives the bildungsroman while following the teenage years of a girl coming to grips with her sexuality.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone Days of Blood and Starlight

Laini Taylor is one of our most successful ladyagents, with her exquisitely-crafted fantasy novels Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight. Brilliant writing, original worldbuilding, thrilling magic, hilarious characters and dialogue, and a sweeping romance – who wouldn’t love that? Oh, right. Boys. But they won’t exactly have a lot of free time to read once we take over the world. Feather boas don’t sew themselves!

The Fault in our Stars

And lest you think the Forces of Manly Good will triumph over our Wicked Womenly Ways, we have a double-agent. John Green wrote one of the most heartfelt and well-realized female protagonists this year, Hazel Grace, in The Fault in Our Stars. We will forgive your lack of ladyness, John Green, and for your dedicated service we will ensure your involuntary, unpaid employment takes place at our kindest, gentlest salt mine – the one that makes the salt for our Margharita Mondays, which will be nationally implemented upon our inevitable rise to power.

So, my fellow Evil Ladies, let us all raise a glass of melted chocolate and toast to a wonderful year of world domination, and pray for its continued success in the years to come.

*cackles* Cheers, Elizabeth


  • Howard Sherman
    December 24, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Man this guest post confirms what I’ve been suspecting all along. May manblogs and the mancaves they are written from proliferate! Me and my kind will remain a band of brothers and fight the power!

  • Dodette Marei
    December 29, 2012 at 1:27 am

    This is one awesome self booster for ladies! We shall prevail!

  • Nicola O.
    December 30, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    *toasts* TO THE CAUSE!

  • Mieneke
    January 1, 2013 at 1:41 am

    Brilliant! Cheers!

  • WWW: January 2, 2012 | Fantasy Literature: Fantasy and Science Fiction Book and Audiobook Reviews
    January 2, 2013 at 10:01 am

    […] An excellent and humorous post on the dearth of male protagonists in YA fantasy. […]

  • Carolyn Jewel
    April 20, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    I think the society would see better and faster success if they met weekly instead of monthly. While I appreciate the subtly of a “monthly” meeting, weekly meetings would mean more chocolate. The 3rd meeting of every month could be called “The Monthly” with special break out sessions dedicated to discussions of injecting emotion into dialogue AND narrative.

    Just a thought. Thanks for the good work!

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