Romantic Inclusivity

Now, I’ve said before that Romance is not a genre I’m well acquainted with. It mostly bores me and drives me up a wall.

To be fair I do watch good rom-coms like Imagine Me & You, But I’m a Cheerleader, For a Good Time Call …, Pretty Woman, etc.

But it isn’t something I read I’ve tried but I can’t get into it.

I realised today, thanks to @NeolithicSheep just what the problem I have is.

She decided to tweet-stream a book. And I mean zero criticism to the charming Comrade Shepherd herself; she’s merely a catalyst and her tweet-stream is quite entertaining … far more so than I find the story itself.

And I may have made a brief subtweet on the subject of today’s blogpost but there’s zero point linking to that because I’ll say the same thing here with LOTS more words.

In fairness to the authors of these stories, I do not have the faintest idea how monochromatic they are. For all I know the were-bears are Iroquois, and were-tigers are Nepalese, and … stuff. Which, I’m sure, Tumblr-folk (look, they haven’t settled on a new platform so the name can’t change yet) will complain “that’s so problematic!” but there’s a reason nobody takes the Tumblr crowd seriously: They’re the looking for reasons to be offended sort and I’ve no patience for that; won’t even argue with it, occasionally contemplate slapping the snot out of it but mostly I roll my eyes and move on, because there’s no discussion or debate with that sort. They’re basically the alt-left, the liberal-Nazi … you know, the opposition’s morons. But to return to my point, the cast may be if divers skin tone, accent, religion, and nationality 🤷‍♀️.

But, you know, despite my wife’s cruel sense of humour including reading about all these crazy subgenres of Romance she never hits a single lgbt+ example?!

Not among were-erotica romances, not among the 50 Shades knockoff garbage (I abhor 50 Shades as much or more than Twilight), none of it. The Romance shelves are barren of a Red Sonja-esque Fabia with a damsel draped in her arms. Of a Sean Connery kissing a Valentino. Of … gimme a break, Romance covers don’t get very creative.

I mean, if you’re diligent enough you will find a het-romance with a male POV character or a 3rd person that is either over his shoulder or includes his perspective in the omniscience. That bends the mould a little.

But where’s the shattering?!

I mean, literally – near as I could determine it after weeks (months?) of scouring both trad & self pub – Now & Forever is either first of its kind or damn-near-so as being gay fiction that’s happy. I wrote the Male POV Bodice Ripper of Gay Teen Romance (note: Both girls’ bodices remain intact in the only occasion any bodices are worn).

Now, I’m probably going to have were-things in Færie Patrol because why not. And they’re going to be anywhere on the gender spectrum and anywhere on the sexuality one as is my wont.

But where’s the cliché, formulaic nonsense about A Woman and a Were-Tigress? The Alpha-Bitch taming the New York Banker Man? The (oh gods, I can’t not go here) Were-Bear Bear Couple? (Sorry, not sorry) The Trans Marine Time-Traveller and The Viking Princess/Prince?

Nowhere to be seen! Even in the nightmarish dregs of Smashwords‘ strangest tags (not for the faint of heart, it’s safer to go have tea with a Lovecraftian Horror) I found nothing.

I’m sure it exists. Schrödinger’s Novella mandates it must; but then again, Law of Cliché Themodynamics may overrule and state that no one has actually tried to counter the cis-het momentum in any meaningful way! thus it actually does not yet exist! Which, of course is in keeping with Schrödinger’s Novella because quantum cheats by maintaining strict neutrality.

Why, my dears, must we all suffer at the hands of [Insert culturally stereotypically masculine animal] were-bro of muscles, machismo, misogyny, and let’s collectively vomit 🤮 now wins the vaginal canal (surely he wouldn’t know a clitoris if it bit him on the pecker … oh! An Akira twist! I love it!) of the Lovely Lady With Humdrum Life (or sometimes a bit Kardashianesque Life) which the author conflates with her heart and they all live abusively ever after, amen 🙏?!

