Has the romance genre embraced feminism with strong, muscular arms? That's the question explored in an Atlantic article about how romance novels and feminism became unlikely bedfellows. Writer Jessica Luther explains that in the 1970s, feminists were challenging the patriarchy, while romance novels played into it. Today, however, many younger authors write while taking the gains of feminism for granted.
A heroine who makes choices, an undermining of gender expectations, and women enjoying sex for pleasure are all characteristics of "feminist" romance novels. Still, today's authors, like Cecilia Grant, do admit in the article that bodice-rippers and the women's movement don't always go together seamlessly. In the article, Grant explains, "A romance novel, by definition, privileges the romantic relationship above other aspects of the characters' lives. And in a culture that already bombards women with the message that finding and keeping a man is their most important goal in life, it can be difficult to make a case for romance as a feminist-friendly medium."
Even so, in many modern romance novels, a woman is the subject of sex, rather than the object, and that should be considered a positive advancement and worthy example. So this National Book Month, get a taste of romance novels with feminist flair.