Keep your mitts off my books!

There’s been a ration of poo slung around this spring/summer regarding women in fantasy fiction and, more recently even romance. I kind of have to shake my head at these posturing potential potenates…. who don’t realize that if the conversation were fictionalized and thrown into a fantasy setting… well. They would not be the hero. Oh, no. They would definitely be the evil wizard/king/crybaby trying to force everyone into their own way of thinking. You shall not pass.

I mean really. Are you truly trying to tell me that Robin Hobb, Lynn Flewelling, Carol Berg and Mercedes Lackey are… lacking? Shame on you! Don’t like the new crop of fiction coming out? Don’t read it. But don’t presume to know what’s good for me.

What really saddens me is that these kind of arguments have been going on for a very long time. Because something is popular with them, the masses, women it must be inherently bad. Suck it up, buttercup, cuz those readers are still going to read the books they want to. They will buy them in droves, propelling them UP the NYT Best Seller list while your own languishes in the stacks. 
 Oh, and by the way? Shakespeare? Wildly popular with the masses. All those bawdy jokes, don’t you know.
While I was at CSU, I often hid what I was reading due to jack asses. Fantasy was fine, but let someone catch me with a romance? I cringed at the thought. Until someone tried to book shame me, in my creative writing class, and the professor said something to the effect of… well… You can support yourself with that sort of writing. Live very well, if you have the talent.
This was the same instructor who told us on our first day not to even try genre fiction (especially horror or sci-fi / fantasy) in his class. I was terrified when I went up to speak with him. But I write fantasy, I said. “Prove it,” he told me.  Turns out he’s not against the genre, just the bad habits of new writers. I wrote my first novel under his guidance, a work of fantasy fiction.
A lot of what I read and write has to do with belonging. About taking what you’ve got and making it work. Finding a way through the darkness. There are books who have held me up (Anne Bishop) during the worst time of my life, and others that echo those days and reinforce that we are survivors (Cathy Lamb). There’s the joy of love (Eloisa James, Julia Quinn), and family and friends.
If you’re so afraid of women in fiction, then I kind of have to ask. What are you so afraid of?
No matter the answer, keep your mitts off my reading material. I don’t need that sort of help.
Ogres need not apply.
 
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