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“We all have a lawyer friend!”

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This is going to be quick and dirty, everyone. It started out as a Twitter thread that got too long. But I think it’s important.

I need to address something that is going to sound like an attack on specific individuals. I promise, it’s not. Because it’s not those specific individuals I see doing this. Keep that in mind as you read this post.

With the RWA stuff going on, we keep seeing a lot of tweets that say, “Don’t people know how many LAWYERS we have in the romance genre?!” They’re right. There are a lot of lawyers in romance.

But there are more people with working-class jobs.

While it’s awesome that we have people well-versed in the law who are willing to throw their knowledge into the ring as a tool to help the genre, it’s starting to feel a little bit like, “See, we’re valid because we have smart lawyer-type people!” Yes, the genre has been dismissed as, “Oh, those are written by bored housewives.” But just because that’s used as a dismissal by other people doesn’t mean we should throw those bored housewives under the bus in order to convince people that the genre is valid. Because here’s the thing: those people you’re screaming “LAWYERS! LAWYERS! LAWYERS!” at? They’re not listening anyway. They’re never going to change their opinions.

And the people I don’t see tossing around, “LAWYERS! LAWYERS! LAWYERS!” seem to be…the lawyers. It’s almost like they view their profession as a normal human job and not a paid superhero position and don’t see their involvement in the genre as the sole reason it’s a force to be reckoned with.

It’s starting to really sound like, “Romance isn’t THOSE people. It’s SMART people.” As if bored housewives, people who don’t go to college, disabled people who turn to writing when they’ve been denied access to or accommodation for secondary education, etc. can’t be as creative and intelligent as everyone else. As if the only way our work deserves respect and acknowledgment is if we can disavow the reality that there are far, far more people who come home from working at a supermarket or a daycare to squeeze a few hours of writing in between dinner and bedtime. If we removed their contributions to the genre, the shelves would be bare. There is room to celebrate and be proud of the genre without ignoring the diverse backgrounds and circumstances that led each of us to become romance authors.

And it’s a hell of a lot more intimidating if we frame ourselves as sleeper agents that have infiltrated the courts, factories, farms, schools, and families.

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8 Comments

  1. Ross
    Ross

    The whole “we have lawyers” really feels a little squicky to me right now, especially with all the Relo shippers trying to silence Kylo’s abuse with “but we have therapists on our side.” It all feels like an appeal to authority with little to no attempt to use empathy.

    What’s more, who cares if it is written by bored housewives? Douglas Adams was Bored, R.A. Salvatore was a wallmart greeter, what did Philip K Dick do? Creatives come from all backgrounds and yet somehow, we only see judgement of genres that high minded dudes trying to seem so cool and aloof don’t read.

    January 12, 2020
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  2. New Fan
    New Fan

    ^ Bravo this.
    It’s pretty funny that we only judge the origins of SOME professions – but not the others. It’s cool if you used to be a bored housewife and then become a successful entrepreneur – but heaven forfend you put your blood, sweat a tears into Romance Writing. Why? Because succeeding at one – in even a small way is *SO* much easier than the other?
    (Because only one sometimes clogs up our houses with random trendy crap we have to dispose of? Only one collects meta data for our future robot overlords?)
    Bah I say!

    January 12, 2020
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  3. Frankly as a lawyer the whole thing makes me cringe. There’s a LOT of devils in the details and legally jousting online with frequently incomplete reports makes me head ache.

    January 12, 2020
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  4. Ilex
    Ilex

    Very well said, Jenny! Hear hear!

    I’m so sick of people feeling the need to “legitimize” romance literature. For Pete’s sake, it’s the top selling literary genre! And yet people feel the need to demean it because it’s mostly women writing it (and mostly women reading it, although I am very happy to have a few male friends who read romance without feeling any need to make excuses for liking it). And romance writers, whatever their day job is, work their tails off to keep the books flowing.

    I don’t care what a romance author does or doesn’t have a degree in, or what they do or don’t do with the rest of their time. I just want to read a good, enjoyable story.

    And I read actual paper romances and proudly hold them on the train so everyone can see what I’m reading. 🙂

    January 13, 2020
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  5. Siobhannabon
    Siobhannabon

    The thing about lawyers is … it can literally mean nothing to your point. Lawyers are specialists in a certain focus of the law. What I mean is, you could have someone who works in property law who comes home at night and writes romance as a release from the stresses of the day. They probably don’t write anything even close to their work because all fiction is a form of escapism. Like you say, writers come from all walks of life and saying there are lawyers is like saying there are people working in customer service. It’s too broad and makes no difference to what really matters.

    January 13, 2020
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  6. shel
    shel

    I appreciate you bringing up this point, just so I can be aware of it…

    Maybe because I’m not super involved in this, mostly just reading wonderful recaps here and in some other places of what is going down with RWA… so not seeing the true context of these statements…

    Because I always assumed people saying “do you know how many lawyers” was more of a threat of we have lawyers and know how to sue you for messing with our romance writers… not that romance is a more legitimate genre because it has lawyers who also write.

    I appreciate having a new take on this.

    January 14, 2020
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    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      Sometimes that’s the context it comes up in, for definite sure. But other times it’s used as a justification to not be called bodice rippers or mommy porn, which is ramping up as the media coverage of the RWA scandal grows.

      January 16, 2020
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  7. Pre-Successful Indie
    Pre-Successful Indie

    People can get so super weird about day jobs, not having day jobs as a marker of having Made It, blah blah blah, and my quasi-socialist side wants to start ranting all, RAR DON’T LET THEM DEFINE YOU BY YOUR UTILITY TO THE BROKEN ECONOMIC MACHINE, and what do I know, I have a blue collar (ish) day job. 😉

    Tldr: Well said.

    January 15, 2020
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