As today is the annual major award presentation for the RNA, there have been several articles in the media about romance. Radio Five did a fairly schmaltz piece with one of the readers for the award -- a male who rarely reads romance.
What is he doing judging the best romance book of the year one might ask? In many areas of life, one expects to be judged by ones peers or at least by someone with experience of the subject. What would the dog world say if Crufts was judged by someone who had once owned a Labrador? Or better yet who had never owned a dog but did like cats, so one could have an objective opinion? Is it any wonder that the shortlist contained some unexpected names?
Why is it that people feel it is okay or de rigor to sneer at romantic fiction? Particularly if that fiction is written by a woman. Tony Parsons gets plaudits for being able to think like woman. James Patterson is quite happy to reach number one with his weepies. But women are either ignored or derided. Sometimes it seems to be the woman writer is still the little woman, the her indoors.
What is it about the publishing and literary establishment that they feel sneering at one of the most successful sections of their industry is acceptable? The movie industry as well when it seeks to justify some piece of fluff says -- oh well this is better than Mills and Boon. Huh? Have they read M&B lately? Do they know how well crafted some of those books are? Do they know that probably more people will read the M&B books worldwide that month than will ever see that movie?
What is wrong with the masses reading? Is not counter productive to denigrate someone else's harmless pleasure? What is wrong with escapist literature which makes readers feel good about the world they live in?
The only way to stop this sort of thing from happening is to stand up and loudly proclaim what a load of nonsense certain misanthropic people are pleddling.
Romance empowers women. It is written by women for women. It shows women at their strongest and not merely appendages of men as in many novels by men. Because the main focus is the woman reader, the heroine has to more than stand around and look pretty.
Intelligent women read romance.
They should be able to read it without apologizing or justfying to anyone.