I have a challenge for you. Next time you’re perusing the romance section in your favorite bookstore, look around. You’re likely to find you’re the only one there, or, alternatively, that the only people joining you in the romance section are, well …women.
Almost as if reading romance were taboo and no one wanted to be caught doing it in person. Or, alternatively, as if only women read romance.
Or even worse, as if it were only acceptable for women to read romance.
This, of course, ties back to the misogynistic society we live in, one where men aren’t allowed to show emotions, or to, le gasp, invest in romance, because men only care about ACTION and other various manly things. Kissy faces – and stories – are for women.
It is known.
More and more, though, this stigma attached to romance novels has shifted to go even beyond the idea that men cannot – should not – invest in anything romantic (cause cooties or something), to somehow demean the women who do.
Oh yes, that’s where we are right now. We’ve gone past the already absurd gender norms and moved onto a point where it’s even wrong for women to care about romance.
Aka, it’s wrong for everyone to care, because it’s not like it’s suddenly become socially acceptable for men to.
Which, let’s set the record straight here: most of us, no matter our gender or sexual orientation care about romance, in one way or another. Romance is a part of life. The idea of looking down on a group of people just because they somehow enjoy reading about two people finding love, (or hey, watching it), is not just absurd, it’s reductive.
Especially because of a lot of the criticism towards romance novels seems to go something like this: Oh, you just want to read porn, huh? HUH?
To which I have two answers: First, women can and do enjoy porn, and just as the type of porn you enjoy is none of our business, the type of porn we enjoy is not your business either. Second, romance novels are a lot more than just porn, even the erotic ones, and only someone who has never read a word of a romance novel would dismiss them as merely porn.
Some of the best writers I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading are romance writers, and they’re not only good at writing intimacy, they’re amazing at writing characters, at getting the story to a point where we feel things if two fictional people we’re not even seeing look at each other.
That’s magic, and it should not be diminished.
Romance – or romance writing – doesn’t actually root your brain and make it so you cannot conceive about anything else. Rational, thinking human beings can still enjoy reading, writing and even thinking about romance without the fact that they do making them less rational, or more likely to fly off the handle.
The stigma against romance novels – and romance in general – is wrong, and the only way to start breaking through is to start being proud. Do you love a romance novel? Talk about it. Do you have a favorite writer? Follow them on Twitter and give them some love.
And yes, tell your friends. Carry your books around with pride. Don’t hide them in the bottom of your purse, only to be taken out during lunch hours where no one can see you. Reading romance is not something to be ashamed of.
In fact, I’d even argue it’s something to be proud of.