Friday, August 7, 2015

Look Within Yourself Little Miss Crabby Pants

It's getting to the point where Little Miss Crabby Pants can set her watch by the annual RWA conference.  The conference happens.  Sunshine, happiness, good vibes permeate for that week.  Everybody loves everybody.  Then we all get home and Romancelandia explodes with some new outrage.  This week's outrage is over a book that was nominated for not one, but two, RITA awards that is a story of a Jewish heroine in a concentration camp falling in love with an SS officer who rescues her believing that she's not Jewish because she has blonde hair and blue eyes.  I'll direct you to a letter that Sarah Wendell wrote to the RWA Board for more background.  Or just, you know, spend five minutes on Twitter.

To be abundantly clear, I think the outrage is justified.  I'm not going to argue the book's right to exist.  Look at the title of this blog.  I'm a librarian.  I'm a librarian with an extensive background in collection development.  I often tell librarians if you're not routinely buying books everyday that you'd rather drive nails up your arms than read/endorse/whatever than you're not doing your job.  I can't tell you the number of books I've bought for work over the years written by authors who are deplorable sacks of human garbage and books I find downright offensive. So while I personally find the idea of this book repugnant, I'm not going to say it needs to be wiped off the face of the Earth.  I'm not sure why this outrage waited to erupt into a firestorm post-RWA when the nominations came out in March - but whatever.  Here we are now.

How the book even got nominated is the question many people are asking and one I cannot answer. RWA has a special membership class for booksellers/librarians, and that's where I reside - which means I'm not eligible to judge the RITAs.  For the record, while this example is probably the most egregious WTF on the judging process, it's not like we haven't been down this road before.  People seem to have forgotten already, but there was a time in the not-so-distant past that books with "erotic content" had a hard time cracking into any of the categories.  Hence why I always supported an Erotic Romance category in the RITAs, while others argued that those books should be considered under their broader classifications (Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal etc.).  It was apparent that erotic romance was not going to get a fair-shake any other way.  Finally, no longer able to ignore the sub genre in a post-Fifty Shades (::shudder::) world, we got one.  Then there was 2014 when we had 30 bazillion nominees in Historical and Contemporary, but Inspirational saw two and Erotic Romance saw three.  Then you have the lack of inclusion of Authors Of Colors and LGBTQ writers.  So yeah, it's not like the RITA judging and nomination process has been infallible up to this point.

Here's the thing I keep coming back to.  While we're all outraged and upset over this particular book getting nominated in two categories (it didn't win either, praise Jeebus), everyone is happily ignoring the elephant in the room.  The elephant we shall call Power Dynamics.  When discussing this particular book everyone is, rightly so, bringing up the completely imbalanced power dynamic that smacks of Stockholm Syndrome.  The heroine falling in love with a "hero" who is essentially her captor.  A "hero" who is responsible for the slaughter of millions of people (Read up on the SS sometime and watch your hair curl. Seriously.)  So while we're happily pointing out that this book is repugnant because of that skewered power dynamic (among other issues) we are completely ignoring the fact that the genre has a pretty screwed up history with power dynamics in general, and how these imbalanced power dynamics are all over some of the most popular areas of this genre right now.  Yes. Right. Now.

Let's look at some of the darker edges floating around the genre, shall we?  Motorcycle clubs. A subculture traditionally not known for their forward thinking views on women.  Never mind the criminal activity.  The downtrodden, naive heroine who aligns herself with the powerful billionaire hero because she literally has no other options.  New Adult, where you can routinely find young, traumatized heroines falling for "bad boys" who aren't exactly pure as the driven snow.  "Dark Romance" which features stories like the "hero" kidnapping the "heroine" and raping her until she falls in love with him.

