A morning cup of “WHAT THE FUCK” to go along with your coffee

Kate Rothwell recently posted a letter to the editor by one Jan R. Butler. It’s truly a masterpiece, invoking the usual homophobic canards. Despite knowing it’s the same old moronic bullshit parroted by bigots that basically boils down to “it’s wrong because it makes us really, really uncomfortable,” I still got good and pissed off reading it—because the logic so very specious, if nothing else.

For example:

(…) romance isn’t about just any “two people” celebrating “love in its many forms.” Organizations such as the Man-Boy Love Association would certainly refer to themselves as celebrating love “two people” (or more) finding love in one of its many forms” . . . while they actively promote pedophilia.

So, NAMBLA provides some sort of ringing and conclusive condemnation of all homogaiety, eh? If that’s true, then it has to apply to the flip side, too: all those pedophiles who identify as heterosexual (and the vast majority of kiddie-fuckers are straight) are a ringing condemnation of heterosexuality. Think about this, folks: next time you pick up a mainstream romance novel, have sex with your significant other or fall in love with somebody of the opposite sex who’s about your own age, you’re ALL condoning pedophilia. QED.

And, please, spare us the arguments about “censorship” and “inclusiveness.” Preference for “one man, one woman” stories represents what RWA has always claimed is romance’s target demographic: college-educated, married, middle-class, monogamous, and moral. . . .Only in recent years has a vocal (translate: shrill) minority tried to drive RWA’s focus off that path, under the guise of “broadening its horizons.” But refusing to define romance according to the parameters it has held for centuries doesn’t “broaden” anything . . . it only starts us down the aforementioned slope, and once we’re in that slide, heaven help us.

That bit about the demographic? Made me howl with laughter. HOWL. WITH. LAUGHTER. Since when was “moral” an explicit demographic for any American business other than the shills of fundamentalist money-making scams run by fucknuts like Jim Bakker, Pat Robertson and the crew at Focus on the Family? But more than that, I love how “moral” is suddenly tied in not only with marriage and monogamy, but college-educated and middle class. Brilliant!

Seriously, reading this shit just makes me want to make out with girls and donate more money to the ACLU and the Human Rights Campaign.

And as for the centuries-old standards of romance: Do tell, what are they? Butler seems to be an expert on so many things, no doubt supported by impeccable research and logic, I’m just agog to hear her opinions on this. Do let me know how the unwritten “no pre-marital sex” rule in romances has remained so steadfast for centuries.

What brought romance fiction to its present level of success is a collection of decades’ worth of one-man, one-woman relationships stories, in all their richness, variety, and power. RWA should be the first to endorse that, rather than attempting to placate fringe groups trying to impose their standards upon the rest of us. If anyone’s in danger of being “censored” here, it’s believers in “what comes naturally”: one-man, one-woman romance. We in RWA owe it to ourselves not to let that happen.

And here we see the magnificent set-up of a false dichotomy: romances featuring homosexuality, bisexuality and polyamory/group sex must somehow endanger the state of monogamous hetero romances. I’ve never understood how homosexuality in ANY way threatens or limits what a heterosexual person wants to do, by the way—and this applies for marriage, way of life and reading material. Don’t like gay marriage or gay sex? Then I highly, highly recommend that you not marry or fuck somebody your own gender. Don’t like gay romance? Don’t read ‘em.

The old “but we’re the ones being persecuted by being forced to accept this immorality!” argument also holds no water. By arguing that gay and/or polyamorous romances shouldn’t be published in the first place, a group of people are, in effect, being restricted, censored and disenfranchised. People who try argue otherwise are not only being stupid, but dishonest about their motives. Look, “because I think it’s gross” or “because my religion tells me it’s so” is not a good enough reason to impose your standards on everyone else. And I honestly don’t see how publishing gay/poly romance novels oppresses those who like only straight romances. I can assure you, gay and poly romances don’t somehow emit radioactive Immorality Waves in cartoony stink-lines and somehow corrupt all the surrounding books so that alla sudden, the cowboy is slipping his range-raised meat up the sheikh’s dark cavern instead of shagging the amnesiac virgin heiress.

Categorized:

Ranty McRant

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  1. 1
    Lady T says:

    It’s a good thing I don’t drink coffee because spewing out hot liquid this early would be painful. This Jan W. Butler is what Harlan Ellison would call “bone-stick-stone-stupid”-WTF does NAMBLA have to do with romance novels? Is there some sinister secret series of kinky man-boy books out there ,designed to corrupt the young and how involved is Michael Jackson in all of this?:)

    I can’t stand it when people lump child molesters in with gays-did everyone not see that Diff’rent Strokes episode about the bike shop pervert,where it was clearly pointed out that kiddie predators are nothing of the sort? And what is all this nonsense about “one woman,one man” tradition in romance literature? I’m not the biggest romance reader but there’s this thing called a love triangle which means atleast three people(sometimes more!)gettting busy with the hook-up. Hell,Scarlett O’Hara had three fellas in her love life before she finally gave into Rhett and still wanted him and Ashley!

