28 April, 2011

Refusing to Choose

Beware! I bring you terrifying news! Are you ready? Are you? OK. Here goes. When teachers aren't being teachers, they do other things. 

I know. I'm sorry. Shocking. 

It's easy to be sarcastic on this subject. At least, it is for me. For Judy Buranich, though, this is not funny at all. Because Judy Buranich is, like me, a teacher and a writer. She's a significantly more successful writer than I am, at that. And that might have been the problem. Because Ms Buranich is a writer of romance novels. And that apparently makes her fair game for the morality police.
Ms Buranich

This pleasant-looking woman has become something of a scandal lately, and I just can't figure out why. Or rather, I can. And I hate it. One of Ms Buranich's most vocal critics describes Buranich as "a top-of-the-line teacher." So clearly Buranich is not failing at her job in any way. Apparently, however, Buranich's books (which some have described as erotica) are "unethical, [and] totally unacceptable," This critic goes on to express her horror that "everybody’s sort of looking at this like, hey, this is OK."

Well guess what, Buranich haters. Hey, this is OK.

People have sex. It happens. And like everything else that happens to human beings, it's OK to write about it. It's OK to read about it. It's even OK to enjoy reading or writing about it. I was not under the impression that a healthy interest in sex was forbidden for those of us who teach. No one tell my husband.  

Not only is erotica OK (and easily avoidable if it's not your cup of tea), it has nothing to do with Ms Buranich as a teacher. In fact, it may not have all that much to do with Ms. Buranich as a writer; her books are sold in Waldenbooks, filed under Romance, after all. To suggest, as many critics have, that she should choose between teaching and writing is flatly ridiculous and insulting to both teachers and writers. 

I'm a teacher. I love teaching. I love working with my students to improve their writing and their understanding of the things they read. Even when my MA is finished this May, I hope to continue teaching in some capacity for the rest of my life. It is very possible and even likely that I will get a PhD in my field and become a professor. I think I could happily teach rhetoric and composition forever. 

I'm also a writer. I love writing. I love taking my odd little theories and flights of fancy from my brain to the page. I am learning to love sharing what I write. I think I could happily write forever. 

I teach composition. I write extreme horror, science fiction, and fantasy, all with the occasional sex scene here and there. The reason I teach is to help other people become better writers and citizens of the world. The reason I write is to examine how ordinary people act in extraordinary situations - and sometimes people get it on. 

Happily, there are people who get that. If you're interested in showing your support for Judy Buranich, check out this facebook page started in her defense

I'm not choosing. Neither should Judy Buranich. 


  1. Lynn,

    I think you forgot a rather important part of this sentiment:

    "People have sex. It happens. And like everything else that happens to human beings, it's OK to write about it. It's OK to read about it. It's even OK to enjoy reading or writing about it."

    It's even ok to enjoy having sex! I would imagine that most of Ms. Buranich's critics have forgotten, or perhaps never realized, this simple fact.

    If I were to anaylyze this situation rhetorically *wink* The major premise of the critics' enthymeme is "sex is bad."


    As a culture, why do we have such weird hang-ups about sex? We've moved past the Victorian Era, haven't we? (Up yours, Sarah Stickeny Ellis!)

    At this point, all I have to say is this: "Geez, folks, just let the lady write!"

  2. Erin, you're right. On both counts. Sex is fun. There, I said it. I know it, you know it, and Judy Buranich knows it. That's probably why so many perfectly healthy people (who are incidentally also perfectly qualified to teach English) write and read about it. It's a sad state of affairs when people decide that because THEY have a hangup where sex is concerned, everyone else should be hermetically sealed away from all mention of it.

    I have a hangup about clowns. They freak me out. Always have. But if I had kids and found out they had a teacher who was a clown in his or her free time, would I alert the media? I would not. Although in all honesty I might be a tad nervous on Parent-Teacher night. ;)