It's easy to point the finger when it's a book on the outside.  A book you may not read.  It's much harder to point a finger and analyze books you personally may have enjoyed and recognize that they are problematic as hell.  Dear members of the romance community, it's time to look within.  We can point the finger at Jewish heroines falling in love with SS officers who run concentration camps all day long.  In baseball terms, we call that a bloop single.  It's like shooting a target that's standing right in front of you.  It's much harder to view your own reading through the same lens.

And lest you think Little Miss Crabby Pants is putting herself above the fray?  I admittedly like Boss/Secretary stories.  If that isn't a big heaping pile of WTFBBQSAUCE Power Dynamic mess, well nothing is.  We hold ourselves above this fray and cloak it in ways we find more palatable.  This would be why we constantly hear "escapism" bandied about within the genre.

At the end of the day I think the genre (all genre fiction actually) is a representative of the time it was produced in.  Look no further than all those espionage novels that came out during the Cold War.  Romance is no different.  It's a genre that needs to be viewed through the lens of social history.  The Bodice Ripper Era tells you a lot about the 1970s/1980s for example.  The rise of the paranormal and dystopian romance in a post-9/11 world?  Someone start working on an academic paper on that subject.  Issues of consent.  Issues of power dynamics.  These have always existed in the genre.  They still exist today.  It's just we're starting to see them come into play a bit more in our brave new digital publishing world.  I'd argue these books are in a response to something in our broader culture.  What that is?  I have theories, but time will ultimately tell.

So yes, while this particular inspirational romance is messed up and Little Miss Crabby Pants is no way endorsing it and wondering how the hell it got nominated?  She also recognizes that the genre, and it's readers, as a whole should take a long hard look in the mirror.  Look within yourself and start admitting some hard truths.  I'll be over here doing the same.


lisekimhorton said...

I agree that it is certainly a case of too each their own, in many regards. What might be an outrage to you might now make me give a second thought, and vice versa. But romance is also a genre of fantasy - women's fantasies to great extent and the time proven appeal of the happy ever after of storytelling. The MC hero is rarely a true representation of a bad guy from Hell's Angels who yes, would curl my hair if not make me run as fast as I could in the opposite direction. However, there is a matter of degree, as well. And a rough around the edges MC hero who may have done bad things but who is redeemed through the heroine is one thing. It is an entirely different thing to have a hero and heroine in the position they are in in the novel in question. Whether or not redemption is even possible even in a romance novel, is a question I would answer no to. But beyond the issue of the protagonists' roles, is the second issue of the religious question that as I have read in many posts, is the thing that most outraged so many. Also, as was discussed at National on 3 panels, diversity in romance requires a very keen awareness of the communities which you might be writing about when you are not a member of that community. I think that it should have been immediately obvious that a book of this nature would outrage many and that an entire community (if not others) would find the material and the outcome repugnant. A comment was indeed made that the book was intended for a specific Christian inspirational romance reading audience. But when a book gets published? Sometimes things happen.

BevBB said...

I think it's as much a matter of age (of the reader) as anything else. By that I do not mean that either younger or older readers like a certain type of romance but rather I'm talking about the stages that we go through as readers. I don't read the same type of books now that I did decades ago. Some things that I loved that I loved then, I will not tolerate now. Part of that is because my tastes have changed but part of it is also because the books have changed. There is more choice out there.

But that same choice is also what creates this problem because, as you said, Wendy, a lot of these "thmees" have always existed in romances. How many different settings can they be put in? How many different ways can the "parts" be rearranged?

Pretty much to infinity and beyond.

I've also observed that as new "sub-genres" crop up and grow that, and this is big one, a lot of this is cyclical. It's like taking baby steps. Sometimes they fall flat.

willaful said...

Thanks for making this point. That aspect of the criticism is one that has made the least impression on me, because it is just so much a part of romance culture. (The aspect that has made the biggest impression, just for info's sake, is the appropriation of Jewish history/culture.)

