I never thought of romance as being dangerous, but after seeing Maya Rodale‘s video, Dangerous Books For Girls: The Bad Reputation Of Romance Novels Explained, I realized we are all rebels.
I teared up watching this video. All I could think about were the all over the world women who are still repressed. Women in India and the Middle East. Women here at home. Yes, we still have repression here in the US, and likely wherever you live as well. But at least in what we term the ‘Free World’ we can vote, own property, own ourselves.
We can make the choice of who to marry. (Well most of us.) We can drive cars without fear, walk by ourselves, and read what we choose. And I choose romance.
I’ve never thought of it as being particularly rebellious, but in some ways, even for me, reading romance has been a rebellion. When I grew up girls who read were considered nerds. But I knew that I wasn’t reading boring old books, I was reading about strong women having adventures. And
boy girl, what adventures. I was an early adapter of romance. I read my first romance in sixth grade, Jane Eyre. I guess that explains a lot of my Gothic tendencies and love of the flawed alpha male.
In seventh grade it was , Gone With the Wind. After that I read every single romance I could find and never looked back. Of course, one could argue that Gone With the Wind is not a romance. After all, there is no happily ever after. But it fits the bill of a story of a strong woman choosing to follow her heart rather than what society says she should want. And that, after all, is what makes it dangerous.
I was a rebel with a book. No one knew that behind my serious face and thick glasses lived a wanton romance reader. I’m not sure many people in middle school beyond my inner circle even knew what romances were, or what was between those covers. One of my vivid memories was in ninth grade when the boy in the locker next door (who I had a huge crush on) looked at my toppling stack of books that took up the entire top locker shelf, and asked “Have you read all those?”
In point of fact I’d read most of them in a day, or two. They were a everything from skinny contempories to thick historicals. I zipped through my homework to get to my reading. I devoured books one, two, three at a time. And I had no idea that the act of turning every page was heretical.
As I grew to adulthood I realized that my reading tastes were supposed to be hidden. Good girls don’t (but I do!). Never let them know that you read those smutty books. I’ve turned covers over, put books down fast, not taken certain covers to work. All the secret acts of a secret rebel. But now I’m not hiding.
I’m all over the internet with my reading, and writing, choices. My books are hot! And guess, what? Every hot book makes a statement that women can choose to be independent and sexual on their own terms. So claim those saucy covers. Take them outside and flaunt ’em because every romance read and claimed is a nail in the coffin of suppression.
How long have you been a romance reader? Did you know it was a rebel act? Have you ever hidden your reading choices? Why should we hide what millions of women read? What did you think of Maya Rodale’s statement?