Or rather, that slippery little myth of the ‘good girl’. I recently received a communique from what I assume is a very well-meaning, if hopelessly, dangerously misguided gentleman who wanted to let me know that the books we were publishing were problematic, because they didn’t feature ‘good girls’. He wondered if we could find some stories about that kind of girl, because that is what he wanted to read (and, presumably, what he wanted other people to read).
I think the most terrifying part about this email is that in no way did this gentleman appear to be a woman-hater. He was very considerate, very measured in his request. He probably likes kittens and Christmas and helps old ladies across the street.
He also equates the value of a woman with what she does with her vagina.
It’s this kind of attitude that supports my belief that romance novels are among the most subversive literatures out there. While we’re still dealing with leaders who believe that women are not meritorious enough to hold positions of power, in romance novels, no matter their walk of life or choices, women emerge as strong, self-contained characters that lead their own lives, make their own choices, and, yes, control their own sexuality, outside of what others may label it. Women get to be the heroes; their stories get to be told. This is the danger and value of romance novels, and it can’t be underestimated.
Rather than pick apart this statement any further, I’m going to provide the following message, instead, from Tessa Dare, an historical romance writer, and remind all of our authors, readers, and friends that no one gets to define what being ‘good’ is, except you.