Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Little Miss Crabby Pants Declares Us Our Own Worst Enemies

The older I get, the less tolerance I have for stupid people.

It never ceases to amaze me how romance readers can be their own worst enemies. We bitch, we moan, we rail at all the ignorant non-romance-reading morons out there who label the whole genre "bodice rippers" or "trashy Harlequins." We take to our blogs and message boards. We write letters to the editor. We get all righteously indignant, smug and point out how stupid "they" all are.

Yet, as romances readers we do the exact same thing. To the genre we so profess to love.

Mrs. Giggles got the ball rolling for me with her recent post on erotic romance, which was spot on and just plain wonderful. There's a reason people keep visiting her site, and this piece is a prime example. You also get the added bonus of Mrs. Giggles feeding the trolls who showed up. Bless her heart. I mostly ignore trolls because (see above) my low tolerance for stupid people.

Then on Twitter yesterday, Jessica pointed out the Blogs Suck Major Donkey Ass thread over at the AAR message boards. Sigh. Why? Why?!?!?! What is with the Us Vs. Them mentality that crops up within our community? I hate to be the bearer of obvious news, but no one of us is "better" than the other. No one of us is more "right" than the other. My personal favorite comment from that thread is when someone accuses blogs of being "insular." OK, are blogs insular? Certainly. But so are the damn AAR message boards! Oh. My. God. Pot, meet kettle. You two make such a cute couple.

The final straw for me came from this Dear Author thread on cultural appropriation. Jane, I like you. I respect what you've done with Dear Author. But some of your regular commenters make me want to put my fist through a wall. My favorite gem from that monstrous thread has got to be:
"If I want to read different, but I know that, say, Superromance puts out white, middle-class, mid-America, baby-abounding books, I won’t even be looking for that different book there."
Seriously. Someone save me from the stupid.

Are there middle-class, mid-American, white people having babies in Harlequin SuperRomance books? Um, yeah. But there are middle-class, mid-American, white people having babies in a shit-load of romance books. Harlequin doesn't exactly hold the market share on that. Also, I found this sweeping generalization rather intriguing since two of my favorite Supers of this year featured an ex-con hero (and no, not for a white collar crime) and a heroine bartender. I've read Supers about construction workers, cops, firemen, ranchers, web designers, you name the profession, it's probably been represented in a Super. But no. It's just so much easier to paint an entire line of books with one big ol' brush than to actually, you know, educate yourself about the line. Do you see me going around saying all Harlequin Presents books are about Alpha asshole heroes and brain-dead virginal heroines? No. That would be because, um well, they're not.

Romance readers get all het up when someone "outside" who doesn't "know" the genre makes sweeping generalization, but we do the exact same thing! Do you know how incredibly frustrating this is? Especially for this librarian who spends entirely too much time trying to educate her colleagues that not all romances are in the vein of bodice-ripping rape fantasies?

I'm not suggesting we all have to love everything. I'm not suggesting we all have to embrace every single sub genre. If you don't like to read category romance? Fine. No skin off my nose. But don't make sweeping generalizations that they're all secret baby, tycoon, amnesia books. If you don't like hot sexxoring that pushes the envelope? Nobody is holding a gun to your head saying you have to love and read erotic romance. But don't then go on a message board, or your blog, or wherever and say you don't read erotic romance because it's all badly written porn that appeals to the lowest common denominator.

Newsflash: No sub genre is all one thing.

Not all erotic romance is badly written porn. Not every single Harlequin published is loaded with stereotypical, traditional female roles where the heroine wants to get knocked up with triplets by the epilogue.

If a sub genre doesn't work for you? After you've tried several different authors and books? That's fine. But then don't go around talking out of your ass. If you don't like certain blogs or message boards? That's fine too. Don't visit. But also don't go around bashing their very existence just because you might not like them. Because all any of this does is make you look stupid and shines a poor, low-wattage light on the community as a whole.

A community where not all of us are stupid assholes.


shayera said...

Absolutely spot on Wendy.

Kate R said...

Yes. It's "What Wendy Said" time again.


shilohwalker said...

Oh.... I like this. :) A lot.

