Smut & Activism

Persisting

Yesterday, the news of the passing of Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg rocked us. 

While the passing of a renowned and respected jurist might normally be an occasion for solemnity and reflection, the real fear that so many – women in particular – have been expressing in personal conversations or on social media is more telling about the state of our governance than about RBG’s work. She was a fierce soldier for the rights of many – especially of women – and her work on the Supreme Court reflects that. 

But our fear about the future is not about what RBG, an 87 year old woman who had been fighting for her life and health for years, might have done to protect us. Our fear stems from the knowledge that we – women in particular – do not always feel safe, and the safety we do have might be taken away from us now that one of our fiercest advocates in a position of power might be replaced by an individual who actively seeks to take away those safeties. 

In this case, we don’t feel we can sit back and accept our fates, so we have decided to act. Part of our dedication to smut is the way romance stories often center female desire and sexuality and sexual health in ways not often seen in other genres – so it’s not such a stretch for us to want to see similar levels of sexual freedom and safety protected out here in the real world. 

What you can do: It’s too early to say what will happen with RBG’s now vacant seat. We are currently swinging between cautious optimism that there won’t be time to push a new justice through and debilitating pessimism because Mitch McConnell is the worst, but, unfortunately, very good at his job. One small first step you can take is contacting your senators and urging them to wait to hold any votes on a new justice until after inauguration day. Holly might have emailed Senator Cornyn quoting Senator Cornyn about the importance of waiting for the will of the people to be made clear before appointing a Supreme Court justice in an election year. (Here’s a form you can use to send them an email, set up by the Southern Poverty Law Center. If you prefer to call your Senator, you can go here or call 1-701-484-0521 for a short script and to be automatically connected to your Senator’s office.) 

Volunteers are needed all over the place during elections and beyond. Please also be aware that governance begins in our smaller municipalities, which is where state resources are distributed, so it’s also important to know about the races in your state and local elections and to vote and volunteer down ballot. From the big elections to the smallest local elections, campaigns are looking for volunteers to whip votes for candidates. Voter registration drives need volunteers who can sign up new voters. Elections need election judges and other volunteers to ensure that things run smoothly and that voting rights are protected. Information about how to volunteer in these ways can get super specific, so here’s an article that discusses many ways you can volunteer. And if you’re in a blue district, you can always adopt a Senator. Holly, as a Texas resident, is partial to MJ Hegar, but if long shots are not your thing, you could throw some support behind Mark Kelly in Arizona

But more importantly, and we cannot stress this enough, we encourage you to vote. We’ve compiled some resources below to help you accomplish this if you have questions or need assistance knowing what to do in order to ensure your vote counts (which it ALWAYS does). 

Bottom line: 2020 sucks bigtime, but we’re not going to sit down and take it. 

Some voting stuff:

Elections are handled on a state-by-state basis, so it’s important to get the correct information and deadlines for your state. These are reliable resources that provide information for every state. We also encourage you to look at your state’s Board of Elections page, which is where you can find mail-in ballot tracking information if your state is allowing for mail-in voting. It is also likely the page where you can find information about volunteering to be an election judge if you are willing and able to do so. You do not have to be an attorney to volunteer or to help protect voting rights in other ways.

Voting requirements information by state: https://www.usvotefoundation.org/vote/eoddomestic.htm

Check your registration status (sometimes it gets deleted without voter knowledge): https://www.vote.org/am-i-registered-to-vote/ (vote.org also has tons of information about voting in general, so poke around if you have questions)

Vote by mail requirements and deadlines by state: https://represent.us/how-to-vote-2020/

User-friendly how to vote guide by Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/elections/2020/how-to-vote/?itid=lk_inline_manual_12

Voting Rights information and organizations consolidated by the American Bar Association (includes some information for how to volunteer for non-lawyers): https://www.americanbar.org/groups/crsj/publications/human_rights_magazine_home/voting-rights/how-to-help-protect-our-elections-and-get-out-the-vote/

Article with additional information about voting in the 2020 election in general: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/what-matters-how-to-make-sure-your-2020-mail-in-vote-is-counted/ar-BB17ZNq2

Announcement, Smut & Activism

Smut is Political

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:

Girl, Have You Read…?

Black Chick Lit

WOC In Romance