Welcome back to my Tell-All Tuesday roundtable interview! It’s week 2 of Romance Writer’s Tell All, and I think we’d all like to know why romance as a genre has gotten such a bad rap!
Q: Clearly romance and its sub-genres are hugely popular among fans and followers. But Romance is still getting a bad rap in some circles. Why do you think people feel uncomfortable accepting it (or admitting that they like to read it)? What is it about romance fiction that makes it such a target for people to make fun of?
Bella Andre: I think the people who denigrate romance may just be the ones who need it most! The romance genre is so much more than "just sex". Sometimes, books like those I write under my Lucy Kevin pen name, don't even include any sex at all. Romance is all about escapism, about recapturing those warm, bubbly feelings you get when you first fall in love. It's a way to get to fall head over heels over and over again. It enables readers to live a fantasy, to find emotional fulfillment, and to maintain the hope that someone is out there for everyone--and that that someone may already be in your life and ready to love you if you just show him how.
JJ Ellis: I have an upcoming article about this! Truthfully, I think that a lot of the bad rap comes from the old time flowery language used. Petals, love snakes, love tunnels, etc., were a bit cringe worthy even back in the day when that was the typical language used. I remember being made fun of for reading romance and those descriptions were always part of the jibing I would receive. Another aspect, of course, is the conception that romance novels are smutty. More and more these days you see more general language used to describe body parts and it really helps emphasize the point of the story - the romance is allowed to stand out. Hopefully the stigma will fade more and more as time goes on.
Kallysten: If I were to venture a guess, I'd say it has to do with women taking ownership of their sexuality, and how that's still a taboo to this day, as incredulous as that fact makes me. By reading various scenarios, we get to experience things we might not have known existed, or things we don't feel comfortable (yet) doing or asking for, and maybe that can sometimes be tricky to talk about. As for why romance is a target of derision... making fun of it seems like a way to refuse it as a legitimate form of entertainment, and that's something that happens much too often every time something is enjoyed primarily by women. The patriarchy is alive and well... (sorry, I'll get off my soapbox now).
C. Deanne Rowe: Romances have always been looked at as a woman’s read or women’s porn. I can say that most of my readers are proud to admit they love to read romances. Not just the women but also a few men. Yes, I know several men who read romances. I never thought I would see the day. I believe men think if they admit to reading romances they would be looked at as ‘soft’. What people, not only men, don’t realize is there is a whole world in a good romance which they might enjoy and learn from. They might get lost in the plot and possibly be able to escape reality for a few chapters. Isn’t that what we all want when we read a good book, romance or not?
Susan Stoker: Honestly, I’m not exactly sure. Maybe it’s the fact that we ARE writing fiction. I mean, there’s no way some of the stuff in my book could really happen, but it’s the emotional journey that women enjoy I think. Being a “romantic” is sometimes seen as a bad thing in our world today…that people who like to read romances are sexually frustrated in their own lives, or that they’re building up their expectations past what “real” men can live up to. Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not, but what is wrong with spending a few hours losing yourself in a story?
NDG: Good point, JJ, I never thought about language use being a factor. I remember reading Love Explosion by Robert Rimmer, which I think was written in the 70’s, and man was it melodramatic, and not in a good way! Hear, hear, Kally , I think it has to do with a variety of things, including some of the points you mention. I think people are totally uncomfortable with their own sexuality (and curiosity, to be quite honest). And while the sales numbers never lie, I still think it will be a long time, if ever, before the traditional, more academic community really accepts the genre as legitimate. And you’re right Deanne and Susan—what’s wrong with losing yourself or escaping in a good story? I’ll bet a good number of people read romance or a regular basis, but would never admit it…and I love what you said, Bella---it's a way to fall head over heels over and and over again.
Thank you for another juicy discussion, ladies! Connect with these fabulous authors and their books in the links below, and tune in next Tuesday to find out what writers have influenced our work, and what have been our favorite romances to read!
About the Authors
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