Disclaimer: The following is the opinion of a single individual, and does not represent the sentiments of any other person or group of persons. If you agree with the views expressed, feel free to offer support to anyone involved in the ongoing attempt to create an Erotic Romance Chapter of the RWA. If you disagree, please direct your ire solely toward Selah March. Thank you.
Ah, Spring—when a young (okay, early middle-aged) romance writer’s thoughts lightly turn to the upcoming RWA National Conference. For those of you not in the know, this year’s shindig will be hosted by that icon of romantic love, Reno, Nevada. Yes, that’s right. The city that once sported the rep of Quickie Divorce Capital, USA. Classy, no?
But I kid the RWA, because everybody knows that, as an organization, it’s ALL ABOUT THE CLASS. In fact, it’s SO chock full of the stuff that it recently very nearly didn’t allow a group of its members in good standing to apply to form a special interest chapter devoted to erotic romance.
Read that again. The National Board of the RWA nearly didn’t let a group of its members APPLY TO FORM A CHAPTER DEVOTED TO EROTIC ROMANCE.
Not FORM the chapter.
APPLY to form the chapter.
The jury is still very much out as to whether the chapter will ever be formally recognized, but at least the application process is underway at the time of this Bitchery posting. And I’ll bet even the most uninformed, disinterested non-writer among you can guess why: that awful world, erotic. And, of course, everything for which it stands. Because even after the lot of us agreed, following much outrage and gnashing of teeth, to eradicate the offensive word from our
title and description, nothing has been guaranteed. After all, even if we don’t CALL ourselves authors of erotica or erotic romance, the fact remains that we consistently write about The Act in terms that leaving little-to-nothing to the imagination, and often include same-gender participants and/or threesomes, foursomes and moresomes.
And even those of us who don’t stray far from the more vanilla combos of one man/one woman/one horizontal surface often force our couples to indulge in hedonistic activities like, as mentioned by an incensed author in an RWR* letter-to-the-editor, ORAL SEX ON THE FIRST DATE. This, the aforementioned author insists, is not her idea of romance. She didn’t bother to give an alternate definition, but I’m guessing the word “porn” wasn’t far from her mind. Or maybe “smut.” Frankly, I’d be surprised if she were thinking “erotica,” but I could be wrong. It’s been known to happen.
So, to recap…
We can’t call ourselves the Erotic Romance Chapter because…well, because. No one’s really given us a GOOD answer as to why the word is verboten. Lot’s of blather about “image,” and what romance really IS, and what it ISN’T. None of which has anything to do with the fact that EVERY MAJOR NEW YORK HOUSE is now dipping its toes—hell, its heels, soles and ankles, too—into the erotic waters. Even Harlequin, that bastion of the closed bedroom door, is beating the coochie drum with its new “Spice” line. And yet, RWA remains resistant. Seems nonsensical to me, but what do I know? I’m unpublished, and a trashy, ill-bred EROTIC ROMANCE WRITER, to boot.
I am one member of a potential chapter, among over two hundred, who is waiting to hear if the sitting National Board has the grace to say, “We don’t much like HOW you write romance, but since you’re writing about people in love and including that all-important happily-ever-after, we agree that you DO WRITE ROMANCE. So come on down, girls, and get yourself a slice of the
pie!” But I’ll be surprised if they do.
On the other hand, I’ll be equally surprised if they say, instead, “Sorry. You just don’t make the cut. In fact, you fall so short of what we consider an exemplary group of romance authors that we sort of wish you’d just…disappear. Completely. And take those icky-poo readers who LIKE your nasty girlie-porn with you.” (Rounded off nicely with a delicate, ladylike shudder, of course.)
We should be so lucky to get such a direct, honest response. If I could face the board today, here’s what I’d tell them: Don’t squirt me with feminine hygiene spray and tell me it’s raining. For God’s sake, ladies, if you haven’t the balls to say you don’t like us or the studmuffins we rode in on, at least don’t lower yourselves to hypocrisy. I—and, I suspect, many of my sisters in smut—would respect you more for a little forthright bitchiness than all the genteel double-speak in the world.
For one thing, your average forthright bitch has class. And I can appreciate that, even when I don’t agree with her about much else.
*RWR – Romance Writers Report, a monthly journal distributed to RWA members.
(Smart Bitch Editorial Note: Two paragraphs of unduly sensitive and detailed information that wasn’t meant for public consumption have been deleted by request.)