Find me writing on romantic love from a feminist perspective
October 10, 2011 8:01 PM   Subscribe

I'm interested in online writing or books that take a positive and feminist approach to romantic love.

This is something that's been on my mind for a while now, though I'm not sure exactly how to articulate it.

Some backstory: my parents have an extremely strong relationship and have always seemed very much in love with each other. Growing up, their relationship, and particularly the way my father treats my mother, has always served as a good model for healthy relationships. At the same time, my mom is a strong feminist and this had a great influence on me as well. Thus to me, feminism and romantic love have always seemed very compatible, and in fact intertwined -- the fact that my parents' relationship is built on feminist principles seems to me to have strengthened their bond, not threatened it. I feel the same way about the relationships I have been in personally.

Yet on the Internet, I often see variations on the following themes: i) how feminism is destroying your relationship or your chance of ever finding one; ii) I'm in love -- can I still be a feminist? and the ever popular iii) "I'm not a feminist... I love men."

Some of the feminist writing on love seems interesting: for instance Bell Hooks' Communion: The Female Search for Love and All About Love: New Visions (at least from the Amazon previews), yet I can't shake the feeling that they all seem a bit pessimistic, even cynical about possibilities for romantic love. And I can understand that that's a perfectly valid, even understandable way to feel, yet isn't there writing out there that is more in line with my personal experience? Help me out please.
posted by peacheater to Human Relations (7 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
You might get a good response if you ask this question over at Smart Bitches Love Trashy Books. Despite the snarky name of the website, they have some good, serious conversations about modern romance novels, including the idea of compatibility between feminism and romantic love.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:18 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

BlahLaLa and peacheater--the moderator of the SBTB site, Sarah Wendell (her background is in academia) recently wrote a book Everything I Know About Love I Learned from Romance Novels. Previously, Sarah Wendell and her blogging partner co-wrote Beyond Heaving Bosoms--a critical perspective on the topic.
posted by rumposinc at 8:32 PM on October 10, 2011

Rachel Hills writes and collects a lot of articles about this sort of thing. She's currently in the midst of planning a wedding and has been writing & curating articles about weddings & marriage from feminist perspectives.
posted by divabat at 9:03 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Here's a paper from 2007 called The Interpersonal Power of Feminism: Is Feminism Good for Romantic Relationships? They concluded that it was. There's a synopsis here. I'm not sure if the full article requires an academic login to retrieve it; memail me if it does and you'd like me to send it to you.

I found this via The F-Word Blog, my favourite on-line feminist resource, which you might find generally interesting although a quick search through their archives for "love" and "romance" didn't turn up much else relating to the question at hand.

FWIW, my personal experiences have been the same as yours. My current relationship is the first time I've been with a man who shares my feminist ideals. It's egalitarian, romantic and, I think, going to last a long time :).
posted by daisyk at 1:41 AM on October 11, 2011

I've read some very intelligent (genre) romances in which it's obvious that this question - reconciling the ongoing feminist project with more traditional narratives of romance and happy-ever-afters -- is of chief concern to the author. Some are contemporary; others are historicals. You do need some recs to get started, though, because if you plunge in on your own, chances are high that you'll hit someone who isn't thinking about these things at all.

I agree wth BlahLaLa's suggestion; SBTB would be a great place to ask this question and get good answers. You might also want to email Jane at and see if she'd be willing to do an opinion column about it or something; Dearauthor attracts a damned smart group of romance readers who are extremely alert to political subtexts (whether pleasing or displeasing) in their books.
posted by artemisia at 6:50 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the responses so far.

A good idea to look at blogs about romance novels -- I've never been into them much, but my mother always has, and we would often discuss the repeating themes of these books. I also read a LOT of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen which I loved. I remember my mom complaining how difficult it was to find romance novels without babies in them at some point.

Thanks divabat, for pointing me towards Rachel Hills -- she definitely hits a lot of the right buttons for me.

I am actually more interested in non-fictional approaches to this issues, though fiction can definitely be a way of exploring an issue in a nuanced way, so those suggestions are also welcome.
posted by peacheater at 8:31 AM on October 11, 2011

Victoria Dahl is a genre romance writer who gets a lot of critical attention for how her novels bend romance novel conventions, especially in regards to her heroines--who are typically sexually experienced, complex, and not necessarily looking for babies and marriage even as they negotiate their experiences with love. Some of her heroines have been very critically divisive in that some readers find them unlikeable while others are completely captivated by the same "unlikeable" characteristics. There are many others, too, getting after this, but she's a good gateway to those discussions.
posted by rumposinc at 5:18 PM on October 11, 2011

« Older The electric bill is too damn high   |   Am I not allowed to wear hoop earrings? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.