Welcome to our KickAss Blogger for today, Jackie Horne. Jackie keeps her eye on equality and spreads the love over at Romance Novels for Feminists.
Tell us a little about yourself, what you do, and why.
I’m a New England girl born and bred (even after enduring this crazy winter!), a PhD-carrying scholar of children’s literature, and an avid romance reader. I’ve published articles and a book on children’s literature, and have edited two volumes of scholarly essays on the classic children’s books The Secret Garden and The Wind in the Willows.
How, you ask, does a children’s literature scholar come to write about romance? By way of Twilight, of course. I was to give a talk at a conference about the series, and wanted to do some research about the romance genre, to see how the series conformed to (or resisted) romance conventions. During that research, though, I got a little sidetracked by an article by Dawn Heinecken: “Changing Ideologies in Romance Fiction.” Heinecken argued the romance genre had changed radically since the days when passive Harlequin heroines waited to be rescued and made whole by dominant, overbearing, and often violent alpha male heroes. Romance novels being written in the late 1990s, Heinecken argued, had begun to incorporate feminist discourses, running “counter to the traditionally ‘masculine’ ideology of competition, hierarchy, and autonomy” (150). I’d been an avid, if often guilty, reader of Harlequins during my teen years, but had given them up after my Women’s Studies classes in college helped me to realize just how sexist most of them were. But Heinecken’s article reignited my curiosity about the genre. Was it possible for a romance novel to be feminist?
I picked up a historical romance by Loretta Chase, and haven’t stopped reading romance since. I discovered that the genre had changed, or at least, some romances being published were no longer dishing out sexism by the shovelful. You can still find plenty of romances with alpha heroes ready to dominate sweet but passive heroines who can only find their worth if they are loved by/stalked by an overwhelmingly virile man. But some romance writers had begun to experiment with less conventional visions of masculinity and femininity, and more equitable power dynamics between romantic partners. Few review journals, though, had space for, or interest in, discussing feminism in individual romance novels. Some bloggers might mention feminism in a line or two, but no blog focused specifically on the feminist aspects of early 21st century romance fiction. Thus, my blog, Romance Novels for Feminists was born.
I’ve been blogging since the fall of 2012. I try to post twice a week. On Tuesdays, I review one or a handful of novels, exploring the ways in which it/they express feminist values or ideas. On Fridays, I write more generally about the connections and conflicts between feminism and genre romance. I love to hear back from readers, whether they agree with my ideas or take issue with them. And I really love when readers offer suggestions for future romance reading. Come join in the conversation!
Now for what you really want to know. Those Rapid Fire questions dear to the heart of any KickAss Chick.
Favorite Things: Beautiful wood furniture. Dragonflies. Screwball comedies from the 1930s. Cats.
Pet Peeves: Alpha-hole romance heroes. TSTL romance heroines. Clunky, repetitive, and/or grammatically-challenged writing.
Addictions: Salted caramel gelato. The sound of the ocean at night. Romance novels with unforgettable characters.
Kick Ass Superpower: Able to both analyze romance novels AND still take pleasure from them
Your best book boyfriend:
I’m not really a one-night or one-weekend kind of a gal. So here are a few book boyfriends I might dream about for the long haul:
Wulfric Bedwyn, Duke of Bewcastle, of Mary Balogh’s Slightly Dangerous
Christy Morrell, of Patricia Gaffney’s To Love and Cherish
Viscount Simon Iddesleigh, of Elizabeth Hoyt’s The Serpent Prince
Elijah, Duke of Beaumont, of Eloisa James’ This Duchess of Mine
Sir Mark Turner, of Courtney Milan’s Unclaimed
Nick, of Rachel Cohn and David Levithan’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Adam Wilde, of Gayle Forman’s If I Stay and Where She Went
Finnikin, of Malina Marchetta’s Lumatere Chronicles
Eugenides, of Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series
Quinn Jennings, of Victoria Dahl’s Start Me Up
Almost any Laura Florand hero
What a great list of BBs!
Thanks for stopping by!