Dita Parker

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sign O' The Times

Do you romance buffs remember a time when the hero expressed his undying love by punching the heroine in the face, or when a forced seduction scene was all force and no seduction?

No? You lucky things; I gave up on reading romance for a while after coming across those instances. I don't remember the titles or the authors but I distinctly remember two books, or rather the moments the heroes turned villains in my view.

They were contemporary romances, one starring the wealthy and arrogant and, as it came out, abusive type, and the other a sheik who turned out to be a rapist. The 'heroes' were profoundly sorry afterwards. They only did what they did out of love and desperation. I only wanted to perform a citizen's arrest.

I still have not forgiven them. When I next picked up a (contemporary) romance a good decade later, I hadn't forgotten those two, but to my relief their kind had become extinct sometime during the nineties. Good riddance, I said, and started enjoying reading romance again.

There are so many wonderful sub-genres these days; so much variety, so many versatile writers to choose from. The heroes may be alpha but the heroines are by no means beta, and I much prefer today's couples to the pairings of the days of yore.

Popular culture and media mold women's self-conceptions but I'm so glad to see the advances in the daily lives of women (be they huge leaps or baby steps) cross over to culture as well. Women still write to women about the marital abuse of women. It's important to do so. What is even more important is that there is no more mistaking who the villain is.

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