This trashy bitch appears to be significantly brighter than the economically-challenged one with the PhD, her affinity for romance novels notwithstanding.
Smart Bitch regular runswithscissors, in the comments to my “It’s not what you’re like, it’s what you like” post, mentioned a George Eliot essay entitled “Silly Novels by Lady Novelists.” And as I read Eliot’s barbed descriptions of the trashy novels of yore, I realized plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
I’m rather sympathetic to Eliot’s perspective myself, especially given the way that female writers and editors appear to be Hell-bent on destroying the science fiction and fantasy genres as we know them. While some of the finest authors in the fantasy genre are women, including Tanith Lee, Theresa Edgerton, Katherine Kurtz, Susan Cooper, Pat Wrede, I can’t think of a single female science fiction writer other than Lois McMaster Bujold, Joan Vinge and occasionally LeGuin who is even halfway readable.
But a more serious aspect of Eliot’s criticism that is applicable today is the way in which the same female silliness has pervaded and destroyed the educational system. Women now make up the majority of college students and college graduates, but instead of making up for centuries of “oppression”, they appear to be intent on demonstrating the wisdom of their former oppressors in refusing to allow them to have anything to do with governance.
It’s amazing how much celebrated female achievement is of the talking dog sort, wherein the accomplishment is not what has been said, but the fact that the dog can talk at all.
But to get back to that damn mob of scribbling women and how they’re ruining it for all the smarteywomens out there: I’m still not convinced that reading, writing and enjoying silly novels is an accurate indicator of intelligence. The market is glutted with silly romance novels, but it’s more an indicator of how capitalism works than the IQ of the average romance reader. Making that sort of assumption engages in the same sort of obnoxious discourse that allows cheap provocateurs like Vox Day to make his pronouncements about why women shouldn’t be allowed to vote, for example. A bad book is a bad book, and at most you can say that the author is exceptionally bad at her craft, and that her publishing house needs a healthy infusion from a bottle labeled Standards, Dear God Any Standards, Please.
She’s absolutely correct about the responsibility of capitalism, although there is certainly an anti-capitalistic PC factor that must be considered as well. Still, I totally agree with this plea for a much-needed infusion of upgraded literary standards, especially after dutifully slogging through dreadful novel after dreadful novel on behalf of the Nebula committee. Ye cats, but there was some howlingly bad stuff there… the seaside romance with the were-seal was the absolute nadir.
I think, however, Trashy Bitch makes a mistake in confusing my habit of taking superficial shots at silly women who are able to vote with my actual case against female suffrage. To see merely the cheap provocation is to miss the deeper point, since the danger inherent in permitting the security-at-all costs crowd any influence in government is real, historically demonstrable and deadly serious, and I have yet to see anyone even begin to make a convincing case against it.
Indeed, the vast majority offered nothing beyond a childish appeal to fairness, which takes us right back to Eliot and her condemnation of silly women.