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Re: “Rosé and Romance

I'd like to explain why in the hopes that, the next time the INDY covers romance, they understand why romance novels and those who write them deserve to be treated with respect.

Why am I bothering to do so? Because I care about the INDY. I've been a reader for decades, have been interviewed by your reporters, and have good friends who are employed there. For as long as I've lived in the Triangle, the Independent Weekly has stood up for the marginalized and illuminated the lives of those the mainstream media here rarely bothers to explore. I've come to expect compassion and intelligence from you.

I think we can all agree that sexism is alive and well in 2014. With the exception of education where I believe an argument could be made that women are beginning to have parity with men, in virtually every area of society, women’s work is demeaned, dismissed, and devalued. Even when women are exceedingly successful, those accomplishments are routinely minimalized.

Which brings us to romance novels. Romance dominates today’s fiction world. Last year, the industry brought in over 1.6 billion dollars. As a genre, it out earns horror, suspense, mystery, science fiction, and inspirational. And, though there are men who read and write romance, it is by and large an industry for and by women. It’s a wildly successful, diverse, moneymaking industry that is, despite that, routinely mocked, usually by those who don’t read romance.

Sarah Wendell, the brilliant woman who runs the influential website Smart Women, Trashy Books, wrote an insightful article covering HarperCollins/NewsCorp's acquisition of Harlequin.

In it she writes,

You'd think that this was enough of a story with very wide reaching ramifications that business reporters would be able to take it seriously.

But instead of examining the differences between the two companies, how Harlequin has often led the way in digital transitions in romance, how readers perceive the different publishers as brands, how each publisher has markedly different approaches to reader cultivation, library relations, and community building, and how each has followed very different timelines for all of the above plus many other initiatives in digital and print publishing, it's much easer and a well-worn path to just make sex jokes and call it a day.

One reason why I'm particularly disappointed is that this is an area of the publishing world I know little about, except to watch what happens when Random House and Penguin merge (so far: press releases, meetings, email address confusion, then layoffs and redundancies).

It's really that difficult to see this as a business transaction that has considerable ramifications -global ramifications - for writers, employees, and readers?

Apparently. Because, as usual, when the business is about women, it's not worth the time to come up with something new or even interesting. Thanks for the reminder.

So, one reason others and I were so irked by your coverage is that it’s part of what we call everyday sexism. We experience this every damn day and it’s pissing us off.

There is a second reason the blurb was so awful. It was, unintentionally I’m sure, demeaning to the authors all of whom are astonishingly accomplished.

Jessica Scott who is pursuing a PhD at Duke and will be teaching at the US Military Academy next year is a career army officer who has served in Iraq. She’s written for the NYT At War Blog, was featured as one of Esquire Magazine’s Americans of the Year 2012, and has served twice a company commander at Fort Hood. She’s also a mother of two.

Jennifer Lohmann is a UChicago grad, a local librarian in Durham, was chosen as RWA Librarian of the year, won Harlequin’s “So You Think You Can Write” contest, has just published her fifth book, and is a tireless promoter for literacy in Durham. She recently won a Readers’ Choice Award for best first novel.

Katharine Ashe (who is in academic circles known as Katharine DuBois), has a PhD in religious history, has taught at University of Michigan, and, until she quit to write fiction full-time, was a visiting professor at Duke. She is a mom as well.

Virginia Kantra has published over twenty best-selling books, teaches professional writers workshops for authors, and is a mother of three. Her recent series is set in Dare County, NC.

I hope this helps explain why I found your blurb so offensive.


Dabney Grinnan
Partner at All About Romance

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Dabney Grinnan on 08/01/2014 at 3:05 PM

Re: “The Lion in Winter at Theatre in the Park

Characters with weaknesses are frequent in theater; they fund most if not all of the great dramas, and it takes strong actors to believably perform them.

Weak performances, on the other hand, are more frequent in regional theater than most of us would like. Though he ignores it, I suspect that shlomo is already well aware of this distinction.

And to answer his question, not only it is entirely fair to demand that all actors on stage be believable, that is actually the minimum acceptable standard for a show produced by one of the region's older and more accomplished companies, for paying audiences.

Should Theatre in the Park's artistic director believe differently, he is welcome to state that view for himself, publicly and on the record.

Playtime is over, shlomo. Ultimately, it's the director's responsibility to make sure that an entire cast is meeting the minimum artistic standards -- and not just the top two-thirds. When that doesn't occur, a mixed but basically favorable review like this one is actually the smallest of consequences.