Admittedly the Holocaust may be much closer to many of us than a motorcycle club's activities, and much more horrifying in its scope, but someone who grew up amidst gang and drug culture is probably a lot less entranced with, say, a book like Perfect Chemistry (gang member hero) than readers who haven't experienced it. said...

Thanks for catching us up on what's going on with the latest outrage. I don't have much to say about that one. However what you say about the genre in general having problematic themes/storylines or characters is true. I'm pretty sure I've enjoyed or loved books that have problematic themes. To each her own.

Wendy said...

What I hope I made clear in my blog post is that yes, once the arguments about Stockholm Syndrome and the skewered power dynamic not being "romantic" came into play is where I started rolling my eyes. The genre is littered with this stuff, and the folks criticizing this book for it will turn around and happily read a Boss/Secretary book because "Escapism!" What I read is OK. Your book = not OK.

Now, that being sad - like willaful, my personal feelings on this book have everything to do with the cultural/religious appropriations that come into play. Also this idea of redemption. Inspirationals play heavily on themes of being "redeemed in Christ" - but the entire genre leans heavily on the idea that true love redeems all. This is me personally, but an SS officer? Yeah, there's no redeeming that. I would be more tolerant of say, a regular grunt German soldier fighting on the front lines. But someone with a high rank, someone who is a member of the SS?!?!?! Yeah, sorry. Do not pass Go, do no collect $200.

So yeah. Power dynamic arguments are holding no water over here at the Bat Cave. But a lot of the other criticisms? Oh yeah.

Evangeline Holland said...

This dialogue has come to encompass many overlapping topics, of which consent, power dynamics, and other problematic elements are one. However, the genesis of the conversation mostly--if not entirely--derives from the microaggressions and sometimes hostility experienced at RWA in the context of diversity in the genre and its strong presence in the form of authors in NYC.

My response is threefold:

This book hurt people. This book violated the safe space the romance community purports to represent for women authors. And lastly, this book should make the romance community take a closer look at itself for how it marginalizes and silences the voices of certain women.

It's quite possible that no one spoke up before now because they know and have experienced the artificial reception to saying, "hey, this is hurtful/wrong/problematic" within the community.

We've marched so fervently under the banner of "yay women's fantasies, pleasures, and personal kinks" that we have built a community that decimates any critique of the content.

We've marched so fervently under the banner of "romance is feminist/for women" that we denigrate anyone who asks "which women? whose feminism?".

We've created a community that prefers to doggy paddle in the shallow end of the pool, even as we present ourselves as Olympic divers to naysayers.

Unknown said...

The historical nature of the story makes this a little different from your run of the mill boss/secretary or teacher/student dynamic, though, because it's closer to writing about an actual group of people rather than fictional characters. But I agree with you overall point that romance is littered with unequal power dynamics. Outside of BDSM, I'm not usually that interested in power dynamics that implicate consent, and even when there are, say, class power dynamics, there's also a countervailing one of experience. (Thinking of a cross-class m/m by Alex Beecroft.)

Ironically, the kind of problematic power dynamics that are common in romance usually aren't common in inspies because they don't rely on sex scenes. Here, it's the cultural and religious appropriation in the SS camp context that's causing the harm.


Wendy said...

Evangeline: And I think this doggy paddle mentality is indicative of any movement that is "us against the world." Romance is SO used to being scorned by the outside that we don't look very closely at scorn (be they macro or microagressions) from the inside. It's that idea of keeping up a united front.

We see the same thing within the feminist movement, which has not, generally speaking, addressed issues felt/experienced by WOC or trans women particularly well. Likewise the LGBTQ movement has not always addressed POC and trans concerns/experiences particularly well either.

That's not to give romance a free pass, or to justify it. Just to say there's a larger picture out there and that maybe we shouldn't point fingers at something without doing our own bit of self-examination first.

Wendy said...

Lawless: And I would agree with your last sentence, completely. That statement right there is the one that holds water for me. The power dynamic argument is a non-starter for me - not only when we're examining the history of the genre, but also it's present.

History is a funny thing. I subscribe to the school of thought that the Holocaust will always be "too soon." But yet I like reading medieval romances where The Crusades come into play. I wasn't alive for WWII, but certainly it was within a lifetime where I was exposed to people who DID live through. Whose families fled their homes to escape persecution and death. People who had family members survive (and not survive) the Holocaust. What would the reaction be to a book like this if it were published 400 years from now? I'm not sure I want to know the answer, but it's a question worth asking.

Wendy said...

Just wanted to point out this post by author Alexis Hall which goes into more detail re: RITA judging. Also some good comments over there.

Vanessa Kelly said...

Thank you for this post. I've been stewing about this issue (unproductively) since RWA. Like most everyone, I agree that the book in question sounds appalling. On the 1 - 10 scale of horrifying and offensive, it certainly seems to rate a 12 or up. But then I think...motorcycle gang heroes (um, yeah, Jax Teller is cute, but...murder, prostitution, drugs, guns) and dark romances set in the world of human trafficking. Human. Trafficking. But I do read and enjoy romances that flirt with the same issues in a much milder form, which makes me feel pretty squicky right now. Not sure what the answer is--not censorship--so I guess I'll just keep stewing and feeling crappy about it until I reach some kind of clarity that I can live with.

Lynne Connolly said...

Thanks, just thanks for saying this.
Allied to that, what concerns me is the mob mentality. Someone points something out that is, yes, wrong, and the hounds bay, and off we go again. I've seen people destroyed by that mentality. Nobody deserves that, not even if they've done whatever it is.
It was after the Cassie Edwards case. Sure, she did wrong by plagiarising, but would anybody have given her a fair hearing? Listened to her? Not a chance. They went for blood.
The author of this deplorable book about the concentration camp commandant may have done it from sheer ignorance, or from a sense of skewed values. We don't know. Nobody would listen to her even if she tried to explain. Mind you, writing a book takes a long time, and she'd have had plenty of time to think about what she was doing.
Was it because she just didn't have the skills to do what she wanted? I mean, we all read and loved "Schindler's Ark" once upon a time. But that was written with enormous skill and sensitivity, and no extra agenda. I don't know because I can't read this one. Like many people, I have relatives who were directly affected by the Holocaust.
Motor cycle clubs. I can't read them. But there's no way they could be realistic. There are a lot of essays to be written there, about the clubbable aspects, and the seeming power of the men who belong to them. BTW, my DH belongs to a motorcycle club because he rides and restores classic motorcycles, so even the term makes me shudder.
Boss/secretary? I am so with you on those. And no, I can't explain that one.

Kate Rothwell said...

I've been reading the hitman series by Clare/Frederick (aka Jane Litte) and ask myself that same question all the time. These heroes are hitmen! The heroines are victims saved by the heroes! STOCKHOLM SYNDROME! By murderers!

I love the series and won't stop reading it. For one thing: fiction. And another, well, there isn't really another that matters (although I could go on about the fabulous heroines).

The squick factor is real absolutely. That setting will probably be too soon for another few generations (and she used a real camp? really?) but most of the people who loathe it haven't read it. Fine to be squicked at a concept and not pick up a book and complain about it. But to tell everyone else they must hate it seems off, also it's not a pro-nazi screed so outrage is off. Squick yes, horror, eh, save it for reality--or a pro-nazi, anti-love book. .

The other thing about stealing the experience of Jews is odd--I think pulling out the card when you haven't lived through a thing is off. It's related to a concept like collective guilt, I don't buy that we all get to be a part of something that other people did or lived through (and sure, let me whip mine out -- Jewish background, relatives killed in camps--but they're relatives I never met. My grandmother stopped speaking to me when I visited Germany, does that count as cred? No. And her actions and hatred of Germans helped me understand how bogus collective guilt is). Of course if my friend who DID live through Auschwitz and is still alive, or her daughters who had to live with damaged parents, wanted to rant about that book, I'd listen and respect her every word, even if she hadn't read the book. She will never pick up that book.

