“I need my soft porn to be more culturally sensitive.” Or perhaps, “She moaned at his touch, but then remembered that she was woke and didn’t need a man.” Said no one ever.
Do you ever wake up and wonder if the world has lost its mind?
This is how I felt about this announcement from the Romance Writers of America:
RWA is in the process of hiring an outside consultant to assist the Board in working through the diversity, equality and inclusion issues in RWA. We are excited for this new step. The consultant will work with the Board on issues, including leadership training and RITA judging. The consultant will also assist the Board in restructuring the Diversity Advisory Committee (DAC) to be responsive to member needs and play a more active role in relaying concerns to the Board. We thank the current DAC members for their hard work this year. The committee’s work will be placed on hold during the restructuring, with an expected relaunch after the annual RWA conference in July.
It goes on to give an address to contact if you have any questions.
I’m not going to contact them. I stopped being a member, I think 10 years ago when I saw the beginning signs of this kind of insanity. Why was I member, you’ll ask, even though I emphatically don’t write romance? (No. I really don’t. The people who think having any romantic element in a story makes it romance have never actually read romance. Consider that my qualifying novel was No Will But His, which is a fictionalized story of Catherine Howard, wife of Henry VIII. You know, the old king meets girl, king marries girl, king cuts off her head. Romance.)
The reason I was once a member is the reason this saddens me: once upon a time when I lacked the sales for membership in Mystery and Science Fiction writers associations, RWA welcomed me with open arms. They didn’t care that I didn’t write romance. They had people who mentored newbies, people who advised us on business, and they were everywhere, welcoming, useful and hardworking.
Partly this was because Romance is such a tight field, with so many authors chasing so many readers that they all needed to be the best they could. (Just because it’s not my favorite poison, doesn’t mean I don’t see when it’s well done.)
So imagine how sad it is to me to read this.
If I asked questions, they’d be, “How will this diversity and inclusivity consultant do anything for the bottom line of publishers?” “What kind of inclusivity and diversity do you mean? Are you going to eliminate meritocracy? Are you going to prevent people from writing characters who aren’t like themselves? Or will every character who is a minority or off-kilter have to conform to the Marxist stereotype?” and mostly, above all, “Why did you think this was a good idea?”
But I won’t. I won’t because they don’t matter. Mostly the RWA and the other writers’ organizations existed to give you an edge in pursuing traditional publishers and agents. They gave you ways to bolster your resume and market to the bookstores and bookstore reps.
RWA is an organization in search of a mission. They all are. And, partly because they were taught this in school, they always fasten on the idea that their mission is to lecture the buying public and “raise their consciousness.”
Meanwhile, the indies will continue to outsell them on books. By orders of magnitude.