Saturday, September 02, 2006
Damsels in Distress
On one of the many loops that I belong to, a writer was talking about a Dear Abby column she'd read where a mother was concerned about her 14-year-old daughter reading romances. Apparently (and I haven't read the column to confirm this), at the end of the response, Abby stated: "Some might argue that the idealized depiction of romance, and women being 'rescued' by powerful, wealthy men, is more worrisome than the sex and eroticism."
This statement, of course, has caused a bit of a furor on the romance loops, but it got me to thinking. I've only been reading romance for about three years, having once upon a time been under the mistaken impression that they would be too "mushy" for my taste. (Who knew I was a closet romantic?)
When I read Abby's statement (and some of the responses to it on the loop), it made me realize how different romance novels must be now than they were in the past. Because these days, when I read a romance novel where a woman is in jeopardy, I always know one thing for certain: the hero is not going to swoop in and rescue her. Today's romance authors--and readers, one presumes--will not tolerate a heroine who needs rescuing. The hero can, of course, help her, but she takes an active role in getting herself out of whatever trouble she's in. And if the hero needs to be rescued himself, that's even better!
I think the strong female role models, particularly some of the kick-butt heroines we've seen on TV (think Buffy, or Sidney Bristow), have significantly changed the way the general public looks at women. And it shows just how much power we "entertainers" can have on the world at large.