I think we can all admit that we’re pretty judgmental.
We judge people based off of a lot of things, but as bookworms, I think it’s pretty obvious that the biggest thing we judge people off of is what they read, even though we don’t want to. But is it truly okay to judge what people are reading or is it a more complex issue? Let’s dive into it!
I think it’s obvious that we all really don’t want to judge people because we think it’s super rude. But, at the same time, it seems like we’re moving more towards judging and mocking people for what they read as something that’s socially acceptable, which is definitely not-so-great.
The issue is super complicated, and I really wanted to tackle it!
I think it’s pretty obvious that we all judge people for what they read.
We might judge people based off of genres – maybe some people think higher of themselves for reading literary fiction over those who like to read romance novels or erotica. Or maybe they don’t like our favorite authors and books, and how in their right mind could they not like that book or author? Or maybe they think a book you consider trash to be the best book they’ve ever read, and a book you like to be the worst thing every published, and how dare they think so!
But can we actually legitimately base the character of a person off of the books they read?
I mainly wrote this discussion based off of what most people say in regards to people reading books others deem problematic. I feel like there’s been a lot of discourse when it comes to this – someone says a book is problematic, everyone agrees, someone mentions that they think they should actually read the book before accusing a book of being something (which I think is totally valid!), which leads to a lot of backlash, mainly, “A person of a certain race/sexual orientation/religion/class, etc. said this book was problematic, and you’re still reading it??? How dare you!” But can you really say someone reflects bigoted attitudes or is okay with something just because they enjoy a book that is considered problematic?
Let’s take a popular example – 50 Shades of Grey. Most people agree that besides it having terrible writing, virtually no plot, and is just overall boring that the book also seems to romanticize the abusive relationship between Christian and Ana and portray Christian to be some sort of sexy, alpha male, when he’s really just gross and possessive. Even though this is information that seems obvious to some people and has often been spread, nothing has really changed. The trilogy is still a best-seller. The movies make millions and millions of dollars. And there’s still a huge fanbase surrounding it, those who don’t think that Christian and Ana’s “romance” is abusive and would jump at the chance of marrying Christian if he really existed – and a large, large majority of these fans are women themselves.
Obviously, 50 Shades of Grey isn’t the only series out there – you could say the same thing for a lot of popular romance novels with abusive relationships under the guise of being romantic. But there’s obviously more to that. What about Twilight, which has had the same accusations thrown at it, and none of them have stuck? Or Colleen Houck’s Tiger Curse, which has a 4.07 overall star rating on Goodreads, but has been accused of being racist by reviewers? Or Colleen Hoover’s books, which have been accused of being sexist in certain areas? Or even The Black Witch, where after the controversy has died down, has managed to get high star ratings from both people of color and gay people – the two groups the book was supposed to anger the most?
So, what does that mean? Is anyone who reads 50 Shades of Grey or Twilight and doesn’t think those relationships are abusive someone who thinks domestic abuse is okay in real life? Are people who enjoy Tiger Curse racist? Is the mostly female-led fanbase of Colleen Hoover being led by internalized sexism? Are the people of color and gay people who enjoyed The Black Witch self-hating individuals?
And that’s the thing – I just don’t think so. I don’t think people who want to read a book that’s problematic because they want to read it for themselves are bad people. And I feel like this can get complicated, especially in regards to certain messages people spread. Take the large female fan-base when it comes to 50 Shades of Grey – it seems like it’s been made openly okay to mock women who enjoy the books or get excited by the movies, by both men and women, even though there’s been lots of conversation about the sexism behind the idea of making fun or not taking seriously things that women like. Does 50 Shades of Grey fit that mold, or does it not because it has domestic abuse in it? IT IS ALL SO COMPLICATED.