Sunday, May 10, 2015

Romance ... the most maligned genre in fiction

Romance...the most maligned genre in fiction

Why is romance, such a popular genre, still looked down upon by readers of almost every other genre?

This is a question that has bugged me for a very long time.  It is okay  for men to read mysteries, thrillers, westerns and other popular fiction for entertainment ... but let a woman pick up a romance for sheer, escapist pleasure, and out trot all the old chestnuts about bodice rippers, mummy porn and trashy books.

Is this bias because romance is generally written by women for women?

In earlier eras a bias against the novel of the day was understandable. In those times women were regarded as the property of their husbands or brothers, and  marriages were arranged for them, for many reasons. Land. Money. To form or strengthen alliances between families. Or, often in the case of the Aristocracy, alliances were strengthened between countries.

In these times any thought that a young woman should have any say in who she could marry ... fathers had valid reasons for forbidding their daughters to read what they considered the trashy novels of the day.  And while some fathers would take their daughter's feelings into many men, such sentiments were irrelevant.   Heaven forbid any girl should entertain the notion that she could actually marry a man and expect happiness.

This prejudice has followed romance fiction into the present day, despite the feminist movement and the great movement towards equality between the sexes, a decided bias against the romance genre still exists.

If the critics of this genre took the time to read some of the books they would find well written fast paced stories, often spiced with danger and intrigue until the hero and heroine do find their happy for now ending.

Recently, there have been a few serious studies of the romance genre by scholars trying to understand why the genre is so popular. This is driven more I suspect, because romance fiction makes up such a huge slice of the book publishing business and is the most lucrative and because it makes money does this somehow make it more acceptable to mainstream reading population.

 I know that I for one will continue to buy romance books.

In our world there is far too much strife, grief gloom and doom.
When I read, it's for my personal pleasure. I don't want to takes the troubles of the world into my precious leisure time.
And for me, romance reaffirms our core family values and to me, first and last in life, it's family that matters.  And the romance genre is all about reaffirming and celebrating family values.

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