Two days ago was the first Valentine’s Day since the #metoo movement began. This point was made on Real Time With Bill Maher last Friday (February 9) in anticipation of the 14th.
As a romance writer and a human being, I heartily agree with Maher’s points about love: we’ve spent our whole history as humans saying that love is magical, serendipitous, that we can’t explain why it works or predict who will turn us on. We can’t legislate love, and we don’t want to rule it out of existence.
Right. Weiss responds with the idea that the conversations around the #metoo movement have been exclusively about consent and pain and that what we should also be talking about is intimacy, love and romance. She is happy to imagine this as a moment when we can “revisit the sexual revolution.”
At this point in the conversation, April Ryan, a White House correspondent and panelist on Maher’s show, throws in the word courtship. Maher picks up the idea that courtship involves pursuit. Ryan responds with “courtship is pursuit with boundaries. You slowly let them in.” She admits, “I want to be courted.”
Weiss agrees that courtship has become “a dirty word” – when it shouldn’t be.
At this point, all I can do is wave my hand and call out, “Yoohoo, #metoo movement, over here!”
While y’all over there want to revisit the sexual revolution, we romance writers have been visiting it all along. The first issue of Ms. magazine appeared in 1972. That’s the same year as the publication of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s The Flame and the Flower, the first romance to open the bedroom door.
Forty-five years ago romance writers walked through that open door and began to explore intimacy, love, romance and, yes, courtship and, oh yes, women’s sexuality. We have generally been scorned and ridiculed for doing so, and if not openly mocked then at least dismissed … which is exactly why a liberal feminist such as Bari White (who I found completely engaging!) could imagine this is as the moment to “revisit” an emotional and sexual territory we know very well.
Over the years so many of my friends have suggested things like, “Why don’t you say you write historical fiction / women’s fiction / contemporary fiction” – as if anything other than identifying myself by the dread label ‘romance writer’ would do.
I always resisted that move because it felt like being in a closet, and now this is the moment I’ve been waiting for. You want to read about/learn about/ experience falling in love and intimacy in narratives that involve courtship in its various historical forms and flavors? Read my romances.
See also: Sexual Misconduct: Tragedy and Comedy
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen