Are You Trying To Shame Me?

Cause you’re gonna have to try a little harder to make that shit work for you. I’m not ashamed. Not at all. Not one iota. I write romances. I read romances. And I LIKE that I do.

Wanna look down your nose at me? Fuck you.

Give me a minute, bet I can find something out about you that I can make into a shame sequence. Seriously? After all the shit that women get, now we’re getting shit because of the material we read? Bitch, please. Be happy that WE ARE READING AT ALL.

Wanna call me names? Fuck you… AGAIN.

I get the disparaging remarks about “mommy porn” as you laugh uncomfortably and look away. I get the light scoff/snort as you discuss the merits of romances being written at all, much less read–gasp–by a large percentage of the populace. I get the looks of derision and scorn when certain titles are mentioned and the genres they represent. I get it. I don’t understand it. But I get that some people feel that way.

All this was precipitated because of a blog post, Dear Columists, romance fiction is not your bitch, by Kat Mayo in the Drum. In that article, Kat defends the romance genre, romance writers and romance readers. And she does so brilliantly.

But you know what pisses me off? Feminists–who, by the way, are by and large WOMEN–are trying to shame other WOMEN for reading and writing in a genre that showcases WOMEN. And then the argument devolves into people pointing out that women are other women’s biggest adversary in today’s world. Wake the fuck up.

Wanna know the biggest adversaries to women in today’s world? Lack of education. Shitty health care. Disparate treatment in the workforce. And the list goes on because the list is fucking LONG, yo.

What ISN’T the biggest stumbling block for other women is WOMEN. Yes, there are times that women will argue. So what? I argue with dudes too when they’re fucking WRONG. My arguing with a women doesn’t automatically mean I’m being catty cause I have a vagina as well. It just means I don’t give a shit what gender you are when I point out that I think YOU ARE WRONG.

Talk about circling back. Dude, seriously. What is WRONG is dismissing the romance genre in its entirety because there happen to be one or ten shitty romance writers. Here, let me lay out my thesis in clear bold language. THE ROMANCE GENRE IS THE ONLY GENRE THAT MAKES WOMEN THE FOREFRONT AND CENTER OF THE STORY.

Let me say that again. Because it’s important. Really fucking important. The Romance genre is the only genre that makes women the forefront and center of the story.

No other genre does that. Not sci-fi. Not westerns. Not literary fiction. Not middle grade fiction. Not thrillers. Not horrors. Not picture books. Not cookbooks. Not devotionals. Not fantasy. Not histories. Not poetry. Not one other genre makes women the centerpiece of the story.

And that boys and girls never happens in real life. Not really. Women are secondary characters in real life. Every once in a while, we’ll have the token women break through and get her own story, but that happens so rarely as to be statistically irrelevant. And when it does, the larger story hers is contained within is usually the man’s story. Don’t believe me? Crack open any history book. Ever. Shit, crack open a historical fiction book and although the story might seem like it’s about the girl, it’s about the dudes in the book. Really. You just get the reaction perspective from the women’s point of view in regards to what the dudes are doing. So being told in the feminine perspective doesn’t mean the story places the woman at the forefront, at the center, as the CRUX of the story.

The romance genre has been doing that since the genre developed. Women, and some men, reading about women navigating their shitty societies and societal restrictions, figuring shit out, being the REASON for the story. And yes, real women know there aren’t that many happy endings. Shit. WE KNOW. We know there are things in the books that aren’t realistic. Dude. WE KNOW. But there is a measure of empowerment and satisfaction from immersing oneself into a world where a women’s story as she navigates her life and relationships isn’t secondary, or an afterthought, or an addendum.

And really, isn’t it easy to bash the romance genre because it involves women? Doesn’t it seem that we’re all a little quicker to bash the things women like, read, or want? I don’t need to be shamed because someone else thinks my reading and writing material isn’t up to intellectual snuff. I don’t need someone denigrating me because of my choice in genre. Didn’t we already go through this in the science fiction genre and the horror genre. All this name-calling because someone else’s opinion renders an ENTIRE class of writing dismissed.

Part of being a free women today means I get to read what the fuck I want. AND I feel no shame. It also means that I get to write the fuck I want. And again, I FEEL NO SHAME.  Shame has no place in literary discourse of any kind. Discuss the merits of the work, or body of works, and have rational discussions about this. Even if we agree to disagree. I don’t NEED to argue someone to my point of view. I could really give a shit less what you think, or what you read, or whatever. And even if I thought it was shit, I wouldn’t disparage the entire genre or you as a person for reading that shit. You’d probably never know. Because reading material is individual and what we get out of a reading is also individual. So one book for me might be shit and it might have been the greatest book you’ve ever read. That’s cool.

But don’t tell me I’m perpetuating the stereotypes of a type of women that you might find distasteful. In doing that, you are doing nothing more than what the patriarchal system has been telling women all along. You shouldn’t do this because it isn’t feminine has now become you shouldn’t do this because it’s TOO feminine. Fuck you. Determine your level of femininity or lack thereof and then do that. Don’t look around and tell other people to do that too, and if they don’t do what you tell them then say they suck because that just makes YOU SUCK.

My reading and writing material doesn’t make me more or less feminine. Neither does it determine my commitment level to feminism. All it says is that I want to read a story where the central figure and the story is about a women living her life. That is all.

So if you’ve got shit to say to me about my reading and/or my writing material and its start out with the romance genre sucks… just shut the fuck up. There’s only one place the shame in the situation should be sitting. And it’s not on my shoulders. And I won’t thank you for trying to lay that shit at my feet. Keep it. I’ve got enough shit to deal with. I so don’t need yours.


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