Saturday morning I was drinking the first of my many cups of coffee and reading the newspaper. I’ve been reading DEAR ABBY since I first picked up a newspaper as a nine-year-old. I’ve both agreed and disagreed with her over the years. But it wasn’t until Saturday morning that I felt compelled to write to her.
Saturday’s letter was written by a mother who voiced concern that her fourteen-year-old, straight-A student daughter was reading adult romance novels. The mother felt the books were “too mature and erotic” for her daughter and worried about how they’d impact her daughter’s future relationships, especially as to what is and isn’t “acceptable in those relationships.”
For the most part, I agreed with Abby’s response. She pretty much told the woman she was being overprotective and instead of trying to censor her daughter’s reading materials, she should keep the lines of communication open and let the daughter know she can come to her mother with any questions she has. Abby even suggested that the mother read some of the books her daughter is reading.
Great response, I thought. Enlightened. Intelligent. Yeah for Abby!
Then I read further.
Abby blew it with her next paragraph in which she states: “Some might argue that the idealized depiction of romance, and women being ‘rescued’ by powerful, wealthy men, is more worrisome than the sex and eroticism. However, if you are raising your daughter to respect feminist principles, I don't think you have anything to worry about.”
That’s when I marched over to my computer and sent Abby an email, setting her straight. I told her that it was apparent she hadn’t picked up a romance novel in decades (in hindsight, I wonder if she’s ever read a romance, given how long romances have featured strong heroines), that today’s heroine’s are independent, empowered women who don’t sit around waiting to be ‘rescued’ by the hero. They work alongside the men in their lives as equal partners, that more often than not, they’re doing a good deal of the rescuing themselves. I also told her that the plot lines of today’s romances deal with issues that impact all women.
I could have written volumes, but I decided to keep my response to a few succinct sentences, the better to have a chance at getting them published as a rebuttal. There’s a lot more I would have liked to say. I’m sure after reading the column and her response, you have some choice thoughts on the subject, as well. Let’s hear them! And let Abby hear them. (You can read the entire letter and Abby’s response at http://www.uexpress.com/dearabby/?uc_full_date=20060902)
Go to the link to respond to her column. We romance authors take enough of a beating from sanctimonious individuals who form opinions of our work without ever having read a page of our books. Here’s our chance to reach millions of people to set the record straight.