Laura Clawson has written a spiffy defense of her own love of romance and posted it on Daily Kos, which… if you’re not familiar with it, I don’t quite know what to say. Knocking down the myths facing romance readers and the genre itself one by one, she does a bang-up job of addressing what frustrates her as a romance reader, and closes with the following:
One of the key issues in judgments of the average quality of writing is that the romance genre is never allowed to claim love stories from outside the genre. Really beautifully-written, “literary” books with mystery plots or with sci-fi elements are likely to be marketed at least loosely in association with those genres. They get to have the best of both worlds—the marketing bump of the genre and the critical and social recognition due their quality. You don’t see love stories allowed to strike that balance, which severs a world of possibility from the genre, and an introduction to a new audience for at least some deserving authors.
I’m sure there are a hundred other myths to be attacked, and none will die easily. But in the end, even if they were mostly true, the disgust for romance novels and their readers would still look more like disdain for women and feminized culture than anything else.
This. THIS is how romance will be defended: not in one sweeping changing of the minds, but in repeated, pointed articles that are well written and make cogent, non-shrieking points to specific audiences. From print newspapers to political blogs like Daily Kos, every time romance readers speak up to a small audience, a few minds get changed. THIS is how romance is defended. We can’t change everyone’s opinion at one time, but we can show up in smaller communities and point out that romances connect to and share issues that are important to different groups of people.
It is going to be a doozy of a time for whomever selects the Veritas winner for the 2010 RWA National convention. From Joanne Rendell’s HuffPo pieces to this article, it has been a smacking good year for defending the romance online and in print. (To nominate this article, go to rwanational.org, log in as a member and fill out the form).
Well played, Ms. Clawson, well played.
ETA: Holy smoking trout, go read the comments. Romance author Teresa Hill and others are engaging readers in a great discussion including favorite heroines, favorite books, and themes that turn the “Thank you for raping me” stereotype on its head. SO awesome.
I will get nothing done today.
ETA: I owe Janice Gelb mad props for sending me the link originally – thanks, ma’am!