Even Blockbuster Romance Authors Are Frequently “Belittled”

by Samantha Baumgartner

A new study indicates shame and embarrassment are common emotions in the field—composed of more than 90 percent women—simply because romance novels are seen as silly trash for women.

Despite romance novelists’ hard work and dedication to their craft, it seems this negative reputation is here to stay. According to sociologists Jennifer Lois and Joanna Gregson, “The genre is written by women, for women, about women – and that’s where the stigma comes from.”

It’s unfortunate for these writers to deal with backlash despite being highly successful amongst the target audience. This leads to shame on the reader’s side, as well. According to an article published by The New York Times, readers will use covers to hide what they are reading or download the novels on Kindle.

Why should a woman feel ashamed to read something that brings her enjoyment? The Romance Writers of America non-profit believes it’s because the formula doesn’t allow enough creativity – romance novelists are printing multiple books a year, and this process takes the originality out of the equation.

Still yet, novels of the same print caliber but different genre aren’t receiving the same kind of backlash. Gregson says, “Romance writers say they’re often asked intrusive questions about their own sex lives and their research methods. Nobody assumes that men who write mystery do research by killing people. You would never ask a Sci-Fi writer if they build robots, if they go to outer space. Women are assumed to write only what they know.”

Most recently, the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy by E.L. James has received more favorable reviews than not – it poses the question: how does a romance novel become something positive in society?

Gregson and Lois explore the topic in more depth through their article, “Romance Writers and Gendered Sexual Stigma.” A full, free copy of the text is available on Sage Journals.

Why do you think our society frowns upon romance novels?

Original article via The New York Times.

Photo via International Business Times.

Read more on Bust.com:

Beyond The Bodice-Ripper: The Feminist Romance Novel?

Entering The World Of Smut: Hate-Reading Fifty Shades Of Grey

Fifty Shades Is Basic, But Seeing It With Girlfriends Is A Great Time

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