We at The Smut Report are opposed to racism in all its forms, including pervasive systemic racism. And we want to state this out loud because it is our responsibility to speak out.
We feel compelled to state this outright in view of the ongoing protests in the US after the horrific murder of George Floyd (and Breonna Taylor) (and Ahmaud Arbery) (and and and). Black lives matter, and we recognize that we are part of the culture that has ignored and minimized Black voices for decades and centuries. Beyond that, we had planned to recognize and celebrate Pride Month in June, highlighting other marginalized voices.
Because of the situation we currently find ourselves in, we want to be explicit: Smut is Political. And therefore, the work we do is also political. It’s easy to declare that some things – like romance books – shouldn’t be political, but that’s a viewpoint of the privileged.
When we say politics, we don’t mean voting (though you should definitely vote!), but rather the fact that smut can reinforce narratives about what stories are worth telling, what stories are worth listening to – and by extension, which people deserve happily ever afters and which lives have value.
Smut might provide an avenue for escapist fantasy, but smut has historically and also continues to:
- Glorify the military-industrial complex by valorizing hyper-alpha heroes with guns
- Gloss over an economic slump, massive civil unrest, state violence, and repressive laws in the years following the Napoleonic Wars and during the Gilded Age
- Paint ruthless businessmen as the most desirable romantic partners
- Portray the Ideal Town in the United States as lily-white and straight and Christian and homogenous
This doesn’t mean that we’re never going to read another military or cop hero, or another Regency romance, or another billionaire romance, or another romance set in Anytown, USA. But when we read these stories, we read them with the understanding of both why we’re reading them (sometimes fantasy is satisfying and fun) and what they represent. And we recognize that, while we might read these stories, we also want to read books that tell other, less well represented stories. Everyone deserves a happily ever after; we all deserve to have our love stories told with dignity and respect. We want to see the communities and diversity of our world reflected in the stories we read, as beautiful and messy and complicated on the page as they are in real life.
We will therefore continue to read and promote stories by marginalized voices and about marginalized people. We will do our best to highlight problematic content – and problematic erasures – in the books we read. We will continue to educate ourselves so we can be better allies in this ongoing struggle.
Right now, as we look forward to Pride Month and back to the systemic racism and violence perpetrated against Black citizens that has culminated in our current upheaval, we as persons of privilege are hyper-aware of our responsibility to acknowledge and amplify marginalized voices. But our responsibility doesn’t end when quiet normalcy returns. Amplification of marginalized voices is an ongoing responsibility, and one which we will continue to take seriously. We have been linking to various resources to promote allyship on our social media pages – especially our Twitter page – so if you would like more information about what you can do to be a good ally, we encourage you to head over there.
In addition, we encourage you to head over to these sites that promote Black authors and Black romance: