A comedy writer tweeted about Jane Austen. It revealed a big flaw in publishing.
When most people think of Jane Austen's novels, they probably think of love and romance. But Jake Weisman doesn't.
In fact, according to a recent tweet from the Comedy Central writer, he wants to make his feelings clear that "Jane Austen does not write love stories."
He's not completely wrong. Jane Austen was funny.
She nailed satire, and her commentary on social mores during her time were ridiculously spot-on.
But her stories also featured love. And romance. And (gasp!) feelings. That's not a bad thing. And Austen fans near and far chimed in to remind Weisman of exactly that.
This is such a male take. The idea that Austen couldn’t have been writing both acerbic and insightful social commen… https://t.co/ZkXzymMpi1— Laura Elliott 💉💉 (@Laura Elliott 💉💉) 1528101409
Jane Austen wrote about class and money and the snobbery they created in her society, and how love brought people t… https://t.co/tr1hKUOGtL— Margaret C. Sullivan, Woman on Pfizer (@Margaret C. Sullivan, Woman on Pfizer) 1528065726
Well ladies, a Man has very thoughtfully appeared to inform us that we didn't accurately pick up on the humor in th… https://t.co/BBIWxCYflL— Ridley (@Ridley) 1528068252
Because — spoiler alert — literature can be more than one thing. It can be both satire and romance. It can be both mystery and adventure. It can be both comedy and science fiction. Books can even be all those things at the same time.
@weismanjake agreed on the satirist front, but she can be viciously funny and write love stories considering romanc… https://t.co/WsQCjJ9QJi— Kristen O'Neal (@Kristen O'Neal) 1528007861
things can be two things. whether you place value on one of those things or not. https://t.co/w8U5h54805— heather. (@heather.) 1528078913
It’s possible that it’s both? Romance and satire. Also, can we stop shaming people for loving the romance genre or… https://t.co/muBYmqyb20— aw beans (@aw beans) 1528079175
Clearly, Weisman's tweet struck a nerve, and it's not surprising. Often certain genres of books, like romance, are largely written off or seen as less than.
Because the people who most often write and read those books are women.
It's a real problem because the publishing industry, like so many others, tends to be very male centered.
Ever wondered why books written by women are often labeled "women's fiction" but books written by men are just "fiction"? It's because, historically, men have been the default and women the subcategory. And attitudes like the one in Weisman's tweet are part of the reason. Those attitudes suggest that "love stories" are automatically beneath brilliant writers like Austen. And that only when her work is called something more "impressive" like "satire" is it worthy, which simply isn't true.
After all, books, like people, can have many layers — many brilliant parts of their whole.
Or maybe something can be satire *and* romance, which most of Austen's work clearly is? "Love story" is not a dirt… https://t.co/fEoPa80IZ1— Taylor Driggers-McDowall (@Taylor Driggers-McDowall) 1528110211