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"...romance as a pop-culture entity–fucked me up pretty severely." - Romance Is Damaging?

I saw this post courtesy of RRRJessica this morning, and I have to say, it gave me food for thought, as well as pissed me off a tad. There’s nothing I hate more than people who bang on about feminism, whilst trying to minimise my right to choose.

The blogger writes:

…I’ve been reading Dear Author. This is my Big Chance granted to the romance genre: I wanted to see if my prejudices against it were unfounded. While I don’t have exact statistics to wave in anyone’s face, I think it’s no distortion of the truth to point out that most of the content discussed and reviewed on Dear Author is a matter strictly white and middle-class and western–American mostly, with a daub here and there of the Irish or Scottish to liven things with a little exotica; sometimes books about characters of color will be reviewed, but those are overwhelmingly books written by white people. A limited, vanishingly small quantity of lesbian material is reviewed once in a blue moon (the latest under this tag? May 2011). M/M is reviewed now and again, but only those with reality distortion fields on will insist M/M as a genre is about the advocacy of gay rights.


I imagine a lot of us grew up internalizing homophobia to hell and back. I imagine a lot of us didn’t even know we were in the closet, because it’s easy to believe you are straight when everyone is straight and tells you it’s the normal thing to be. Haruka and Michiru weren’t enough to combat everything else; neither were Anthy and Utena. I thought yuri manga was dirty (although, to be sure, I was also repulsed by yaoi) and I avoided it like the plague.

So, I don’t know about other queer women, but to me the prevalence of romance–not as a genre by itself, but romance as a pop-culture entity–fucked me up pretty severely. I didn’t grow up on romance exactly, but I did consume my share of shoujo manga. I consumed my share, later, of urban fantasy. You and I know this shit is everywhere. The heteronormative hegemony. The automatic recoiling at any mention of the gay. It’s not to be pinned onto any one genre, any one category, anyone form of media.

But if you’re telling me that romance is categorically feminist, you’re contributing to this large damage in an insidious, silencing way. The proponents of romance-is-feminist school of thought like to pass such fiction off as inherently progressive because it is written mostly by women and targets women as an audience: it pushes the idea that reading these books is liberating and sex-positive and, what’s more, reading them is good for you. Because feminism! Liberation from the yoke of repression and sexual dissatisfaction!

Tell me this and I’ll kick you in the fucking teeth.  (more…)

I shouldn't be surprised

…and actually, I’m not quite sure surprise covers my reaction. Outrage is in there, for sure, but there is an element of incredulity.

During the RWI debacle, someone at the SBTB commented that it wouldn’t be long before there were cries from conservatives about how de ghays oppress and bully them–and not shortly after, this comment popped up at Courtney Milan’s blog.

And then, when the furor has calmed down some, someone calling itself SeaLaughing left this screed (without a link, of course): (more…)

Discrimination goes both ways

Okay, so everyone (including me) is up on arms over the fucked up contest rules at Romance Writers Ink.

Over at the SmartBitches, dick is trying to convince someone that it’s not discrimination because people are entitled to their own discomfort. Which is another way of saying “let’s be tolerant of their intolerance,” from where I’m sitting.

Look, for me it’s like this: I don’t read f/f and read very, very little m/m for the same reason I don’t read horror or inspirationals: I don’t feel like it.

And given that I barely have money to buy what I do want to read, I don’t feel very charitable toward anyone who tells me that I should/must buy f/f to demonstrate that I’m not homophobic.

Sorry, but fuck that.

However, there’s rather a wide gap between that and “hey, this is a romance writing contest but GLBT people need not apply.” Why? Because in the past they have found judges more than happy to read and judge such stories with an open mind–open enough to have had GLBT winning stories.

So yeah, that’s bad–fucked up bad.

But there is a further problem, for me.

Several commenters are now blasting Oklahoma and all of its residents as homophobic assholes just because the apparent¹ majority of that RWA chapter made a GLBTphobic decision.

Sorry, guys–one attitude is just as fucked up as the other one.

(Furthermore, it’s a bit reminiscent of those lovely voices that keep chanting, constantly, that all “romance is trash, all romance is porn for women, all romance readers are all fat, delusional women, the romance genre is by its own nature inferior to all other literature” and the like. )


If you read Courtney Milan’s post, don’t skip the comments–at the very least, read this amazing one by Tessa Dare. Also, this Facebook post by Suzanne Brockmann.

* * * * *

¹ I would certainly love to see the numbers of membership, numbers of voting members, etc. for that particular decision.

There was mention recently in a board formed around (time- and member-wise) the implosion of the old Suzanne Brockmann message board, of the upcoming release of the next Troubleshooters novel (Breaking the Rules, Izzy Zanella’s story—March 22nd 2001, Ballantine).

As many of her readers know, Ms Brockmann’s son came out relatively young, and his mother has devoted considerable effort, time and money to promote tolerance, acceptance and education. Ms Brockmann is not only a card-carrying PFLAG mom, but also has donated all her earnings (from advances on) from one of her novels to MassEquality.

As it turns out, there is a relatively major secondary character in Breaking the Rules who is gay—the brother of one of the four protagonists. One of the posters, Leigh, asked, Is there any book that she has written since Jules that doesn’t have a gay character? She has a passion, and I can admire that. I just don’t want to read about it all the time. I wonder why she hasn’t written about lesbians? or has she?

Which got me thinking (much to the dismay of many a reader, I’m sure 😛 ) (more…)

Beautiful Cocksucker Anybody?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Posted in: Homophobia in Romance?

Apparently Barbara Sheridan wrote a book called Beautiful Cocksucker, which has managed to piss off a few people.

I must admit, I didn’t automatically equate the title with abuse generally hurled at gay men, but that could be because I’ve never been called a cocksucker, by people trying to denigrate my sexuality.

Not being a gay man, my point of view may be slightly skewered, but I have to say, I didn’t particularly find the title offensive. It was suggested that it would be like calling a book, Beautiful Nigger or Beautiful Faggot, but I don’t really buy that argument. I personally think that cocksucker is much more generic, whilst nigger and faggot are definitely more specific to black people and gay people. (Yes, I get the whole cock-sucking angle, but I’m much more likely to be called a cock-sucker if I’m being a dick, than a faggot, know what I mean?)

I wonder if there would have been as much offence taken if the writer had been a gay man, rather than a straight (I assume) woman?
For instance, I’m pretty sure that if a white person had written a book called, The Black Tax, there would be more of an outcry, than if the writer had been black. You see what I mean?

For me, the title seems to be more of a question of taste. I mean come on, it ranks right up there with that EC book called A Rock and A Hard-on. Pure bad taste, if you ask me.

I guess one of the reasons why I find it hard to be offended by the title is because the book is by a woman who’s passion seems to be writing M/M books. I think there are times when you have to look at things in context, without the obligatory knee-jerk “You’re a racist/homophobic/sexist!!” reaction.

It was also suggested that it would be similarly offensive to have used the term, Beautiful Pussy, or Beautiful Jugs, but I just don’t see it. I’m sure many women might be offended by such titles, but that’s because some people mostly make a career out of being offended by everything. It seems to me that it’s sometimes not even those directly affected who get the most offended. For example, Ann S seems to think that an inter-racial M/M book entitled Dark Chocolate is offensive and objectifying.
No it’s not. Not to me at least, if any other black people are offended by such a title, then speak up by all means.

Anyhow, without any of the usual PC bullshit, do you guys feel that title of the book is an affront to gay men, or an affront to general taste and decency?

You can follow the mini lovefest, here, here, and here.