I say bollox to all that. Go forth, my lovely minions! I say: Subvert, pervert, and anything else ending in -vert all the Romance Genres! Flood them with lesbians, Enbys, aces, bisexuals, transsexuals, transvestites, drag queens, bears, and twinks, a veritable Pride Parade of queery awesomeness 🏳️‍🌈! Drape the cover models in rainbow flags! Have the Naga Queen with the mostly nude virgin in her clutches from behind have her hand upon yon maid’a crotch and breats the embrace rapturous rather than terrible!

Why? Because it’s getting boring around the genre. I used to boggle at the “plot” crap my wife would torment me with from this stuff and now I just shake my head and finish washing the dishes.

Let’s shake things up like the megaquakes that broke Pangea!

P.S. I proofread this twice. Any typos have earned the right to live via natural selection.

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Word choice can make a real difference

assigned-maleNot that this is a unique problem to People, but this article is a perfect example of a pernicious issue in the way trans* people are discussed in the media or even by the people around us.

What’s so bad?  You might be asking that.  I mean look, they used the right pronouns, the right names, etc.  Whatever could they have done wrong, cake and pats on the back all ’round, yes?

Well … no.

Oh, bugger, they’ve edited it already!  Well, in that instance congratulations!  But as it’s important we’ll continue as if they hadn’t for rhetorical sake.

The original text had been:  “[…]Stephen was born a girl[…]”

Now, some people might not realise what’s wrong with that.  Well, that’s where we get to the importance of connotation, of perception, of what language does on a more psychological level.

In short, let’s discuss why we must choose our words wisely.  I’m in favour of accuracy in language.  Not the “concrete” imagery of some literature and “creative writing” courses that say you should never say ‘azure’ just say ‘blue’, no … that’s muddying the language.  I’m not talking about some aspects of the political correctness movement that wants to reword the language in idiotic ways that sound good to social justice ronins, but pisses off the groups that are being crusaded for who might prefer the “un-PC” term/phrase.  I’m talking about logical language analysis here.

Let’s look at that statement.  “Stephen was born a girl” or “Jaye was born a boy”.  First and foremost, it’s simply wrong and inaccurate.  He was not born a girl, if he were he would be a girl.  I was not born a boy, if I were I would be a boy.  He was assigned female at birth, and I was assigned male at birth.  Semantics?  No, very much not so.

The former states the inaccuracy as if it were a given fact.  It implies that we used to be X and have elected to become Y.  We have not.  It implies terrible things about trans* people that are a lot of the ignorance that lurks behind the bigotry and rejection we face.

The latter, on the other hand, that accepts and acknowledges us.  Not our “preferred” gender, not our “preferred” pronouns, not our “identified as” or anything of the sort.  It says that the doctors and parents made an assumption, regardless how statistically likely to be correct, based on the anatomy they found between our legs and that that assumption was mistaken.  No one is to blame, really, besides an arbitrary methodology, or an antiquated ID system that bothers with such idiot details before the child is old enough to answer if asked which they are, etc.  Not any person‘s mistake, and not anything wrong with the trans* individual, just a reason why such assumptions are no better than any other assumption.

Some people have never heard of transgender, transsexual, trans[whatever].  If the first time they do they see it as “Mary was born a boy, but when she was 16 …” or, worse, “Mary was born a boy, but when he was 16 …” they store the word as a choice.  They see it as “Mary was born to Catholic parents, but when she was 16 she converted to Buddhism …”.  But, if the first time they hear/read about a trans* person it is seen as exactly what it is they come away with Understanding.

Please don’t take this away just related to talking about trans* issues, not just for even LGBTQ+ issues.  Please take away from it that while, yes, I do think the political correctness movement and social justice movements, feminism, LGBTQIA+etc activism, and so on do go too far sometimes and more importantly that some people go too far … occasional extremists and periodic extremism does not change that we really ought to consider our language and our word choice.  “Sticks and stones …” et al is well and good, but sometimes the harm isn’t to the person as an individual; the harm in your words can be harm on a larger scale that impacts the person by dint of being part of the demographic you just hurt in broad terms.

So … let’s be careful what we say so as to say what we mean.  Lazy language, at best, makes us look foolish, at worst you may hurt a lot of people in ways you may have never imagined.