Romance is a progressive genre?

Romance Book Covers Harlequin Mills and Boon

Recently I’ve seen advertising for a number of nonfiction books about why the general community should accept romance fiction. Everybody’s trying to promote the genre (or, rather, promote the most popular book genre to the book snobs) with books about how great romance is.

I do have my doubts anybody other than the already-converted will ever read these books, but I did think that *I* might be interested in them.

And then I got linked to this review, and now I think I might have changed my mind, though I’ve downloaded the sample.

‘As much as authors like Maya Rodale love to imagine that the genre is bursting with tales of women exercising all kinds of choices and sexual liberties, the reality of the genre is something else altogether.’

I suppose if the number of books I’ve called out for their dreadful and backwards attitudes are anything to go by, then maybe romance isn’t exactly – yet – the empowering, Girl Power! shining light for gender equality we keep telling ourselves it is.

Wicked White by Michelle A. ValentineStupid Girl by Cindy Miles

‘Like many books and studies of this nature, this one attempts to convince readers that the romance genre is bursting with progressive notions. I find this rather… fake.

…not to mention the prevalence of slut-shaming, beauty-shaming, thin-shaming, blonde-shaming, and other stuff, it doesn’t take anyone more than a few romance novels to puncture a few holes in these grand arguments.’

THANK YOU. I thought I was the only one in the world calling the genre out for these things!

‘The last few books that I’ve read, in which condoms came up, had the couple happily ditching the condom once they decided that they were in love because we all know making babies comes after love.’

It’s true. I’ve given up on some of my favourite series because the authors settled into a pattern. Usually it was to establish the heroine as unusual and not one to follow traditional paths in her own book, only for each and every one of them to give up on their passions and settle in as housewives and mothers on appearances in later books in the series.

Holly Lane by Toni Blake

A book I loved, except it gave past characters a baby HEA makeover!

Nothing wrong with that, but hardly a glowing beacon for progressive ideas, and also very disappointing to women like me, who finally thought someone was writing romance heroines a little more like them.

There are a lot of great things about the romance genre. Namely, that it’s the one and only genre where heroines can regularly be as equal in importance as the male characters are. But to pretend all those sexist, ugly, childish stories currently so in fashion are about female empowerment is ridiculous at best.

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2 thoughts on “Romance is a progressive genre?

  1. Pingback: Never Read a Romance Novel? Grow Up | Sonya's Stuff

  2. Pingback: The Week | Sonya's Stuff

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