As the world slowly progresses into a more inclusive society, it is time that romance novels are seen as a valid genre as well as given the respect and recognition they deserve.
Romance novels are a genre where the focus is on the relationship and love between two people. The novels typically have a satisfying ending for the readers, a happily ever after.
Although romance novels are a successful billion-dollar industry, the genre is stereotyped as fluffy or an easy read. Many are put off as guilty pleasures or light reading. The respect given to someone reading a classic or science fiction is not given to a romance reader.
In her research paper The Romance Publishing Industry and its Reputation Lauren Cameron notes how misogyny and patriarchal society plays a major role in how people perceive the romance genre. The ridicule of the genre is it being written by women for women.
Romance has many different sub-genres, such as historical romances, young adult, paranormal and erotica. These novels explore many different themes such as self-discovery, self-love, healing and finding happiness.
While some novels contain explicit scenes, many do not. To reduce a romance novel to pornography or fluff not only insults the author and readers but also disregards the wide variety of interesting stories produced within the genre.
Romance also gives teenagers a safe space to explore their sexuality and interests. Cameron claims people don’t like romance because it allows women to explore and control their sexuality.
It is true society doesn’t like women to take ownership of their bodies as shown by laws being passed to govern women’s reproductive rights. Fictional and real women being able to take control of their own bodies and sexuality is empowering.
Another criticism is romance novels can contain non-feminist ideas such as being a damsel in distress. While this may be true for some novels, love and romance don’t automatically make a woman weak. Additionally, many new romance novels have more progressive storylines.
Romance novels are ridiculed for being just what they are: emotionally fulfilling stories that give women a satisfying ending. But this shouldn’t be the case. Women shouldn’t feel shame or guilt when reading romance.
It is time that women are accepted for embracing their hobbies and interests. Romance is a valid genre and the only reason why it is not seen as such is due to misogyny. It’s time to change that perception and respect the romance genre.
Atiritka Kumar is a Journalism freshman who can be reached at [email protected]