Friday, September 28, 2007

Women Rule and You're Scared of Us...

I've noticed lately that out on the blogsphere there have been a lot of high octane flair-ups in various and sundry pockets the SF community about... well, women.

First, there was the whole Asimov's kerfluffle about women and SF. Then Fangs, Fur & Fey had a whole dis fest that is currently being echoed in a private list of SF/F writers wherein the whole urban fatansy/romance genre marketing bubble is being bashed -- I suspect in part for being too successful (and being... *gasp* written by and for women.)

I'd join the fray, myself, but I'm afraid I'd say something extremely inflamatory like, "bbbbbbbbpppppppppttttttt, you're just JEALOUS."

A few statistics about romance and romance readers(from RWA):

+ Romance fiction generated $1.37 billion in sales in 2006.
+ Romance fiction outsold every market category in 2006, with the exception of religion/inspirational.
+ 42% of romance readers have a bachelor's degree or higher ...

I can see why this might initally scare science fiction writers, but most romance readers (unlike many SF/F readers) consistantly read outside of their genre. Romantic Times (which has renamed itself BookClub for Women) regularly reviews SF/F... and not just ones with a strong romantic element, either.

In fact, I don't think the AngeLINK books would have done was well as they did without the support of romance readers. My sales ranking jumped significantly lower the day after a positive review came out for Archangel Protocol.

My point, however, is staring to get lost. What I'm saying is that I'm often surprised how people feel free to rag on romance because its perceived as "women's literature." It's like a strong woman just walked in the room and she clearly weilds industry power and everyone feels they have to get their hate on. (She's a b***h, she's a 'ho. She can't have that power because she actually deserves it, it must be because she's trashy.) This seems particularly obvious when people do it to romance since people have been doing it to women for generations.

And why make enemies of one of the largest group of readers in the United States? Shouldn't we as SF/F writers, instead, figure out how we can be supportive and welcoming?




Kelly McCullough said...

I haven't read the Asimov's mess or the Fangs, Fur & Fey thing, but I have read the private discussion and I don't know that I'd characterize it at all the same way as you have here. It looks to me more like the discussion is centered around a number of writers who are concerned about the way their work is being marketed and reviewed and sometimes the way it is shelved. And, in turn, whether those things are likely to hurt their careers.

Since mismarketing or misshelving can kill a career, I think those are entirely valid concerns regardless of whether or not they are correct in this particular case. I am not one of the people with the concerns I mention, but I don't feel comfortable with this characterization of the discussion and felt I had to address it. Also, since many of the writers in question are women, I am troubled by the title of this post.

I personally am delighted by the attention the WebMage book have gotten from the Romance press and though I've let my membership lapse, I was once a member of Romance Writers of America, which is hands down the best writing organization out there. So, I don't disagree at all with the wonders of the world of romance, just the direction of this post in regards to the discussion in question.

lydamorehouse said...

Well, I didn't mention the particular discussion by name because I agree that it mostly appears to be something else. However, just because women are dissing romance (and men are supporting it) doesn't mean the discussion doesn't smack a bit of sexism to me.

Kelly McCullough said...

But I don't agree with the bit about dissing romance. I see people saying that they are unhappy about being characterized as romance when in fact they don't believe that they are writing romance. I see people saying that their books don't conform to the tropes of romance and so being characterized as romance my be bad for their careers. And I see people who suspect that the readership overlap of their target audience and what they are occasionally characterized as not being a big one, and someone could certainly infer dissing from some of the language involved, but I think that's peripheral at best, and probably not intended to diss.

And it was not the issue of addressing sexism by either gender which causes me problems with the title. It was the implication of the "You're Scared of Us" that it is you=men that are scared of us=women, which strikes me as quite troubling considering the mix of genders in the discussion.

lydamorehouse said...

I'm happy to change the title, because honestly my issue isn't necessarily all tied up in gender (though, as I mentioned that seems to be in the air a lot lately, and I wanted to comment on that.) The issue is more that people (writers?) seem to get awfully jealous of whoever the popular kids are these days. And these days those kids are the "women" (though many of the writers are, in fact, men) of urban fantasy/paranormal romance.

Kelly McCullough said...

That works for me, and I honestly don't have an opinion on the Fangs Fur & Fey or Asimov stuff is going on. It was the conflating of those with the private conversation and the title that concerned me. Oh, and absolutely, jealousy among genres is something that happens frequently.