Reclaiming Romance One Poll and Cover at a Time
Here we go again, another insulting reference to the romance genre. Or is it? Click on the following link to participate in an MSNBC poll about reading romance. Do you or don't you? http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25191970/
Last I checked, romance was winning. What many romance writers and fans objected to in this poll was the language, referring to romances as "bodice-rippers." I don't mind the term too much. It's certainly colorful. But I suppose it's a derogatory term for a romance, especially an historical romance, where perhaps the history isn't exactly accurate and the heroine gets ravished by the hero every ten pages or so (hence the ripped bodice). I remember I was just thrilled to be able to pronounce the word "bodice" correctly after all the historical romances I read (no small feat when you're 13-years old!).
Maybe romance writers should reclaim the term "bodice ripper" as our own. Sort of like the movement to reclaim the word "chick" and how younger women began referring to themselves as "girlz." Can't hurt you if you take the phrase and re-form it.
But I have to tell you what really bugged me recently. A few weeks ago I attended the Book Expo America at the L.A. Convention Center. It was wild and wooly and overwhelming. I walked by one table and noticed something about plain covers and romance. So I went closer to have a look and talk to the two people sitting at the table. They were selling plain covers or covers that had classics on the front. The idea was to cover your less than stellar reading material with this faux cover. Really reading Secrets Volume 21? No worries. Slap on a fake cover that proclaims to the world that you're reading A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Yuck! and Yikes!
Of course they were advertising their covers primarily to hide romances. So I challenged them on their little scheme, announcing that I was a romance writer and didn't appreciate people implying there was something wrong with reading romance. They back-pedaled and told me that the covers were helpful if you happened to be reading "Sex and the Single Pearl" (not really) and you had children at home and didn't want them to see the covers. Snort. My two boys (10 and 12) have seen my covers, and they just roll their eyes. I made nice with the two fake-cover-sellers and went along my merry way. But really, would you want to date some guy or be friends with someone who's PRETENDING to read something they're not? What would happen if you were participating in this ruse and someone asked you, "So do you see Sydney Carton as a Christ-like figure?" If you're actually reading A Tale of Two Titties and not A Tale of Two Cities, how are you going to respond?
Weird stuff going on... Anyway, if you love reading romance, shout it loud and proud by responding to MSNBC's poll. (This is probably the most buzz MSNBC has generated since Chris Matthews got tingles up his thighs.)