Feminism in Romance: Why Are So Many People Getting it Wrong?

Recently I was trying to respond to a fellow romance author who wrote an article about why she loved romance novels. While I applaud that she was willing to come out about reading and writing romance in a very public forum, I was disheartened to see that she insisted on using all the pejorative terms like bodice-ripper and trashy to describe both what she loved to read and write.


But, I wanted to be able to speak intelligently when responding about why I thought that take on the genre was so denigrating to everyone involved, so I started looking up articles talking about feminism in romance.

Most of what I found were responses to journalists who were bashing romance novels. Thank goodness for outspoken romance writers!

Why do people still think it’s okay to bash other people’s reading material?

Besides the fact that it’s for women, about women, by women…?

Sarah Frantz Lyons quote which reads "Romance is sneered at because it's written by women, it's written for women, and it's written about women."

The other answer: Lack of education.

No, I don’t mean the writers or readers didn’t finish high school or never went to college. I mean the detractors either haven’t read a romance and/or any of the literature about the romance genre.

If you’re a fan of romance, or even if you aren’t, here is some of my recommended reading and viewing on why romance is actually feminist and why it is worthy of being read, and not just as a guilty pleasure.

  • Maya Rodale’s book Dangerous Books for Girls explains it pretty well.  She details the history of how novels and women who read them got a bad rep in the first place and how that culture has purveyed into the twenty-first century. I recommend this book to everyone, like even people I’ve met on the street.

Click the book to go to Maya’s website, or here to get it on Amazon.

Cover of Dangerous Books for Girls, which is black with pink font and a picture of an old fashioned silouette of a girl's head and a pen and sword crossing underneath

  • Did you know there is a Journal of Popular Romance Studies? Yep. People study the books, authors, and trends of the romance genre in that funny world of Academia. It’s published in partnership with the International Association for  the Study of Popular Romance. You can read all kinds of articles, interviews, and reviews right online.

IASPR logo

It’s “A surprising documentary film that takes its viewers into the multi-billion dollar romance fiction business and the remarkable worldwide community of women who create, consume, and love romance novels.”

Check out the trailer.

So, if you’re a romance reader (and I’m guessing that’s why you’re on my blog anyway – lol) educate yourself, and don’t be ashamed by the amazing books you’re reading.

If you’ve never read a romance – try one. (Try mine!)

And if you’re one of those who poo-poo romance…think about why it’s so important to you to put down an entire segment of the population and what that says about you.


–Aidy Award