Random Thoughts of a Romance Blogger: The Stigma of Romance

Posted May 6, 2016 by Francesca in Random Thoughts, Under the Covers / 21 Comments

randomthoughts

THE STIGMA OF ROMANCE

Beware…somewhat ranty post ahead!  Every so often something pops up that reminds me of the stigma of romance books and the perception most people have about the genre and the industry.  I recently saw a romance author being attacked and called a writer of smut when she was commenting on Twitter about something not even book related (a historical romance author at that!).  And most recently, a video popped up from the RT Book Lovers Convention featured on ABC about the genre … and the cover models.  I found the reporter doing the interview to be condescending, and it just gets me ranty.  In the end, it all brings me back to this.  I’m tired of being portrayed in the light that we usually are!  

First of all, not all romance readers are the same.  Same goes for authors.  And SAME GOES FOR ALL OTHER GENRES!  Just because the stories we read have an HEA doesn’t mean they are any less intelligent.  And while there are many romance subgenres, quite frankly, I’m tired of being put in a condescending box where apparently all we care about is fawning over male cover models who, at times, moonlight as strippers.  I love a good man candy cover as much as the next girl, we all know that.  I’ve been known a time or two to pick up a book to read just because of a nice set of abs.  And I have enjoyed taking a picture with a cover model when attending RT myself.  It’s part of the fun!  But to reduce an industry to this… just a bunch of women who are inappropriate with male models and where the stories… are basically the same thing over and over…. Well, this is not Magic Mike people and not all romances are created equal!  There is no magic formula that allows writers to publish yet another romance book, and us as readers have more intelligence than just wanting to read the same thing over and over.  And I’m not even going to get started on the mommy porn thing!

The romance genre is comprised of smart women who write and read stories to escape their daily life and for entertainment.  Just like every other book out there!  Why is a thriller a “better” or “smarter” book than a good contemporary romance, for example?  I happen to enjoy both and I don’t think to myself “I’m feeling smarter today, so lets read a thriller.”   This mentality, which is the norm in society, is often pushed by people who have never bothered to pick up a romance novel themselves and then talk and judge without any knowledge.  Authors continue to be put down by their peers.  And readers often feel the need to hide what they enjoy!

Guess what!  I read according to my mood.  And my reading is 90% in the romance genre as a whole, but exploring a wide range of subgenres.  I do venture out of romance as well, at times.  Sometimes I enjoy a simple and fluffy well written romance story.  Others, I may be looking for an emotionally charged erotic romance.  I have a passion for figuring things out and can’t say no to a good thriller.  I even feel the need to read a biography or personal growth book from time to time.  Other times, I want a book to twist my insides, tear my heart out and take me on a roller coaster ride that I didn’t see coming.  I often want to get lost in a magical world where our normal rules don’t apply.  So why is ANY of that a bad thing?  First of all, how are all those things generalized as smut?  And why is there a preconceived idea that those stories are just the same idea told over and over?  Then, can’t we say the same thing for crime novels?  It’s such a stupid statement!

I admit I feel that this view of the industry is often reinforced by the behavior of some.  I love the book world and the book community we all have come to be a part of thanks to the internet that has brought us together.  Geeking out about my love of authors and discussing my latest book boyfriend is one of my favorite things!  I look forward every year to spending time with people from this community at book events, signings and conventions.  But here’s the thing.  We are also responsible for how people view us, and the fact is sometimes some people can make us look bad.  To have a cover model on national TV stating that models hook up with readers at RT is just unacceptable to me!  How can anyone take us seriously if we don’t start ourselves?

I happen to be friends with several cover models who take this business seriously.  They are making money by selling covers and they carry themselves professionally.  And yet, if the media portrays what they do as just a bunch of men stripping for crowds of rowdy women where apparently everything goes, then how can these men be taken seriously at their profession?

Us romance readers, we come with many interests.  Just like any other genre out there.  And we are a fun group too, that’s the best part about it!  But I think it’s time to first ask for some respect, the same given to readers/writers of any other genre (with the good and the bad).   It’s not okay for reporters to have a condescending tone when talking to romance readers or authors, maybe they’re just not the right person for that interview if that’s how they feel.  It’s demeaning to everyone involved in this billion dollar industry and just wrong on the media for shining the light on it that way.

