A Billion Reasons Romance Matters
Romance matters because marriage for love simply is not an option for millions of people around the world. Because we’re still fighting over a woman’s right to choose, when every romance novel is about empowered heroines making choices, starting with something fundamental like who to marry. Romance novels can give a girl Ideas, and the idea that she gets to make decisions for herself is one she ought to have.
Romance matters because, as one brilliant feminist blogger points in a post you must read, “Because to men, a key is a device to open something. For women, it’s a weapon we hold between our fingers when we’re walking alone at night.” Romance heroes aren’t just paper people in possession of six pack abs and a billion fictional dollars; they are examples of men who treat women with respect and reverentially. That is sexy. I think romance novels give us girls an idea of what to look for in a good man.
Because the battle over a woman’s place—In the home! At the office! Lean in! Lean out!—has been raging a long time. Meanwhile, writing has given women an opportunity to put pen to paper or fingertips to keyboards to write stories for publication—and money. History is full of women who supported their families by writing novels by A Lady, suitable for Ladies. And at the end of a long day at home and/or the office and/or home office, a woman deserves to leave the dishes in the sink and indulge in the respite a romance novel provides.
Because in romance novels, women are taken care of. It’s not about the money or the orgasms, but the fundamental desire to feel loved and cherished and to know someone else will help shoulder the burdens. Romance heroines are loved, even though they are uppity, outspoken, unfashionable, plain, have problems, or unable to apply the perfect smoky eye make up. In fact, they are loved because of the very things society tells us are flaws. I think romance novels give a girl permission to just be herself and trust that the love will follow. We can take care of our selves, thank you very much, but we’re happy to share the love.
Romance matters because in most professions women still make less than men—but when it comes to publishing we are an unstoppable. We write, we edit, we agent, we publish, we promote, we buy. We, as an industry, show the world what it looks like when women step up and work together. It looks like a billion bucks and a lot of happy women.
Romance matters because people still use the phrase the “guilty pleasure.” As if pleasure were something to feel guilty about! The video below shows you why we’ve been made to feel guilty about the joy we get late at night, under the covers—yes, I’m talking about both sex and staying up late reading a romance novel. Both of which are nothing to be ashamed of.
That damned mob of scribbling women—romance novelists—are changing the world, book by book. Because romance novels spread powerful ideas about love, personal choice, how a man ought to treat a woman, how good people treat all people, and what really matters. (No, it’s not a billionaire duke with 16 pack abs. It’s love, plain and simple.)
Romance matters because there should be one thing in life that is 100% absolutely guaranteed to end happily.
Maya is generously donating one autographed copy of Seducing Mr. Knightly to give away (U.S. only, apologies to international readers.) To enter, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page. Or both. (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay does not give you more chances.) Comment entries must be posted by 11:59pm EST Aug 12 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.
Maya Rodale began reading romance novels in college at her mother’s insistence. She is now the author of numerous smart and sassy romance novels. A champion of the romance genre and it’s readers, she is also the author of the non-fiction book Dangerous Books For Girls: The Bad Reputation Of Romance Novels, Explained and a co-founder of Lady Jane’s Salon, a national reading series devoted to romantic fiction. Maya lives in New York City with her darling dog and a rogue of her own. More about Maya at MayaRodale.com
Buy Maya’s books on Amazon