    It’s such total BS when people play that”oh,things were nicer and purer in the past” game-please!  The main difference is that folks had to hide certain themes under the beard of “conventional” storytelling and now,it’s all out in the open.

  2. 2
    kate r says:

    Everyone should read some of the elegant responses in my blog. And that’s not *just* to haul people over there.

    Comments like Stephen’s calmed me the hell down. Blood pressure.

  3. 3
    kate r says:

    and thank you, Candy.

    It’s all so excellent, but this line
    I can assure you, gay and poly romances don’t somehow emit radioactive Immorality Waves in cartoony stink-lines and somehow corrupt all the surrounding books so that alla sudden, the cowboy is slipping his range-raised meat up the sheikh’s dark cavern instead of shagging the amnesiac virgin heiress. is immortal.

  4. 4
    Nonny says:

    a-fucking-men.

    THANK YOU.

  5. 5
    Alessia Brio says:

    Just more of the fundy neocon crap we’ve been fed for the past several years—spilling over into our little RWA corner of the world.  The sheeple are will nod & bleat in appreciation.

  6. 6
    Jane says:

    What happened to the “if you don’t have anything nice to say” sentiment?

  7. 7
    Jane says:

    Oh, I think the amensiac cowboy who falls in love with the sheik would be a fantastic story.  If one of them is a virgin, all the better.

  8. 8
    Candy says:

    What happened to the “if you don’t have anything nice to say” sentiment?

    Heh heh heh. Indeed. This is only invoked when books are being attacked instead of minority groups.

  9. 9
    Carrie Lofty says:

    That’s the problem with the world today, actually – not enough solid, well-written cowboy/sheikh romances featuring a substantial amount of deep kissing and brave experimentation.  I’d love to see the O-face on that cover….

  10. 10
    Vyctori says:

    Think about this, folks: next time you pick up a mainstream romance novel, have sex with your significant other or fall in love with somebody of the opposite sex who’s about your own age, you’re ALL condoning pedophilia.

    Thank you. If there’s nothing I hate more about the whole homosexuality debate, it’s the people who say “if a tiny little fragment of the homosexual population molest children/have Offensive (To Me) Kink #982/whatever, all of them do!”

    As for the slippery slope argument, why am I reminded of Dilbert’s “You Are Wrong Because” list…?

    Thank you for your anger, Candy. It’s good to know there are people out there with their heads screwed on straight. Or not so straight.

  11. 11
    kate r says:

    lovelysalome—hmmm. Raises lots of questions in the set up.

    DeSalvo and whom? Which would be the clutcher and which would have his head back in eyes-closed O-face? Would both have lost all the buttons on their shirts or would only one be shirt-free? And would the wind be flowing in one direction to toss their locks or in the traditional two to three?

  12. 12
    NTE says:

    I thought I’d have to break out a smilie, but there is not one that is laughing hysterically and clapping at the same time.  So, instead, a great big BRAVO.  An excellently worded and totally valid counterpoint to a great big load of hooey.  SmartBitches rock!

  13. 13
    Rinda says:

    Bring on the sheik/cowboy thing.  I’m dying to read it!

    I’m so sick of all this crap.  If they don’t like it, don’t read it.  It’s that simple. 

    They complain about having others force their ideas on them while trying to force their morals right back.  It’s an ugly, vicious circle.

    There are more ugly, more horrifying, terrible things happening out there and this is what people focus on. Makes me ill.

  14. 14
    megan says:

    Thank you!

    I am so sick of these extreme “slippery slope” examples that have nothing to do with the issue!  Its amazing the way a person will take sex between two(or seven or whatever) consenting adults, be offended, and toss out the, “So you think its okay to have sex with children.”  Huh?  How do you even get there?

  15. 15
    Rinda says:

    Oops, forgot to tap that notify thing.  I want to keep up with the conversation. (g)

  16. 16
    Carrie Lofty says:

    kate r – too bad we didn’t come up these vital questions BEFORE the photoshop cover contest.  For my money, it’d be Cowboy DeSalvo with the O-face – at least then we’d find out if he’s capable of SOME SORT of facial expression! 