Heck I'll listen and read all the outrage because much of it is articulate and interesting. But I might read the book anyway. I might even like it, though I doubt it because inspies, eh.

Amber said...

I get that RWA is trying to take the librarian stance of access for all no matter how repugnant, but I get stuck on the point that a Rita *is* an endorsement. They can disclaim all they want, but nominated books are supposed to be those representing the "best" of their subgenre. Is that really what happens?

I'm not super swayed by the consent argument. I do feel that there are some topics, some heroes that are incompatible with the romance genre. I'm fine with a firm line that says anyone actively involved in a genocide cannot be redeemed which means the book cannot have an "emotionally satisfying optimistic ending". There is no statute of limitations on crimes against humanity. It's the reason we still put Nazi war criminals on trial. I can't imagine anyone being ok with a romance between a Japanese woman and a Chinese soldier during the Nanking invasion. Or a Bosnian woman and a Milosevic high ranking soldier. Maybe it's because my grandfather helped liberate a concentration camp or because I was an impressionable teen when I saw Schindler's List. This isn't some quasi-rebellious minor criminal. This is someone who by all standards of decency failed at being a human being.

I guess my point is that RWA isn't a library. They aren't restricting someone's access to information as caving to a challenge or not buying a particular book for a library would. They have no problems getting rid of the NRE category. They exclude books ALL OF THE TIME based on content. Why is this any different?

Carolyn Jewel said...

I'm Carolyn Jewel and a Director at Large of the RWA Board. I can clarify the process by which books are entered and judged in the RITAs. The isn't a nomination process. The word has been used for years with respect to the RITAs even though it's an inaccurate description of the process.

The number of RITA entries is limited to 2000 entries. Authors (but sometimes an author's publisher) pay the RITA entry fee for a book or novella, select the appropriate category, and that book is then entered in the RITAs, assuming the contest has not reached the cap of 2000 entries.

The entries are then divvied up among the judges, all of whom are RWA members. Judges read the books that have been assigned to them and score each entry. Books that score in the top 4% of a category (subject to certain limitations) are finalists. There is a second round of judging for all the books that final. That second round determines the winner.

As you can see, this is not a nomination process. Members are not voting for books they think should be included in the RITAs. Judges read and score the books that authors decided to enter.

I hope that clarifies the issue of how the RITA process works.

If anyone has specific questions about this issue (including questions or comments about more than just RITA entries) please feel free to contact me ( carolyn AT carolynjewel DOT com ) or any member of the Board.

Lori said...

Wendy, I appreciate you pointing out that problematic power imbalances abound in romance novels. That was certainly one of the first things that came to my mind when I read about this book and people's reaction to it. While some books with dodgy consent are on the wrong side of my personal "No" line and I won't read them, there are others that I've loved. I'm sure that will continue to be the case in the future and I don't want to be hypocritical about it.

At the same time, for Pete's sake a literal Nazi. Forget the author for the moment, my questions are mostly about the other people involved with this. I'm familiar with the subculture served by Bethany House publishing, so I know why it didn't occur to them that having the story hinge on a Jew converting to Christianity is a problem. Someone should still have know that having the hero be a literal Nazi was a bridge too far.

Still, what really bothers me is that the book got high enough marks from enough RWA reviewers to be nominated for not one, but two awards. How did that happen? Presumably not all the reviewers were from inside the same Evangelical bubble that seems to have blinded the publisher, so what was the though process of the folks who gave this thing such high marks?

As Amber pointed out, RWA is not a library and the RITAs are an endorsement. This book has multiple problematic aspects and the fact that so many people associated with RWA apparently missed all of them is a little troubling. This outrage will pass, like all the ones that came before it, but I hope that it leaves some increased awareness and more thoughtful reading in its wake.

