Skip to main content

Reader Shaming--A Not-So-New Form of High Entertainment

I hadn't planned on posting again today, but I was more than a little angered by an "article" I read earlier and I felt the need to come here to vent.

One of my facebook friends posted the article, Descriptive Language: Nora Roberts vs. Vladimir Nabokov, to her timeline and having read both, I decided to check it out.  Bad Idea.  If you could have seen me while I was reading it, I probably looked like this:

buffy-hush-the-gentlemen

 

No.  Seriously.  I looked like this, except maybe a little more jaw on the ground--my mouth was so wide that a bug could have flown in it.  Where does this child get off insulting an entire community of readers and writers just because she didn't like one book that she read eight years ago?  Let's put aside the fact that Kelly, the "author" of the article, read Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts when she was 12 and that she shouldn't at 20 feel the same way as she did about anything she read or watched when she was a tween, and focus on the fact that just because she didn't like something no one else should ever like it.  Her argument simplifies down to--I was disgusted by the use of sex in a romance novel and that makes all romance novels icky and anyone that reads them stupid.
Sure, there is a very lucrative market for novels like Dance Upon The Air because there are plenty of people who can delude themselves into believing that sex is this magical, “glorious” act that washes away problems while “swamping reason” and is most intensely consuming sensation ever felt.  And these people are more than happy to imagine jumping aboard this “mad carousel” and enjoy the ride. But there are many people who will find Roberts depiction of sex and relationships hilariously stupid. Of course there are people out there that don’t like Lolita, but I don’t believe that anyone finds the work laughable. (The bold text is mine.)

To Kelly, anyone that enjoys the sex scenes in Dance Upon the Air (or in any romance novel, really) are deluding themselves into thinking that sex solves all problems.  Oh, Kelly.  If this is what you believe, then you are the deluded one.  Anyone that has ever read a romance novel (and paid attention to more than the sex scene--as you apparently did not) can tell you, the sex doesn't magically fix things and that sometimes it makes things even worse than they were to begin with--something that happens in real life.

What I think Kelly's real problem with Nora's sex scenes was that she enjoyed them, and her enjoyment of them conflicted with the idea that sex is bad, so she convinced herself that she didn't like it.  Because of this, Kelly now feels the need to shame those of us that don't have a problem with them, making us out to be little more than porn addicts, who "get off" to them, but what she doesn't understand is that the sex scenes aren't what make a romance novel and they aren't what makes someone want to read them.  What makes a romance novel is the emotional connection between the protagonists, be they man and woman, man and man, woman and woman, or human and vampire/werewolf/etc.; the sex isn't necessary to the happily ever after--many books not even including them in the narrative.  This is the thing that Kelly fails to grasp.  She has judged an entire genre based on her experience with one book--that would be like judging all of television based on Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.  Just because I don't like that one show doesn't mean that (a) no one else is allowed to watch it, (b) anyone that does watch it is a stupid, redneck that prefers to live in a glorified car than a house, or (c) that all television is mindless.  That is extremely short-sighted and so is judging all romance novels based on Nora Roberts or E.L. James (who Kelly also insults in her article).

The irony in the article is that while Kelly blasts anyone that enjoys Nora Roberts's sex scenes, scenes that are between two consenting adults, she lauds Nabokov's book.  In Kelly's world, sex between two adults is bad, but sex between a grown man and his step-daughter is perfectly fine--she even finds Humbert Humbert "sympathetic."  I read Lolita in college and there is NOTHING sympathetic about a man, who takes his position of authority (a position he only had because he was able to convince Lolita's mother that he loved her as a way to get to Lolita) over a young girl and uses it to continuously molest her over a period of several years.  Nothing.

The worst thing about Kelly's article is that she uses her narrow opinion to denigrate women, implying that we are low, base creatures that are ruled by our sexual organs.  She obviously considers herself superior to those of us that would stoop to read such low-brow literature; she is above such desires because that is how "ladies" are expected to behave.  We have been taught that if we like sex, then we are dirty and that no man would want us.  We were taught not to dress provocatively because that meant we were asking for it and that men could just take it whenever they want, irregardless to our feelings.  It is not Kelly's fault that she still believes these things, but it will be if she doesn't challenge herself to change that.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Happy Bookaversary! A Review of "Edge of Darkness" by Karen Rose

Title: Edge of Darkness
Author: Karen Rose
ISBN: 9780399583087
Publisher: Berkeley
Series: Cincinnati Series
Price: $5.98 (Paperback) $7.99 (e-book) $28.28(Audible)
Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


It seems like I've been reading Karen Rose novels my entire life.  I remember the day I came across Count to Ten in the Duane Reade on Queens Blvd.  I'd finished the paperback I brought with me to school that day while sitting in the Dining Hall eating lunch and needed something for the long bus ride home.  I almost didn't buy it because it was $9.99 and I hadn't gotten my financial aid money yet, but the cover copy called to me.  Not even the 500+ page count could scare me away.