    Let’s see… worldly, bored Sheikh Fabio finds himself in Montana, entranced by reticent Cowboy DeSalvo who owns the local touristy ranch – but the sheikh is interested in the REAL Wild West.  It’s another Longoria novel in the making!

  17. 17
    Lia says:

    Isn’t it interesting that Massachusetts, the only state in America to allow gay marriage, has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country, while them Gawd-fearin, chest-thumpin, “Red” southern states have the highest rates of teen pregnancy, abortion… and divorce?

    Isn’t there something in the Bible about leaving the speck in your brother’s eye alone and getting the muck out of your own…?

  18. 18
    Lisa says:

    Wait, so only homosexuals can molest children?

    Stop the presses – someone tell that to all the stepfathers who ever molested their step daughters, and all those female teachers having babies by their male students. They must have missed the memo.

    [/sarcasm]

  19. 19
    --E says:

    And I honestly don’t see how publishing gay/poly romance novels effectively oppresses those who like only straight romances.

    —>Apparently in the same way that all those illegal immigrant CEOs are ousting the good ol’ boys from the board rooms.

    What is it with people in this country? If we get to impose our mores on everyone else, can I force everyone to take classes in logic?

  20. 20

    Yes, another Monday.  Wake up, go to work, read again about how morons are trying to hijack our minds and professional communities.

    *Sigh*  This person doesn’t speak for all of RWA.  Hell, she doesn’t speak for anyone I know in RWA.  It’s important for open minded writers to continue supporting what is, let’s face it, the only trade organization that speaks for romance writers as a group.

    But it’s also important for this kind of fugheadedness to be outed.  Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  21. 21
    Sherwood says:

    If this maroon knew butt-kiss about the history of marriage, she would know that marriage (especially for the middle classes and up) was a treaty involving property and the provision of an heir.  Love seldom came into it—thus all the interesting songs and dramas about the conflict between love and duty.  Hello?  Girls were told to do their duty, not to fall in love!  In France, the woman could then go on and pick lovers; in England she was supposed to close her eyes to the spouse’s shenanigans and devote herself to her children.  Love?  Read the novels of the 18th century and see how many mothers warn their daughters against giving in to “love”.

    Also, if Ms Ignorant would actually read some history, she would discover that gay relationships go right on down history to Greek times, when it was more or less expected.  Half the Bourbon kings were gay.

  22. 22
    sazzat says:

    Another vote for the cowboy/sheikh romance.  Can the cowboy be the virgin?

  23. 23
    megan says:

    Yes, wasn’t there a time that men got prostitutes because their wives were not supposed to enjoy sex, but rather lie back and think of England?

    So those people would think it was immoral to read about sex at all, between anyone.

  24. 24
    Arethusa says:

    Actually I’m with Jan R. Butler. I don’t want to read immoral romances. Let’s have a bonfire and burn all those RWA-approved books since they’re filled with flamin’ pre-marital sex every which way, something that all good monogamous, married, middle-class uhhh college-educated (I just graduated!) moral women are against.

    Down with homos and sluts!

  25. 25
    fiveandfour says:

    My alarm bells went shrieking at the word “moral”, too.  Perhaps because it’s an extreme pet peeve of mine that that some people think that their beliefs represent the pinnacle of morality that everyone else should adhere to.  Frankly, it’s an insult to my honor that someone else believes they can think these things through on my behalf as if I’m too stupid or weak to do it myself, decide what’s “proper” and “right”, and attempt to force me to go along with it.

    Well my version of morality says I think this kind of thinking makes a person a fuckwit, but everyone has the right to be a fuckwit so I’ll leave it alone so long as there’s no harm done to anyone else. 

    I’d love to develop of game show for these people where they need to answer questions like: what’s better, a gay person who’s a loving parent who’d never harm a child or a straight person who has?  I don’t imagine it would actually make them listen to themselves and open their minds to the concept that “there’s more on heaven and earth than dreamt in your philosophy”, but it sure would be entertaining to hear them talk themselves into knots.

  26. 26
    Victoria Dahl says:

    Just to be clear. . . Let me point out that people like this are upset because the members of RWA refused to sign onto this shit. Regardless of what the previous small-minded administration were selling, the majority of RWA members weren’t buying.

    I believe the CURRENT president said something along the lines of “RWA doesn’t define the genre and shouldn’t try.” Hey, you guys interviewed her, right? Anyway, that’s why the intolerant are foaming at the mouth.

