It’s INSANE to me how controversial romance novels are. Romance novels. Like, being openly a fan of them immediately opens you up to people constantly coming at you like “but don’t you think it’s ~limiting- and ~juvenile~ to have a genre of books with happy endings for women?”



Why is it such a big deal to want to read stories where women have sex and then don’t die at the end? Jesus Christ.

Why is the concept of female characters being happy seen as less creative than female characters suffering? (Trust me, creating a world where women win in the end takes a lot more creativity and artistic vision lmfao)

Anyway, literary bros will pry my romance novels with their happy endings from my cold dead fingers.

Or die in the very beginning of the book. But no one calls out James Patterson for writing another formulaic thriller in which a woman is horrifically killed after getting laid and then some man solves her murder. Every. Damn. Time.

But hey, those romance novels where women get happy endings are so limiting, eh?

Real talk: realizing how common it is for female characters to be punished for on-the-page sex with death was a big part of my embracing the romance genre. Once I noticed it I couldn’t unnotice it. It’s everywhere. A woman having sex in literature or non-romance genre fiction is the literary equivalent of a red shirt on Star Trek.

It’s not just the sex thing, though that’s a key element. It’s that, in romance novels, the heroine gets to be cared for the way she normally would care for everyone else. It’s wish fulfillment in that her romantic partner will do emotional labor, spend a great deal of time thinking about her, or sacrifice his desires or fortune or reputation to be with her, or spend days nursing her back to health, or risking his life to save hers. In romance novels, you’ll find men taking care of children, talking about their feelings, putting effort into their appearance—even if they are adorably bad at it. Watch how many romance novel protagonists fall in love with a man who happens to be rich or handsome, but she didn’t give in until his behavior changed and he starts mentoring her, or providing for her, or being gentle toward her, nourishing her, listening to her, appreciating her… I suspect romance novels are looked down upon not for being juvenile formulaic “beach reads” but because they paint a fantasy world that leaves men feeling uncomfortable or even emasculated. But whether you’re a Midwest housewife or a big city CEO, women who read romance novels just want to read about men loving women the way women are expected love everyone else—with a nurturing and protective form of unswerving loyalty. Great sex they don’t have to die for is also a huge bonus, but the *romance* part of the novel is genuinely more about the woman being appreciated (for her beauty or spunk or intelligence at first, and then for all of her by the end).

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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