I recently learned that Edge of Darkness is Ms. Rose's 20th book and in a strange way, I feel like a proud mama watching her child cross the stage to get their diploma.  I'm just a big ball of happy nostalgia, thinking back to all of the other books I've read by her and hopeful about the ones to come, so befor…

Fifteen Years Later: Review of "His Sinful Touch" by Candace Camp

Title: His Sinful Touch
Author: Candace Camp
ISBN: 0373789963
Publisher: HQN
Series: Mad Morelands #5
Price: $5.98 (Paperback) $5.99 (e-book) $19.96(Audible)
Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2


Most readers remember their first, the first book of their particular genre that they read, whether they enjoyed the book or not.  I have two firsts--the first romance I ever read was a Harlequin Intrigue written by Amanda Stevens.  If you've read my blog before you probably already know this.  The first historical romance I read was Mesmerized by Candace Camp, which was also the first book in her Mad Morelands series.  

I was a senior in high school when this series began and I remember seeing the paperback version of Mesmerized on the shelf at the Target on Queens Blvd (yes, I spent a lot of time on Queens Blvd as a teenager), and was pulled in by the gorgeous cover.  Apparently, that book has had several covers over the last 15 years, but this is the one I remember:


Isn't it pretty?  Of course from the cover I…

The Internet of Things: Review of "Hacking IT" by Kimberly Dean

Title: Hacking IT
Author: Kimberly Dean
ISBN: 9781386835561
Publisher: Self-published
Series: Hackers #1
Price: $3.99 (e-book) $9.99 (paperback)
Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2


Have you ever seen the description of a book and known immediately that it was going to be awesome and upon reading it were faced with the possibility that it might actually be better than you originally thought?  For me, that book was Hacking IT by Kimberly Dean.  A female white hat hacker using her skills to uncover a black hat hacker, who has stepped away from his computer and entered the real world?  Um, yes, please.

From the Publisher:
Independent software developer Kylie Grant is on top of her game in the world of IT. She has loyal clients, a good reputation, and a prestigious membership in technology giant Afire Industries’ small business accelerator. Things are going well until she stumbles across an innocuous issue with the lighting in the building where she rents space. When she digs into the problem, she discovers some…

Review of "Come Sundown" by Nora Roberts

Title: Come Sundown
Author: Nora Roberts
ISBN: 1250123070
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Price: $14.99 (e-book) $16.49 (hardcover) $23.95 (Audible)
Rating:⭐️⭐️

I read my first Nora Roberts novel when I was a 16-year-old high school junior.  I remember seeing her books in all of the drug stores long before the fateful day on which I decided to actually buy one but had never thought anything of them.  From that day on, La Nora became the gold standard--the author all others had to live up to, the one to beat.  I remember sitting at my mom's kitchen table with one of her paperbacks and a sheet of paper, marking down which of her books were available at the libraries near me.  Her backlog was (and still is) immense and I was going to read them all.  While I still haven't read all of her books, I've read a good chunk of them, many of which have a place on my virtual keeper shelf, which is why I was so deeply disappointed in Come Sundown.

From the PublisherA novel of suspense, fam…

Review of "Ace of Spades" by Sandra Owens

Title: Ace of Spades
Author: Sandra Owens
ISBN: 9781503948990
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Series: Aces & Eights #3
Price: $4.99 (e-book) $9.17 (paperback) Free (Kindle Unlimited)
Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️

I was really excited for this book.  I devoured the entire K2 series a couple of years ago, but somehow I missed the first two books of the Aces and Eights series.  I'd hoped that I'd be able to jump right into this book without having read the others, and in a way I was able to do so as the main plot had nothing to do with the others.  However, I feel that had I known the characters' backgrounds a little bit more, I would have felt more of a connection to them, which would have helped me have a better reading experience.


From the Publisher:
Two FBI agents struggle with desire in the shadow of a killer, in the third installment of Aces & Eights. Nate Gentry has been a rock for his two younger brothers since the day their mom walked out and left them with their abusive father. Now that…