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The Romance Apologia Scale

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Every Thanksgiving, we have tried to post something positive, something to show our thanks for the community of readers here.   This year, we are providing a self help guide, so to speak, for the community to respond to those around us who might question the reading choices we have brought with us on holiday.   

We women always seem to be apologizing for something.   We were birthed with the words “I’m sorry” on our lips.   We are apologetic we were first born female. When we arrive at womanhood, we are apologetic for being too loose or conversely too prudish.   We are sorry for staying at home or choosing to work and sending our kids to daycare.   We are sorry that we put ambition before family or family before ambition.   We are sorry for the fact that our stepping away from the partnership track hurts the chances of women behind us.   We are sorry for criticizing those who do hurt the cause of female professionalism.   We are sorry that we have kids and that we don’t have kids or that if we do have kids, we have too many or too few.   We are sorry we spent the morning reading when we could be doing laundry, washing the dishes, coloring with our children, catering to our husband, or talking to our friends, our moms, our dads on the phone.

Last week I wrote about my own reader bias.   When Mike Cane first confronted me with his incredulity that I rarely read male authors, my first response was a defensive one and an apologetic one. No, I don’t read solely female authors.   But I think my first response should have been “why not?” because the fact is, I get plenty of penis point of view and always have.   I’ve been through 7 years of post secondary education. I remember in philosophy class that my professor called the cadre of philosophers DWEBS – Dead White English Boys.   The entirety of my education was dominated by men.   The only female professors I had was in history (she was a women’s history specialist) and in contracts in law school.   My bosses have all been male. I would venture that 85% of the opinions I read are authored by men.   Judges on the bench?   Largely white and male.   The penis and its thought process is everywhere – i.e., Viagra is covered by insurance but birth control is not.

If I spend the entirety of my pleasure reading time devoted to female voices, I should not have to apologize for that. I should be able to glory in it. Yes, in my escape from the world, the pressures of the job, the role of the wife, mother, daughter, I choose to read women authors writing about falling in love forever and amen.   To anyone who might feel like I do, I suggest measuring yourself against the Romance Apologia Scale.

***

When people say “you read romance?” in that derisive questioning way, the correct response is

  1. Only when standing in line to get groceries.
  2. I’m just buying this for my mom.
  3. I do, and let me tell you why.
  4. Fuck off.

Is that a naked man on the cover of your book?

  1. Is it? I hadn’t noticed. A friend recommended it to me.
  2. I thought it was the newest edition of Gray’s Anatomy.
  3. The naked man is simply a visual mnemonic for the kind of meaningful emotional story that is sometimes classified as romance, much like how a gravestone is symbolic of death.
  4. Fuck off.

Isn’t romance formulaic?

  1. I don’t know. I’m buying this for my sister.
  2. This is my first one.
  3. If by formulaic you mean subject to certain genre constraints that epitomize genre books like mysteries and science fiction.
  4. Fuck off

Don’t you get bored with the HEA?

  1. I have no idea what you’re talking about.
  2. You have no idea what you’re talking about.
  3. Are you kidding? That’s the whole reason we read romance.
  4. Fuck off.

Aren’t those books just about sex?

  1. I don’t know.   I just found this on the park bench and wanted to help with the “no littering” effort.
  2. No idea, but my shrink recommended a bottle of wine, a romance novel, and a vibrator for relaxation therapy.
  3. They’re as much about sex as Moby Dick is about chasing a whale. It happens, but it’s not the point.
  4. Fuck off

Romance is trash.

  1. My father brought them home from the Goodwill drop off.
  2. I was just taking this to the trash can.   I think it fell out of my neighbor’s bags.
  3. You must have read a lot of them to make a sweeping judgment like that. Try another and make it two.
  4. Fuck off

My mom used to read those “bodice rippers.”

  1. This is my mom’s book.
  2. Do they still call them that?
  3. The genre has progressed way beyond that stereotypical plotline in the past 30 years. Why don’t you try one and see what you think?
  4. Fuck off.

Why don’t you read something else?

  1. Good idea– what do you recommend?
  2. Maybe I will, after I find out what happens next in this book.
  3. Because reading romances makes me happy.
  4. Fuck off.

****

  

Every time you answered a question with 1, give yourself a 1.   For every question you answered 2, give yourself a 2 and so on and so forth. Add up and see where you fall on the Scale:

8-15:   You are suffering from severe Apologia and should immediately seek help from the School of Certitude. Unchecked,  Apologia   could lead to a lifelong ailment requiring heavy foundation to cover constant blushing, a ready brown paper bag for all packages, and a quip book due to lack of a good comeback.

16-23:   You are teetering on the edge of needing treatment but have passed the intervention stage.   Practice a few “fuck offs” in the mirror everyday.      

23-31:   You are in Explanatory mode. You believe that your actions can and should be defended even to those who will never accord you the same regard. Stuck in this mode, you will become Serious Sally who no one wants to sit next to in class.

32:   You have conquered Apologia and should be in line to be the next candidate a heart beat away from something. Furthermore, you can say, do, and read whatever you like because frankly, my dear, you don’t give a damn.

