Sometimes I forget I don’t live in a safe, feminist-thinking, people loving bubble.
I mean, at home, we have two mostly non-verbal kiddos. It’s a love-fest of speech coaching, playing in the hose, and sneaking words in on the stair case when the kiddos aren’t looking. My husband is the wokest straight white dude I know. He’s pretty fantastic actually.
I work at a bar/restaurant where they ask for preferred pronoun on the application.
And I choose not to engage with bullshit online trolls, because I ain’t got time for that shit. I have novels to write, damn it.
But last night. Oh, last night, sexism smacked me right in the face.
It was about 11pm. I’d just gotten off work and was at the bar paying for the cajun tots I was bringing home for Brock. (Midnight cajun tots is where it’s at, yo.) Sitting next to the bar register is this older white guy by himself. I pretty much ignore him. I’m off the clock, but still wearing my work shirt, so I’m transitioning out of customer service mode.
The bartender asks me when my book is coming out. I cheerily tell him it came out last week, and his (appropriate) response is to say, “Well, I better get on the Amazon then.”
The guy sitting at the bar turns to me and says, “Oh, are you an authoress?”
First off, I give him the benefit of the doubt, dude might be trying to cutesy, but I still have to grind my teeth at the word “authoress.”
I answer that, yes, I write novels. When asked, I specify that they are romance novels.
Now, I am not ashamed in the slightest about the kind of stories I write. In fact, I am damn proud of them. That shit is hard to do, but I show up everyday and get the words down and do the revisions and do the promotions. I am making a career for myself, and I don’t give a crap if people think it’s useless.
At the same time, I know when people aren’t going to appreciate the work I do. I already knew this guy was going to brush my books off as unimportant, but when the next words out of his mouth were, “Are they tawdry books for bored housewives?”
I almost kicked him in the shins.
But, since I was still mostly in work mode, I kept my tone of voice kind of light, almost teasing, and said, “I wouldn’t call them tawdry. There’s a bit of tawdriness, but they almost straddle the line between romance and women’s fiction.”
Now, before we proceed. I would like to say that there is absolutely nothing tawdry about my books. Is there sex? Absolutely. But it’s never gratuitous. Sex always helps advance the story in some way, but I wasn’t going to defend my work, and they people who read it to someone who clearly doesn’t give a damn about any of us. And The Other Lane does butt up on women’s fiction is places, but it is still first and foremost a romance novel. Could I have made it literary? Absolutely. Did I want to? No. The rest of my books are more romancy, because that what I have the most fun writing. Sue me for doing fun things that bring me fulfillment.
Then, dude dropped to a whole new level of scumbaggery.
He said, “Huh, women’s fiction. I didn’t know that was a genre that existed.”
I’m pretty sure my head exploded. I know I said something after that, but I have no clue what it was. I’m assuming it wasn’t the “fuck you” that was echoing through my head, because the guy left me alone after. I finished up my transaction and escaped, because I like my job, and telling a customer to fuck off while still in uniform sounds like a good way to lose it, but I’m still spitting mad about it this morning.
I couldn’t think of a way to defend my work and the people who read it (Bored housewives my ass. Women who stay home, with or without kids are still people with minds and emotions that are valuable) without sounding like a petulant child. At the same time, I’m angry with myself for not doing so, because I have a voice.
Next time, I start in on the lesson in intersectional feminism from the word, “authoress.”