Friday, September 2, 2016

Romance Novels are Feminist Novels, too



I’m proud to call myself a feminist romance author. Yep. You heard that correctly. Sure. Plenty of people are quick to point to bodice ripping covers of yesteryear and pass judgements on series romance novels. You’ve heard it. They denigrate women. They’re misogynist. Romanticize toxic relationships. Have an inequity of power. Blah. Blah. Blah.

But you know what? Such criticisms are usually leveled by folks that have never read category romance. Any fan of our genre knows that our books, largely written by women, for women, celebrate our gender and our triumphs. Our heroines want love. Of course they do. That is not, however, exclusionary of their desire to achieve success in their chosen professions, to reach personal milestones, to strive to be the best possible version of themselves and help others to do the same. Our novels feature strong female heroines who are making positive differences in their world and in others’ lives, as well as their own.

Romance novels are one hundred percent about female empowerment. There is no genre that does this better.

Romance heroines are good role models for young women and girls. They prove that you can have it all. Love and success. A career and a family.  Hearts, flowers and a separate checking account. Our heroines are negotiating the terms of their relationships throughout a book, never fully giving themselves to their love interest until he’s proven himself worthy and noble. Physical attraction only gets a hero so far with our heroine (In a Heartwarming book- that’s usually page twelve- lol) and after that, the man’s got to reach her standards. Period. No toxic relationships.

Happily-ever-after is earned. Not given.

This isn’t to say that our heroines are perfect. Far from it. In fact, it’s their flaws, their mistakes that makes them human and relatable. We see ourselves in these women. Walk in their shoes as they struggle. Dance with them when they succeed. Cry with them when they don’t. Sometimes I’ve just wanted to reach right through the pages of one of my favorite romance novels (usually this is why they are my favorites) and give the heroine a hug. But through it all, our leading ladies never give up and they teach us not to either.

These are very important life lessons for young girls who should and must think of romance and feminism as sharing the same ideals. So I challenge all closet romance addicts to read your novel proudly in your doctor’s waiting room. On a bus. In a park. Not just to declare yourself a proud romance reader, but to inspire the next generation of young women to read books that uplift and celebrate all of the wonderful things that add up to being a woman.

Some might say, “Harlequin- you’ve come a long way, baby.” I say—we were always there.

39 comments:

  1. Great, great post, Karen. Hear us roar!

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  2. Thanks for saying all this, Karen. More women should read romance!

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    1. I blamed my complete lack of a dating life in high school because of Harlequin heroes... I was waiting for that special kind of guy and eventually I found him in my hubbie of 23 years- all girls should read these books and see what they can and should have in relationships!

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  3. This is one of the best posts...ever! Boy, when you step up to the plate and swing your bat...it's a home run!
    Thank you for speaking out, Karen. Happy Labor Day weekend!!

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    1. Awww! Thanks, Catherine :) That means a lot. Happy Labor Day Weekend <3

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    1. AMEN! Romantic women are strong women because we are brave enough to risk our hearts and work hard to keep our relationships and families together :)

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  5. I agree - we just didn't realize it - I raised both my daughters to not put up with crap from ANYONE, let alone their hubs!!

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    1. Exactly! We know our heroines would never put up with anything that isn't healthy and loving and supportive and raising our daughters on the messages found in romance novels helps them to want these kinds of relationships, too :)

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  6. Well said! I raised my daughters to be independent minded women who can take care of themselves. Just like our heroines!

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    1. And you know how much I adore your heroines, CP!! They are always the best role models- just like you :)

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  7. Am standing on my desk cheering! (It's going to take three strong heroes and a crane to get me down, but you're worth it, Girl!)

    Happy Weekend, Everybody!

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    1. LOL. I'll come save you from your desktop, Muriel :) Thanks for the cheers, girl!

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    1. Thank you, Carol! It's been on my mind a lot recently and it feels good to express those thoughts :)

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  9. Very well said, Karen. Thank you for the great post.

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    1. You're welcome Linda :) Thanks for your lovely comment!

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  10. You can't see me, but I'm giving you a standing ovation. Brilliant, dead on post. I started reading romance when I was a teen and I know it's part of the reason I'm who I am today. Thank you for writing it. :) BYT, I loathe the term Bodice Ripper. Ugh.

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    1. Huzzah! So glad to hear that, Anna :) Thank you. Like you. I began reading Harlequin in my early teen years and I'm pretty sure that's the reason my friends always accused me of being too picky or expecting "too much" - haha- but those books made me believe in myself and what I someday deserved

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  12. Amen!! I've seen so many teenage girls in abusive relationships and I just want to shake them. Sometimes our romance heroines and stories are the only role models they have.

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    1. Agreed, Patricia :) As a former teacher, my heart went out to girls that seemed caught up in toxic relationships. My classroom library had plenty or YA romance (and I would have had Heartwarming if it'd been out then) and I guided these students to books where I knew they'd gain some insight about what they should expect from a relationship and what they deserved.

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  13. What a great post! You put it beautifully!

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    1. Why thank you, Patricia :) That's very kind of you!

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  14. Well said Karen Rock!! If Heartwarming books don't empower women, I don't know what would. ( :

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    1. Yes, Ma'am!!! You absolutely nailed it, Laurie :) People may hear "sweet romance" and think weak- but it's completely the opposite.

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  15. i agree, i think women now days confuse sex for romance and there is a big difference if we do not know how will men ever know and change

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  16. Exactly, Patricia Rose! We are the authors of our own life stories (That's one of my favorite quotes, btw) and it's up to us to set our standards and boundaries and a smart man knows to abide by and respect them :)

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  17. Sorry I'm late...I've been riding out Hermine. Brilliant post, Karen!

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  18. Thanks for this articulate and passionate post, Karen! I'm looking forward to the day when romance writers and readers won't have to justify a love of love. Cause that's what we're all about, right? Seeking and finding love. Seems pretty simple - and human - to me but.....

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    1. Exactly!! Well said, Janice :) We are in love with love and how could that ever be anything but a wonderful wonderful thing

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  19. Well said! Thanks for saying what we all know to be true :)

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    1. Aww! Thanks, Amy :-) As a group of authors, Heartwarming is the most supportive and caring group of women who are all about empowering other women like you just did <3

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