Men, stop lecturing women about reading romance novels

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Try this terrific article at the Washington Post about why we deserve better than snide lectures.

Another year, another man who is utterly horrified to discover just how many American women read romance novels. This time, the perplexed fellow in question is William Giraldi, a novelist and editor who has taken to the pages of the New Republic to tell us just how appalled he is by the popularity of the erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” and the more general financial success of the genre…Giraldi also tells us that “romance novels, like racists, tend to be the same wherever you turn,” an idea that demonstrates a stunning lack of familiarity with both racists and romance novels…Here is a proposal Giraldi does not seem to have considered: Romance novels are attractive not just because they are a gratifying escape but also because they sometimes feel like a respite from from the significant hostility that a lot of literature shows women.

I don’t read many romance novels but I firmly believe that genre is not an indicator of literary quality.

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2 responses »

  1. I completely agree! I read them all the time. I can definitely say that some were absolutely horrible pieces and that some were amazing with a whole bunch of them somewhere in between. I think that men (not all of them of course) sometimes become threatened by the idea that women are embracing their sexuality and not settling for the typical ‘wham bam thank you mam’ and instead not being afraid to say what they want.

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    • Thanks Chelsea, and welcome to Adventures in Biography. You’re right, romance novels are like any other genre – some are great, some are less so. But they focus, front and centre, on women and clearly that’s still confronting to some men. And probably also why crime fiction (which often has a male focus) gets reviewed in the mainstream press and romance novels rarely do.

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