Thursday, June 16, 2005

Us Against Them

Anyone else sick and tired of the constant Us Against Them debate raging on blogs and within RWA ranks? The Us and Them, of course, being Every Other Type Of Romance and Erotica/Romantica.

I've largely remained silent on this issue - because unlike many, many, many romance readers, I tend to read across the board. I've been known to read a traditional sweet Silhouette Romance then turn around and read a red hot Black Lace erotica novel. I'm not kidding - I do that sort of thing a lot.

I think it also helps that I'm a librarian. While there is certainly a narrow-minded contingent within the profession - any librarian with his/her salt is going to welcome all types of fiction. I don't judge anything. Oh sure, there's a ton of stuff I personally won't read. Pretty much all literary fiction, science fiction, the vast majority of fantasy, inspirationals - but not for one minute do I think these types of books "need to go." I also never try to convert readers away from their genre of choice because I think they're misguided.

But that's essentially what Every Other Type Of Romance is saying to Erotica. Get out. You're giving us a bad rap. Shoo!

Erotica/Romantica is a fast-growing segment of the market. Every Other Type Of Romance may not like that - but numbers don't lie. Just as inspirationals are a fast-growing segment of the market (actually I find the fact that both segments are taking off to be a rather interesting commentary on American society as a whole - but that's just me). While I don't read inspirationals - I'm not about to dispute the fact that yes, they have a right to coexist peacefully in the RWA/Romance universe. Some readers love them - and hey, good for them!

Just as some readers love erotica/romantica - and good for them too!

Why can't we all just get along?

I think the fear is that Every Other Type Of Romance doesn't want to be confused by that dirty, filthy Erotica.

Well horse hooey.

Naysayers of romance already think the books are nothing but female porn! The rise of Erotica/Romantica didn't start that. The female porn argument has been around since Fabio unveiled his nipples.

What needs to be done is education. You don't like people confusing Every Other Type Of Romance with Erotica/Romantica? Well educate people about the differences - and don't be so frickin' snide about it. You don't like how some people think inspriationals are all preachy God-stuff? Well educate them dagnabit!

We shouldn't be bickering amongst ourselves - it just makes us look ignorant, and it's wasted energy that could be spent promoting the genre as a whole. If we want people to see romance as a viable, interesting and rich genre - then we need to stand together, not divided.


Lynn M said...

I agree with you, Wendy, that the in-fighting looks very unprofessional and certainly does nothing at all to further the good image of the romance genre.

I guess that's the reason for my disappointment in what's going on. When the very group that has been established to unite and serve a population of writers begins to segregate those writers within its own ranks, people can't help but choose sides. And once lines have been drawn, it is only a matter of course that disagreements will occur, some of them rather nasty.

I'm saying this without having any real knowledge, but I imagine that all subgenres experience some degrees of segretation. I guess maybe those subgenres are much better about keeping their dirty laundry private.

Lilith Saintcrow said...

I had an inspy writer write to me and ask if inspys were going to be "allowed" in the RBA. I replied that if we were going to be open to all romance including erotica, we couldn't very well close out inspys and others. Us vs. them won't get anyone anywhere; it has never gotten anyone anywhere in the vast space of human history without a whole lot of unnecessary heartache.

I'm disappointed that the RWA felt it necessary to start this divisive trend, and can only hope it'll be a lesson to the other organizations springing up. We have enough to do writing and reading the books we enjoy, why do we feel the need to make it harder with this petty bickering?

Grr. Just my two pence...

Caro said...

Education is all well and good, but we also need to learn that there are going to be some people who you will never get through to. We need to pick and chose the battles and not just throw ourselves stupidly against everything that comes along.

But you are absolutely right that we should show a united face to the world instead of fighting about what does and does not constitute a romance.

I will take a stand though -- the Mack Bolan books are most definitely not romance. :)

Wendy said...

Uh yeah - no Mack Bolan :-)

I think the big "fear" among some romance writers (and readers) is that the romantica/erotica movement feeds into the whole idea that romance is "female porn." Of course, the people who think romance is "female porn" have thought that long before the word "romantica" was even thought up. Plus, these people DON'T READ ROMANCE - they just make sweeping generalizations.

I just don't believe that we're going to see an increase in people who "believe" the "female porn" argument just because romantica is hot at the moment.

Any of this make sense? It's early and I need more caffeine....