  27. 27
    Robin says:

    This reminds me of Lewis Black’s “Red, White, and Screwed” comedy routine, in which he goes on a rampage about how with all of the critical national and international problems—war in the Middle East, education, Katrina damage, the national deficit, etc.—the Administration has chosen to focus on gay marriage, as if, he says, keeping gay people from marrying will set the country to rights in every other way (once again, this guy is hysterical and brilliant; if he comes anywhere near your town, GO SEE HIM, and in the meantime, watch him on HBO). 

    I don’t think Butler, whoever she is, is stupid; I think her argument expresses fear, and all of her fear is carried by that one word, moral.  Now we could argue all day about why such fear exists and what it’s real source is and all the ways in which the marriage of political ideologies and personal/religious values is affecting American democracy (although I tend to think that more education often makes people more liberal, but whatever).  Strictly in terms of Romance, though, I think Butler’s fear reflects the extent to which conservative values have, for so very long, ruled that particular school. 

    We talk all the time about how conservative Romance still is, politically, sexually, and gender-wise.  The archetypal base of Romance reflects that definition of conservative that means preserving continuity, and attaching that to some of Romance’s generic antecedents (the Victorian morality tracts, captivity narratives, the 18th century novel) does not render a portrait of mainstream subversive transformation.  Of course there is subversion within the genre (although I’d be interested to discuss whether there was more in, say, the 80s than there is now, at least in terms of women’s sexuality), and there is slow transformation (thus the fear of those who share Butler’s position), but very honestly, I don’t think there’s been nearly *enough* interrogation or renovation of some of the more stubbornly conservative elements of the genre to justify the backlash.  I wish there was more questioning, more subversion, more transformation, more freedom in what I think will always be a somewhat conservative genre, in so far as it does focus on love and romance.  I’d like to see more gay Romance and more straight Romance in which any form of sexuality beyond straight white male is not subject to all sorts of archaic rules aligning virtue with virginity, etc.  I’m not asking to banish the more conservative Romance; I just want there to be more than that, much, much more.  I want us to stop thinking that heroines who sleep with more than one man are sluts and that heroes who fall in love with other heroes aren’t any more likely to be pedophiles than heroes who fall in love with heroines are.

    The thing I find to be most ironic about the current “moral” backlash, is the fact that so often in Romance, the hero acts in ways that would immediately be deemed immoral if applied to the heroine.  All this talk of the moral “slippery slope” goes back, I think, to those terrible fears that if women finally become truly “unloosed,” we will be swinging high and single on appletinis rather than sitting married and at home making apple pie.  And I guess we’ll be bringing all the gay folks with us on our pied piper tour of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Sure it sounds silly to put it that way, but if you look at the way Romance has traditionally created a number of rules around how and when and in what appropriate way women can express their sexuality (i.e., preferably to one many only), as well as the way in which homosexuality is often linked to villainy (Robin Schone and Susan Donovan, for example), it doesn’t surprise me that those who are comfortable with that status quo are getting nervous with some of the emerging markets.  My only concern is that we haven’t really changed the rules enough to move past some of the IMO dangerous reasoning in arguments like Butler’s.  I wish we could hurry up on that.

  28. 28
    Robin says:

    oops, Candy, my repressed rage and failure to preview screwed up the italics thingy.  Sorry, sorry, sorry.

  29. 29
    Carrie Lofty says:

    That’s the funny thing: most fans of historical romance understand that the suspension of some disbelief is a reading requisite.  Romance is a construct of imagination and salesmanship that we try our best to reconstruct (or manage to love without) in contemporary reality, but it becomes even less plausible the father back in history we venture.  Romance novels are for entertainment and escape – hence a thoughtful, understanding Viking hero who seeks a strong, feisty partner (not a slave/possession wife), or modern career women who time travels back to meet said Viking. 

    I love historical romances but I cannot stand time travel stories, so I read the former and avoid the latter.  It’s worked for me.  I suggest that the bigoted author of that editorial – despite her “over use” of “quotation marks” – is literate, at least, and can employ the same strategy with regard to her reading choices.

    And I’d like the cowboy to be the virgin too.  Like I said, the sheikh is the worldly one – he’d have a lot to teach!

  30. 30
    Victoria Dahl says:

    You know I already saw the virgin cowboy thing in a movie recently, so I vote for something different. How about the icy-hawt English duke who wakes up in the opulent confines of a sheikh’s palace. He doesn’t quite remember who he is and doesn’t know that he shouldn’t be having these tingly feelings for a man. But the dark sheikh sees the burning curiosity in the young duke’s eyes and begins to groom him for the position of Official Buggeree. Before the Duke can say, “See here, old chap!” he’s been stripped of all body hair, aroused by the oral attention of three or four skilled eunechs, and lubed within an inch of his life. Or, should I say, within eight inches of his life? Doh!

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