Word Wenches had a post a little while ago about reading slumps and temporarily switching the type of book you read when you feel like you’re tired of your favourites.
The post’s author (a favourite of mine!) said a suggestion was made to her to read more male authors, because they write differently. A commenter responded that she doesn’t often enjoy reading books by male authors because of the way they treat female characters.
It got me back thinking about something that has been on my mind, and something I’ve tiptoed around in the past.
And that’s the way a lot of readers have so much distain for not only women writers, but for the romance genre.
Firstly, let’s get this out of the way: there’s crap in every genre. Heaps of garbage. But there isn’t one genre that’s worse than any other.
The difference with romance is that it is mostly written and read by women. And this is because it gives women an equal role in the adventure. It makes the heroine, well, a heroine. The heroine is a good person, not the bitchy wife, cruel mother or cheating, conniving ex. The woman at the centre doesn’t just turn up for a sex scene or to be brutalised so the man can go off on his quest for vengeance.
Romance makes women worth something.
HOWEVER, what romance also does is treat the men as equals. It’s the only genre where both genders are consistently at the forefront of the story, and where both hero and heroine finish the book as good people and deserving conquerors of the demons.
And men make fun of it, and refuse to read it because the presence of a female lead makes it a chick thing, and something stupid women like to read.
There are exceptions. For example, I have a great deal of respect for M. L. Buchman.
I don’t review many male authors on this blog, but that doesn’t mean I don’t read heaps of books by men. But I think the woman who made that comment was onto something. I gravitate towards books where both genders play an equal part (a reason the likes of The Lord of the Rings doesn’t hold a great deal of appeal to me in book form – did Tolkien forget women existed?), and romance is one of the few places you can find that.