Why some people mock romance (and how to respond!)

Posted April 26, 2018 in Discussion Tags:

Hello again Disciples! So, I read almost exclusively romance. Romance, as a genre, is typically mocked by…well, seemingly everyone! My mom and I have discussed this in the past-hiding what you read in public, dealing with the sneers and derision, etc. I decided to really look into some of the reasons romance is mocked and address it!

Argument 1: Ye ole rapey scenes

First, I found LOTS of articles about romance that were written with a derisive edge. Intentional or not, the genre tends to get mocked. Beyond Bodice-Rippers written by Jessica Luther for the Atlantic brings up the first thing I think romance gets a bad rap about: the ye ole rapey historical romances.

Yes, if you look back a few decades, many historical romances were of a young maiden forced to marry an older man who forces himself upon her on their wedding night. Eventually, they fall in love and all is well, but this theme was repeated enough to reinforce that stereotype! However, if people are using that as a way to mock romance now, they are obviously not reading modern romance! You should suggest some amazing HR authors like Lisa Kleypas and Sarah MacLean!

Argument 2: Mommy porn

Next, there is the joke about ‘mommy porn’. Can we first just admit that term is icky? When 50 shades of Gray hit the scene, women really embraced the story! But, men needed to label it somehow and the ‘mommy porn’ label was born.

Here is my issue with this argument: first, you simply cannot make a logical argument that visual/video porn is the same as an erotic novel. A novel is entirely based on the reader’s imagination. Watching pornographic videos requires that people actually engage in the act of sex and allow it to be filmed. Actual people have to act out the ‘story’ in pornography, where in a novel, no one is exploited. Its imaginative. Second, are moms or women in general not suppose to view porn? Why don’t we deride men by calling porn hub ‘daddy porn’? This argument places women in a position that mocks their interest in erotic entertainment when it doesn’t do the same for men. If someone gives you this argument, make sure you put them and their misogynistic comments in their place!

Argument 3: Formulaic and trite

Another common knock on romance novels is they are formulaic and trite. Look, some of them are. But you can find that same formulaic problem in every genre! So, yes, this is a concern for BOOKS. Its not a problem specific to romance.

If someone gives you this argument, suggest some of the really unique plots from authors like Nalini Singh, Alessandra Torre, Kristen Cashore, JA Redmerski, and others!

Argument 4: Cheesiness factor

The next case that a non romance reader makes regards the covers and general ‘cheesiness’ of the genre. Again, I can kind of agree with this. The covers are usually half naked men (personally, I’m okay with it, but I understand the complaint) or sexy couples in various states of undress. So, what do people do? They judge a book by its cover. I think this issue is also rooted in history. Think back to the 80’s and 90’s with the Fabio covers! Seriously, that man was shirtless on like a million books. People assume that romance novels haven’t changed in 20-30 years?! Thats just ignorant. The titles with puns or word plays give a sense of cheesiness that non readers mock. However, when was it determined that puns were bad? Or even cheesiness was bad? If I wanted serious, I would pick a different book. I wouldn’t skip an entire genre! Want an example of that cheesiness of which I speak? Check out 10 cringe worthy lines of Gronkowski erotica! Seriously, its HILARIOUS! Just don’t assume ALL romance novels are like this. If someone makes this argument to you, remind them that Twilight covers were simple and clean. 50 shades of Grey are also simple. You can also point out some of your favorite covers that really caught your eye for their beauty!

Argument 5: Unrealistic

Listen, do I really think a prince is going to try and go incognito in a tiny Texas town and fall in love with a local? No! But, I also don’t think that what David Baldacci writes is likely to happen either. Fiction is, by definition, not real. Some romance tropes and plots are totally unrealistic. Honestly, thats why I enjoy them! Its an escape. Not all romance tropes are like that though, so again, people are judging an entire genre based off of some of its entries. If someone throws this shade at you, give them some great romantic suspense like what Karen Rose writes! This has the ‘realism’ of a crime novel, but with the addition of a romantic relationship.

