I Just Can’t Let This Go By Unremarked Here

Normally, I don’t cross-post my own blog with this one, but I’m making an exception because this has me hopping mad.

Last night, I posted this on my blog:

Go take a look at what Mr. Cale McCaskey has to tell us about Romance: The Problem with Romance

Women are, of course, quite familiar with arguments like his. They’ve been used for centuries to denigrate anything associated with women that would, if left unremarked, disprove the bias.

Basically, he’s saying that all Romance novels are inferior because if a book that might otherwise be called a romance is actually good, it’s necessarily anything but a romance. This is EXACTLY like the Victorian era physicians who performed an autopsy on a respected colleague only to discover that their colleague was a woman. When faced with the presence of female genitalia, they pronounced her a hermaphrodite. Because it just wasn’t possible for a WOMAN to have been successfully masquerading as a physician and to have been good at it, too.

Right. When the evidence contradicts you, redefine the world rather than adjust your assumptions.

I’m told he’s busy deleting comments he doesn’t like, so feel free to read his post and come comment here if you worry he’ll disagree with you and have to delete your comment in an attempt to keep his narrow world view safe from anything like truth or an open mind. [Risky Readers can comment here if they like.]


  • For him, Jane Eyre is a good novel so it’s not a Romance. (Forget the HEA)
  • Pride and Prejudice is trash (Because he didn’t like it, never mind that it’s still being read, critiqued, analyzed, transformed into other media and used as inspiration 200 plus years later.)
  • Those two Bronte sisters didn’t write anything besides Jane Eyre and [Wuthering Heights]. Forget Charlotte Bronte’s brilliant Villette (he might like it, though, because it’s not a romance.) And wait, wasn’t there THREE Bronte sisters? Why yes! There were. Ann Bronte wrote The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, which, OK, isn’t the greatest, but I’ve always thought it showed promise.

The intellectually challenged among us, which, I guess is anyone who reads romance, can comment about rainbows, unicorns and glitter. If you need help forming a coherent thought, I’m so sorry I’m too dumb to help you.

About carolyn

Carolyn Jewel was born on a moonless night. That darkness was seared into her soul and she became an award winning and USA Today bestselling author of historical and paranormal romance. She has a very dusty car and a Master’s degree in English that proves useful at the oddest times. An avid fan of fine chocolate, finer heroines, Bollywood films, and heroism in all forms, she has two cats and a dog. Also a son. One of the cats is his.
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10 years ago

I commented over on your blog last night, but I’m still good & cranky this morning. McClaskey reminds me of a former student of mine, a darling seventh grade boy, who grew up to be a Randian ranter (and he says I was the one who introduced him to critical thinking: MY VERY, VERY BAD).

I almost posted on McClaskey’s blog, commending him for such convincing Colbertian satire, but didn’t think he’d appreciate the joke.

Book ♥ Soulmates
10 years ago

My thoughts are all scrambled so I’m going to attempt to leave a coherent comment, lol.

I skimmed the original article and while most of it is just completely asinine, I understand one point he made. The word “romance” when used to describe literature has to be used loosely because most people think that romances are only Harlequin or “penny-dreadfuls”. His point is that no one considers Jane Eyre or Pride & Prejudice to be a “romance”. My question is why the hell not? Is Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet not a romance? No wait, it’s a tragedy. We’ll simply overlook the part where they die for LOVE! Romance doesn’t have to always end with a happily-ever-after.

I don’t expect scholars to include books like “The Lady Who Landed a Lord” into their curriculum but we cannot generalize romance so much and people should never discount the quality of these novels.

I used to be one of those people who thought there was no substance to romance novels. I’m so glad to have been proved wrong!


Isobel Carr
10 years ago

I guess we should all take our MFAs and PhDs and slink off into the kitchen and make him a chicken pot pie.

Isobel Carr
10 years ago

@ Book ♥ Soulmates: Yale now has a course on genre romance. Let me repeat that: YALE. So I don’t know why one wouldn’t ever expect “The Lady Who Landed a Lord” (so something similar) to land on a scholarly curriculum.

10 years ago

Good morning everybody. I have a comment, my low intellect notwithstanding.

