Am I a hypocrite?

8 May

Originally published at Karen Scott’s blog

So, these past couple of weeks there has been the customary to-do about who-saw-what-done-where-and-to-whom during the last RT in Pittsburg, and who-is-reporting-what-someone-else-says-that-a-third-party-told- them-happened-there.

Here at Karen’s the discussion devolved into “old vs young” rather soon, and then it became “prudes vs sluts”. Pretty soon after there was the whole “look what trash you are letting into the romance genre!” vs “stop pretending you are all so pure, sex sells!” over at Dear Author (otherwise known as “is this what we want the professional image of the romance genre as an industry to be?”).

There have been first hand accounts of some minor and some oh-my-God-not-minor-at-all incidents where the line between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour was carelessly crossed. I’m beyond furious about the abuse Kim was subjected to, and both Lori Foster and Shiloh Walker have shared some unpleasant experiences of their own.

Of course such things can, and sadly do, happen everywhere, not just at a romance readers’ convention, as Anya Bast points out in the discussion over at Dear Author. But that is not the point, really. The point (which GrowlyCub, and Jane and Robin and a few others, made quite eloquently over there) is that some environments are more likely to beget certain behaviours than others.

So far I had felt no overwhelming reason to comment, because people with different points of view and different agendas will have different opinions and perspectives, and they are all valid (duly noted exception for criminal behaviour, of course)

Then Emmy offers this:

Hate it when people make sweeping generalizations. What is romance? Does porn have to be two strangers oofing in a one night stand? Can’t two people in a monogamous relationship who love each other deeply have hot monkey sex too? Why can’t that be romantic?

And this:

Sex, as the cliche goes, sells. If people didnt wanna see or read about smexing, there wouldnt be this whole industry out there. The only way to get the romance industry more respect is to take the romance- and any overt/covert sexual references- out of it.

And Erastes adds,

Romance is not necessarily porn. But erotica can be and is, in a lot of cases. Romance is not heterosexual monogamous marriage, either, by the way.

Huh? Color me confused here.

And I have to wonder… what does monkey sex between consenting adults who care for each other have to do with porn*? Since when can romance be porn? Since when is romance reduced to sex?

Perhaps I live in a different universe…

See, I like romance—which to me means “relationship”. I like sex. What’s more, I like sex in my relationship books. Hell, I like well done** graphic descriptions of sex in my relationship stories. And on occasion, I like sex stories with no hint of relationship anywhere.

What I don’t like is other people’s sex lives and practices shoved in my face without a by-your-leave.

So, perhaps I am a prude after all, and a hypocrite to boot.

Because to me consent is a basic component of freedom—particularly freedom related to sexuality.

If a bystander doesn’t consent to witness some serious nookie, groping, necking, simulated sex acts, what-have-you, I believe that the rights of that person have been violated. Particularly when that bystander has the exact same right to share that space (elevator, hotel lobby, hallway, name your spot) as the people indulging in the public nookie.

If a convention that is touted to be about romance books—without specification as to whether there is or isn’t explicit sex in those books, or whether the relationships depicted are between two or three consenting adults of any specific gender, race, eye color, shoe size, chose your arbitrary line here—and for romance readers—without specification as to whether these readers have to be voyeurs, exhibitionists, prudish, deeply religious, left handed, tall, scrawny, rubenesque, fill in the blank here—then I believe that the organizers and sponsors of said convention should strive to make it possible for as many of the attendees to participate without being involuntarily subjected to offensive behaviour.

Should the organizers vet the background of every attendee? Not only shouldn’t they, but it is just not possible. But they should—and could—make sure that certain ground rules were laid down for the sponsors and professionals who participate. And by professionals I mean agents, writers, editors, publishers, models, what have you.

# # #

* pornography, from Merriam-Webster online: 1: the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement 2 :material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement 3: the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction ((the pornography of violence))

**“well done” is a subjective descriptor, obviously—what’s great for me may get a meh or a yuck! from anyone else reading it.

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