I didn’t start reading romance on a regular basis until I was in my 30s. And even then not so regularly that I would have said it made up more than 10% of my overall reading. It wasn’t until about five years ago that I began to read it more often.
Since then, of course I started writing it and became immersed in a world I never knew existed. Most of the time, it’s a world I love. Romance readers are the best. My readers are the best. Truly loyal, wonderful friends and neighbors who I’ve been so touched and surprised by.
At the same time, there are those in the community who are not good neighbors. While most readers (across genres) can seem to understand the basics of “if you don’t like it, don’t read it” there seems to be a push in romance right now to not only not read it for themselves but to make sure I can’t read it.
I’m not just talking about the Jan Butlers of the world who seek to slam the doors on romance to those people she doesn’t approve of. I’m talking about the people who loudly proclaim that erotic romance is singlehandedly responsible for the denegration of that greatly respected genre – romance (and probably the bird flu and cellulite too).
Let’s get a few things straight: Romance has never been a “greatly respected genre.” I’m sorry but that’s the truth. Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be respected. But it isn’t. As is true with most things that are run and controlled by women, romance has not been respected. Romance novels have been the butt of jokes forever and a day. Romance novelists have been portrayed as flamboyant women in their seventies wearing feather boas or “frustrated housewives” – (and hello, have you been a housewife? It’s a very frustrating and thankless job dumbass, of course they’re frustrated).
Moreover, the increasing popularity of erotic romance has nothing to do with the “respect” for romance. Seriously people, how could it? To state that would be saying that women who like to read about sex in their romance are bad and wrong and immoral. And well, if you say that, I disagree with you and wish you’d get over your issues already.
Should women be ashamed of their sexuality? Is sexuality something completely separate from love and connection? To those tens of thousands of readers who buy erotic romance AS WELL as sensual romance and sweet romance – making statements about how their reading preference is “the death of the genre” is balderdash and well, stupid. Yes, that’s right, I said it’s stupid.
There are a lot of different people in the world in case folks hadn’t noticed. There are subgenres of romance I don’t like and I don’t read. But I don’t spend my days at messageboards whining about how they’re the death of romance. I just don’t read them. And I wish the authors of said genres lots of sales because I get what those who take the opposite perspective miss – readers of romance have varied tastes. I’m darned thankful they like what I write and I wouldn’t insult them or their intelligence by telling them that they can only like what I write or they’re dirty/bad/wrong.
It seems to come as a big shock to people that others have opinions counter to their own. Why this is, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because my opinion is almost always in the minority that I understand it so well. And hey, if every time you walk into Borders you clap your hands over your eyes when you see the EC books and cry, “Won’t somebody think of the children!” more power to you. You have every right to think what I write is the downfall of modern civilization. You have every right to talk about it on your blog and weep into your tea. That’s the basis of not only the first amendment but the cornerstone of our culture as Americans. The flip side is that I get to say what I think and to work as hard as I can to be sure your brand of “if I don’t like it you can’t either” doesn’t go so far that it ends up pushing other voices out of the genre.
Romance is in the eye of the beholder. Suck it up already. You can’t control what other people think. Pandora’s box is open, erotic romance is not only out in the marketplace, readers like it. Not all readers, but by a hell of a lot of them. And they happen to think erotic romance is romance. If you don’t, feel free to stroll on by the erotic selections to something else. There’s plenty of choice there on your bookstore shelf. The presence of an erotic romance on the shelf does not malign the entire genre, such a comment is absurdly stupid and defies logic. The fact is – you don’t like it. Again, I say suck it up. I don’t like men who wear sandals with socks but they do for whatever inexplicable reason. I just try to pretend they don’t exist and that’s what you should do too.