I'm real big on the 'live and let live' idea. If I don't like a blog, I don't visit. Don't like a forum? I don't visit.

it's not that complicated a concept.

Tara Marie said...

Your post title says it all :)

1. If you don't like erotica/erotic romance don't read it, nobody is twisting your arm.

2. I had no idea a. there was an anti-blog brigade over on AAR and b. so many people dislike Jane, I'm feeling kind of bad for her.

3. Idiot comments--well, it's why I don't wade into anything over there since I've been back. Thoughtful comments seem to get lost in the "What the heck were they thinking comments?" And so many people are ready to jump on the what the heck commenters.

Oh well, it is what it is. Just remember "Serenity now, serenity now"

Smokinhotbooks said...

This is so spot on. I can't stand when I read snarky blog reviews - don't get me wrong I heart all things snarky, but some just go a little too far. "Why can't we all just get along."

HelenKay Dimon said...

Yes, yes and yes.

Kati said...


Oh Wendy. I love ya.

This post so perfectly summarizes what I've so often thought about those of us who are passionate about the romance genre.

I also have posted about the "Don't yuk my yum" phenomenon. Look, there are a few subgenres of romance that are not my cup of tea. Doesn't make them any less valuable to romance, or a less valid reading choice. Just means they're not to my taste.

It's the beauty of romance: so many stories, so little time.

Thank you for this post. It made my day.

Lori said...

Yay you!

Mandi said...

Everything you said Wendy! And Shiloh Walker.

Thanks for writing this :)

Katiebabs a.k.a KB said...

Wendy, as always you are the voice of reason.

I don't understand the whole AAR message board vs. Book Blogs issue either.

This whole clusterf*ck of drama keeps going and going around in circles. I think it is time for me to get off and visit more Regretsy and their wonderful arts posts of bears with naked chicks wearing mittens and only mittens.

lbgregg said...

If you keep this up, I'm going to have to buy lunch, aren't I?

My girl crush is complete.

Rowena said...

Amen to everything you said.

Rosario said...

I think the AAR message board thing is two or three people who basically hijack every single thread where blogs are mentioned (or even bring them up in completely unrelated threads) to make snooty comments about how they don't read those horrible blogs (all the while making clear that they follow some of them -their most hated one, in fact- quite closely). Unfortunately, one of these posters, especially, posts rather a lot, so the atmosphere feels more hostile than it probably is.

Rosario said...

BTW, while I agree with the sentiment in Mrs. G's post, I don't agree with some things she takes as given, especially that erotic romance = sex scenes that push the envelopes. To me all ER means is that a big part of the relationship is developed through the sex. Period. The sex can push the envelope or be vanilla, and this won't necessarily make the book any or less erotic, at least to me.

sybil said...


AAR hated blogs for the short time I was there. So this isn't a new things since dinos walked the earth for the short time I reviewed there.

As for the other... can one dress up as a martyr for Halloween? It seems to be a tired theme. Of course I haven't read the other threads wendy linked too.

off too look

As always though I do agree with wendy *g*

Jennifer B. said...

Wendy, I want to have your babies.

Julie said...

Thanks Wendy! That was great!

Wendy said...

Lots of good comments. I wanted to respond to a few of them:

Tara: I think it's easy to pick on any one person, blog or web site when they become "successful." It happened to TRR and AAR back in the day. Now it's happening with SB and DA. Lather, rinse, repeat. See Wendy put fist through wall.

LB: We can girl crush on each other. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. Heh.

Rosario: I didn't agree with that aspect either. There are several erotic romance authors who write some pretty hot, interesting "vanilla." But to my way of thinking, if the book is marketed as "erotic" the reader shouldn't be shocked if there's "icky sex cooties." And so often, that's the complaint. "That fantasy is not attractive to me, so that means it must be WRONG!" Sigh.

It's like those readers who get pissed off when there's violence in romantic suspense novels. ::eye roll::

Sybil: Of course you agree with me. I'm right! LOL

Tara Marie said...

Rosario, I agree completely with your concept of ER and thought Mrs. G's description was over the top, but you still can't be surprised when it includes everything she described.

