I want to thank one of our authors, Taylor Lunsford, for first pointing me to the following. It seems that if you live in certain parts of this country and dare teach our darling kids, you can’t have a private — and I do mean PRIVATE — life.
WNEP in Pennsylvania has, in my opinion, forgotten the difference between “news” and “witch hunt”. In case you haven’t seen the articles and tweets flying across the internet, it seems that a 25 year veteran English teacher has another job some of the parents in her district don’t like. She — gasp — writes erotic fiction. Mind you, she does so under a pen name. She doesn’t promote her work in her home town or anywhere near it, as far as I can tell.
Here is how the story on the WNEP site opens: A series of racy romance novels by an author named Judy Mays are a little too racy for some parents in our area, especially now that they have discovered the woman known as Judy Mays is teaching their children.
Okay, I can see it raising a few eyebrows, but this hatchet job — first by some parents and then by the media — is uncalled for. From what I can tell from the article, there had been no problems with the teacher until a parent started searching the internet for information. Mind you, it looks like she was looking for information about the erotica author, not the teacher and just happened to put two plus two together.
The parent is worried about what her son will be thinking about as he sits in English class and knows his teacher writes erotica. I have two questions. The first is, why was she researching an author of erotica if it is so objectionable? And what is her son going to think as he sits at the table knowing his mother was researching an erotica author?
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books has a great post on the article and I recommend you check it out. I’ll simply repeat what SB Sarah asked: what makes this news? It’s not.
As I said, the internet has been ablaze with this story and with people — including a number of the teacher’s former and current students — coming to her support. Funny thing, if you go to WNEP’s facebook page, you won’t see those statements of support. No, you have to go to the tab for “most recent”. And, as you read some of the comments, it becomes clear that some comments have “disappeared”. One commenter even suggests that the station maybe revisit the class on ethics. I have to agree.
The reaction of these few parents who are, I’m sure, convinced they are protecting their children and community from an EVIL WRITER is exactly what I’d expect it would be if they’d found out ten years ago the teacher was J. K. Rowling. This narrow-minded, vicious attack on a woman who has not, from what I can tell, done anything to call attention to her “side-job” is unconscionable. Would they demand a man writing books filled with blood and gore decide if he wanted to be a teacher or a writer? Doubt it.
One more question: the article makes it clear the reporter — and I use that term loosely — contacted the school district superintendent. But there is not, unless I missed it, any evidence to show they tried to contact the teacher…why am I not surprised?
This is a lesson for all of us. If we are writing — or editing or publishing — anything our community, or members of it, might find objectionable, and that might impact our day jobs then do use a pen name. But make sure you not only list a hometown far from where you actually live but also that you don’t have your actual picture available for download. Because there is always a Mrs. Kravitz” in the neighborhood.
*For those of you young enough not to recognize the name, Gladys Kravitz was the nosy neighbor across the street on the old sitcom Bewitched. She just knew there was something strange with that Stevens woman and was always trying to prove it. Then she’d shout it to her husband, the neighborhood and the world. However, Bewitched being a sitcom, it never ended badly for Samantha Stevens, the neighborhood witch. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a sitcom.