08 November 2005

Resisting Definitions

Even though I live in Australia, I’m a member of Romance Writers’ of America. I’ve found it useful for networking, finding out about the market, learning the craft and having some on line fun with members in other countries. Passionate Ink is the online erotic romance chapter of RWA which is full of some talented and hard working gals (don’t think there are any boys but I could be wrong).

But I was royally pissed off (as were a lot of other members) when the previous RWA Board, in a sudden rush of blood to their collective brains, decided that romance need a definition. A clear, unambiguous definition so we all know where we are and what we’re writing about.

Sex, intimacy and romance are so easy to define aren’t they? No murkiness, no uncertainty, no conflicts about who feels what and why. Romance should be easy to define, it’s just about a man and a woman falling in love and living happily ever after.

Yeah, right.

I don’t what cloud cuckoo land the previous RWA Board members live in but last time I looked, my gay and lesbian sisters and brothers fall in and out of love, have sex and struggle with intimacy. In fact I venture to say the whole romance genre has been fundamentally influenced by the political and sexual libertarian movements of the last thirty years that have made romance a lot more reality based than the bodice rippers of the past.

So why the RWA Board decided the membership needed to vote on the definition of romance is beyond me.

Romance has always been sneered at and frowned upon by other genres (the slutty younger sister of the literary world according to one of my writing mates) so setting up a vote to define it makes RWA look not only foolish but homophobic as well.

So I was happy when a number of established romance writers, in an open letter published in the November issue of the Romance Writers Report, the monthly journal of RWA, condemned the definition vote as homophobic and could turn RWA into a hate group.

Good on you:
Anjali Banerjee
Brenda Hiatt Barber
Stella Cameron
Sharyn Cerniglia
Debra Dixon
Carol Dunford
Katherine Garbera
Julie Hurwitz
Lynda Ward
Susan Wiggs

Writers’ organisations like PEN fight for freedom of expression for writers. How appalling that RWA as another writer’s organisation could even contemplate a vote about a definition of romance that would deny the stories and experiences of a large number of people, some of whom are our friends, family and lovers. In the end of course, what ever is decided is irrelevant. People, what ever their sexual preference, will continue to write about love, sex and intimacy as they have for millennia. A ill conceived vote won’t stop them.

1 Comments:

At 11 November 2005 at 12:11 am , Blogger magdelena said...

There is a fearful amount of this going on at the moment. It chills my blood. Thankyou for this post Keziah.

 

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