Don't Get Me Riled Up, Y'all

Hi Fierce Friends!
Well, last weekend I attended an awesome SF/F literary conference in Austin, Texas, where I sat on two panels, one for Paranormal Romance, and one about Vampires. They were both a lot of fun. What's amazing is that this conference, which started in 1978, has now included Paranormal Romance in their line-up! To be honest, SF/F conferences are a little, shall we say, a little snobbish when it comes to anything related to the romance genre. So I was thrilled to see they were opening their minds a little to this sub-genre (can something this big even be called SUB anymore?) this year. However, on one of the panels a reference was made to romance that I have heard a million times, but that still upsets me. It was the term, "bodice rippers".

Now, back in the 70s, when romances first started taking off as a genre, there really were such things as '"bodice rippers". Some of Kathleen Woodiwiss and Rosemary Rogers are good examples of this kind of "rape fantasy" romance that was so popular at this time. Of course, I have to also say that those books were extraordinary, even if they did feature women who allowed men to dominate their lives, at least sexually. However, tihngs began to change, probably in the early 90s, maybe earlier, when wimpy heroines became a thing of the past, and while Alpha males are still popular, the heroine now gives as good as she takes in rough and tumble relationships. The hero/heroines in romance have definitely changed.

Now if someone has this opinion (that all romances are bodice rippers) and they read romances, then I would have to respect that, (while I would still question it) however, my experience has been that people who say this do NOT read romances, at least not present day romances. It's amazing to me that someone can disparage an entire genre without reading it. I would never make a disparaging remark about a genre I had never read, but it happens all the time with romance.

So did I vent my ire at the con? Nope. I tried to be nice, I hope that I was. This person was entitled to her opinion, even if it was coming from an uninformed position. But I did point out that "bodice rippers"were from the 70s, and not relevant to today's romances. The person insisted that they were still the same. I said, "I disagree." I did say that romances are like any other genre -- there are good authors and not-so-good authors. Some romances are not that great. Some are amazing. It just depends on who you're reading. In my own humble opinion. One thing for sure -- romances make up the largest sales in paperback books of ANY genre! So there! :)

But I did have a great time, and appreciated the people on the panels who DID have open minds. One of them was Cynthia Leitich Smith, a YA author who loves paranormal romances and wrote to tell me so! So thanks, Cyn! Check out her website, ya'll!

Okay, this was sort of a vent blog, but I guess the real underlying message here is: If you meet me somewhere, please don't call romances bodice rippers! :)

Cheers ! And Keep Writing!






2 comments:

Margay said...

I totally agree. I've been reading romances since the, ahem, seventies and I can see where they've definitely changed. I must say I'm shocked that it was a woman who held this opinion - I thought it was just the men who disparaged the genre. I would love to know what this person's expertise was. What genre does she write in - is she a writer? I don't get it. It's like Romance is Fiction's disreputable cousin. Do we hear such disparaging talk about crime writing or mysteries as a whole genre? No. I don't think it's fair.

Tess Mallory said...

My sentiments exactly! People don't seem to realize that saying romances are "bodice rippers" would be like saying, for instance, to a Science-fiction writer that they write "those space bug books". Thanks for your comment Margay. Oh, and the writer in question writes SF/Fantasy. I have to say she was more cordial later on during the panel. But that phrase just really irks me. sigh.