***

Happy Holidays Dear Author Community! We are thankful that you visit, lurk, comment, and vigorously debate with us.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

88 Comments

  1. Willa
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 06:22:41

    Tis dangerous to do a quiz when I haven’t consumed my regulatory amount of morning coffee . . . but this time it paid off!!

    You have conquered Apologia. YaY!

  2. Sami
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 06:45:35

    I think I’m still in explanatory mode, leaning towards conquering apologia when in a foul mood. Perhaps I should be in a foul mood more often.

  3. Sarah Frantz
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 07:18:15

    I’m definitely all about #4.

  4. Laura Vivanco
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 07:19:53

    “You are in Explanatory mode. […] Stuck in this mode, you will become Serious Sally who no one wants to sit next to in class.”

    But if romance readers shouldn’t pay attention to people who criticise the genre, why should Serious Sally pay attention to people who have that sort of opinion of her? Serious Sally may well be a heart-beat away from being a tenured professor and once she is, she can say, do, and read more or less whatever she likes because frankly, my dear, she’ll be the one deciding what’s on the curriculum.

    Seriously, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a romance geek and either informing or boring critics of the genre into submission.

  5. Daria
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 07:25:02

    I am in explanatory mode mostly because I try to recruit people to my side, not exclude myself from everyone. They can say whatever they want, but deep down inside they all want to read it. They are just not brave enough to fess up. I’ve managed to hook up at least 3 people on romance, and they were the ones cringing every time I mentioned the word.

  6. S. W. Vaughn
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 07:35:34

    Fuck off.

    Whoops! Sorry. Got into the rhythm there for a minute (and hey, I just apologized! Maybe I’m not cured after all…)

    Anyway – happy Thanksgiving to you. :-) I’m thankful for your blog, which has given me many happy hours of reading and thinking.

  7. Ann Somerville
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 07:43:27

    I get plenty of penis point of view and always have.

    Yup.

    I love this post.

    The naked man is simply a visual mnemonic for the kind of meaningful emotional story that is sometimes classified as romance, much like how a gravestone is symbolic of death.

    You know, I’m sure I wrote tripe like this in my BA. Way to give me bad flashbacks! ‘Fuck off’ would have been a much better response to Conrad and his ilk.

  8. Shiloh Walker
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 07:46:45

    LOL… I think I’m somewhere between explanatory and conquering. I generally don’t explain unless somebody asks~I rarely feel like messing with it.

  9. Evecho
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 07:49:37

    LOL Brilliant, Jane.

  10. Lorelie
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 07:58:05

    I’ve conquered Apologia, plus a side helping of smart ass-icity. I’m mighty proud. :D

    My favorite two answers to Why don't you read something else?, depending on who’s asking:

    “You mean like (fill in name of most recent history for fun book I’ve read)? Have you read it? I’d love to find someone to discuss it with.”

    or

    “You mean like (fill in name of author from question asker’s favorite genre)? I’ve tried, but it was just too poorly written.”

    PS The preview comment button isn’t working for me.

  11. Leah
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 08:14:09

    You know, I am just floored that anyone would feel he/she has the right to question another adult’s reading material. Srsly.

  12. Angelia Sparrow
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 08:14:34

    I am definitely a Serious Sally.
    Actually, Most of mine are the non-existant option between 3 and 4.

    Is that a naked man on the cover?
    “No, actually it’s TWO naked men. Gorgeous isn’t it?”

    4. Aren't those books just about sex?
    “Yeah. I love it.”

    Romance is trash.
    *shrug* Sturgeon’s Law applies to everything.

    Why don’t you read something else?
    I do. I’m on book 42 of 50 this year. My Reading List, let me show you it…

  13. vanessa jaye
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 08:24:07

    I’m a Serious Sally, who should be a heartbeat away from summin. lol.

    I’ll explain and try to enlighten, but depending on how sincere the other person’s interest, I might just be rolling my eyes mentally and thinking ‘oh, eff off you stick-up-the-ass sanctimonious prig. I’ll read whatever the eff I want/like.’

  14. Jane O
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 08:27:36

    Slight problem with your choices. I would be a straight 4 but I’m nearly 70 years old and I don’t actually say that. I have, however, been told that the look I give people in such situations is the nonverbal equivalent.

  15. KCfla
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 08:35:39

    I’m with Jane O as far as responses go. As I work with/in the public realm I can’t actually say it- but believe me my look will give you no doubts about my *actual * feelings.

    But Ms. Sparrow- May I borrow a couple of yours? They are really SOOOOO much better than mine ;-)

  16. Karen Scott
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 08:36:25

    That amused me no end.

    Since I’m one of only a few who read within my inner circle, (without being coerced) they’re the ones who generally feel less intelligent, and I kinda like it that way. *g*

    Although I’ve been tempted to apologise for reading Sensation by Thea Devine, many a time.

  17. Kimber An
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 08:44:19

    I got mostly 3s, but some of the questions didn’t have my answer listed below.

