Trigger Warning: Calendar Girl stumbles into yet another “this is a gritty, real-ass story, and nothing is more gritty and real than rape” trope-ass storyline. Stop us if you’ve heard this one before.
And if the use of the word “trope” seems weird, Anita Sarkeesian said it best back in 2014:
“sexuality or victimhood is [often] exploited as a way to infuse edgy, gritty, or racy flavoring into [fictional] worlds”
Calendar Girl October: Chapter 6
Wait, gritty? Calendar Girl? Yeah, so… remember how literally one week ago, I was like “it doesn’t matter that nothing in this story makes that much sense; it’s supposed to be a lighthearted, positive story”? Yeah, I don’t know why I wrote that. Get ready for the fucking duality of Calendar Girl.
The blood-curdling scream tore me from the sweetest dream. As this was the new norm, I hopped out of bed, hit the light switch, and watched as the man I loved tossed, turned, and cried out, lost to the demons lurking within the deepest places in his mind.
Ready for it?
The thick ridge of his cock tented his boxer briefs in a vulgar display of his virility.
Hey so today we’re gonna talk about how Calendar Girl doesn’t know what the fuck it wants to be.
This was probably really obvious last week when Ariel had to write about a whole chapter of Wes’s PTSD and in contrast I wrote a chapter about how whoopsiedoodles Mia stumbled into a absurdly great career move because of a wacky miscommunication and no one cares about how underqualified she is lololol. Calendar Girl wants to be both an uplifting feel-good story about personal triumph and a gritty story about the depravity of man, like its goal is a season of Parks and Rec with Game of Throne‘s rape scenes spliced in from time to time. And don’t forget it’s that but sexy, so add in a few scenes from a Parks and Rec porn parody too. What the fuck even is this story supposed to be?
And what’s worse is when a story is trying to be all these different things, it’s really obvious when a story isn’t good at any of them:
I checked my emotions at the door and pushed down my underwear.
Standing strong, I roared. “Wes!”
I stood naked, bare for him as his eyes opened in a flash. The pupils were almost entirely black, I couldn’t even discern a hint of green. He was an animal. Lost to his fears, he zeroed his eyes in on me.
“Mine!” he growled between clenched teeth and then lunged forward.
Mia is portrayed as an admirable, strong person who knows the healthy way to handle this situation. Is that the impression you’re getting from reading fucking any of this? And you know what doesn’t really sell gritty and serious? How PTSD apparently turns Wes into the sex Hulk.
“All this is yours for the taking. All you have to do is tell me why you love me,” I stated [trying to] make him remember why I was here. Bring him back to the present moment. […]
“I love fucking you!” […]
“But tell me what you love about me, and I’ll let you sink so deep inside I won’t be able to breathe.” […]
“You. Know. I. Do. Now. Give. Me. What. I. Need.”
There’s a super disgusting bit about how Mia’s glad that, even in his dissociative state, Wes would “never take me without permission”. We said on a bonus post on our Patreon a while ago that “Calendar Girl is a sex work fantasy in the same way that Fifty Shades was a BDSM fantasy. It’s like this dark fantasy at a super removed, save distance, but so removed that it’s unrecognizable.” Now it’s doing that with… PTSD-induced trauma-fucking?
“Loving you is as natural as breathing. I need you in order to live. You, Mia. You give me the breath of life.”
Tears filled my eyes as I rested my forehead against his. “Come inside, baby. Take what you need.” I gave the cue he’d been waiting for.
Fucking yikes, you guys.
The next morning, Mia wakes up in bed alone and changes into a skimpy white bikini to meet Wes on the beach, staring contemplatively out at the waves. All of these are important details. We got a lot of detail about that bikini that I’m sparing you all.
They make out. Wes talks about how good Mia is for him.
“No, sweetheart. Last night was eye opening. You took me out of hell like usual, but this time, I was in control in a different way. I wasn’t commanding your body to do my bidding or to allow me to lose myself in you. Instead, you brought me back from the nightmare and reminded me of what I had to live for. When you asked me why I loved you, the millions of reasons rushed through my mind, obliterating every evil thought and replacing them with something something beautiful. Something that was real, alive, and honest. My love for you.”
ok love is dope but please go to a real goddamn therapist both of you
Wes starts opening up about what happened to Gina, and it’s as horribly over-the-top as you already suspected. There’s gang rape, they made Wes watch it for some reason. Wes describes it as “like an evil line of destruction”, and yeah it feels a little weird criticizing a character describing their trauma with awkward figurative language, but can we agree that line about how a line was like a line shouldn’t have made it past a first draft?
Then they get super hungry for their housekeeper’s yummy yummy food. Seriously, this book is jarring as fuck. There is barely a page of space between this:
“Oh, God…Mia, they’d leave her hanging there for us to see. Blood dripping down her legs, pooling at her feet. Sometimes I wished they’d kill her, so she didn’t have to relive it time and again. They raped her every day.” […]
Tears that I didn’t know I’d been shedding poured down my cheeks.
“I’m certain Judi is whipping up something amazing right now.”
The thought of one of Judi’s special homemade breakfasts had me salivating.
“Uh, Matthew, that’s called a transition. What, are they gonna talk about trauma all day?” Sure, but if your story’s gonna get serious, give it some time to breathe.
The story’s “serious” side isn’t really new, of course, since this is a series that’s included her ex-boyfriend/mob boss beating her dad into a coma, kidnapping her best friend to blackmail her into fucking him, and another character’s thwarted attempt to sexually assault her (which only had narrative consequence for roughly another book when Mia just solved her PTSD). “Tonally jarring” is an insane understatement for this story.
“Mmm, Judi, you’re a goddess. These waffles are the bomb!”
Meanwhile, back in wacky wacky Mia’s career is really taking off land:
“Let me get this straight. You have to come up with the segment concept, write it, and tape it before next Friday?” Wes asked around a mouthful of homemade Belgian waffles.
Mia explains she has an idea about a segment on stay-at-home mothers, the stigma around the phrase “stay-at-home mom”, etc. I’m honestly a little uncertain how to feel about the way she talks about it (and nobody probably needs a male feminist hot take on this one anyway), but it’s worth pointing out this is Calendar Girl after all, so the traditional gender roles and cis-heteronormativity are cranked up to 11.
“I was thinking about how all these moms pretty much give up everything for their kids, careers and hobbies, all to raise their children. That alone is beautiful. […] when I was with Max and Cyndi at their ranch, I watched how much Cyndi did. She cooked all the meals, did all the shopping, cleaned the entire house, took care of Isabel, all while pregnant.”
“Wait, Matthew, I thought you said ‘cis-heteronormativity’ specifically. What does…”
I rolled my eyes. “Really? Are you that much of a guy?”
Wes chuckled and pointed to his sculpted chest and raised an eyebrow. “Uh, yeah.”
“…alright never mind then.”
One salvageable moment from this garbage fire of a chapter is that Mia asks Wes if he’d help her out with writing and working on the segment, and he happily agrees. About time we see this couple… doing things together… sharing their lives and skills and interests…
I mean literally anything other than just more fucking.