Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Being Ladylike

Aren't we glad being a lady no longer means trussing ourselves up like poor Lady Margaret Audley here? We've come a long way, baby.

Or have we?

A couple weeks ago, my former boss stopped my mom on the street in the small midwestern town where they live and told her she'd read my last book. And frankly, she was shocked by the sex in it. When I worked for her at the bank, I had always seemed like such a lady.

I wish she hadn't said that to my mom, but it made me laugh. If I wrote murder mysteries, I wonder if my ex-boss would assume I had a cellar full of dead bodies.

The truth is, I am a lady. A lady who likes to read and write about man/woman relationships and all that they entail. That means there are as many love scenes in my books as it takes to tell my hero and heroine's story. And I will follow the story where ever it leads without slamming the door in my reader's faces.

I write about life. All of it. It seems silly to me to censor out part of life that we think about a lot. That doesn't make me unladylike. It makes me honest.

Have you ever been accused of being "unladylike" for reading or writing romance?

15 comments:

LJCohen said...

ROFL on the whole 'bodies in the basement' thought. I'm struggling with this now. (Not bodies buried in the basement. . . but writing more explicit scenes for a paranormal/romance novel.) Why is it that I don't consider readers will think I fantasize about sword fights or concocting poisons, or burning down someone's house (all things I've written about) but freeze in horror at the thought of someone reading a love scene and thinking it's *my* fantasy???

First of all, why should it matter to me anyway, and second, it's fiction.

So a timely post that has gotten me thinking. . .

Nynke said...

I've never been accused of being unladylike for reading romance, but then I live in a country (Holland) that doesn't attach much importance to being ladylike.
Following my mother's example, though, I do think it's important to be a lady: honest, generous and courteous. I don't think my reading romance is anyone else's business, so it can't really be discourteous or unladylike...
The same thing goes for writing love scenes, IMHO. Anyone who knows the genre will expect them and won't be offended. In fact, so many readers love reading stories like these that their authors clearly help make the world a nicer place - a very ladylike thing to do!

And LJ, please don't let it bother you! It doesn't matter what the inspiration was, as long as the story is good.

Deb said...

I have never been told it's unladylike to read romance. However, what I read I know my sister would not read because she strictly reads Christian romance. I do dislike it, though, when my husban, albeit teasingly, calls my books trashy romances.

I think am not as ladylike as I used to be. I would wear a dress or skirt outfit almost every day of the week at work, but now have very few dresses in my closet. I'm not sure if motherhood has done that or lack of money or gaining weight....I still dress nicely, I think; just pants and blouses or capris.

Deb said...

oops, husband

Jane L said...

YES! my husbands co-workers wife asked what type of book was I writing. When I told her romance. She said and I quote"Really? I thought you had way more class than that."
OK!! I had to stay very focused and not come unglued!!! Who says stuff like this?? Seriously, I still am totally amazed at her statement. It also grinds my nerve a bit, since yes I had to take the high road and be the lady, since she is a wife of a co-worker. But, you can imagine what I was thinking!!

P.S. Emily for what it is worth, you are a very gracious ladylike writer!! If anyone disagrees, it is their issue!!

EmilyBryan said...

LJ--I'm a firm believer in stretching my limits, but in the area of explicit love scenes you shouldn't feel forced to write hotter than you want. My love scenes have to pull their weight just like the other scenes do. If it doesn't advance the plot or deepen the characters, no matter how lovely an interlude it is, it ends up on the chopping block. Make your scenes serve your story and you'll find the appropriate level of sensuality.

EmilyBryan said...

Nynke--My mom always taught me that a lady doesn't purposely try to make others feel uncomfortable. In the conversation between my mom and my former boss, . . . three guesses which one was the real lady.

EmilyBryan said...

Deb--I read Christian romance too. A good story is a good story. My favorites are Tamera Alexander, Robin Lee Hatcher and of course, Francine Rivers.

EmilyBryan said...

Jane L--People who say things like that haven't read Eloisa James or Sherry Thomas or Madeline Hunter--all extremely classy writers, IMO, and all women who hold advanced degrees.

Jordan Rose said...

I have not been accused of being un-lady-like by anyone who knows what I write. My friends who have read my work are close friends so we've discussed the love scenes. However, it is funny that when they initially read the stories they tell me they have a hard time getting into those scenes because they keep picturing me as the heroine! When the sex occurs it feels awkward for them. Needless to say, we spend a lot of time laughing over the sex scenes that, in my mind, clearly do not include me!

SarannaDeWylde said...

I will confess that I am not a lady. I don't think anyone would ever accuse me of such. *g* I'm a good person, but I am not refined and I don't care what other people think of me. I have a mouth that could blister the backside off of the most hardened inmate. I do have home training, but I choose not to use it most of the time. I prefer honest to polite, but I am not cruel without reason. Now, that said...

I have been treated differently because of what I choose to write. You wouldn't believe some of the unwanted fanmail I used to get when I was posting at The Cult of the Bloody Quill.

People seem to think that if you write about intercourse with or without relationships, that it automatically means you're some kind of degenerate.

I had a landlord who surprised me by being inside of our house because he took the stories I wrote to be an invitation for sex.

I am true to my characters and I write about their experiences and if that includes what happens behind closed doors with words that are more explicit than "her no-no place", then that's what I write. Not everyone is going to like it and that's okay with me. We're all entitled to an opinion.

Btw, Robin Lee Hatcher was a favorite of mine when I was growing up. :)

Nynke said...

Emily: you said it, girl! (eh -- lady!)

Jane: oh! How unfair, especially with all the tough, emotional research work you've put into it!

Saranna: that must have been creepy, finding your landlord in your house like that.
And "her no-no place"? Seriously? LOL :)

EmilyBryan said...

Saranna--Yikes for the creepy landlord! Well, I guess that's a good reason for pen names and guarding your privacy. I have an RWA chaptermate who writes for Ellora's Cave and she hasn't let anyone she knows socially know she does it. Her online personna is totally disconnected from her real life.

Glynis said...

You can still be a lady and write in sex scenes. What you are not, is narrow minded, Emily.

I would have loved to been a fly on the wall, when your ex colleague read your book. I bet she finished it!

EmilyBryan said...

Hmmm. Come to think of it, she didn't say she was so shocked she closed the book immediately . . .