Wednesday, 30 April 2014
Have you read Kate Mayo's article "Dear Columnists, Romance Fiction is not Your Bitch"? If not, go do so now. I'll wait.
Okay, welcome back. Interesting, n'est ce pas? Essentially, the article is about how Romance Fiction and Feminism can co-exist.
One line in particular struck me as most apt: "...there is no shame or stigma in enjoying a book in which a woman's happiness is the measure of its success."
Wow. How often do you hear that about anything else? And isn't that a powerfully Feminist statement?
Now, I can understand how some schools of Feminist Thought (frex, much of Second Wave Feminisim) can wish to decry the thought that a woman can derive happiness from the romantic attentions of a man (after all, she should be responsible for her own happiness and not depend on a man, goes the line).
But the point of Romance Fiction is not that a woman can only be happy if she has a man in her life, but that a woman can derive happiness from a loving, supporting relationship with another human being.
(Feminism shoots itself in the foot if its promotion of woman is only at the price of denigrating man. It really should be about promoting human beings regardless of gender, and that no one gender is less than another.)
Much fiction (with the exception of the literary classics you had to read in high school [Her Grace says with her tongue in her cheek]) is about humans seeking happiness.
Chick Lit covers the gamut from Women and Shoes, Women and Shopping to Women and Careers, Women and Family.
Much contemporary literature serves with Self-Discovery and Self-Identity, especially with who and what the main character interacts with. Eat, Pray, Love, anyone?
Take Sex and the City. Was it really about four women seeking sex (and ultimately relationships with men), or was it about four friends on their journey to discover what friendship really means?
So what if Romance's particular subject matter is about romantic love? Does that make it anti-feminist?
Absolutely not. If it were about anti-feminism, the woman's feelings would not matter. Her goals, her desires, her dreams would be worth nothing. She'd be nothing more than a convenient hole for some man to park his dick, and then forgotten, until it was dinner time. As any Romance reader will tell you, that is soooo NOT how it happens in a Romance novel!
In a Romance novel, Our Heroine's dreams, her desires, her goals--everything she wishes for, hopes for--is The Most Important Thing. By the end of the novel, Our Hero understands and respects that.
That is a positive feminist message. That is why Romance Fiction and Feminism can exist side-by-side.
Her Grace's foremothers were feminists--college-attenders, political activists, pioneers, self-supporting, loving, hard-working, courageous women.
Also, she can't wait for you to read her novel "Her Endearing Young Charms", where, when it looks like Our Hero can't be there for her, she pulls up her socks and sets off to take care of matters on her own. Why should her happiness depend purely on the whims of someone else?