The column I wrote on Friday that, among other things, listed serious and silly suggestions for a series AAR is planning on heroines raised the ire of many. Readers felt the list was, just to mention a few flaws, misogynistic, guilty of gross stereotyping, and offensive. They asked if AAR has changed its “netiquette” policy (the answer is no) and if we planned to continue to use “hateful” and “shaming” language. Several have requested we apologize.

I am not speaking here for AAR–I write these words on my own. I would reiterate I am proud of our staff. These women spend the hours they do reading and writing because they love romance and want to share their love and insights with the world. They’re an impressive bunch and I am privileged, upon occasions (such as Friday’s column), to speak for the group.

That’s not what I’m doing here. This is just me.

If you were  appalled by what I wrote, I apologize. If you felt my language was an attack or an insult, I’m sorry. It’s clear to me I didn’t give the words I typed enough thought. Nor did I do a good job of explaining where the suggestions I wrote came from or how unlikely it is AAR would pick a title worthy of South Park.

Furthermore, though I opted, after a brief foray into the comment stream, not to remain part of the discussion there, I have read all of the comments (as well as those in the forums) and I am thinking about them. I’ve learned from what’s been said and I plan to, simply, do better next time.

Now there’s a real possibility I will fail at the above goal. Not because I don’t care about the issues raised. I do. But I care equally about freedom of speech and what that freedom means to me is often unpopular.

I’m betting AAR, however, will do a better job. My inbox is overflowing with thoughtful commentary from the staff, all of whom are thinking hard about how to say what we want to say in a way that is inclusive and aware. Their suggestions and insights are compassionate and nuanced. I promise you, those women rock.

We have yet to find the right name for our column. Captivating or Contemptible? has supporters but others feel that there are heroines such as Amy, the female protagonist of Gone Girl, who are both of those things. Today we’ve been considering Nonpareil or No Way? I think the title is still a work in progress.

Incomparable or icky? Best ever or big bummer? Splendid or scummy?

What do you suggest?

 

Dabney Grinnan