I’ve been seeing another round of smack talk about things. Because of course there is. This time it seems to be Romance. (You will recognize YA, paranormal romance, and many other genres/things in this, romance just happens to have it’s turn in the spotlight right now.)
There is a lot of desire in these conversations to say “These are my people!” or to scream it from the rooftops. A lot of this is trying to create in-group identifiers, but these are often created through out-grouping others.
“Romance people aren’t my people and if romance people aren’t my people then you are my people.” That’s not actually that bad. Where it gets really bad is when someone goes on a screed to outgroup, to exclude some group of people so that they can show you that they are …whatever they are trying to demonstrate they are.
I think this is a very cynical and self protective way to go about things. Declaring your unabashed love for something requires being more revealing. A loudly declarative statement of affection is like stripping down and saying I’m vulnerable here and here, please don’t kick me there.
And yes, wonderfully, much of the time those declarations get hugs and support. But even a few kicks can really hurt. Sure you get 50 hugs (if you are lucky) but just 5 kicks will take you way, way down.
So why would you do that when you can declare how something is bad. Not even that you personally dislike it, but that it is “objectively” (which is nearly always how these things are set up) bad or wrong. That is basically putting up a coat of armor. Even if someone kicks you, you are wearing armor. You are ok. You won’t be hurt.
Often when these things come up they are for groups it is easy to take potshots at. Who reads romance? Who reads YA? Who watches rom coms? I’ll give you a hint. Not people with all the power. I believe the fancy term for this if it was a joke would be punching down.
It is really easy to go, “Oh those – people who aren’t like me or you – and their – thing I don’t like!” Now you and me? We belong together. Look at us all buddying up. But I didn’t have to take a swing at someone with giant mech boots, I only took a swing at someone who wouldn’t hurt when they tried to kick me with my armor.
But I have the right to hate things!
Good for you. So do I. We all do. But why would you spend more time talking about the things you hate than the things you love. I know I’ve done it, and I will do it again in the future. I’m so far from perfect I can’t even see it’s shadow. But I do try.
But…I still want to be a part of an in group. As much as I’d like to believe it, I’m not immune to wanting to be loved. To wanting to be a part of a group. Wanting people to include me. I get the same little rush everyone else does when someone says that they like me, that I’m like them (if I like them of course!), that I belong with their group.
So yea, I’ll still say I don’t like things. I’ll still bash things. But I’m trying to be better, and I hope other people are too.