    ***
    When people say “you read romance?” in that derisive questioning way, the correct response is

    #5 Oh, yes and just about everything else too, except Horror or Erotica.

    Is that a naked man on the cover of your book?
    #5 Yes, unfortunately. Publishers think it’s the only way to get impulse buyers to buy.

    Don't you get bored with the HEA?
    5# Sometimes, but that’s why I read across almost all other genres.

    Aren't those books just about sex?
    #5 A lot of them are, which is why I rely on my friends’ recommendations to find the ones about love.

    Romance is trash.
    #5 Some of them are, but a lot of them are truly wonderful. Here, try PROTECT AND SERVE by Gwyneth Bolton and if you don’t change your mind on that one then this really isn’t the genre for you.

    My mom used to read those “bodice rippers.”
    #5 That explains a lot. (roll eyes)

  18. Lori
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 09:08:58

    Happy Holidays Ja(y)nes!

    Since the only eye-rollers I’ve ever encountered have been of the penile kind, I usually find some sex scene in the book and read aloud. They never mock again for fear I’ll read more…

  19. Jane
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 09:18:12

    @Laura Vivanco: It was just in jest. I’m the most serious of the serious Sallies. I’m always trying to explain and justify the existence of Romance and why it should be taken seriously and I do believe that. Sometimes, though, you can never convert people and the “fuck off” or non vulgar form is the best response.

  20. Keishon
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 09:20:29

    I simply don’t get asked about my reading material. But at the sales counter, I get that long stare at the cover and then they start ringing me up. My response theoretically would be a #4 but most of the people I hang with are readers. I even had a male friend of mine read Twilight and more than willing to read a romance. Go figure.

    i.e., Viagra is covered by insurance but birth control is not.

    Birth control is covered by insurance and Viagra maybe covered but it is usually a $50 copay and not all insurance cover it and I know this is OT. But I get what you are saying. Bye! One more thing – great post and I’m thankful you guys are around because you have provided us with some great topics to discuss and some great reads!

  21. Sherry Thomas
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 09:23:24

    Rolling on the flying dying of laughter.

    I need to incorporate “Fuck off” into my daily vocabulary.

    And I think I was born without the female-guilt gene, for which I am eminently thankful.

  22. theo
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 09:29:27

    I’m a cross between the Serious Sally and number 4. My SS answer is usually, Of course I do! I love it. Wanna know why? My number 4 answer though it really never verbal, simply because I only say that to my DH and always in jest. If the person asking is obnoxious enough, he/she just gets the old hairy eyeball from me before I lift my chin and walk away.

    And I do agree, Jane. Sometimes the “fuck off” or hairy eyeball is the only way to respond to someone. But then, that applies to more than just their asking about romance too ;)

  23. MoJo
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 09:42:37

    You know, I am just floored that anyone would feel he/she has the right to question another adult's reading material. Srsly.

    I’m always kind of amazed that people at the grocery store feel free to comment on the food I’m buying, too.

    And people at the [insert appropriate store here] feel free to comment on my purchases.

    They all get the “were you born in a barn?” look and occasionally, I’ll even say it if they were snotty enough to begin with.

  24. Anion
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 09:44:39

    You know, I am just floored that anyone would feel he/she has the right to question another adult's reading material. Srsly.

    This is my position as well. I’ve never felt the need to “apologize” for my reading material or for what I write, and if someone wants to think I’m an idiot or whatever because I’m sitting in the park reading a romance novel that’s their snotty little problem. I don’t care what they think; why should I? Especially if they’re strangers?

    People I know well know better than to ask me things like that, and people I know only slightly who ask are likely to get raised eyebrows and a “Why? What do you read?” Which will either lead us into a delightful discussion about all kinds of books, or a shrug from me and a “I love to read, and I read a wide variety of genres and books.”

    And that’s it. I don’t owe them an explanation and they don’t deserve one. And–I’m not trying to be funny or rude or anything here, really–but I’ve never understood people who think they do, or who get upset when people on the bus see them reading a book with a clinch cover or whatever. It’s none of anyone else’s business what I read, as long as it’s not pornographic magazines in the lobby of my childrens’s school while the kids are walking by.

    To me having a stranger ask me a question like that is akin to a stranger asking me any other personal question: I stick my nose in the air and ignore them. It’s a very useful trick to learn, actually. It works just as well for impertinent questions about my reading choices from fellow passengers as it does for impertinent comments about my ass from construction workers. Nobody has the right to interrupt you and make you speak to them (Of course, “Excuse me, can you tell me the way to Beacon St.?” is a different story; those questions deserve an answer).

    We all need to learn to stop making excuses. Don’t want to go out with the guy? Just say “No, thank you.” Don’t want to have dinner at your friends’s house, because you know she’ll let her cat walk all over the dinner table while you eat? Just say, “No, thank you.” Don’t want to let your cousin and his ten children spend a week at your house? Just say, “No, I’m afraid that’s impossible.” And if they keep asking, just keep repeating your answer.