I’m just tired of people being made fun of for the things they enjoy reading!  There is nothing wrong with reading to enjoy yourself, it’s about having fun!  And I really hope that those who keep thinking they are so much better than romance will give the genre a shot.  You never know what might hook you.  Because no, it’s not always the same story over and over again!

 

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Francesca

Blogger/Reviewer at Under the Covers Book Blog
I’m a 30 something sun lover living in the Big Apple (read New York).I’m a book and coffee addict and lover of all things elephants.

I get easily distracted by pictures of sexy guys and have tons of book boyfriends.I keep all my alpha males chained to my basement and guard them fiercely.*Back off bitches*I like to see Jason Momoa as a lot of those boyfriends, because ….. mmmmmmm JASON.MOMOA!

I’m a part time graphic designer (yes, everything you see on UTC has been done by me), run my husband's business from home and on a good day I’m a self appointed superwoman (she who can do it all).I love blogging with my girls and I couldn’t do it any other way!My first love is everything paranormal, but in the past few years I’ve re-learned to love contemporary romance.Every once in a while I like to mix things up with a historical romance, a steampunk or an LGBT book.Because I need variety to avoid book slumps.I don’t always need an HEA although I prefer one, and I love authors that can rip my heart out and make me ugly cry.
Francesca
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MartinaJoanitaAmy RDiana SobolewskiMelanie Simmons @mlsimmons Recent comment authors
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Trish Dechant
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Trish Dechant

I have had the honor to meet several authors during book conventions and have come away with my mind blown at just how smart these women are. Suzanne Brockmann Cherry Adair Darynda Jones Sherrilyn Kenyon Laura Kaye Lydia Michaels The list goes on…but these are the ones that immediately come to mind. My point is this–these woman are smart, savvy, business oriented women who craft well written stories. They do not write drivel. They deserve respect. They are talented and take their job seriously. On the plus side? They are approachable, likeable, and funny. They love their fans and treat… Read more »

Under the Covers Book Blog
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Under the Covers Book Blog

I completely agree with you!!

Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews
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Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

You nailed it! Our community is smart, and loyal, and sometimes feisty, always passionate! And really, most romances that are released today (at least most of the ones I have read) have a great story, characters that grow, emotional distress, mystery and also the romantic element and a HEA. Why would I not want to read about that? I have enough of war, poverty, starving children and nasty politicians on the news – I want to be swept away when I read, and romance definitely fits that best. So, because I have a degree in English literature, I’m not supposed… Read more »

Under the Covers Book Blog
Admin
Under the Covers Book Blog

Exactly! Just because we want to swoon a bit with our stories doesn’t mean our intelligence is subpar. And like you said, at least with the romance books I like to read, I have come across some really great stories and characters.

Lynnette
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Lynnette

Yes this exactly!! I have only been heavily reading books in the various romance genre for about 5 years before that I read a lot of sci-fi/fantasy genre novels. I used to love having a book on display but in recent years I have hid it more and more. I even considered not adding a friend on Goodreads because I felt ashamed by the books I have listed on there. Then I thought NO I have no reason to feel ashamed and added them. It doesn’t matter what we read it is more important that we are reading. It broadens… Read more »

Under the Covers Book Blog
Admin
Under the Covers Book Blog

*cheering you on!!*

Diana Sobolewski
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Diana Sobolewski

Bravo Ladies and thank you! Having recentl released an erotic romance novel got me thinking about certain misconceptions regarding the sub-genre and my work. Some of them below (people who hadn’t read the book): It must be very short, after all it’s about sex. How many different ways can you write about sex? – The paperback is 6 x 9 inches and 396 pages. The Kindle Edition is 465 pages. The sex scenes (many and varied) are pertinent to the story. Yes, there is a story and the sex scenes help move the story along. It can’t be very professional.… Read more »

Under the Covers Book Blog
Admin
Under the Covers Book Blog

I hate that stereotype like it’s just all sex all the time.

kathy valentine
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kathy valentine

you know its a bunch of bullshit how the writers are treated and i dont think its right at all!!! but if you think their treated bad try being a reader of these writers. for years women who read these romance novels have been made fun of called sluts and bad girls and been made to feel ashamed if they liked to read romance, or god forbide EROTICA!!!!i remember when ereaders and ipads and kindle came out i dont know how many women said to me . well now no body will know what im reading so i can read… Read more »

Under the Covers Book Blog
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Under the Covers Book Blog

Amen!

