This morning, I read an interesting article on romance novels and feminism. It’s a good piece, with lots of insights into the genre and the market, and it got me thinking about how much romance novels (and erotic novels) have changed just in the time I’ve been alive. I started reading romance novels with my grandmother; she had huge bags of them that she traded with friends, or that my grandfather picked up at garage sales.
Then, when I was maybe in middle school, I stopped and started reading science fiction and fantasy. Why? Partly because those were worlds and characters that I could identify with more closely. The transition wasn’t a conscious choice, so much as it was a movement toward something that held more interest for me. When I found women protagonists (although I didn’t know the word then–I would have used “heroes”), they did cool things, they didn’t wait around for someone else to save them from society’s constraints, they didn’t give up their career or their dreams, and they weren’t afraid of their desires (carnal or otherwise).