Thursday, July 5, 2007


(Sorry, sorry for the delay. (It took me five goes to type "sorry" correctly.) I cannot type tonight. There has been Stuffage going on, you see. But at least it's still Thursday.)

Yesterday was the Fourth of July, Independence Day here in America. You might have noticed that our emblem here at The Spiced Tea Party, the flag-waving, bared-bosom heroine is no doubt celebrating her independence -- although I cannot remember the entire painting (Jane can chime in with the source), but definitely has to do with the French Revolution and maybe even Bastille Day.

It’s an odd thing, independence: bare-breasted women waving French flags, women burning bras and the like... is writing erotic romance antithetical to that?

I mean, surely to write a romance, erotic or not, is abandoning all our feminist idealism and settling for co-dependence with a MAN for God’s sake!

OK, you know I don’t believe that, right??? For there is undoubtedly independence in writing and reading romance, especially erotic romance. In exploring fantasies, a woman can, through reading, safely discover her likes and dislikes when it comes to sex. She can take a bit of the boldness from her favorite heroine and share those fantasies with her partner. This is women writing for women, making it okay for women to want what they want (and how they want it).

One of my favorite fan emails came from a woman who thanked me for writing SHOW ME, adding that it added spice to her sex life with her husband. She thanked the Lord for my gift, which thrilled me to pieces.

One of the reasons I’m asking is that I’ve always been a dyed-in-the-wool feminist. Ever since I was a wee thing and nearly killed myself and two friends by demanding that we girls were just as capable as the boys of carrying the TV set back to the store room. That TV was *heavy*, but I finally got our English teacher to cave and let us do it.

Anyway, as a feminist, I don’t have trouble writing romances, just as I don’t have trouble with women choosing to stay home with the kids as a career. The whole point of feminism (as a writer friend of mine, Elizabeth Bear recently made much better than I ever will) is that it’s given us choices. And that, as erotic romance writers is what we provide our readers. Choices.

So, an the “happily ever after, loads of sex with men with bulging man-tittys” fantasy be a pathway to independence and happiness, or slavery to social and sexual norms we can never live up to?

(OK, so some of us don’t care if we never get the mantitty aspect of the fantasy.)



Eden Bradley said...

Well, man-titties aside, I don't think romance, or erotic romance, are in any sort of direct opposition to feminism. Especially erotic romance. For me, the fact that this genre is so enormously popular among women right now is a direct result of a sort of evolution in how we perceive ourselves as women. We are much more accepting, on a societal level as well as an individual level, of ourselves as sexual beings. It's always been fine for men (from the dashing rake to the rock star)but now it's fine for us, too, and I like it!
I write dirty, dirty books. I have for over twenty years, and I'm grateful there is finally a market for my work. If we, as women, still spent our lives limiting ourselves to what other people approved of, no matter how narrow-minded the view, how many of us would even have gone to college? Played baseball? Pursued corporate careers? And I certainly wouldn't have a writing career.
And just because you mentioned it, I'm a bit star-struck now that you've mentioned you know Elizabeth Bear! Anne Groell at Bantam turned me on to her work recently, and I think she's freakin' brilliant!
Okay-I'm tired and hope I'm making sense...aside from the fan-girl gush. *G*

Celia May Hart said...

Bear is pretty awesome. I have to pick up "Whiskey & Water", but I think I might have to wait until I get back from National.


Good points on not being so worried on what others think!

Pam Rosenthal said...

I agree with everything you guys have said, but I still think we have a long way to go. As do a lot of men. For example, I think the mantitty aesthetic reveals a similar erotic immaturity as a lot of the Playboy stuff I grew up with, for example.

Not to knock erotic immaturity completely, because eroticism is also where we get to indulge some interesting primitive parts of ourselves. But more diversity, less compulsory heterosexuality, less conformism on the part of what publishers think people might want would also be nice.