Read on for a historical and personal perspective on the relationship between women's sexuality and the romance/erotica genres.
"Romance and erotica - a reflection of society and women's role within it?" by Jane Hunt
I have read romance since my teenage years and have been writing it on and off since then. Now a full time author, I write sensual romance in the paranormal/fantasy and suspense/thriller genres and avidly read and review all types of romance and erotica.
I grew up in England during the sixties and seventies. There is a notable difference in attitudes towards young women and their sexual relationships then and now in 21st century England.
My morality was called into question by numerous small minded individuals when I wanted to live with my boyfriend because 'good' girls like me didn't do that. So after a couple of years 'living in sin' as it was colloquially dubbed I got married at 21. Luckily for me my partner and I were prepared to work at all aspects of our relationship and we're still together many years later but others were less fortunate.
The escalating divorce rate of the eighties onwards must in part be attributed to young women getting married to preserve their reputations often to the wrong person. The romance stories I read at this time reflected this prejudice and sex outside of the marital home was absent.
The exception to this was the 'blockbuster' now more aptly named 'bonkbuster' novels of the seventies onwards. These novels looked at romantic and sexual relationships from a new perspective. The women although often from poor or abusive backgrounds were strong and career driven. They proactively looked for what they wanted from men rather than waiting to be asked. These books were far more sexually explicit than the usual romance of the time. The settings were glitzy and often depraved but they provided escapism and role models for women and most were runaway successes.
In the two paranormal romances I have written my heroines are sometimes naive but never weak or subservient and they reflect both myself when I was younger and many women I have met over the years.
The current variety in romance and erotica reflects society's diversity and the wide range in both age and beliefs of its readers. The popularity and immediacy of the E book has allowed romance readers to sample all kinds of books and if the book you want to read isn't there you can always write it.
Romance and erotica are important fictional genres for writers because they provide a platform for self expression. They are also a way for likeminded individuals to connect through book clubs and on line groups to share ideas, beliefs and receive support. The rise of self published books in this genre is significant because it allows more ideas to reach more people, without the filter of multinational publishers.
Thanks for inviting me to express my ideas Jeanie.
My pleasure, Jane! Thank you so much for your contribution to this discussion. :)
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