Unless your head is buried in the proverbial sand (or real sand if you’re attempting to get in touch with your inner ostrich), you can’t possibly have missed the outpouring of strength that is the #MeToo movement. Celebrities and soccer moms have met through a simple hashtag to form an unlikely alliance and create a revolution. In ever increasing numbers women are choosing to break the silence and find their voices. I have to be honest, this is an amazing time to be a woman. The strength we’ve always known we possess is now brightly and beautifully on display.
But what the heck does that have to do with romance novels?
While reading is definitely an escape from the harshness of the world and the depression that is the nightly news, the fictional world isn’t free from a burden of responsibility. Yes, we want to read our Prince Charming who whisks his everyday gal off to tropical locales and shower her with sparkly baubles and shopping sprees. All things that, for most of us, are not part of our reality.
Something I love to see right along with those excessively indulgent heroes is a strong heroine. Romance authors such as Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole, Tessa Dare, the divine “Miss Bev” (Beverly Jenkins), and numerous others have taken the simpering leading ladies of old (i.e. romances novels from the 70’s and beyond) who only offer questionable consent and transformed them into the kind of woman we want our daughters to be. Vivacious, outspoken, and determined.
For those who love alpha males, I want to be clear (because I love good leading men alpha, beta, or that newest cinnamon roll label) making a female character that knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go for it doesn’t mean she can’t be paired with an equally assertive male. Two alphas creating a relationship? Holy cannoli, someone pass me the water bottle. That takes heat to a whole new, and wonderful, level. Just as in the real world, elevating the woman does not mean we need to minimize the man.
Reading about heroines who initiate sex, who take charge of their birth control options, who aren’t ashamed of their sexuality elevates the story to a place that is empowering to me. And I’ve gotta admit, nothing is hotter than a man who checks in and seeks emphatic consent, not simply a “yeah, okay, I guess.”
To all those kickass romance authors out there proving an alpha male doesn’t need to be an alpha asshole, cinnamon rolls are just as delicious as the leading men as they are in the breakfast pastry, and women are more powerful than can ever be quantified, I raise my glass to you.
To my fellow romance readers, let’s support these writers not just through buying their books, but also by leaving them reviews or contacting them directly to share just how much it means to see strong women highlighted on the page just as they should be in daily life.
by Amelia Foster