I so dislike romance novels. I dislike them for the same reason I dislike women’s magazines. They teach women that their value as a human being is directly connected with others, especially men
Women are taught to be submissive in these books. The latest series to drive this message home are the “Grey” books, but even light fare such as Christian or Amish fiction teaches the same thing. You aren’t anything unless you have a man.
These books in various ways are all about finding and keeping a man. Whether he is a doctor or a drug addict makes no difference. He’s male, and you must have him. Even if he is abusive, staying with him is better than being single.
Of course, people will say that it is just fiction. It doesn’t teach anything. But it does. It teaches what is “normal.”
The funny part is that men aren’t getting the same script. If they read fiction at all, they read science fiction or action novels, where women are afterthoughts, if they exist as characters at all.
How is a woman going to become a strong, fully realized human beings if she has role models that tell her she only has value if she is a wife and/or mother?
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against those roles. They are perfectly valid and laudable. But they aren’t the only thing, and they sometimes aren’t the best thing.
Not every woman makes a good wife or mother, and it isn’t fair to make women feel guilty for not living up to that expectation when it doesn’t suit them.
There are also way too many books for women on how to find and keep a man, especially if she is over 35. I’ve not seen any similar books for men.
How come women have to do all the work? How come women are made to feel lesser than, or left out, if they don’t marry?
Part of it is economic. There aren’t that many jobs where a woman can support herself if she is single. The most common are teacher, nurse, and librarian. Sure, a woman could go into any field, but then she has another hurdle to overcome. There are a lot of social stereotypes that almost herd women into gender specific jobs. The jobs that fit the expected role or nature of women. Caregiver. Nurturer.
The interesting thing is that then there is an additional stigma attached to a woman who enters those fields and is single. It is assumed that she is a lesbian. While the stigma is lesser these days than in the past, it is still there and has to be contended with.
And once again, she is being defined by her relationship with a man, or in this case a lack of relationship. Since she does not have sex with a man, she is seen as other, and subsequently, as lesser.