Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Romance Genre According To M&B

I received an email from Chiles Samaniego (contributor of The Saint Of Elsewhere from PGS2). He sent me a link about Mills & Boon, that line of books that focuses on romance. It might be an interesting read for those of you who want to know more about the romance genre. Mills & Boon: 100 Years Of Heaven Or Hell? The article shows the viewpoints of someone who loves the line, and someone who doesn't.

Here's a quote from the "love" side:

"The women who populate these books come from as disparate and wide-ranging economic situations as the women who read them. To say they are all mindless romantic illiterates yearning to be saved is lazy ignorance."

And here's a quote from the "not" side:

"Challenging the low conviction rate for rape certainly seems more urgent than trashing novels that perpetuate gender stereotypes, but there is no doubt that such novels feed directly into some women's sense of themselves as lesser beings, as creatures desperate to be dominated."

Coming from a family with one strong lady (my mother--the rest of us are guys), and being married to another strong lady, who also happens to have five sisters who are also no shrinking violets, I believe I am now, at nearly forty-years old, experienced enough not to say anything disparaging about females (at the risk of getting physically hurt, along with a slew of other kinds of hurt).

So nothing from me about Mills & Boon, because my knee-jerk male reaction belongs in the "not" side. So I'm reining my thoughts in because, well, those books sell, those stories sell, so they must be hitting a nerve with a certain segment of readers. But I really have no right to say anything because I have no experience reading any of their titles. Can't really criticize what you don't know anything about, right? (Like I said here, you can't criticize The Golden Compass movie till you've seen it).

After reading the above link, I asked my wife what she thought of the Mills & Boon line.

"It's like 'comfort food,'" she said.


"You know, brainless reading. I read them in high school. Even in college."


"Yes. Why?"

"Um, nothing," I said quickly, sotto voice. "Go on."

"I read them in high school. Even read them inbetween tests during the bar exams," she said. "Stress release."

" like them?"

"They're formulaic, and present an overly-romanticized impression of the male-female relationship. But they're nice to just read with a shut-down brain. Mindless reading. Fun, even if you know where it's going, what's going to happen, how it'll end, what all the characters' personalities are like..."


"Why? Do you have a Mills & Boon type submission for PGS? Or are you trying to write a romance ala Mills & Boon?"

"I've never read one of their books, so I wouldn't know if a submission was like their stories or not. And I'm not sure I could write something like that. I mean, when I get to the kissy-kissy scenes, I wouldn't know if what I'm going to write is romance, erotica, or outright porn."

"Knowing you, it's going to be porn."

"Ha ha. Funny. Really. It-is-to-laugh. Porn sells, you know."

"To brainless males like you."

"Just like your Mills & Boon, it's stress release."


Thanks for the link, Chiles!


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