Thursday, July 17, 2008

another defense of romance

A feminist friend of mine emailed me to say that the reason women read romances is because they want to own powerful men. That, I thought, was kinda simplistic.

I like romances but I think I like them because they are about families joining together and people coming together in spite of their emotional issues. Most of the romance writers I know have had such crappy lives so I don't think they want powerful men per se. They want a normal life with happiness. Just my opinion, though.

One friend married her husband because of some time limit and legal and naturalization issues. These two hadn't thought of each other romantically, mind you, but she married the guy and suffered for about twenty years. They've now been married about 30 years and at last he is treating her nicely and with love. She writes great romances.

Other friend met, an army brat, met a non-aggressive guy. Before they married he told her he and his brother had been having sex together from childhood. She married him anyway. She writes great romance.

So I think that it's possible that those who write romances have had to deal with powerful men and are working through their issues with powerful men by having men with degrees of power in their story. It's an exploration, not what they really want. And maybe that's the same thing for women who read them. They have suffered because of powerful men and they just want to understand.

And as for me... I have always wanted a large family. I grew up separated from my mother yet at the same time because of how the Jamaican yards and houses are built, there was always a large group of people everywhere. Either renters from my grandmother or aunt. And even in Brooklyn I lived in walk-ups so the entire building knew each other and were always walking into each other's apartment. I won't say what it was like being raised by a Methodist minister with weird sexual issues. But I will say the entire situation kinda oriented me toward non-aggressive white men. So when I met my husband with his large group of immediate and extended Irish Catholic family... I knew I was in love. But the effect of marrying into a family with a mother-in-law who hated me...and then having a sickly kid for 18 years of my marriage was to make my life solitary and so my only present escape is to create families and re-create families in my stories. Plus my only hope is to have grand children and that my son will marry into a large family -- hopefully a bi-racial family but am not picky-- and I will at last have the family I always wanted.

That's what romance is about for me, I think: getting into families. It's not a simplistic genre at all. It's about working out our pain. -C
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