Kaetrin said...

Well said, Wendy.

Kaetrin said...

@Lori - not to make excuses, just to provide information: As I understand it, a book is effectively self-nominated. That is, the author or publisher pay the fee to the RWA and send 5? copies of their book and they're in, up to the 2000 book cap. Then, each book is only read by 5 readers. The top and bottom scores are disregarded and the average of the other 3 rankings becomes the book's overall score. The top 4% of each category become the finalists. So, for this book to be a finalist, 4 people had to like it, and the middle 3 had to like it enough to rank in the top 4%. That's not many people. Once it was in the finals, that it was a first book made it an automatic finalist in the best first book category. It wasn't a separate judging process. That's as I understand it anyway.

PK the Bookeemonster said...

Won't read it. Won't censor it. HOWEVER ....

I put this in the category of books/movies/TV of "After School Special". You know, usually dealing with controversial or socially relevant issues and it's a project that gets the green light all the way up the decision-making line BECAUSE of its controversial content. The decision makers congratulate themselves for being so relevant and daring and producing something so serious and for "the good of society." (regardless of the history and atrocity associated). Also known as "Oscar Bait."

If the book had been snubbed, that would have created its own controversy -- because then readers/audience members would have been labeled for being "anti-whatever-the-outrage". Hopefully and inevitably, this book will fade into the netherworld of hype backlash and fall on its own (non) merits.

Lori said...

@Kaetrin: I understand what you're saying, but I'm still bothered by the fact that 4 people with enormous power in the process (because that's how the process works) read this book and didn't think it was a hot mess. It's seriously problematic in at least 3 ways and they either didn't notice or didn't consider any of those things to be important criteria on which to judge the book in terms of receiving an honor from RWA. That's strikes me as an issue. Whether it's an issue with the readers or the process is the question.

Wendy said...

Vanessa: Yeah, what you said. I look at something like Dark Romance and think "Cripes, I'm old," but then what about a historical romance where the hero "wins" the heroine in a poker game? Like you said, same issues - does the milder form somehow make it "right?" May clarity visit us both.

Lynne & Kate: I think it's perfectly acceptable to question this book, it's place in the genre, and how/why it finaled for an award. I find it pretty deplorable myself. My argument is that sometimes we're so quick to jump into the fray that we don't look ourselves in the mirror. Especially when we find ourselves happily reading sheikh heroes, boss/secretary stories, and mercenary heroes.

Amber: I keep hoping that a future RWA board will come to it's senses and reinstate the Romantic Elements category. I hated that move when it happened, and I still hate it now. So many of those books have crossover appeal and SO MANY readers come/came to the genre through books like that - dammit, that category needs to come back.

RWA lost me with the "not an endorsement" argument. Even if it isn't (technically), it's going to be viewed that way. The only way it wouldn't be viewed that way is if the RITA is completely divorced from RWA, which isn't going to happen. But I also don't know what RWA can do short of completely rethinking the current processes. I also am a little squirky with the idea of oversight - whether that's by the board, or another body of some sort. RWA has changed, progressed A LOT in recent years. Change has been slow, but it HAS happened. But it wasn't all that long ago that you saw a movement in certain corners to define romance as "one man, one woman." Like all organizations, it's going to be a microcosm of our society at large. That doesn't mean we can't talk about these things, work to change them - but just that people are going to bring their own baggage and beliefs with them and we end up with where we are right now. I'm not sure how to change that - but figure continued dialogue is never a bad thing.

Wendy said...

Carolyn: Thank you for stopping by and clarifying the process.

Lori: That's my hope as well - increased awareness, more thoughtful reading. I'm not one to deeply analyze what I read (hey, look at my reviews) - but I also think that admitting the genre features books (some very beloved books!) with problematic elements isn't a bad thing, and it doesn't denigrate the genre as a whole.