Sybil, it's been so long since I've been on message boards of any kind that I have no idea what they talk about.

sybil said...

You know Tara Marie I misunderstood I thought it was 'AAR' wendy meant not the message board. no clue about those peeps....other than they are not fans of the whole romfail thing or at least some of them aren't ::shrug::

I used to love AAR's mb but haven't been over there since they chanced formats

Renee said...

You go, Miss Crabby Pants!

It always amazes me that people find it so hard to accept that it's a big wide world, and that just because something doesn't float their boat, doesn't mean it isn't of value to someone else.

SonomaLass said...

Agreed on most of what Wendy says, and others here as well.

I think the cultural appropriation discussion is important to have. I just wish that it didn't push so many people's buttons, on all sides. Buried in that DA thread is some meaningful commentary and information -- Jade Lee's comment alone was worth wading through the first 80 or so, although I had to stop after that.

People can get very defensive about their reading (and writing) preferences. I wonder if the fact that some of us are already a bit defensive plays into the internal strife. I also wonder if our habit of being protective of the genre makes some of us mistakenly try to protect it when we shouldn't. I wonder these things because I'm a communication geek.

Wendy said...

SonomaLass: I agree that it is an important discussion to have. Unfortunately the older I get, the less tolerance I have for wading through the stupid. Some of the comments literally made my brain bleed.

I was saddened to read Jade Lee's comments - especially since I liked her historical Blaze (I reviewed it for TGTBTU and gave it a B-). Saddened, but sadly not all that surprised. She was on a panel at the Librarian Event at RWA back in July and let the cat out of the bag then that it hadn't sold all that well. Bugger.

Kristie (J) said...

What you say!!
The attitude of some posters at AAR have towards blogs REALLY pisses me off and makes me put my crabby pants on too! There's one in particular who up until recently I quite liked. But then she goes off on very thinly veiled, superior sounding comments at Jane and DA. She's quite vocal in her disdain of Twitters romfail - YET seems to know all the books they've done - a lot more then I do.
And as far as the disdain towards erotic books - hello-o - Mrs. Giggles is right. You are taking a walk on the wild side when you read them - but knowingly taking that walk and then complaining you don't like the path is just - well - lacking in sense.

Lynn Spencer said...

>>Newsflash: No sub genre is all one thing.

Thank you! I so want to put this on a T-shirt for all those friends who assume I'm into doormat twits, secret babies and hunky sheriffs b/c of my category habit.

Also, with regard to the AAR message boards dust-up, I just wanted to clarify what some of the commenters have said. First of all, the current staff at AAR itself does not have anything against blogs so it's really not at all accurate to say AAR itself hates blogs. Most of us on staff read various blogs depending on our tastes, and several blog in various places themselves - not to mention the blogs on the site.

On the message boards, the visitors to the site who post there obviously have many different points of view - and that's their right. You don't have to toe a particular party line in order to post at AAR and frankly, the more different points of view we have, the more interesting the discussion, imho.

Stacy~ said...

I have nothing new to add, other than I agree. You say it perfectly. Thank you.

Wendy said...

KristieJ: LOL - "walk on the wild side" - exactly! It strikes me as dense. It would be like reading a mystery novel, then complaining there's a dead body. I mean, hello?!?!

I personally don't care for romfail, so I decided to be totally radical and....not follow it. I know, shocking!

Lynn: I'm going to go back and edit my post. I really should have clarified it by saying "AAR message boards" and not just "AAR" - because really, the boards are just ONE part of the site.

azteclady said...

Wendy, I would love to be the one protecting you from the stupid, but Schiller said it long ago:

Against stupidity, the Gods themselves contend in vain

Oh, and I agree completely with you--but you knew that ;-)

Barbara said...

Wendy, you're the best. Katie is so right, you tell it like it is and that's why people like you so much.

KMont said...

Couldn't agree more.

I think it's easy sometimes to slip into this behavior without realizing it too. Which is no excuse, but hey, maybe a love tap to the person doing it? I tend to want to believe people aren't meaning to be hurtful at first. Unless of course, it is blatantly obvious. Sometimes it's clear, other times it's not. The internet unfortunately leaves a lot of room for interpretation - and a lot of time people interpret wrongly. On both sides. Well meaning or not.

