Holy cow, it seems each week brings some new article bashing romance or its writers. I am honestly amazed and confused by so much anti-romance sentiment. Perhaps its because I have immersed myself in the romance community, but is there such outcry against mystery, horror, true crime, celebrity books, etc? It doesn’t seem that way. (Though YA had its own article on why teenagers should only read happy happy joy joy).
I have mainly tried to ignore these articles. They are written by people (sadly, usually women), who don’t read romance or who are not really qualified to judge or who are using faulty information. But, I have gotten to the point that I’m going to go ahead and throw my opinion out there.
Many have already touched on this subject, much better than I. Sarah @ SmartBitches says it all in her post. There are a million intelligent responses via twitter. And yet, these type of articles keep getting published.
Here is the latest article: Stoooopid Article I don’t even want to link to. And the gist is two fold.
1. Romance novels do no portray safe sex. (The survey they did on romance novels had the most recent novel being published in 1996. I think anyone with even a quarter of a brain knows that’s a terrible statisitc and completely out of date. I cannot remember the last romance novel I read that did not involve a condom or a discussion of safe sex).
2. Romance novels give women “idealised” views of love and sex. (Which of course makes it seem that we feeble women cannot possibly determine the difference between FICTION and REALITY).
Every intelligent romance writer or reader has touched on these topics before me. What I wanted to do was focus on #2 with a real life example of romance novel.
I’m even going to use a romance novel that was published in 2003 to show that it’s not just an issue of time (1996 or 2011 who cares?) it’s an issue of being a complete and utter fool.
My favorite romance novel of all time is Birthright by Nora Roberts. And I am going to use short quotations from the book to show that this isn’t about IDEALISED love, it’s about what love, REALISTIC love SHOULD be.
Our hero is Jake, our heroine is Callie. They were married before after a whirlwind romance. It didn’t work out, but they’ve since grown up and learned some things about each other. The ending of the book where they are showing this is exactly what love is all about.
Example #1 (page 497) He [Jake] led her through the gate. “You’ll handle it.” “Yes, I will.”
Jake is offering support, belief, encouragement. Callie is smart enough and confident enough to know he’s right. That is a realistic and hopefully integral part of any relationship.
Example #2 (page 498) “I need you to love me the way you did before thins got away from us.” “That’s stupid, Graystone.” “The hell it is.”… “I didn’t give it back to you, the way you were looking for. This time I will.”
They are talking about what they need, what mistakes they made, and how they’re going to fix them. In real life, this is SO hard to do so I guess you could call this idealised because it isn’t something that happens often (probably hence a lot of real life divorces)… but isn’t it a GOOD idealised? Romance novels are PROMOTING communication between partners. At least, good ones. The best romance novels show a hero and heroine that have worked things out by talking them out. And that is GOOD. I think most therapists would agree effective communication=basis of any positive relationship.
Example #3 (page 499) “Oh, shut up and let me do this. I feel like an idiot. Are you going to marry me, or what?” “That’s not the right way to ask. Try again.”
Two things. First, this is not a foolishly romantic proposal, is it? Kinda realistic, actually. And the response of the heroine isn’t to sit down and take the shut up, instead she tells him that proposal sucks.
I could go on and on and on and on, and I’m sure just as I found a positive example, there are negative examples out there of romance novels that promote “bad bad things.” But you know, I’ve been able to tell the difference between fact and fiction since I was a little kid. I didn’t go eating my plastic food because I thought it was real. I didn’t have Barbie kiss Ken because I thought they were going to have wild unprotected sex and a perfect out of wedlock child. Nope. I know it was called PRETENDING.
Yet Quilliam says, “While romance may be the wonderful foundation for a novel, it’s not in itself a sufficiently strong foundation for running a lifelong relationship.” I have to disagree.
Also, if you think ALL romance makes pregnancy and childbirth seem free and easy go read Joan Kilby’s “Two Against the Odds.” If you don’t cry your eyes out at the two pieces of the heroine’s journey that deal with pregnancy, you are not human.