For a romance novel to function successfully prevalent to its genre and be pertinent to feminist literature as well; more women-centric storylines must be developed where they are not portrayed just as objects.
Romance is most probably the most popular fiction genre of literature encompassing a storyline that may be spiritual, mysterious, or adventurous exhibiting bravery and strong values both social and moral. The subject genre is confused with the love interest storylines in popular culture where the writers have limitations with their imaginations. Romance is a very complex term to be defined and most commonly it may refer to the trends of certain emotions, sentiments, feelings, or behaviors prevalent in non-platonic relationships. The term “Romance” becomes harder to be defined in literature as anciently it was considered as a language of composition however in modern writings it is more content based rather than language based.
There was another misconception about the romance genre as it was considered inherently a feminist genre however a better understanding proves that it is not a feminist genre at all. Feminism predominately may be defined as a term that encompasses the mindset of supporting and advocating women’s rights by discarding societal oppression. With the advent of humankind; women’s rights have always been a subject of matter. In the modern world; the term is rather unanswered so far as the polarity among individuals whether male or female is unprecedented. Many support the term feminism while others portray a self-denial stance on such a subject.
As the romance genre has not been successful in incorporating feminist literature to the fullest; the following few problems being faced by it are significantly subjected to be addressed adequately.
- The novelists have triggered the women to be involved in a variety of relationships with diverse personalities by portraying the characters of attractive men. It subjects the imaginations of the women that the aftermath of getting married to different men would be devastating.
- In more sentimental or emotional storylines; social matters such as being involved in extra-marital relations are portrayed. It portrays the consequences of such sexual and social transgressions more offensively.
- The unprecedented premise of such tender fiction is concomitant with the fact that women not only anticipate taking greater control of their lives but also make clever judgments on all the men who entered their lives.
- Many storylines acknowledge the fact that married life can be aggrieved, dissatisfied, or unhappy either implicitly or explicitly way. It also propels women to find another way around to avoid disaster by allowing other prospective men to enter their lives to make the relevant balance not only in them but also in the whole society.
- Before getting married; the young women worked outside the homes in different positions. Many middle-class women are working as teachers or nurses while the ones with lower income scales are subjected to work as housekeepers or on wages in the factories. Such a scenario pushes them to be indulged in more fantasies to meet a perfect man.
- In earlier times; women would be joined to perform certain tasks such as sewing or baking, as all the women would work one lady from the group was supposed to read any novel loud most commonly a romantic one. These group readings would be followed by general discussions on various topics. The most commonly used the gossiping about one’s love interest or romantic inclinations. Other than these novels being part of the regular life of the republican women; the discourse of the romantic fiction was made contiguous to their lifestyle well incorporated with significant pleasures.
It is pertinent to the fact that the substantial amount of content to exhibit the presence of sentimental fiction translated into the lives of American women in the 18th century is not very different from the roles played in the romance genre in the lives of modern women. Although the social concepts have changed with time as the pre-marital sexual relationship is no more a taboo however both in sentimental fiction and romance genre the issues women face in their relationships negotiate the fact that romance does not offer feminist platforms.
For a romance novel to function successfully prevalent to its genre and be pertinent to feminist literature as well; more women-centric storylines must be developed where they are not portrayed just as objects. Such an issue is relevant arising many questions with an example of Shay Savage’s book “Transcendence”. The book has been appreciated by many in the romance community. The book is advocating domesticity coherently as the following lines confirm: “she is so beautiful-her smooth hair and her deep eyes and her creamy, pale skin. I don’t like the noises she makes, but she looks to be able enough, even if she is small. I briefly wonder if she is fertile and if she would bear a child who looks like me” while a such representation of women is a hindrance to developing romance a genre encompassing the feminist piece of art categorically.
There is no doubt that we also observe that romance differs from other genres by breaking gender or sexual norms by introducing more erotic concepts. Such narratives allow sexual engagement beyond monogamy, heterosexuality, or other social norms restricted by society however the feminist representation in the mentioned narratives is questionable. Another issue is that forced seduction is considered very popular in the genre however many readers found such manifestation as very unromantic or disturbing. To make a romantic novel coherent to both subjects to translate its genre successfully and interpret feminist literature; more innovative ideas are required. The new ideas can reiterate that women are the heroes and not some objects fighting for their own identity.