    You have every right to read what you want, spend the evening alone with tortilla chips and Lifetime movies, eat cat-hair-free food, or keep your home to yourself; fuck ‘em if they don’t like it. You’re not obligated to respond to rudeness.

    Oops, sorry. I’m feeling chatty today. /rant.

  25. Kelly C
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 10:00:28

    And I do agree, Jane. Sometimes the “fuck off” or hairy eyeball is the only way to respond to someone. But then, that applies to more than just their asking about romance too ;)

    Amen to THAT! LOL :-)

  26. Jane O
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 10:27:54

    I'm always kind of amazed that people at the grocery store feel free to comment on the food I'm buying, too.

    I am constantly amazed at the things people feel free to comment on. My skinny husband was once buying some jelly doughnuts and a woman felt obliged to inform him that those were empty calories. And some friends were walking with their three small children when a woman accosted them and told them they should be ashamed of themselves for having more than two children. Of course, that was on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

  27. Laura Vivanco
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 10:41:08

    It was just in jest. I'm the most serious of the serious Sallies. I'm always trying to explain and justify the existence of Romance and why it should be taken seriously and I do believe that.

    Thanks for clarifying, Jane. I think I have a bit of a knee-jerk reaction to that sort of thing because I’ve seen too many threads (not here, by the way) where one group of romance readers would make derogatory comments about “serious Sally” romance readers.

  28. Leslie Dicken
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 10:47:51

    my shrink recommended a bottle of wine, a romance novel, and a vibrator for relaxation therapy.

    ROFL! What a great post! Love it. I’m going to practice saying “Fuck off” until I can do it with ease and non-chalance!

  29. Meljean
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 11:04:26

    Every once in a while I’m in explanatory mode (usually when I’m in my author mode). But if I’m just a reader, it’s pretty much #4 all the way.

    And I love this post.

  30. Jaci Burton
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 11:07:18

    I’m always happy to sing the praises of romance to anyone who asks why I read it. Though I often find the ones who ask are the ones who denigrate it, so I’m probably between #3 and #4 because those kinds of people are the ones whose opinions you’ll never be able to change, in which case it’s just best to tell them to fuck off.

    Hmm, maybe there should be a 3 1/2 then, something in between 3 and 4…like we use in the south – Well, bless your heart (euphemism for Fuck Off).

  31. Nikki
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 11:11:13

    LOL!! I printed your post out and taped it to my book shelves! I wish you would have responded to my favorite question though………

    You know that is just “chick porn”, right???

    I am almost to the Fuck off stage. I just can’t believe how ignorant and arrogant people can be—and by the way people who usually ask these idiotic questions don’t even read books at all!!!!!!

  32. Kathryn Smith
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 11:33:38

    I’ve given up apologizing for reading romance and definitely for writing it. And I try to be patient with those who are ignorant about the genre, because there is a difference between innocent ignorance and willful pettiness. But for the rest of them, I don’t owe them an explanation for anything.

  33. Lorelie
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 11:37:38

    You know that is just “chick porn”, right???

    Actually it’s not. Would you like me to show you my vast collection of m/m/f pr0n DVDs?

    *g*

  34. MaryK
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 11:58:02

    Cool! Way to go, Jane!

  35. Alice
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 12:15:33

    So glad I put the cup down when I read this.

    It actually depends on whom I speaking with. If it’s worth it, I’ll explain. If not, I just say I like it. The stupid ones…well, I ignore them, but I do believe I’ll practice in front of the mirror at least once a day. :)

    No idea, but my shrink recommended a bottle of wine, a romance novel, and a vibrator for relaxation therapy.

    My favorite. Think I’ll use it next time. Hehehe.

  36. kirsten saell
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 12:17:02

    I am constantly amazed at the things people feel free to comment on.

    Heh, I had a guy recently tell me I shouldn’t go out to play pool once a week with my friends because I’m a single mom and should be at home with my kids. He also said as a writer, I ought to write fiction that was accessible to everyone, instead of just writing sex books.

    I smiled and told him very nicely to blow it out his ass on both counts.

    I apologize all the time in my day job–often even when the problem is the customer’s fault, because that’s just the way it’s done in the hospitality industry. In my personal and writing life, I’m done apologizing. Unless I’ve actually wronged someone, don’t expect any sorries from me.

  37. Dee Tenorio
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 12:23:09

    Wait! Your insurance doesn’t cover birth control?? LOL! You must not be a minority in California. But I live in Orange County, where Viagra is bigger than meth.

    Too funny, got a whole book idea out of all the fuck offs, lol.
    Happy Turkey Day, gang!

  38. Naughty and Spice Blog » Blog Archive » Why Is It...
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 12:45:07

    […] If you find yourself caught in similiar quandries with friend adn stranger alike, I suggest you pop on over to Dear Author and take the Romance Apologia quiz. […]

  39. Jill Myles
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 13:03:35

    Love this. I’m definitely “Fuck Off!” all the way. ;)

  40. Jackie Barbosa
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 13:03:47

    Love the post and find myself wavering between #3 and #4. That said, I do have one different answer to this one:

    Q: Aren't those books just about sex?

