If you’re not reading Kristine Kathryn Rusch, she had an excellent post up Thursday about book-shaming, and publishing-shaming.
Not only does it have such lovely lines as “Once upon a time, my friends, this snobbery was a self-fulfilling prophecy”, but it also talks about our rapidly changing world, in which the taste-makers have lost their power – not because they lost their positions of power, but because the positions themselves lost power.
But nothing screams “respect ma authoriteh!” like someone who brings nothing to respect to a position that has lost its own power. To quote Kris:
Let me be as blunt as I can here.
People who shame you are trying to control you. They want you to behave in a certain way. Rather than telling you to behave that way, they’re striving to subtly change your behavior by embarrassing you, and making you think less of yourself.
These people are trying to place themselves above you, to make you act the way that they want you to act, even if it is not in your own best interest. Shame is a particularly useful tool, because so many good-hearted people want to behave properly. These good-hearted folk don’t want to offend in any way. Yet shamers try to convince the good-hearted that they are offending or at least, making themselves objects of ridicule.
There’s an entire psychological area of study about this kind of shaming. It’s subtle, it’s nasty, and it often hurts the people it’s aimed at. Usually, shame is used by the powerful to keep the less-powerful under their thumbs.
So the next time someone tells you that you’re “racist sexist homophobic”, without ever trying to get to know you first, makes fun of your religion, expresses disgust at the idea of having children, belittles your choices in what to put in and what to leave out, how you publish, or makes fun of the type of fiction you like to read…
Tell them to take a long walk off a short pier, and keep writing what you makes you happy, and your readers want to read. They’re just trying to control you.
And as my husband said to people who called him all that, neo-nazi, and more, then threatened to boycott him: “You’ve never bought my books, and you were never going to, anyway. Why should I care what you think?”