Last week All About Romance posted an announcement that they were starting a companion series to their “Dreamboat or Douchebag” series, which resulted in such vitriol that an apology was posted. The original post stated fairly clearly that some of the title ideas were in jest, but apparently some people were outraged. I struggle with this a bit for several reasons. One, by the nature of the topic you just aren’t going to be able to use a “nice” descriptor, it would completely defeat the purpose. Secondly, while there was some outcry against the use of the word douchebag to describe the men, it never seemed to reach these levels AND it was mostly framed as an issue of why a feminine gendered descriptor was an insult to men. So it wasn’t about the men and consequently, to me, that smacks of the worst sort of hypocrisy. Thirdly I am somewhat conflicted on the idea that it isn’t acceptable to judge fictional characters. For me at least, things that would never fly with me when it comes to real humans, I don’t find so outraging when it comes to fictional characters. I just have this feeling that both when writing the characters and when judging them, since it is fiction, it should remain a safe place to explore this sort of thing without the moral issues that come into play with real people. Maybe I’m wrong on that, maybe I’m contributing to the negative cultural mores I rail against in real life, but those are my feelings.
As far as the actual title goes, I favor “Keeper or Kick-her-to-the-curb”. And I favor it not specifically because of the lack of outraging or denigrating terms, but BECAUSE I feel that sometimes only a bitch or a shrew will do. So I’ll likely continue to judge fictional characters, and I’m likely to think of them in terms that some people will find objectionable. Probably the only difference I’ll make is to try to explain my motivations and meanings a little better. And I hope All About Romance doesn’t decide to scrap the project, because frankly it’s fun to judge, and it’s also extremely illuminating to see just how differently people interpret and judge things. Frankly I kind of thought that was the whole point in blogging about fiction, because taste is so subjective and it’s certainly not universal.