Kaetrin: Just to reinforce the point you made - yes, the books have to be self-nominated, either by author or publisher. Not every romance published that year gets tossed automatically into the stew. Which is how I explain it to readers when they wonder, "I loved Book X, I can't believe it didn't final!!!" Could be Book X wasn't even entered into the contest.....

PK: You're making me relive certain Oscar-winning movies that I found preachy and barely palpable. Thanks for that. Uh, I think.....

Lori, again: That's my issue to. I understand better now how it finaled, but that enough of the writers who were judging it rubber-stamped it? But then we've been down this road before. It's not the first WTF book to have finaled for an award, nor will it (likely) be the last. I've got a couple books in my TBR that I got years ago that were award winners and looking at them now? I'm wondering if I'll ever be able to get through them because of the problematic elements/themes/what-have-you.

azteclady said...

Regarding the process for the awards, Alexis Hall's post (that you linked to upthread), is very, very good (as is the discussion in the comments). I think he absolutely nails the situation with this last paragraph:
"If I have any criticism of the way RWA have handled this situation it might be that they’re probably trying to have their cake and eat it. To my mind, you can run it one of two ways. You can either accept that the process by which books are nominated for the RITAs is sufficiently hands-off and unpoliceable that a book’s being put forward to the panel does not constitute an honour or an endorsement, in which case authors and publishers and RWA should stop splashing ‘RITA-nominated” all over things as if it means anything. Alternatively, we accept that that a RITA-nomination does represent the meaningful endorsement of a prestigious industry body, in which case that body should probably take a more active role in deciding who gets that endorsement."

Kaetrin said...

@Lori - I absolutely understand your concerns. I'm in no way defending the book or the judges who read it. I think that inspie is a category that draws a very specific type of judge and if one were that particular type of fundie right wing Christian* then it wouldn't seem problematic. (They'd be wrong of course but it would never occur to them to even question it). So I think that's your answer.

*PS - I'm a Christian of the non right-wing fundy variety and I'm sure a lot of our sort also judged the inspie category too (although I hope, not this particular book) #notallChristians etc etc.

Amber said...

Thank you for that quote. That sums up my frustration quite succinctly. Either a RITA finalist is NBD or it IS an endorsement.

Wendy said...

Wanted to point out this post by Kelly which is very, very good. Kelly reads a ton of inspirational romance and she's my go-to source on that particular sub genre.

Kate Rothwell said...

And look! Kelly actually READ the book.

Kate said...

I somehow missed all this while involved in my own little dramas over the past several days, and now I see some of the Gamergate folks are throwing their lunatic 2 cents in. Between this and Donald Trump, I want to crawl under the covers and hide for a good, long time.

Kristie (J) said...

I'm late to the game one and formulating my thought for a post shortly. For me, the imbalance is only one part of what I find so troubling about this book and not the worst offense for me.

I think the uproar is starting now because inspirationals have a smaller fan base even though I know they are one of the bigger sellers. But I'm thinking many regular romance readers haven't heard that much about the subject matter of this book until now, especially with so many weighing on it.

Wendy said...

Kate: My eyes crossed while reading that Newsweek article. I'm sure there's a reason why they felt the Gamergate contingent was "qualified" to weigh in on something that was happening within the romance community /end sarcasm. The whole thing has me feeling particularly stabby.

Kristie: This probably says nothing good about me, but honestly I rolled right past the power dynamic argument when I saw that one starting to get floated around - hence this blog post. The genre doesn't exactly have the best history with such things. We start looking at power dynamics in a lot of the books that seem to be especially popular right now? And.....yeah. Right now I feel too close to it - but it will be interesting to look back in say, 10 years, through a social history context and theorize why Dark Romance, motorcycle gangs, some New Adult, and yes - this Nazi romance gained traction in the marketplace.....

Bona Caballero said...

The most poised and lucid issue about this topic I've read. Thank you for writing it.