I think it’s grossly unfair of McClaskey to tax me for not “reading lots of romance and getting it out of my system” when I was a thirteen-year-old girl.

When I was thirteen, I was busy reading Dickens and that took up a lot of my time and thought.

So, I am requesting an “intellectual bye” permitting me to read and enjoy as much romantic fiction as I like in my adult years since my young adulthood and early adulthood was wasted on more scholarly reading.

10 years ago

To be honest, having read his post and comments, I could substitute ‘romance’ for ‘sci-fi’ and have the same argument. Grown men should have something better to do than fantasize about worlds that don’t exist. They should deal with real life problems and grow up. Maybe read about relationships, which most of us have, rather than having magical powers, which none of us have.

I agree, it’s stupid. But he is just being a misogynist bigot. No point in rising to it.

Isobel Carr
10 years ago

OMG, sunnygirl is so spot on.

Diane Gaston
10 years ago

I looked up his name on Amazon and didn’t find any books written by him. And his profile doesn’t say he’s a University professor himself, although he did say: “I slow down for all brunettes, stop for all blondes, and will back up three blocks for a redhead.”

I don’t think this blog will endear him to many blondes, brunettes and redheads.

I decided not to bother to comment on his blog.

Louisa Cornell
10 years ago

Methinks the oaf (I cannot bring myself to call him a gentleman) doth protest too much. Apparently the women in his life read romance novels and found him lacking when compared to romance novel heroes. Frankly, I am certain they found him lacking in many other ways as well, but we won’t go into that. So he thinks women should just “get over” wanting to be loved and respected for who they are rather than the way the look? We should “get over” expecting a man to respect us, love us and remain faithful to us? We should “get over” looking for a man who is worthy of us in every way and just settle for hook ups, marrying a man who expects us to support him while he sits at home and plays video games and any of a hundred other versions of the men of his generation?

I am going to take my MMA and DMA and join Isobel in the kitchen to whip up something worthy of such an intellectual giant. Do we have the ingredients for Sloppy Joes?

10 years ago

He has created a situation where he is right by default: if it’s good it’s not a romance novel by definition (e.g. “Jane Eyre”). Needless to say, this argument is fatally flawed because no matter how many good or even great examples one may present, he will just dismiss them by saying they aren’t romance.

His argument reminds me a bit of Sturgeon’s Law, that 90% of SF/F is crap, but then, 90% of anything is crap. We readers are always on the lookout for that 10%, no matter whether in SF, romance, or literary fiction.

And lastly, I totally agree with sunnygirl.

Jane George
10 years ago

I like those little glass unicorns with the sparkles in, but they keep getting smashed when they tumble off the dashboard.

10 years ago

+1 to Sunnygirl.

JaneGeorge, INORITE? Plus the glitter always falls off.

Thanks to everyone for sharing.

10 years ago

I have heard and read this same stuff about romance too many times to count. Not only men are guilty. When I was one of 6 employees, all female, at a small library, I was the only one who read romance. The others all bashed it saying they couldn’t waste their time with it. they prefered suspense and classics. Funny, but many of those suspense series they were reading were romantic suspenses. I won’t even get started on the comments made by male patrons about “those books.”

People will think what they think. Until they try it and accept it for what it is, they should just keep quiet.

Amy Valentini
10 years ago

Somehow the comment I left Wednesday afternoon got deleted but that’s neither here nor there. If you read through his responses to the comments left on his blog, he shows even more of his ignorance and prejudice about a genre he obviously knows NOTHING about! Then he finalizes his ignorance with the following statement: “Classical music, by the way, is nothing but jazz being played incorrectly.”
I’m not even going to dignify that one with a comment. I can only say that ignorance breeds stupidity. Thanks for letting us know about McClaskey so we’ll know to steer clear of him. : )

Elena Greene
10 years ago

Fantasy, science fiction and horror are dissed in a similar way. Maybe anything people read for pleasure is fair game for those who need to pump up their egos. Though I think maybe romance gets picked on more because it’s so very popular, and with women.

10 years ago

I’m gonna read whatever I darn well please, because that guy’s an idiot.