The arguments about the illegitimacy of romance come from lots of places: authors, journalist, random men at the store who think its their place to comment on your life. Some authors go out of their way to point our their books aren’t ‘romance’ they just have romantic elements (Nicholas Sparks). I think you have to wonder what would push someone to degrade an entire genre? Why do they care so much about what we read? Didn’t their parents teach them that if they don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all? I think that the people who typically have these sexist views aren’t likely to change their minds any time soon. But, as romance readers become a significant portion of book sales, maybe these narrow minded folks will back off, realize they are perhaps being judgmental, or just plain keep their mouths shut! Sometimes, you just have to think…

What common arguments to you hear against romance? How do you respond? What books have you suggested to change a reader’s opinion?

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8 responses to “Why some people mock romance (and how to respond!)

  1. I don’t read romance, but I’ve heard all of these arguments. I think people should be able to read whatever they want and not feel bad about it. There are so many better things to argue about. We don’t need to be trashing each other’s reading tastes.

  2. Romance is my go-to genre. I love it! And you know what’s awesome about the genre? There are so many different types of romances. Like I said, I love romances, but there are certain types of romances that just aren’t for me, but that it cannot be enjoyed by another reader. People want to hate, but the sales for romances are strong. so all those highbrow haters can take a look at that picture up there =)

    Sam@WLABB recently posted: Discussion: HEA All the Way!
  3. Yep. I read those old romance rapey scenes ones a long time ago. Romance novels sure have evolved. I’m one of those that feels funny reading romance in public. Probably because they don’t always have the best covers. I’m not a fan of male torsos without showing their handsome faces. LOL This is a fabulous post!

  4. I love romance! Nobody gets to tell me what I should like so hatrers just need to shut it. Having said that, there is some types of it I can’t stomach. But, to each his own. We shouldn’t have to hide the covers of our books, but now with e-readers it’s a lot easier. Good post!

  5. Great post. I’ve run across a lot of these arguments. Just hearing people talk about them in one place or another. The “Mommy Porn” is one I personal have had experience with, in that I’m a mom and I read romance, so ya it’s been said to me. I shrugged it off.
    The Fabio cover brought back memories of growing up. My mom loved Fabio and I’d see covers all the time with him on it. They are so cheesy. I still get a laugh when I see those older 80’s covers for romance books.
    The development of the eReader took a lot of the pressure off of reading romance in public. We now don’t have people looking at our covers and sneering. We now have people asking; what are you reading? Then they have to consider what genre it is and go from their.

  6. ?? this is amazing and so on point! Yes to all of these and let me just add that some romance novels don’t even include any sex scenes they just fade to black or they are very vaguely written and I don’t think men had anything to do with labelling 50 Shades as mommy porn, women did that to basically shame other women readers which is a million times worse!

  7. Yeah, I don’t get people who look down their noses on romance novels. One of the things I love the most about romance novels is that we can read about so many different kinds of relationships! Plus, there are so many sub-genres, it’s impossible to not find something I enjoy.
    I have some colleagues who look at me side eye when I mention I read romance. And I look straight back at them and ask them if they wanted to comment on that 😀 That makes them uncomfortable. Because they realize they’re being a bit judgey.
    Great post!

  8. Yeah I LOVE this post so much and agree with it. I get quite a bad rap for reading romance and blogging about it from people in my personal life. But I don’t let it bother me any more because ya know I LOVE romance and so not ashamed. I do hate the reference of mommy or women porn. Because romance is SO not porn at all and I hate that people refer to it that way because it demeans the genre. And its such a misunderstood genre. I understand about the “bodice rippers” though, especially those from the 70’s and 80’s….but not all of them are non consent, and many authors I love are from the avon romantic treasure era such as Suzanne Enoch, Lisa Kleypas, Victoria Alexander and Stephanie Laurens. And romance has definitely grown so much over the years and I do love those cheesy romantic covers because in reality isn’t life cheesy hehe ?”?!!

    And I definitely believe that romances are realistic, so many authors take real life situations that just about any reader can easily relate to. And I do believe in happy ever after, doesn’t mean bad or sad things won’t happen, just means you have someone to share the ups and downs of life with and that is easily attainable. But what do I know…I am just a hopeless romantic.

    Great post and thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic!!

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