Friday, June 6, 2014

A Response to Slate: Stop the Shaming!

In case you haven’t heard, a little article came out yesterday from The Slate Book Review. In this article, the author makes an interesting case that if you aren’t in the YA age group you shouldn’t be reading YA, that you should in fact be embarrassed to be reading the genre. In fact the subtitle to the article: Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children. Uh…seriously? Am I seriously being shamed again?

Look, I get where she’s coming from. I’m right with her when I felt some kind of “desperation to graduate to the adult stacks.” And when I did…meh. Ruth Graham calls readers like myself out – Fellow grown-ups, at the risk of sounding snobbish and joyless and old, we are better than this. But in reality we really aren’t. The worlds of YA and ‘literary fiction’ really aren’t that different. Instead of romances with teenage boys, you get romances with working class men. Instead of going steady with your boyfriend, you get over the top engagement scenarios. Illegal drinking becomes legal, etc. Basically what you get when you go from the YA stack to the adult stack is more adult problems that are almost similar to the YA set. Maybe, I’ll admit, I’m reading the wrong kind of ‘literary fiction,’ but even with those classics I’m finding myself wishing the high skirted Elizabeth Bennett was ass kicking Katniss Everdeen, and Mr. Darcy would die a terrible death.*

But while that argument could go on and on, can we just admit that the whole shaming thing needs to stop? Remember back in 2008 when the whole ‘Twi-hard’ thing started? A majority of the population started shaming those people. I was swamped into the masses, even though I had been in it from the beginning and not just because the movie was coming out. It got to the point though that you wouldn’t even try to defend your actions, and closeted your love for the series so as not to feel the shame.

But why? Why do people feel the need to shame you for what you like to read? It’s stupid and ridiculous and it needs to fucking stop. Love who you want. Read what you want. Do what you want. Sometimes growing up ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. 

*Although, Persuasion by Jane Austen is still one of my favorite classic novels.

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