As a romance writer, I'm no stranger to the stigma associated with a genre we call "smut," "mommy porn," "a guilty pleasure," even "trashy." In my posts below, you'll see I tackle the misogynistic and patriarchal origins of our degrading attitude toward the genre that celebrates friendship and love, the gift of intimacy, and the work of healthy communication. Romance is one of literature’s mostly highly profitable and widely read genres and I'm here to assert its literary, cultural, and psychoemotional value. Don't know where to start with romance? Curious about the genre? Head over to About Chloe where I share some of my top romance recommendations.
“We tend to think of the erotic as an easy, tantalizing sexual arousal. I speak of the erotic as the deepest life force, a force which moves us toward living in a fundamental way.” — Audre Lorde
Sexy books. Smut. Raunchy reads. Steamy fiction. We have endless—and often derogatory—euphemisms for fiction that depicts one of the most fundamental human acts between two (or more) consenting human beings: physical intimacy.
FEMINIST AF FRIDAY. It’s a thing & if it wasn’t, it is now. Immabout to break it down on mass-market historical romances.
Fabio Fluff (OK I made that one up—I love alliteration)
That’s what I used to think when I saw books like these. I can’t tell you much I regret breezing by them because of my own internalized misogyny.
On Monday (and Tuesday through Sunday) we read romance.
It’s not the first or last time I’ll say that reading romance is revolutionary. And as the month dedicated to valentines and romance stacks wanes, I want to say this, too: romance reading is for anyone, anytime! You deserve to read stories about growth and connection, resilience and passion and love, whenever your heart and mind desire.
I read romance because:
- It reasserts love’s primacy & centrality in our lives, supplanting self-interest, violence & manipulation.
- It portrays clear consent, sexual health via protection, communication & mutual pleasure.
- It celebrates relationships between lovers & also between friends, family & oneself.
- It uplifts & encourages us that love heals wounds of loss, past pain, trauma & isolation. It reminds us that we all belong & we are all worthy of love.
Why read romance? “Oh, how scary and wonderful it is that words can change our lives simply by being next to each other.” — Kamand Kojouri
I used to think that when I opened up a romance novel, I was simply indulging myself in a few hours of escapist, fairytale sweetness. I told myself I could fall in love with characters, envy their passion, cry their tears, but then, once I closed my book, it was time to leave those fanciful feelings and thoughts behind. Romance books were unreasonable. Silly. Unliterary. Unrealistic.
Do we expect enough of romance?? As we white people unpack our privilege, recognizing its presence in all corners of our lives, how does that play out in our reading? Yes, we need to diversify our bookshelves, to read queer, BIPOC, differently-abled (physically & neurologically) & #OwnVoices writing.
But we also need to examine the (often white) narratives we one-click, pre-order & fangirl over because they’re written by our favorite author, because they’re an edgy premise, a catchy synopsis from our favorite publisher.