Posted by Byron Woods on 08/01/2014 at 10:45 AM

Re: “Fracking company makes offers in Durham

We moved to NC from PA eight years ago. In PA (we worked in Binghamton, NY), we lived in a beautiful area in the Endless Mountains region, about 25 miles from Dimock, PA. On trips back through there, we have seen a portion of that area deteriorate because of fracking. People there are sick, the once clean water is bad, the landscape is damaged. It is a mess and people are having difficulty selling their property (they want to leave, but are trapped because nobody wants to buy). There is a group out there telling the public that Dimock is great, no problems, etc., but we have seen for ourselves the difference in just a few years time (I suspect the pro-frack group is company planted). Nobody that owned land there is all the more richer for selling their mineral rights. If anyone is making any money, you can be sure it is the companies, not - I stress NOT - the landowners.

Also, we have a niece in Oklahoma City, they are experiencing a great number of earthquakes in that area and suspect that the earthquakes are a result of fracking.

Some people we talk with here, in NC, just shrug their shoulders and say 'What are you going to do?' Here's what we do - we must work together to fight fracking and stop thinking that it is going to be okay. It has proven on many occasions to be destructive and unhealthy for people, animals, and our earth. Do not sell away your mineral rights, fight tooth and nail to protect our precious resources. If they can put people in space, they can find a way to utilize solar power and green energy. Fight for this as hard and loud as you can - and tell everyone you know to do the same.

The destruction that comes from fracking far outweighs any proposed benefits. It's not good or healthy - and the only ones who benefit are the fracking companies.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by galdra on 08/01/2014 at 2:25 AM

Re: “Ed Mitchell's Que lives up to its hype

I work in the same building so I've been here a number if times. I've seen all the pageantry around Ed and the food network, his apparent breakup with a "greedy businessman" re: the I was cheering for this place, I love food and I LOVE bbq.

The service is awful, very aloof waitresses who don't seem to be listening....we even had a waitress creep over to us and ask if the service was slow(it was, but I declined to comment)...I couldn't tell if she was a manager or just a hater who was going to rat on her colleague! the price is high, but it doesn't need to be...why make this a mahogany bar with flatscreens and an extensive wine list? Copying the Pit much?

The BBQ was average at best. Not as good as the Pit, the pig, backyard BBQ, or a&s. Not even close.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by njordan81 on 07/31/2014 at 9:27 PM

Re: “Rosé and Romance

Race and genre are not remotely similar, yes. Race and gender, however, usually are considered to be so.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Dabney Grinnan on 07/31/2014 at 4:28 PM

Re: “Rosé and Romance

I also feel that I should address the comments here asking if we would do something like this based on racial stereotypes. I find this comparison extremely odd. Race and genre are not even remotely equivalent.

Posted by Brian Howe, INDY arts & culture editor on 07/31/2014 at 4:13 PM

Re: “The two faces of Bo Lozoff

Yes, we all have Two Faces or wear a mask. The real question is "Who are you when the mask comes off?"
I was very disappointed to learn about the sexual mis-conduct. Although there are practices in yoga and
chi-gung that deal with sexual areas it is a cultural taboo for a teacher to use his or her power over a student
in such manner. Somewhere up in heaven Mr. Fred Rogers is playing a sad song on his piano to know that
someone he believed in used their authority over another human being for sexual gratification. The only hope
here is for the offender to really understand what they did was truly wrong. When someone trusts you that is a "sacred", "beautiful" and "noble" thing.

Posted by Noah Fox on 07/31/2014 at 3:18 PM

Re: “Rosé and Romance

I find it ironic that most of the angry and upset people that posted in this article are sexist themselves when they think that only women read romance novels (that makes you a hypocrite). There are plenty of men that read them also. Even as a kid when all that I had to read were my mom's True Romance and True Story romance magazines, they were pretty much written in the same manner. Not to take away anything that these women have written in their particular style of romance novels but when one conjures "romance novels" one thinks of the Fabio covered books that would use this "style" of writing. To accuse Zach of never reading a romance novel (have you asked him personally?) and to call him sexist is just plain arrogant and ridiculous. It was written in a style of satirical humor and nothing more. If you want to put words in his mouth because you are having a bad day and are taking it out on someone who meant no harm, then please take a deep breath put your anger to some better use.

2 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Larry Matthew Crowe on 07/31/2014 at 3:13 PM

Re: “Rosé and Romance

This blurb was intended to direct our readers toward a unique event in a humorous, light-hearted way. I'm sorry that it didn't strike some of you that way.

But I do not agree that the blurb is sexist. It’s a broad, silly parody of the style of romance novels. There is nothing in it about the people who read them or about women in general. The language is not gendered.

The idea that the blurb disrespects female readers and writers is problematic because women, of course, read and write a wide variety of things--all the things that men do--and many don’t read romance novels at all. Meanwhile, Romance Writers of America reports that 9% of romance novel readers are men.

I do understand the perception that the blurb is not respectful of the romance genre. But it is not uncommon for us to take an irreverent tone in our preview blurbs, and Zack has written many of them--on all manner of genres--in a satirical voice.

