As a writer, I shouldn't say bad things about another writer. It's bad PR and it's bad karma.
But as a woman, I have to call out sexism, and cissexism, when I see it.
I was excited to read Erica Kennedy's FEMINISTA mainly because of the title. I happily bought the book, not just because I could put it on my shiny new eReader but because buying it I was supporting a fellow Latina writer.
The story and characters have turned out to be not be my particular cup of tea, but I wanted to read it anyway. Until the word "tranny" appeared -- and didn't go away.
***Warning: HERE BE SPOILERS***
The main character, Sydney, works for a magazine and she's assigned to interview The Raven, a male-to-female transgender artist who, Price-like, went from being known by his male name, then decided to go by a symbol becoming "the artist formerly known as." Then the artist disappeared for a while, and reemerged as a woman, calling herself The Raven.
When we first hear of Sydney's assignment, we have to play the "he -- no, I mean she; he hates to be called he -- I mean, she hates to be called she -- oh, whatever, you know what I mean" for laughs. Because denying a person's gender and identity is SO FUNNY.
Sydney's boss/editor calls The Raven a "tranny," and Sydney, an supposed feminist who "gets offended for everybody," does not bat an eye. Instead, she uses the term herself (in her inner monologue/thoughts, so it's not like she's doing it to "fit in" with the boss or to suck up to him/keep her job).
She gets her panties in a wad when the British boss uses the term "colored woman" instead of "woman of color" (which may be a cultural/dialectical thing, I'm not up on my UK PC jargon), but not a peep about "tranny" and "she-male" and misgendering The Raven.
When Sydney actually interviews The Raven, the pronoun "(s)he" is used once, and then, for one, "she." (Those are the only two times she's referred to with a pronoun). I guess we should be grateful they got the right pronoun ONCE, huh?
Yes, Sydney is supposed to be a snobby, petty, judgemental, shallow bitch. But she's the main character, and nobody calls her out on misgendering The Raven. All her other shallow BS is called out (if feebly) by another character, sometime in the book. This? Nope.
In the chapter following the interview we find out Sydney has been fired from her job because she misgendered The Raven in the article and made fun of her chosen identity. However this is presented as the "excuse" the higher-ups needed to get rid of her -- so, you see, she didn't really do something wrong, she did something stupid. And it's so unfair! "The trannies" complained about her, boo-hoo Sydney, and now "the cross-dressers" are picketing her apartment!
Later on in the book the author does paint this incident as Sydney subconsciously-yet-intentionally self-sabotaging herself, because, deep down, she really wanted to get fired. So she did the stupid thing on purpose. This does not solve the problem of the cissexist, transphobic, transmisogynistic slur being so casually thrown about: the fact that Sydney may have known it was wrong to misgender The Raven in print, out loud to the world, does not say anything about how she thinks about trans women. Not once was the term "trans woman" used in the novel, by the author/narrator or by any of the characters.
I wanted to read FEMINISTA because of the title. Because I still have not realized that "feminist" does not mean what I want it to mean. "FEMINISTA" means, clearly, "CIS FEMINISTA," with a capital C that stands for "cunt." Because if you weren't born with one of those, then eff you.
The definition of "cis," for those of you who have not seen it before.