Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Three Holes, No Waiting: Part Deux

Miss Black -- she of the recent "polyamorous romance is PORN and/or should be labeled clearly for the protection/guidance of readers" brouhaha -- has deigned to show up and make some remarks. Rather than debate her in the comments section -- and since her blog doesn't allow comments at ALL (convenient, that) -- I thought I'd bring it to the front page for the entertainment of all concerned.

WARNING: I'm in a BAD mood.

* * *
Miss Black says:

"Someone sent me this link this morning. I have to admit, none of you should be so upset about the posts I made."

We tend to get that way when attacked by one of our own. Go figure.

"Erotica is fine with me."

The equivalent of compulsory moves in figure skating, 'Erotica is fine with me' translates to 'Despite the asshattery of what I'm about to say, I'm not really an uptight, unreasonable, unrepentant jackass.' Strong start, but can she land that double axel?

"But what I am concerned with, and I'll write a few essays on it, is the role models we are giving the next generation of women readers."

Role models? For the next generation? Is gods and little fishes, it IS, isn't it?? It's some veiled variation of that old war-cry: 'WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN???'

And you were doing so well, too. Too bad. You lose seven-tenths of a point for landing that triple with both feet planted firmly in your mouth.

"That's my main concern. I think it's all fine, with labels. Then readers will know what they get. Not a perfect solution but necessary at this point, probably."

And again, I really must point out the HUGE amount of condescension in that comment. Why do you assume readers can't find their ways around the romance genre without labels? Frankly, I'm not overly impressed with either your logic or your ability to express yourself, but I think even YOU could figure out which books contain the most explicit sex scenes simply from the back blurbs and covers.

Here's a hint: when you assume your readers are idiots? It shows in your writing. I know you're not an amateur, so this isn't news to you. Sounds like you could use a refresher on the concept, though. Clue #2: if a whole bunch of folks call you "condescending?" Consider it a nicer, more genteel way of telling you your manners could use some work. Bless your heart.

"About Unleash the Night, that's not really erotica. I am not sure I know what it is, a badly written romance novel is what I would call it. But that's another topic."
Indeed it is. I haven't read it yet, but a lot of other people certainly seem to disagree with you. Enough to propel the book to #6 on the USA Today and NYT lists, #3 on the Publishers Weekly list, and #1 at Waldenbooks (all in mass market, of course) last month.

My point? The market drives the genre, as it does all genres. The readers love the book, and -- from the reviews and comments I've read -- love the sex IN the book -- the very element from which you wish to protect them.

"I happen to love the romance genre."

That makes millions of us.

"If I don't think Emma Holly is romantic, so what? It's just one opinion. The lady asked and I answered."

No. The lady asked if you found polyamorous scenes in romance either romantic or sexy. You answered by calling it PORN, and going on to say that it should be segregated from the rest of the genre.

Try this analogy on for size:

'Ms. March, do you think American Beauty Roses are lovely and fragrant?

No! American Beauty Roses are not roses at all. They are weeds. They should be labeled as such, to protect the poor, defenseless gardener who might mistake them for actual roses.'

NOW do you get it?


Imagine my surprise.

"I'll write about porn later. What a morning."

I can't wait to read what you have to say on the topic. I mean that sincerely.

"The question is: you have your opinion and I certainly think you should have it and read what you want, but why throw me in with the bigots because I don't like
You use a pejorative term to describe what I and a goodly number of other authors spend our days and nights creating. You strongly suggest our work should be labeled and separated from other work in the genre for the protection of the consumer. And then you wonder why we call you a bigot?

The segregated lunch counter is thata'way, Miss Black. You may have marched with Dr. King, for all I know, but you're missing the boat on this one. Big time.

"I am probably more liberal than any of you."

MY definition of "liberal" is "progressive and accepting of change." The romance genre is changing. It's growing, it's boundaries are blurring, it's beginning to encompass other tropes, conceits and structures.

I embrace these changes. I look forward to what growth will bring.

Do you?

Can you?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Check out today's post at the Phaze blog to learn ten things about me you didn't know. Seriously. It's as good a way to waste two minutes as any other.

Monday, February 06, 2006

It's not whether you win or lose, it's... Oh. Wait. Never mind.

There is some tension in the March household this evening. Why? Superbowl XL, of course. What else could it POSSIBLY BE??

Dr. March, otherwise known as The Husband: born and bred in the great state of Pennsylvania. (Actually? It's a Commonwealth, but no one has ever been able to adequately explain the difference to me, so I'm being stubborn and calling it a state.)

Mrs. March, otherwise known as your Hostess with the Mostest: possessed of an instinctive and nigh on impossible-to-smother desire to root for the underdog. In the case of this particular athletic event, the 'Hawks.

I swear on the eyes of my spawn, I would've kept my mouth shut had the Steelers won the game on pure merit. But folks, that was just...the reffing...the blatant favoritism... was wrong.
Shannon says it best.

It left me with a bad feeling. And it sort of makes me a little disgusted at those Steelers fans who are happy to have the win, no matter how it was achieved. Dr. March included, though he's beginning to see the error of his ways, twenty-four hours later. Heh heh heh.

Win at any cost? Victory at the price of integrity? Glory at the price of honor?

No wonder we Americans are so popular with the rest of the world these days.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Three Holes, No Waiting

The good news: I've recovered from the PLAGUE that infected every pore and fiber of my body, and am now able to sit up and type for long stretches of time without losing the ability to take deep breaths.

The bad news: people still suck.

I'd so been hoping I'd rise from my sickbed (okay, sickcouch) and discover the world a finer place than I'd left it. 'Twas not to be.

Samuel Alito (he of the strong belief in an Executive Privilege that may allow for a suspension of Constitutionally provided liberties heretofore unknown in this nation since the extremity of the Civil War) has been confirmed as a member of the Supreme Court.

