RWA responds, RWI cancels

RWA has issued a press release in the wake of the considerable public outcry over its Romance Writers Ink affiliate. Perhaps others will find more satisfaction in this response than I do.

RWA members are served by 145 local and special interest chapters, and those chapters are individually incorporated and governed. So long as chapters fulfill their obligations under state law, as well as RWA and chapter bylaws, and their programs and services support the professional interests of career focused romance writers, policy affords them rather broad latitude in determining which programs and services to offer. Absent policy governing chapter-level contests, RWA’s board cannot intervene in the decisions of individual chapters.

Romance Writers of America does not condone discrimination of any kind. RWA’s policies regarding chapter programs and services will be discussed when the board reconvenes in March.

We shall see what kind of policy change they come up with in March.

The specific chapter has responded to the outcry by cancelling the contest completely. There may have been some who responded to their contest restrictions with the exact amount of derision it deserved, although civil discourse generally serves better. Their announcement:

After much consideration, RWI regretfully announces the MTM Published Author Contest has been cancelled. All monies and books received from entrants will be returned as soon as possible. We have heard and understood the issues raised, and will take those concerns into consideration should the chapter elect to hold contests in the future. Please note: our contest coordinator, Jackie, is a chapter member who graciously volunteered to collect entries and sort by category. It is unfortunate that she has become the object of personal ridicule and abuse. We recognize the decision to disallow same-sex entries is highly charged. We also opted not to accept YA entries. We do not condone discrimination against individuals of any sort.

Could have fooled me.

Their home page is conspicuously missing today. Their mission statement, however, is not. Bolding is mine.

The purpose of RWI is to promote excellence in romantic fiction, to advance the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy, to provide a general basis of mentorship to any writer who is actively, and seriously striving to become published and thus establish a career in the romance genre, as well as to provide a camaraderie for writers within the romance publishing industry.

Both RWA and RWI are going to have to show me, because telling me isn’t all that convincing.

10 responses to “RWA responds, RWI cancels

  1. It really makes me sad to see romance authors and those claiming to support them look down on other romance authors because there happen to be two heroes or heroines when the whole of romance is looked down on itself and not taken terribly seriously. Just as most genre fiction is, because genre fiction isn’t “real literature”.

    • @jaredrackler–I write M/M Fantasy. Talk about a subgenre of a subgenre.

      It’s the nature of the beast. Or human nature. Whichever epithet fits, I guess. Marginalized people, when they find a group into which they fit, will immediately begin marginalizing. It’s unfortunate, but it’s one of the sociological patterns of human beings.

      Doesn’t make it okay, but it at least lets me gnash my teeth less.

    • Jared, meet Carole. Carole, meet Jared. Jared and Carole, meet Angie. Carole and Angie, Jared made the luscious second edition covers for Fire, Snow, and On Call: Crossroads, and is working on the art for Crepuscule Monstrum for us. Jared, Carole and Angie write kickass m/m fantasy and m/m urban fantasy, respectively. Whee, three of my favorite artists on one post!

      And phoo on genre literature not being real enough: genre writers tend to live better than midlist literary writers.

  2. It is, actually, unfortunate if things got personal, because then they get the excuse of being victimized, instead of being forced to understand that they’re wrong. Personally, any of the posts I’ve seen–and the comments contained therein–were pretty straightforward and polite. Not that I’ve hunted down every single link.

    And I don’t think I’m buying the whole ‘join RRW so we can have more clout to fight this’ thing. It’s a valid idea, but I think once this kind of bigotry is entrenched–and it looks like it’s pretty entrenched in this case, considering the initial statement and the follow-up emails–it would be too easy for them to view a rise in membership as a good thing and so continue to ignore the issue and dismiss the people who are making it an issue as a bunch of rabble-rousers.

    Plus, I’m not crazy about the idea of contributing to this kind of thing while protesting it.

    The whole issue has begged the question for me, though–why isn’t there an organization like this specific to and run by authors in our genre? Not that I’m volunteering to start one, but now would certainly be a good time for some enterprising soul to do it.

    Also–hiya, love! 🙂

    • I think you have a point about not joining — my latent political feelings suggest being very noisy from within can effect change, but my rabble-rousing self suggests I can make my opinion felt from without, and suggest at the same time that I’m spending that $85/year on books not written by bigoted reactionaries.

      Another thing that disappeared from the RWI site is the list of their published authors; perhaps to make it harder to spend book money in other directions. However, I know where there’s a screen shot.

  3. And in case we were missing any of the check-boxes, The Tone Argument has been brought up on Heidi’s original post. [eyeroll]

    I’m not impressed either, but then I never was. This is part of a pattern with RWA, and it’s going to take a lot more than even a perfect outcome of this one incident to convince me that anything significant has changed. It’s a shame, because the rank-and-file members have proven more than once that they’re good people, open and supportive. Their main failing is that they haven’t yet tossed out the policy-makers, at all levels but primary at the top of National, who are allowing this crap and other crap like it to occur over and over.

    Angie

    • The Tone Argument? Oh geez. Angry crossed with disappointed crossed with appalled is what I took away from Heidi’s words, and all of it justified.

      • Although I agree that it was discriminatory to exclude non-hetero entries, this conversation has devolved into excessive vitriol. Instead of a discussion that brings people together, acknowledging the other side’s points, this has become a forum to bash an organization which has done a lot of good for romance writers.

        I haven’t seen anything I would call “excessive vitriol,” which means she’s labeling the (calm, non-cussing) expressions of anger and outrage as excessive and vitriolic. Because it’s totes unreasonable for people who’ve been hurt or offended, or excluded from the activities of an organization to which they pay dues, to express anger, and if they do so they’re “bashing.” Because of course it’s the responsibility of the hurt/offended party to bend over backwards to be Nice, and acknowledge the other side’s points, and work to bring everyone together in a happy-happy-friendly discussion, because if they — who’ve already been hurt or offended — should dare hurt the feelings of anyone who has wronged them, that makes them the Bad Guys.

        With a side order of, “But they’ve done so much good!” as if that makes any difference. Some of the worst racists will behave like the Nicest people, will feed you, help you, give you the shirt off their back — so long as you’re white. RWA National has wonderful ideals and its volunteers work hard to help writers — so long as they’re writing het and are New York published.

        I see the same crap when race issues come up — calling someone on their racism/homophobia is totally worse behavior than being racist/homophobic in the first place. That shit stinks no matter where it turns up.

        Angie

  4. The whole thing is weird, as same-sex romances have won the contest in the past. Obviously someone read those…

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