Originally posted to the Community section at MyMedia
As I’ve said before in this thread, I am a genre romance reader.
For many years, this was not something I said out loud–and to this day, when people become aware of this, the response is a smirking, condescending smile, often followed by a variant of “aren’t you smarter than that? why do you waste your time on that trash? oh, you like mommy/soft porn?”
I am more than a bit tired of that bullshit. It says a lot more about my interlocutor in those exchanges, than about me, frankly. So, online or IRL, my response tends to be the equivalent of a blank stare; I’m done defending my reading choices, and genre romance brings in enough money that it should need no defense.
One would think…
At any rate, that’s a rant for another day.
Today’s rant is brought to you courtesy of yet another intersection of various interests.
I am a fan of the first three Outlander books (I have read the first six, and I also own the seventh tome). I am a reader of romance. I am interested in how art and literature written by women tends to be dismissed and belittled by ‘the mainstream.’ I am infuriated by how many people use women’s work–and their money–to propel them into a ‘more respectable’ sphere, whereupon they’ll immediately distance themselves from the original source of their financial and artistic success.
Behold, Diana Gabaldon, as discussed in Ceilidhann’s excellent “The ‘Outlander isn’t a romance’ problem:” at BIBLIODAZE
An outdated industry’s refusal to embrace the creative, financial and cultural benefits of work made exclusively by and for women is not our problem. If they want to miss out on a billion dollar a year field that helped to pioneer e-books as a mainstream means and self-publishing as a legitimate literary outlet, they’re missing out big. Clearly Gabaldon’s publishers saw this potential and latched onto it for Outlander, which received a 500k first print (10 times that of a science-fiction debut at the time) and almost immediately became a sensation amongst romance readers. They took the money happily when it benefited them. Gabaldon took the money. To use an appropriate, if hackneyed, term, she bit the hand that fed her.
Gabaldon’s disappointment that a romance marketed Outlander may be ignored by men also signals the driving force of not only publishing but the entertainment industry at large. Regardless of changing demographics and high-profile flop after flop, Hollywood still works under the constantly refuted assumption that straight white dudes aged between 18 and 49 are the ‘default mode’ for life, and everything outside of that becomes a niche group that could never be considered universally relatable. There’s no financial incentive behind getting more dudes to watch the show. The biggest share of that viewership is women, and in an age of ‘peak TV’, gaining any audience over 7 figures is something to behold. Romance on TV is nothing new either, and it’s been popular for decades: From Moonlighting to Cheers, Friends to Futurama, Bones and Booth to Castle and Beckett. Fans come back for the love.