I’ve always known about subjectivity. I like something. The next person doesn’t. Sometimes I’m at a loss as why they just don’t get that fab book or that amazing TV series. It’s subjective. Right.
So what does that mean exactly?
This is a self-exploration so I don’t have any academic texts to back this up, except maybe a vague reference to Bourdieu-type thinking such as ‘reflexivity’ and ‘habitus’ (but I’m new to this so don’t roast me)
I’ve been reading retro romances right. A few of them make me angry, uneasy or just bored. Most I love for many reasons. I was thinking about the ones that trigger my dislike.
For instance, creepy boss love affair stories. I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. Why is this so? Office romances happen. My previous partner was once my boss, but not my boss when we got together. Actually being a workmake is probably what allowed us to get together because it wouldn’t have happened that otherwise. Not that I had the hots for him when he was my boss. Anyway….whole subject awkward!!! So why then do these stories creep me out that little bit. I had been thinking before I recollected my office romance that I didn’t fancy any of my bosses (apologies) but yeah…nah!
When I got my first office job in 1976 with a stockbroker, they were all like fuddy, duddy old men and one fuddy duddy old lady (first female stockbroker!). The girls weren’t allowed to wear pants. Yeah that’s how conservative they were. I remember one day coming in wearing a jump suit. My job was to give the big boss his coffee as soon as he sat down, otherwise yelling would ensue. So I romp in with a coffee and a good morning smile. I get quizzed about what I’m wearing. I say, “It’s a jump suit.” The boss says,”Next time you wear that you can jump out the window.” Anyway, I digress. Memory digging will do that.
This morning I remembered my job before the office job. I had a short stint as a hairdressing apprentice and I was sexually harassed. I was dragged into the change room by the owner of a hairdressing chain and quizzed about my sex life. It was weird. He didn’t touch me. He made me very uncomfortable and I was at a loss at what to say. What sex positions do you like? Do you like having sex? etc. I was bloody 15! I kept clear of him and was sacked soon after. Actually some of these questions he asked and approaches are in those dark, Italian type retro romances. The salon I worked in at the firm did contain a harasser.My bestie at the time also had an apprenticeship and was molested often by her hairdresser boss who was married.
Oh dear! I’ve just remembered another job where that happened. In New Zealand, I worked for a car company in the service department. I was the only woman and I was touched up and perved on all the time and commented on. Finally I stood up to them and then they got the shits with me. Lucky I quit no long after.
So while my many years in the public service provided a harassment free workplace , there were times in my dark past when it wasn’t so. And these retro stories take me back to that time in a big way.
The other thing that I find that triggers me is the violence. Just about all the books have the man grabbing the woman by the upper arms or shoulders and shaking her. Lucky they didn’t break the woman’s neck. Anyway, one particular story where the woman cried out in pain. He was really hurting her. And he’s like I’m sorry, it’s just that I love you and want you only to be mine. I’m like egads! Domestic Violence! All my flags go up. It had been a promising story until then. My note say something like. ‘Creepy ending with potential abuser!’
I grew up with domestic violence and I’ve experienced it first hand, especially the jealous boyfriend who broke in to where I was living and smashed me up. So yeah. Subjectivity!
I’m sure I’ll find more things that affect my objectivity as I read the retro and contemporary romance fiction. I certainly found that objectivity can be difficult to maintain when I read the article by Peter Darbyshire about the Love Inspired imprint! A few posts ago.
If I apply the above to other readers then it is easier to understand why people react in different ways to books or films. They are shaped to a large extent by their experiences and their environment, like I have been. I try to overcome this when I’m aware of it. If anything, study has lead me to ask these questions of myself. Why do I think that? Or Why do I have that reaction?