    A: What if they are? You have a problem with sex?

    Of course, I don’t think romance novels are all about sex, but it irks me that pornography intended for a male audience is one of the largest revenue generators in the US entertainment industry, but women are supposed to be ashamed of reading love stories with sex in them. Harumph!

    I think sex is a beautiful and powerful expression of life, love, and intimacy, and I like stories that celebrate that. You got a problem with sex, go bark up someone else’s tree!

  41. Val Griswold-Ford
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 13:19:27

    Oh, I’m a “Fuck-off” all the way too – it’s not usually verbal, but the Death Glare usually stops any other questions.

    If that doesn’t, the one-eyebrow look over at whatever they happen to have in their hands, a slow, single shake of the head and returning to my book ends the conversation. :)

  42. kirsten saell
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 13:21:52

    Of course, I don't think romance novels are all about sex, but it irks me that pornography intended for a male audience is one of the largest revenue generators in the US entertainment industry, but women are supposed to be ashamed of reading love stories with sex in them. Harumph!

    Oh, hell yeah!

    I think sex is a beautiful and powerful expression of life, love, and intimacy, and I like stories that celebrate that. You got a problem with sex, go bark up someone else's tree!

    And sometimes it’s just a sweaty, physical, intense, down-and-dirty expression of lust, and damnit, I think that’s just fine too. Even for women.

  43. MPH
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 14:07:53

    You’re missing an important choice for the survey and it is “Oh, yeah.”

    For a couple questions, I wouldn’t mind explaining and for Romance is trash, “Depends on my mood. Sometimes, the trashier the better!”

    There’s no need to feel guilty over feeling guilty. In my experience, it’s been part of every new stage in my life – like doubt and mortification *huh*. Whether in career or relationship or with children, it’s been a process in learning. At first, I don’t know who I am, now I do (well, kinda – sorta. There’s this pesky “evolving and growing” thing).

    No apology, no defense or offensive comment. Just acceptance.

    My husband has girly mags and I have my romance. We both get our HEA;)

  44. Barb Ferrer
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 14:44:57

    All of my answers were some hybrid between 3s and 4s except for the HEA one, where I had a hybrid of 2 & 4.

    This would seem to suggest I attempt reason first, then if it seems to not be penetrating (ha– I said penetrating *is twelve*) I settle for “fuck off.”

    I just read Jaci’s answer and since I also live in the south and know the value of a well timed “Bless your heart,” I can only conclude that she and I might just share a brain. *g*

  45. Karin
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 15:02:08

    I loved the quiz. I hovered between 3 and 4 the whole time.

  46. GrowlyCub
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 15:24:53

    I’m a Serious Sally tending towards no. 4. And being a non-native speaker I have fewer inhibitions/associated taboos about using swear words which is a bit embarrassing on occasion but would come in handy in the situations described in the quiz. :)

    But what I really wanted to comment on is the picture. Holy! It’s just fabulous! I have a red Maine Coon boy named Rowdy who would look exactly like that if I tried to put a bra on him… he would, I tell you. :)

  47. Jaci Burton
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 15:28:39

    Barb….hehehehe….

    (I laughed at ‘penetrating’…clearly I’m also twelve)

    And I’m happy to share a brain with you.

  48. Gail Dayton
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 15:46:48

    I tend to be a #3 about EVERYTHING. Not just romance.

    That said, I remember getting my son in trouble when he had to read THE RED PONY in school and do a book report, and he was hating reading the book almost as much as I had, and I told him “Well, basically the book is about ‘Kaka happens, and then you die.’ But don’t put that in your report.” But that’s still my opinion.

    And he did put it in his report… The teacher made him do it over. (sigh)

  49. LauraB
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 15:53:37

    I love this post! The quiz was good fun, but really it was the unapologetic ‘apology’ for your reading preferences. Thank you!

  50. CourtneyLee
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 15:58:37

    I love this! It gave me many ideas on short and sweet remarks to add to my arsenal for when I get the bodice ripper/girl porn/smut book comments.

    I also like to point out to ignorant/opinionated people that insulting my book is insulting me and that my mom taught me it was rude to insult someone (especially strangers) to their face. I sometimes get grief for “taking it too seriously”, but I don’t think saying mean things about my personal choices is at all funny.

  51. Bev Stephans
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 16:27:52

    At my stage in life, I’ll read what I damned well please and to all others: FUCK OFF!!!

  52. Yvonne Lindsay
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 16:55:13

    I’m with Gail, definitely a #3, however does it count if we at least think #4 some of the time?

    FWIW I cannot for the life of me understand why our kids are given depressing diatribes to watch and read in school, and then get marked wrong when they’re asked for their ‘opinion’ on it. Are the TPTB deliberately trying to raise a nation of emotionally disturbed teens? Whatever happened to studying the layers and effects of a feel good read?

  53. MaryK
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 17:12:05

    @Yvonne Lindsay:

    Are the TPTB deliberately trying to raise a nation of emotionally disturbed teens?

