Eliza In General · Writing

It’s a (Slut) Shame

I thank God (or Prince, who is basically God in my eyes) that I started my professional career in sales. Selling everything from newspaper ad copy to air filtration systems to Olan Mills photo packages has toughened my skin and prepared me for the backlash I was sure to receive later as a writer.

Every author is prone to a bad review.  Everything ain’t for everybody. Some writers torture themselves by dissecting every review they receive because – at the heart of it – artists want validation.  Writers, actors, painters, musicians, all of us – we put our hearts, souls, and very limited bank accounts into creating, editing, promoting, and selling our art.  We put ourselves out there, hoping someone (anyone!) sees the beauty in what we’ve made.

So, when I decided to start writing eighteen short months ago, I knew what to expect.  Much like with my sales career, I expected more nos than yeses. I expected that CeeCee and Zoe wouldn’t resonate with every reader.  I expected that my writing style might get raked over the coals. What I didn’t expect was that a reader would call my main character a ‘slut’.

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And not in that “Giiiiirl, she’s such a slut! LOL!” kind of way.  In the other kind of way.  The kind that made me take a review to heart for the first time in my life.

It didn’t make me question the novel itself because fuck that.  The book is solid and I have twenty-plus other 4- and 5-star reviews as receipts to prove it.  It wasn’t even that the review was classy enough to provide spoilers.  It was the word that got me.

Slut. Four little letters, one big sexist label.

I’m woman enough to admit it: I was annoyed.  While Zoe had MANY faults, she wasn’t deserving of such a vicious label. Aloof, condescending, touchy – Zoe’s all of these things.  Slut? Ugh. Frankly, I personally avoid the slur when describing women – fictional or otherwise.  It’s a terrible word and reeks of patriarchal brainwashing (Sandra Fluke, anyone?)…but I digress.

~ And not in that “Giiiiirl, she’s such a slut! LOL!” kind of way.  In the other kind of way. ~

After a few minutes of scowls at my laptop, I vented to friends online in the DMs (because the LAST thing you want to do as an artist is to go on a public Kanye West TweetRant… unless you are, in fact, artist Kanye West).  Then I wrote this blog entry as a final send-off.  This is my way of letting it go because that’s what happens when you are an artist: you put your shit out there and let the public have their way with it.  You deal with the disses just as handily as you bask in the praise.

Because what I’ve found after twenty years of sales experience is that if you position your product in front of the right audience, more people will love what you have to sell than hate it. As a writer, you can’t let one piece of negativity diminish all of the positivity you’ve earned.  Don’t let it make you forget all of the readers that took the same amount of time as your one-star reviewer to gush about how five-star awesome your book was.  Don’t forget about the retweets and reposts, the IMs from sleepy readers who stayed up all night reading your scribbles. It’s unfair to your readers and it’s SO unfair to yourself.

When I told my husband, he gave me something else to ponder: “Maybe it’ll make someone else read it to see how slutty she is.”

Gotta hand it to him.  The man has a point.

(c) Eliza David – FacebookTwitterInstagram

 

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7 thoughts on “It’s a (Slut) Shame

  1. How many books have women and men written that has a character like you written in your books? I can answer that question plenty. I am glad that they thought enough to purchase and read your book(s) you written 😊. But do they realize that the main character was fictional meaning not a real person. I am pretty sure the same person that called your main character a “slut” probably thinks 50 shades female character was an “angel”. You have plenty of positive reviews and great support for you as an author. Keep up the good work lady 👍😆🍸🍸

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    1. What’s crazy is that I read their other reviews and they gave a one-star review with the same reasoning for a book entitled The Good Mistress. Um, hello?? I’m pretty sure the MC sleeps with another person’s husband. Were you surprised? LOL! People are strange but I appreciate s/he reading BrewGirl. If anything, the review gave me a blog topic. #silverlining

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Some people are just miserable and mean. So what if she was a slut? It’s FICTION. It’s an awesome book with awesome characters. I’d venture to say the review was more personal to her own situation and not your book or writing style and she couldn’t separate the two. If you don’t like promiscuous characters then don’t choose that kind of book. It’s an awesome read, don’t let one word shake you. Put two sluts in the next book just for kicks and giggles and send her a free copy 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Sista! I was so taken aback but once I got myself back on track, I wrote this blog & had a hearty laugh. Maybe I did touch a nerve in her life. Zoe was hitting close to home, eh?

      And to add to what you said re: book choice. What really killed me is that she gave the same review for another author’s book – which had the word ‘mistress’ in its title. Um, yeah…pretty sure that character’s supposed to be promiscuous. She’s a mistress! LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I like to read Regency romance (among many other types) and it’s amazin how the hero who is a notorious, despicable rake who seduces untold number of women, but the heroine is expected to be a virgin. Just where did all these hot-to-trot women come from for the male character to seduce? And it’s not just in Regency romance either.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s insane!! Romance novels should be woman-positive, free of the misogyny that saturates some fiction. Reinforcing the idea that a sexually confident woman is a whore is such a slap in the face for the reader. My books always strive to show the evolution of a woman so the ‘slut’ comment was laughable. I was confused for the reader but that’s art, I suppose.

      Liked by 1 person

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