Remember, genres are determined by the penis and the vagina… or not

Look, anyone who tries to tell me that I need a vagina to read a romance novel is clearly misusing their equipment (book and body part). If you try to tell me that comic books require penises to be read, I’m going to ask you to leave, and I won’t want to know what you’re doing with the print media and your body parts. So basically, quit trying to tell me that I need a gender to get into a genre. This ain’t world of warcraft people, you can equip genres of any type, in any class.

Johanna, you are one of the gang. It’s just that your gang is trying to horde a genre away from a group of people who are practically trying to beat the door down to get access to give these industries their money.

In the industry I come from, when we’ve got a market that keen to participate, it’s seen as a gift from the market segmentation gods. For the sake of improving a few standards that make the superhero genre relevant to the 2007 (like racial diversity, like gender equality, like remembering that the porn industry is a separate business, and like hiring artists who can draw) the industry could expand beyond the currently shrinking market share.
For the sake of defending an industry with declining sales figures that is hell bent on thwarting willing markets from participating, you want to describe someone as “unusual or non-standard or atypical”. Both of your posts seem to take a pride in fending off would be new market participants in an industry that could use a sales boost.
In paraphrased words of Jon Stewart… Why do you hate the comic book industry?

Now for a little fact check shoot down.

I’m sure there are occasional males who read romance novels, too, but if one started blogging about how the genre needed to be overhauled to be made more attractive to men, they’d be giggled at… and rightly so”

You might want to have a chat with the Romance Writers of America. According to Romance Writers of America’s 2005 Market Research Study on Romance Readers,

22% of romance readers are male — a significant increase from the 2002 survey that showed only 7% of readers were male.

See, rather than giggling at those aberrant males who read romance, the romance industry treated them as a viable financial growth opportunity. They were seen as a market. A market to be grown, nurtured and respected.

From 7% to 22% in three years. Giggle giggle.

7 Responses to “Remember, genres are determined by the penis and the vagina… or not”

  1. Casey C says:

    pwned with facts. That’s awesome.

    Tons of men enjoy romance, novels included! This isn’t Flatland, where men pretend love exists just to make women happy!

  2. Atratus says:

    That last line is so harsh and good, I couldn’t choose between shock and laughter.

  3. While it is true that there has been a growth among male readers, is it true that people have been saying that the romance novels should change to attract male readers? Has anyone said that it was sexist to write with a female audience in mind? What I think is important about the original post is that she said “needed” to be overhauled. While a writer can decide to write to a broader audience, there is nothing sexist (or racist or homophobic or whatever) about deciding to write for a more narrow audience.

  4. Stephen Dann says:

    Scott

    I don’t know if people have been blogging for change in that respect. I do know when I was at the romance writer’s training course back in 2004 I wasn’t asked to leave, and there was talk about the broadened base of romance writing into hybrid genres that would attract a wider range of readership.

    While a writer can decide to write to a broader audience, there is nothing sexist (or racist or homophobic or whatever) about deciding to write for a more narrow audience.

    I think there’s a point to be made here – writing for an audience is fine. Marketing does it all the time, and it’s part of my trade. Face it, I write for a specific audience in this blog, G-W writes for a specific audience. Writing to exclude an audience is a different story. Writing to make the decision that if all other factors are equal, the female character is unevenly positioned to be killed or portrayed in sexualised fashion or drawn effectively as a naked body in powerless poses when the equivalent male figure is drawn in a dominant pose.

    Frankly, a lot of areas of society need overhauling. A lot of portrayals of males and females have problematic elements. It’s been the decision of the team at G_W to focus on a couple of specific areas – the disparity between the death of Jason Todd and Stephanie Brown, and the flow on of the disparity between the treatment of female characters and male characters. Comics are something we love, so we’re asking for change because the current implementations are flawed, demonstrably problematic, and y’know, financially ineffective as well.

    At the end of the day, when DC Comics has published editorials asking for female readers (Wonder Woman I believe), yet responds with hositility to female audiences, there’s a problem. It’s our collected opinion (on average, given we’re all individuals) that the solution to that problem will benefit comics, superhero fandom, male and female readers and the industry in general.

  5. [...] May 11th – Designated Sidekick responds. Look, anyone who tries to tell me that I need a vagina to read a romance novel is clearly misusing their equipment (book and body part). If you try to tell me that comic books require penises to be read, I’m going to ask you to leave, and I won’t want to know what you’re doing with the print media and your body parts. So basically, quit trying to tell me that I need a gender to get into a genre. This ain’t world of warcraft people, you can equip genres of any type, in any class. [...]

  6. Mickle says:

    is it true that people have been saying that the romance novels should change to attract male readers?

    Yup yup yup.

    At the most recent LA Times Festival of books, Scott Green made essentially that argument with regards to the teen version of romance novels and boys. (He didn’t call them “romance novels” and the larger point was about perspective and boys also needing characters that are emotionally vulnerable, but the general idea was pretty much the same.) The other authors agreed.

    Has anyone said that it was sexist to write with a female audience in mind?

    While I’m sure this isn’t what you meant – every single fucking time my former co-worker complained when talk of personal lives included talk of another co-worker’s pregnancy and subsequent child-rearing activities.

    You want more examples? I got plenty of them, both irl and with regards to the creative arts.

    there was talk about the broadened base of romance writing into hybrid genres that would attract a wider range of readership.

    Yeah. There’s been problems with the RWA and other groups being narrow-minded about what constitutes romance, but it’s generally more one of defining the genre rather than gender exclusion (sexual orientation being a major exception, needless to say), and except for a cadre of pearl clutchers (that’s porn! and …with werewolves!) they are fairly open to anything that expands their reach.

    Plus, one of the conceits of the romance genre is that they often tell the story from the man’s perspective as well. I can’t really speak to how true to life these perspectives are, but it’s worth noting that whether or not romance writers consider men their audience or not, most authors try to make all their main characters ones that their audience can relate to in some way – even when they are hyper-idealized. I certainly can’t say the same for many of the scifi novels I read in my youth (generic bratty princess that grows into a sassy but subservient wife, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways….) , nor for a lot of the comics that the guys at work tell me I must read!!!!! And yeah, I’ve tried a few of them.

    I also think part of the whole “but men don’t read romance novels” idiocy is due to the conflation of genre shelving within bookstores and actual, you know, genre. For example, J.D. Robb’s In Death series certainly fits both the mystery and romance genre (look at that! something can be more than one – it’s not always either/or!) but it’s shelved in mystery in most places because it gets more readers there because then men will pick it up. And yet look, all that sappy stuff and purple prose doesn’t turn them off….

  7. Mic says:

    Okay, I’m a woman and I’ve always hated romance novels; they’re mostly poorly written with lame plots (with massive plotholes); are filled with vague, dull characters; and have about as many redeeming qualities as an artistic piece of literary as shite smeared across toilet paper!

    Ahem, in my humble opinion.

    Though, this being said, all this can apply to some of the comics I’ve had the misfortune to come across! ;) Which rather explains how the two are so closely linked.

    I have a motto I would like to share, it’s one I keep needing to remind individuals with a fixation on the ‘gender-war’ and it goes like this: I am not my genitals; you are not your genitals. So why are you pretending otherwise?

    Sweetie, you read whatever tickles your fancy, regardless of any stupid gender sterotypes attached; and remember not to let any of the dicks or cunts tell you who to be!

    Love & laughter, people. Mic out

Leave a Reply