    It would seem so. Also trying to turn them off reading.

  54. Jessa Slade
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 17:17:43

    I’m happy to say that when I was a teen embarrassed to ask the librarian where I’d find some more of those Kathleen Woodiwiss type books, please, she looked me in the eye and said, Never apologize for your reading tastes.

    I believe that was a librarian’s way of telling me that I could tell people to fuck off :)

    I’m thankful for librarians.

  55. Lori Borrill
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 17:28:37

    My mom used to read those “bodice rippers.”
    #5 That explains a lot. (roll eyes)

    Snorted up coffee over that one. And it’s quite hot, thankyou.

    I'm always kind of amazed that people at the grocery store feel free to comment on the food I'm buying, too.

    I am continually floored by the gonad level of the general public. My typical response to strangers who feel compelled to comment on my personal business is, “And you are….?”

    Funny how they shut up when I insinuate I’d like some credentials attached to that opinion. And when that’s failed, I’ve resorted to #4.

    Very funny quiz, Janes. I’m still chuckling over a number of them. Of course, I came out on the high end of the number scale, as it still amazes me how much people worry about what other people think. It seems worse in the romance community, from authors who go crazy over bad reviews to readers who fret about what people think of the books they read. These are strangers, yet we give them such power over our mood and our self-worth.

    I have a very small circle of people in my life whose opinions matter, namely my husband, my kid, my boss and my editor. It goes out from there, diminishing in importance as the circle gets wider. Definitely, by the time I get to strangers who don’t read romance, there’s an empty canyon of indifference they need to contend with before they can ruffle my feathers. And usually I’m ruffled not by their question , but by the colossal size of balls they require to ask it in the first place.

    Fun topic! Have a wonderful holiday, everyone!

  56. orannia
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 17:58:44

    LOL. Jane – you and your fellow Ja(y)nes and Dear Author are all gems…and so was that opinion piece. I haven’t read the comments yet but I was giggling all the way through the questions. I’m lucky in that the people don’t usually question what I read – mostly I just get stick for reading full stop (particularly from relatives, all of whom don’t read. My brother is 33 and he admitted to me last month he hasn’t picked up a book since high school).

    The only time I’ve been queried about my reading material was by a librarian (I was going through a Mills & Boon phase) – she then apologied and said that it wasn’t her place (or anyone else’s for that matter) to comment on my reading material. I did initially launch into explanatory mode with her and I do the same thing with my relatives….I’d love to use answer 4 on them…that is, if I was brave enough :)

  57. shuzluva
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 18:13:49

    Fabulous post. In locations where “fuck off” isn’t appropriate (i.e., my children are within earshot), I am going to use response #3. I am currently printing them and making bookmarks out of them so that I don’t accidentally say “fuck off” instead.

    Once, the hubster had the gall to ask me “Why don’t you read something else?”

    My response: “FUCK OFF!”

  58. JaimeK
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 18:22:04

    I am soooo thankful for this blog – hours of entertainment!

    I am the F.O. type of girl and if it doesn’t come out of my mouth but instead my left eye brow goes up into my hairline I have heard it suggested that you clear the immediate area around me within 2.2 seconds or less! =]

    My philosophy is this – if I have not commented on your reading material then I recommend that you not comment on mine as your opinion is not required or requested!!

    Peace.

  59. Meljean
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 19:29:48

    my left eye brow goes up into my hairline

    I’ve always wanted to be able to do this (because all of the arrogant heroes in my hidden-under-the-covers Harlequins did it.)

    Hours and hours of practice in front of a mirror, and I can only get a twitch. Sigh.

  60. cecilia
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 20:03:34

    I cannot for the life of me understand why our kids are given depressing diatribes to watch and read in school, and then get marked wrong when they're asked for their ‘opinion' on it.

    Because not all opinions are supported by the evidence available. Because sometimes the teacher is looking for more than a brief, unexplained statement that may or may not clearly answer the question. Because sometimes the opinion provided doesn’t actually make sense. Because the support may be superficial. Because the teacher asked for an opinion on X but the kid gave an opinion on Y.

    Sorry, but it drives me bananas when people think that if it’s an opinion, it must be gold.

  61. Tae
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 20:18:14

    I am often the only person at my workplace that reads romances and science fiction/fantasy, and I always feel like I have to explain or justify my reading choices. My friends read sci/fi fantasy, though not romances. Part of this is because I was a literature major and everyone assumes that I should be reading Dickens (boring, really really boring) instead. I do love me some classics, but really, how is Jane Austen so much different from romances today, other than the sex?

    Also… romances = sex books.. umm… I’ve read a fair number of Tom Clancy books and they have more sex than some romance books.

    I fall purely in the “apologize” category where I seem to explain to everyone why I read romance.

  62. Jennifer
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 20:26:32

    This post was fabulous! I answered mostly 3, except for the naked man on the cover. That’s no one’s business but my mine.

    Oh, and I’m a public librarian with a “romance reader friendly” button. I hope everyone who asks where the romance books are is greeted enthusiastically.

