While eating dinner with my mom and aunt the other night, I decided to share some information I had been holding close to my chest. I am writing a novel. When my extended family asks me what I have been doing, I usually just say “Tennis, work, school, and some writing.” My husband knows about my novel, but he has kept it secret.
Mom knows that I read fantasy, sci-fi, horror and mystery books, as well as the occasional “literary novel” (whatever that means.) She often gives me mystery novels to read, and introduced me to my favorite mystery author, Elizabeth George.
“Is it a romance novel?” Mom asked, in that well-meaning way of mother’s everywhere.
Oompfh. (That is the sound of the wind leaving my sails). Earlier that week I had read a blog post about a female writer who had been asked the very same thing; only it was a male colleague that had asked the question.
I could interject here and tell you about how I am not disparaging romance as a genre, I think it is a great and noble art form, about how I have read and enjoyed some romance novels myself— but that is not what this post is about. It is a post about sexist assumptions. I am disappointed in my mother because she knows me very well, and has never seen me read a novel that could be classified as romance. Yet, her first assumption was that I am writing a romance novel. Her casual, unaware sexism lead her to assume I would be writing a romance novel.
It was a disappointing event, and so I quickly turned the conversation to other topics.
PS: It’s a mystery novel.