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.
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…