  63. theo
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 20:31:26

    Because not all opinions are supported by the evidence available. Because sometimes the teacher is looking for more than a brief, unexplained statement that may or may not clearly answer the question. Because sometimes the opinion provided doesn't actually make sense. Because the support may be superficial. Because the teacher asked for an opinion on X but the kid gave an opinion on Y.

    Sorry, but it drives me bananas when people think that if it's an opinion, it must be gold.

    Then again, you run into a lot of teachers who mark the opinion wrong for the sheer fact that it doesn’t agree with theirs regardless how much supporting evidence is given, the clarity and logic of the opinion, how the X opinion the teacher asked for actually coincides with the Y opinion the student gave.

    It drives me bananas when a teacher asks for an opinion and then, because they don’t simply agree with it, fail the student on the opinion. And it happens. Way more often than people are willing to admit. So perhaps if the teacher wants everyone to agree with him/her, they shouldn’t ask for an opinion in the first place and find another way to get feedback on how much the student is learning.

    FWIW

  64. Nini
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 20:39:00

    I love romance books. I love to write romances. So everyone else can just….#4. That’s my story, and i’m stickin’ to it.

    Nini

  65. Robin
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 21:53:09

    But what I really wanted to comment on is the picture. Holy! It's just fabulous! I have a red Maine Coon boy named Rowdy who would look exactly like that if I tried to put a bra on him… he would, I tell you. :)

    That picture totally reminded me of the time one of my shi tzus ran outside to my front gate to meet the UPS guy — wearing my black DD-cup Le Mystere bra like a cape, one arm strap around his neck and the cups down his back. OMG I wish I had been with it enough to snap a photo!

    As for my place on the Romance Apologia scale, I am generally a 3, but if the question is derisively asked, I’m a high velocity 4 on the inside, lol.

  66. It’s all about the subtext | Romancing Trashy Novels
    Nov 25, 2008 @ 21:57:26

    […] But look closer – she who casts the stone of “Girl-porn?” In the next frame she’s grabbing that paperback and then reading it. And even as the girl who calls her novel “shitty hilarious girl porn” sneers at it, she’s totally into it. I’d like to know where she falls on the Dear Author Apologia Scale. […]

  67. Beau
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 00:57:42

    Great Post!

    I think I’m going to bring “Well, bless your heart!” to the North. I usually can’t cuss out strangers, but I’ll know what it means.

  68. Lorraine
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 01:27:50

    What a great post! I’m somewhere between 3 and 4.

    I only read romance and have since the days of the bodice rippers, which I loved, (I still have most of them from the 70s). I don’t know anyone in RL who reads them. That’s why sites like this are such fun.

    In my youth I had a much broader range of reading material. But now I only have a brief amount of time to read, so I want a sure thing. Reading romance brings me so much pleasure. I’m guaranteed to be taken out of my life, away from my job, family responsiblities and shown a world where true love exists, where love conquers all and where happily ever after is possible.

    Many thanks to all of you wonderful authors for the years of reading pleasure you’ve given me! And to the superior, supercilious, judgemental idiots out there, Fuck Off!

  69. Stumbling Over Chaos :: Laughing at myself
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 05:03:45

    […] you read romances, you can find out where you fall on the Romance Apologia Scale. Hee hee – this is my favorite question from it: “Is that a naked man on the cover of your […]

  70. Kristie(J)
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 07:55:31

    LOL – I’m on the latter side of Explanatory mode, heading towards Successful Escape. But that’s good ’cause only a few short years ago I was deep into severe Apologia.
    While a few short years ago, I wouldn’t read romance in public, I progressed to reading it, but if someone asked me what I was reading, I’d stuff the book in my purse and say ‘oh, nothing much’. Just the other day someone asked me what I was reading and I proudly marked my place and passed the book over to her so she could see what it was and read the blurb herself.

  71. Acal
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 08:18:06

    I got Serious Sally or is that Sam? I’m male. And I honestly don’t give a crap what people think about what I read. I just don’t read the books with the graphic covers in a public space because it kind of makes people uncomfortable

    I just finished writing my first Erotica/Romance novel and I hope it does well :D

  72. Kimber An
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 08:31:28

    “It drives me bananas when a teacher asks for an opinion and then, because they don't simply agree with it, fail the student on the opinion. And it happens. Way more often than people are willing to admit. So perhaps if the teacher wants everyone to agree with him/her, they shouldn't ask for an opinion in the first place and find another way to get feedback on how much the student is learning.”

    Rejoice, Theo! And be exceedingly glad! It’s the teens with opinions in History, Literature, and Science who grow up to rule the world.

    P.S. This is one of the big reasons we educate our children at home.

  73. Jessa Slade
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 12:21:04

    Yay, Jennifer the Librarian with the ‘romance reader’ button! I hope my future readers find you like I found the librarian who took me straight to Whitney, My Love.

  74. Heather
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 12:51:16

    Jessica, I’m thrilled to read this:

    I'm happy to say that when I was a teen embarrassed to ask the librarian where I'd find some more of those Kathleen Woodiwiss type books, please, she looked me in the eye and said, Never apologize for your reading tastes.