Elizabeth
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Elizabeth

I completely agree with you…and many authors have advanced degrees or even have degrees from ivy league schools…so are they now less intelligent because they write romance novels? Um, no. I also read according to my mood and I love your comment ‘I’m feeling smarter today, so lets read a thriller’. Again, no, that’s not how it works. If I want to get to read a romance novel, in any sub genre, I will. Judge me all you want. I know romance readers/writers are intelligent, passionate people. That’s all that matters to me.

Under the Covers Book Blog
Admin
Under the Covers Book Blog

And I love that we have been able to all come together through blogs and social media to help others know that it’s ok and not worry about the ones that judge.

Timitra
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Timitra

I couldn’t have said it any better! Thank you Francesca!

Jennifer @ The Book Nympho
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Jennifer @ The Book Nympho

Did a rant post a while back… I was getting my car serviced when an old woman asked me “What are you reading?” I tell her, THEN CAME YOU by Jill Shalvis. She then tells me she’s not heard of the book or author. I tell her it’s a romance. Then I get the judgmental look and she says, “Well, at least you are reading.” REALLY?! I almost cussed an old woman out. REALLY?! At least I’m reading. I wish I had told her it was erotica to see the look of scandal on her face. Then she starts talking… Read more »

Martina
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Martina

I love your responses to that woman!

llaph
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llaph

I will admit that before 2007–when I lost my eye-sight—I was one of those people that thought that way. I only read sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. I shied away from romance books because the infamous “they” said that they weren’t good books and the people who wrote them shouldn’t be taken seriously. Nowadays the percentage of romances—or books written by women all together—I do read is about 95%. I know from reading how some romance authors interact with their fan base that … omg these women are smart, and nice, and aren’t “harlots of Satan.” The authors that Trish dechant… Read more »

Sophia Rose
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Sophia Rose

Yep, felt the stigma and had the argument before. Guess the cover model thing and readers getting wild is probably true for some, but generalizing across the board is never a good idea. That reporter/interviewer wanted to go sensational, but hate to break it to them, slamming romances has been going on for several centuries. Nothing new or sensational there. Ask Jane Austen because back in the day it was reading/writing novels of any genre that got you slammed as a non-intellectual. 😉

Melanie Simmons @mlsimmons
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Melanie Simmons @mlsimmons

I had this discussion with my mother just this week. She couldn’t believe that I read romance. I told her that there are many kinds of romance. I read mostly PNR and romantic suspense, once I explained that most of my romance books have a lot of action and suspense, then she realized why I liked them. I don’t always tell people that I read romance, not because I’m ashamed, but because I don’t always want to go into deep discussion explaining to them how many different kinds of romance there is. Sometimes I do. Depends on my time available… Read more »

Diana Sobolewski
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Diana Sobolewski

As an author of erotic romance, I have so enjoyed these posts and am appreciating romance readers even more (if that is possible, as I have always had huge respect already). For many of the reasons mentioned by you wonderful ladies, the heroine in my next book, who is a supporting character in my newly released book, just happens to be stunning AND CEREBRAL (degree and all) … And guess what? She is the author of celebrated erotic romance novels and her readers are intelligent accomplished women! Ha … ha … ha!!!

Amy R
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Amy R

Great post, my job can be stressful at times and I love to kick back with a romance and relax. I also love that I am able to listen to audio books at work and when I know a day might be bad I can pick something funny to listen to and I think it helps my productivity.

Joanita
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Joanita

Perfectly said! I couldn’t agree more. It’s awful how people judge you because you read romance.