Originally I had wanted my last post here to be a jolly interview with one of my favourite authors, but instead it’s a version of a post that I’ve been in the process of writing for about 4 months. I keep picking it up, and putting it down, sometimes in the hope that my concerns will blow over, sometimes because I’m sure that I’m being naive and sometimes because I feel that the validity of my opinion would be questioned. However events over the last few weeks have crystallized some of my thoughts – and here we are.
I started reading romance again about 18 months ago, and blogging a year ago, and I knew nothing about either the on line romance or blogging communities; but I started reading, tweeting and interacting and a year later here I am, in some ways more confused than I was when I started.
Now it wasn’t news to me that certain types of people look down on those who read romantic fiction, but I wasn’t aware that the romance community has some proud and passionate supporters who claim, correctly that much of the community and industry is not only feminist in outlook, but is also run by women. Good news !
Then as I read more I noticed that there were rules, very stringent rules that were set down on what constitutes romance, and this is when I started thinking- what is going on here, but I was new and just because I didn’t agree with some of the rules didn’t mean that they were wrong did it ?
Then I discovered m/m romance, didn’t even know it existed, and I got thoroughly hooked. I was lucky enough to meet some authors and bloggers who were part of this, and gained, I hope, some friends. I also noticed that some bloggers and reviewers in genre romance (for that is its name) were dismissive of authors et al in the m/m romance community. This troubled me, mainly because it seemed a little personal and hurt some of my new friends. I still said nothing, at this juncture mainly because I didn’t feel that I was qualified.
On October I got involved in a small way in QRM, which opened my eyes to many different types of romance, it was fantastic and exciting, and at the same time exposed more levels of unpleasantness. A very good friend of mine was vilified over comments made on a post there. This introduced me to something called sub tweeting, like talking behind someones back, but in a public space, so that the person you are talking about eventually finds out. The very definition of passive aggressive behavior in my opinion.
My friend was really hurt by all this. Although I posted comments on QRM, I did nothing more.
Around the same time (I’m bad at time so it could have been earlier or later) there was a big fuss about anonymity for bloggers/ reviewers when a couple of authors located people who had published negative reviews. A number of blogs stopped reviewing, and there was a lot of talk about privacy, especially reviewers privacy. I then found out that some of the bloggers had been responsible for trying to ‘out’ authors identities and sexuality. Despite the hypocrosy of this, aprt from some grousing again I did nothing.
Then, before Christmas a reviewer on Goodreads was attacked, again behind his back, because he wrote an enthusiastic review of a book and updated it causing the review to re appear at the same time. Over and after Christmas this spiraled into some very personal comments and also highlighted some terrible behavior from people who pride themselves on being among other things academics and feminists. For me this was the final straw.
I see the romance community as a microcosm of society, and it needs to change. We should be better than this.
I have taught my daughter that name calling, back biting and discrimination on gender, race, religion or choice of lifestyle is wrong and yet I have sat and watched it happening on line. No more.
I don’t find it acceptable, and nor should anyone, that people are targeted because of who they are. If you disagree with what they write then disagree intelligently referencing the writing. None of us have the right to make it personal, and when it becomes so then stand up and be counted. And be a grown up, do it face to face.
If people choose to be private, there is usually a reason. Respect it.
If someone is cruel to a friend, be supportive, it often seems that there are more cruel people around than kind ones. Don’t add to this.
I am sure that many will find this naive, but I would rather be naive than silent.
No music, shocking