    I believe that was a librarian's way of telling me that I could tell people to fuck off :)

    I'm thankful for librarians.

    As a library student, I took a class with a “famous” librarian who has written popular books telling people what to read. While her verbal message was “never apologize for what you read,” the entire subtext of her class was “some genres are more worthy of being read than others and try to recommend these to your patrons.”

    In class, I was part of a very vocal minority who argued the case for reading romance to a sea of lit-tra-cha reading classmates. On the quiz, I think our responses would be #3s, but my tone (my friends told me later), was quite obviously #4.

  75. Diane V
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 12:56:46

    I have on occasion asked people putting in their 2-cents about my book choice while in line at Borders “are you by any chance related to Gladys Kravitz?” And have had the other people in line cracking up when I explain that “she’s the nosy neighbor from Bewitched” when the person asks “WHO?” My friends will hit me and my mother walks away when I do this, because they are dying from embarrassment (note: I frequently ask people parking in handicapped spaces w/o a handicapped plate or sticker. “Is it mental?” “What?” “Your handicap — is it mental?”)

    So, if I thought I could get away with saying “Fuck Off” in public I would.

  76. theo
    Nov 26, 2008 @ 15:00:42

    @ Kimber An

    I too home schooled for a long time and both my girls have very definite opinions on things now. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we don’t, but it doesn’t make one of us wrong or right.

    It is amazing though how DD1 gets marked on her essays that are required by the profs as opinions on subjects. I have to roll my eyes at the comments the profs make. And one’s nectar is another’s poison depending on whether she shares a like opinion.

    Stupid. Really stupid.

  77. Rosie
    Nov 27, 2008 @ 14:18:22

    It’s not like you need an additional comment on this topic, but I just had to tell you how much I enjoyed this post and the comments.

    All I have to add is, “Been there, done that, definitely moving on.”

  78. Mike Cane
    Nov 28, 2008 @ 17:23:58

    Oh, so now I’m the AntiChrist of Romance and/or women authors, huh?

    And if not that, at least the inspiration for Choice 4, which I use plenty myself!

  79. cecilia
    Nov 28, 2008 @ 17:37:44

    @Mike Cane: How do you get “AntiChrist of Romance” out of “confronted me with incredulity”?

  80. LL
    Nov 29, 2008 @ 15:38:13

    Really? “Fuck off” qualifies as a “good comeback”? Hmmmmm…. Methinks all that romance novel reading is taking a toll on your wit.

  81. Jane
    Nov 29, 2008 @ 15:43:20

    @LL: That presumes I had wit in the first place upon which romance novels could take a toll.

  82. Meljean
    Nov 29, 2008 @ 17:40:10

    I daresay that Elizabeth Bennett’s response to Darcy’s first proposal was essentially, “Fuck off.”

    And she’s a witty girl, that Lizzie. Uses a few too many words to get to her point, but still witty.

  83. Ann Somerville
    Nov 29, 2008 @ 18:38:47

    Hey, LL – how about you go forth and procreate?

    @Meljean:
    I wonder what a Regency ‘fuck off’ would sound like?

    “Sir
    I do not deserve the honour you wish to bestow upon me.

    Would that you did also.

    EB”

  84. Stevie
    Nov 30, 2008 @ 07:19:28

    Please accept my felicitations upon a truly superb contribution to social anthropolgy, but what about e-book readers?

    Maybe we could just stick ‘Fuck Off’ on the kindle…

  85. CJ
    Nov 30, 2008 @ 11:34:34

    We could stick a “fuck off” on an e-book reader, but I’ve noticed since buying my sony, people don’t know I’m reading romances, so I get approached from an entirely different standpoint. They are more curious about the reader than what I’m reading. If they get to the point of asking what I read, then they start with the romance bashing (I could lie, but I refuse to be ashamed of my dirty girl books). I’ve never told anyone to fuck off, but I have gotten snide and snarky. I usually get accused of reading it just for the sex. My normal response is “well, I could go into a lengthy explaination about the personal dynamics of the main characters, the conflicts they must overcome during the course of the story, and how the sexual situations help the characters grow closer, but really, I’m just a whore… for a happy ending.”

    Fuck off would save so much time.

    And now I’m going to start stealing the Gladys Kravitz line. Cause I’m shameless like that.

  86. Jessica Freely
    Dec 01, 2008 @ 16:34:40

    LOL. Thanks for this. Very amusing and highly useful.

  87. Stumbling Over Chaos :: And we’ll keep on linking ’til they take our linkiness away
    Dec 03, 2008 @ 05:03:55

    […] the very amusing Romance Apologia Scale on the Dear Author blog that I mentioned last week? Yesterday, Dear Author had an excellent (albeit […]

  88. Racy Romance Reviews » Blog Archive » Academic’s Apologia Scale
    Dec 03, 2008 @ 21:24:17

    […] everyone, I laughed my ass off when I read Jane’s Romance Apologia Scale over at Dear Author. It’s one of the best posts of […]

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