2 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Brian Howe, INDY arts & culture editor on 07/31/2014 at 2:27 PM

Re: “Victorian women explore the future in On the Verge

Mr. Brown should be advised that I have actually seen -- and signed -- my full share of production contracts in my earlier experiences as a director -- well before I researched and wrote a recent cover story about copyright and the theater for INDY Week.

Still, he needn't take my word on copyright and script changes. In the interest of general education, here's a link to an article on the issue from the American Association of Community Theatre. Licensing do's and don'ts from major publishing houses are helpfully included at the bottom of the piece.…

> Nothing the chrononauts did suggested to me....
> [The women's] experiences were a result of free choices they each made,
> not imposed upon them by some outside agency (other than the playwright himself).

Sorry, this is simply incorrect. The women were guided on stage by the chrononauts in the very first moments of the play. They moved the women into place with eyes closed, posed them just so, and then "activated" them by placing jewelry about the heads or throats of two and an arm band on the third. The chrononauts clearly controlled them at first, and repeatedly controlled the "worlds" they encountered thereafter: flipping switches, and turning knobs and cranks prominently placed on the wall of the set. No one besides the chrononauts worked these controls.

It's possible that Mr. Brown somehow missed every example of this manipulation throughout the show. If so, he should be advised that the facts are against him.

1 like, 3 dislikes
Posted by Byron Woods on 07/31/2014 at 2:25 PM

Re: “Victorian women explore the future in On the Verge

Of course. We have no issue with sarcasm.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Brian Howe, INDY arts & culture editor on 07/31/2014 at 2:03 PM

Re: “Victorian women explore the future in On the Verge

Brian, I'll take joint responsibility with my dumb-ass phone for mistakenly believing one of my posts had disappeared. While I'm at it, I'll give 100% of the blame to my phone for omitting "not" between "it's" and "missing" in my third post.

FWIW, my biting sarcasm, as demonstrated in my first post, has met the ad hominem threshold for other message board moderators I have encountered.

1 like, 0 dislikes
Posted by Bill Brown on 07/31/2014 at 1:30 PM

Re: “Live: Third Eye Blind: Out with the new, in with the old

I certainly hope so. I sorely miss their lyrics and sound.

Posted by Jennifer Gibe Hall on 07/31/2014 at 1:28 PM

Re: “Rosé and Romance

Per sexism is defined as "behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex"
Now, imagine that piece being read aloud.
Do you hear in it a male or female voice?
Now visualize the monologue as performed by each sex. Is it a male or female performer?
Is the core message informational or is it overriden by the tone? How would you define the tone? Sarcastic? If so, the author is ridiculing a group that are primarily women writers and women readers. Insulting? To the authors and genre and attendees, definitely. Informative? I think not. Uplifting or respectful? Ha!
Again, what if this were race-based? Would it be comedic or racist?

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Kristi Scarbrough Weldon on 07/31/2014 at 1:13 PM

Re: “Rosé and Romance

What a sexist piece of crap.

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Carrie Gwaltney on 07/31/2014 at 12:57 PM

Re: “Rosé and Romance

It's not just me who is offended by this. If you are on Twitter, the @indyweek tag is being criticized by women writers for being offensive and sexist. Here's hoping the INDY listens and rethinks their attitude toward romance.

9 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Dabney Grinnan on 07/31/2014 at 12:39 PM

Re: “Residents at the Velvet Cloak Inn rise up against property owners in legal fight that has ramifications for North Carolina

... a Raleigh classic that sadly has fallen by the wayside - too bad some shit like a North Hills development or other recent Raleighwood fake facade look will be built on the site unless this icon property and building can be saved.

6 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by wideNCawake on 07/31/2014 at 12:34 PM

Re: “Rosé and Romance

It is sexism when you take an event that is paneled by women and attended by mostly women, and make fun of it using language that he, a man who has clearly read no romance novels, has decided represents the obviously overwrought emotions of the women involved. If this had been a panel of Asian-American authors and he had written up the event in fake pidgin Chinese, I'd be offended then too. Don't do that.

15 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Amy Jo Cousins on 07/31/2014 at 12:19 PM

Re: “Rosé and Romance

It's sexist in that this was a professional event featuring four women speaking about their work. He belittles the work--the books mentioned--and their writers. When women speak about everyday sexism this is the sort of thing they're talking about. Work done by women that is, in general, utilized by women, is mocked as a way to diminish its power. That's why I'm playing the sexist card.

12 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Dabney Grinnan on 07/31/2014 at 12:18 PM

Re: “Rosé and Romance

I see that Mr. Smith is lampooning the romance novel genre by writing in a stereotypical feverish style, but how is he engaging in sexism?

4 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by David Klein on 07/31/2014 at 12:09 PM

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