No one has yet killed Simon Cowell in his sleep.

And folks -- sister romance writers, no less -- are still ragging on erotica/erotic romance.

I can't do much about the first except watch the President's approval rating drop like a stone and pray it bodes well for the November midterm elections, which will help make Alito's confirmation somewhat moot, at least temporarily.

The second? I don't even WATCH American Idol, and I know Cowell needs to die. Or at least be sent far, far away to a place where his opinion is regularly dismissed as irrelevant.

But that third one? Really gets my panties in a wad. If I wore panties with any regularity, which I don't. Which is more than you need to know. And, incidentally, is the reason I keep getting sick, according to my mother.


The lovely Candy of Smart Bitches fame talked about Emma Holly and polyamorous relationships and group sex (otherwise known as "three holes, no waiting) in a recent re-posting of an old Romancing the Blog column. She asked folks if they found this sort of thing sexy or romantic. Some folks did. Some folks didn't. And some folks not only didn't, but went out of their considerable ways to explain that such fiction was not only NOT sexy or romantic, but NOT Romance (note capitalized 'R') and pornographic to boot. The particular commenter who called it "porn" (a Miss Black) went on to say that including such material in the romance genre only served to confuse readers.

Pardon me while I grit my teeth down to their pearly little nubs. I do so love condescension, especially when it comes from my peers.

"Confuse the readers?" You're kidding, right? Those of us not already confused by the wild contradictions fed us by the media regarding our own bodies and how we're to use, abuse and enjoy them aren't going to be further bumfoozled by a too plentiful variety of flavors on the romance shelves, even if a few of those flavors turn more than a few stomachs.

Give the romance-reading public -- and by that I mean women, of course -- a little more credit, if you please. If we can live with the paradox of "Maddona/whore" we're fed from infancy, we can likely find our way through Barnes & Noble without big scary signs that scream "Here There Be DILDOES."

As for calling erotica/erotic romance "porn"...methinks someone needs to read read/view a little real pornography before throwing that label around so freely. I've read it, I've viewed it, I know the difference. Every time someone labels erotica/erotic romance pornography, it only shows me they haven't done their homework. And that makes it so much easier to dismiss their opinions out of hand.

Candy took the discussion over to her own site, where she was characteristically brilliant in her commentary. About those folks who can't separate what they find personally uncomfortable from what they find morally repellent, she says:

"...It has to do with the way people identify something they don't like and attach a myriad of other judgments to this distaste. Instead of saying 'This grosses me out,' the conclusion they reach is, 'This grosses me out, therefore it’s wrong and doesn’t belong in romance novels.'

In short, it bothers me when people seem to automatically judge something they find kind of squicky as immoral.'

Yes. Oh, yes indeed.

People commented, and are still commenting. Someone blamed our Puritan forefathers for our messed up approach to sex. I've jumped on that bandwagon more than once, but like they say in Al Anon -- you can only blame your fuck-ups on your drunken parents for so long before it starts getting old.

Two hundred and sixty years and one hell of an influx of cultural diversity later, we're still blaming Jonathon Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" for our dysfunction. Let's give JonBoy a break and call ourselves what we are -- deeply and profoundly fucked on the topic of sexuality.

This country has always preferred its fictional representations of sex the way it likes its fictional representations of violence -- as far removed from reality as they can possibly be. HUGE explosion, the bad guys are dead, and let's not show the clean-up afterwards, because who wants to see an EMT-trainee throwing up in the bushes after collecting severed limbs? Until fairly recently, sex on the screen and between the covers of books -- mostly for consumption by men, because why would women want to read about THAT?? -- was the same way. And you know what I'm talking about.

A lot of folks -- and not a few of them women -- are uncomfortable with bringing a more realistic depiction of sex center-stage in fiction. And when I say "realistic," I'm aware that I'm speaking in relative terms. RomanceLandia Sex is to Real Sex what DisneyWorld is to downtown Orlando, Florida. But it's a helluva lot more resonant, from a feminine point of view, than the Mickey Spillane version of "fuck her, discard her, then she turns up dead" crap I found to read when I was a kid.

To insist that erotic romance be sequestered in its own genre because it deals more with sexual fantasy then romantic fantasy, which was one of the arguments used by Miss Black after she backed off the "porn" allegation, is to separate sex and love artificially. And that speaks volumes about where we are as a society. We can't embrace a spectrum of sexual intensity in our fictional depictions of romance? Really? Even NOW, a century and a half after Nathaniel Hawthorne made Hester Prynne wear her scarlet letter to town? Maybe those Europeans who laugh at us for being absurdly uptight and provincial have a point. And I do so hate to give the French points for anything.*

*This is a joke. Some of my best friends are...well, no, I don't actually know anyone in or from France. But I'm sure if I did, I would love them like family. Really. I'm KIDDING.

Addendum: Then there's this nonsense from a commenter on Miss Snark's blog:

"Mark" thinks selling a book to Ellora's Cave isn't a "real writing credit."

He goes on to say of the original poster (who wondered if she should list her erotica writing credits in queries to agents/publishers regarding non-erotic projects):

"If you succeed it will in spite of your literotica past not because of it."

I s'pose that all depends upon your definition of success. Mark? He's vanity-pubbed. To his credit, he makes no bones about it. But what's weird is his insistence that the very topic of sex negates all a book's validity as a "credit."

Even assuming you buy the nonsense that small press/epublishing doesn't "count" somehow, the number of Ellora's Cave authors who've been picked up by large New York houses negates this premise. Which makes Mark sadly misinformed -- or maybe willfully so, because his whole smug diatribe points to a nasty case of sour grapes.

Or perhaps just an exceptionally small penis.