Genre Fans Cry: Woe Is Me!
Is this a great coincidence or what? I recently read three blog posts about how it is strange/not strange that there are female science fiction readers and then I came upon this post about the seeming lack of men reading romance. All of these posted today.
(This reminded me of a conversation I had with an actress about a week ago about the biases in the media and society in general. She cited science as an example of lack of bias and I almost laughed my head off. Sure, scientists strive for lack of bias, but they aren’t automatons with the main goal of finding the ultimate truth. Scientists are human and all humans have biases. The trick is to realize that you do have a bias and to not brush off your tainted observations with the lazy thought that it just is.)
In the matter of genre, I find it somewhat sad and amusing that people still refuse to try certain books because they believe that those books are only meant for a particular type of person. The existence of stereotypes like the frustrated housewife sitting on the couch eating bon-bons and watching soap operas or the pimply and bespectacled geek playing D & D in his parents’ basement is utter hogwash. The purpose of the stereotype is to compartmentalize everyone, to divide people into groups of US and THEM. When will anyone realize that in reality people are too complex to be categorized?
Anyways, I find it interesting that fans of any genre are quick to moan about how they’re looked down upon for their “lowbrow” tastes, the lurid covers, and the amount of energy they have to exert sneaking out of bookstores and hiding their guilty pleasures. Is this griping due to society’s pressure to read what’s “good” for you rather than what you want? What’s “good” is only dictated by critics who think they Know It All. Genre is nothing but an arbitrary guideline set by publishers and bookstores trying to organize their product. Look beyond the branding and read a book for the story. Don’t mindlessly believe that a book is only read by some make-believe demographic because some marketing executive somewhere decides that the novel should be pitched to that make-believe demographic.
But that said, I think it will be virtually impossible to dissuade people from their genre prejudices. Unless we start a cross-genre trend! I wonder if there is more gender equity in the reader base of sci-fi romance/romantic sci-fi*….
* Authors off the top of my head: Catherine Asaro, Lois McMaster Bujold, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Anne McCaffrey, Sharon Shinn–heck, just go to this blog and make your list for the next time you head to the library or bookstore.