But yep, I'd much rather live and let live. There are certainly some genres, sites - anything - that don't work for me and I do at least try not to bitch about them as a whole. Cuz you're right, no one thing is entirely ONE thing.

Carrie Lofty said...

You're one of my favorite people of late. *sighs*

orannia said...

HI Wendy,

It's my first visit here and I think your post is fantastic.

Newsflash: No sub genre is all one thing.

Exactly! There is so much variety - I'm sure if we looked at the statistics hard enough we could apply the bell-shaped curve :)

Oh, and I just wanted to add - although I have read some hit and miss HP books over the last few years, I have one HP book at home that is one of my all-time favourite books because it deals with a subject not often raised in romance....and it deals with it very well.

Anonymous said...

Pot meet Kettle is so damn unoriginal. Please...someone come up with something original.

SonomaLass said...

But pot and kettle is SO perfect!!!

Wendy, I completely agree. As I said, I couldn't keep reading. I'm trying to decide which annoys me more -- people who go ON and ON about trivial sh*t they should just get over, or people who trivialize important topics with their whiny, narrow, self-centered opinions. I have given myself permission to walk away more often lately. I suppose that's an age thing, you're right.

Rebecca @ DSB said...

Seriously Wendy, you do 'pissed' better than anybody I know. If I didn't come here I wouldn't be up on the latest fracas across blogandia, and what a shame that'd be. I guess that's what happens when I only follow about five blogs total.

I found the 'insular' comment interesting. That sounds like someone who hasn't found a blog to call home yet. I read some really great advice on an author blog (and for the life of me I can't remember who, sorry), but she said when it doubt, lurk. I had to do a lot of lurking at my favorite sites before I felt at home, and comfy enough to put up my feet and start adding to the discussions there.

Nora Roberts said...

I heart Wendy once again.

CindyS said...

I so love Little Miss Crabby Pants - I should admit that I have made sweeping comments in the past when I'm poking fun at myself or my reading likes and dislikes. I try not to say stupid stuff but yeah, it happens ;)

Off to read through the sludge. I've been missing me some drama!


Wendy said...

Rebecca: Here in the Bat Cave, we live to serve.

Not every blog is for everybody - and that's fine. There are certainly numerous blogs I don't follow, and others that I follow but may not common on all that often. The Internet is a big, wide, open world. There is room for all of us. Says me.

Hiya Nora! I was at Borders yesterday and saw Bed Of Roses in person. Man, your publisher has done such a lovely job on those trade paperbacks. They are physically beautiful books.

::waving to everybody else::

Cindy: I so love Miss Crabby Pants too. Cute little booger, isn't she?

Wendy said...

Common? WTH? I meant comment. Comment on all that often! Geez. I love having wireless and my lap top in the living room, but this tiny keyboard is keeling me! LOL

Lynne Connolly said...

Thank you!
I belong to one of the earliest writing lists that discusses a favorite author and I've been very happy there. Until this week, when someone talked about the awful books, and that erotic wasn't romance, and worse, that people who read them are stupid.
Pardon me?
Anyway, I won't get into it here, but what on earth is happening? I've seen lots of kerfuffles recently, some of them in the strangest places, and some of them are just plain daft. Clever people saying daft things. The day I stand over someone with a loaded shotgun saying "Read this" is the day I give up any kind of reading forever.
Aren't we supposed to be doing this for fun?

Wendy said...

Lynne: I know it! Lots of kerfuffles, and most of them really frustrating. I'm not saying everyone needs to love everything, but dang - some common sense would be nice.

I'm thinking I might have "No Sub Genre Is All One Thing" tattooed on myself somewhere. Or maybe needlepoint it into a throw pillow :)

Rosie said...

Wendy, you rock. I know this post is a week old, but that's about how long I've been out of the loop...again. However, after reading this I had to comment. Naturally. :)

This one is a real gem. Thank God for someone with the voice of reason and who can write well.

God I miss you!