“…once women begin thinking about sexual pleasure, things get particularly terrifying. It begins with sexual parity and ends… where? What will women want after orgasmic equality? Equal opportunity? Equal pay? Equality, full stop? (Answer: All of the above.)”
Sarah MacLean’s article in Bustle, “Bashing Romance Novels is Just Another Form of Slut-Shaming” gave me life. She looks at why this genre is looked down upon, and quite honestly, feared.
I’ve been telling stories since before I could write. A lot of the stories I’ve written since my teen years have been romances, of varying heat levels. Writing nourishes my soul, but I’ve been reluctant to share my most powerful work.
Why? Good girls don’t read or write about sex. Truly good girls don’t even think about it.
But there’s a problem with that concept: Sex is important. Sex is power. Our approach to sex and our own sexuality is formed by and informs how we view the world and exist within it. MacLean put words to something I’ve felt, and need to express through my writing:
It’s very difficult to be fulfilled when we reject or are ashamed of part of who we are. I want my readers to see themselves in my work – both who they already are, and who they could be. I hope my readers are entertained, but also inspired when my characters aren’t ashamed of enjoying sex, and believe that their sexual partner’s pleasure is important.
All genres aren’t for everyone. But it’s important to recognize that each genre has something for someone. When we mock a category of art, we may discourage someone from finding the inspiration they need in their own lives. We’re also saying something about our own constructs. In mocking romance, are we saying that a woman who embraces her sexuality should be ashamed? Are we saying that women should squeeze themselves into a mold that accepts less? Less curiosity, less pleasure, less self-determination?
I think we’re beyond that, don’t you?
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