This is not a post about the feminism of romance, though I do think romance is one of the strongest, most consistent mainstream mediums of feminism., This is, rather, a post about feminism AND romance, and how both of these are treated in the “real world,” or at least in the worlds I and others I know travel in.
Both are laughed at. Both are derided people who know the bare minimums, if that, of their basis. Both are treated like a joke, like fluff, like something unimportant, like only the most stupid, uninformed people could be interested in it. Both are treated like a bad, sad joke.
Both have a full range of people involved in them, that fill a spectrum of differing opinions. Both are heavily criticized in their own circles even as they circle the wagons against outsiders. Both have members that profess their perfection, ignoring the problems that yes, they both have. Both have opinionated, strongly worded, beautifully written arguments for the pros and cons of each community, just as they both have members who just quietly go about their business – reading romance and promoting feminist ideals – who don’t give a flying fuck about what the “leaders” (and who elected these people?) have to say or think. Both cross lines, of class, of race, of ideology and sexuality and religion and mobility and citizenship and all the other things.
But both, to be clear, are heavily populated by women.
In fact, both are created and maintained by women.
And, shocker, *hands to face in horror movie scream*, that’s why they are derided, even by people who read romance, even by people who promote feminist ideals. Because when something is created and continued by women, well, something must be wrong with it. Fluff, junk, a waste of time, totally unimportant.
I became a romance reader and a feminist around the same time – about age ten. And though my introduction to both weren’t connected, they have definitely informed each other as I have grown into each label. Mostly what I have learned when I claim either label amongst people who don’t share that label is that I better be able to handle arguments, jokes, and/or harassment for daring to claim “that embarrassment”. Because I get a lot of shit for reading romance, and I get a lot of shit for being a feminist.
 This is not to say that a. all romance books are feminist (good fucking god no), or that b. there are not other, even better, forms of medium feminism is portrayed in (a slide show of certain artists are passing through my head in glorious color). This is to say that out of the different mediums – art, books, movies, so on – available as entertainment, romance books (rather than books in general) is one of the most consistent forms someone can find feminism in.
 To be clear, the “beginnings” of each are rooted in white, middle-class, heteronormative, cis, abled body women. And both have issues about inclusion of people who fall outside of that group, from beginning to today, who have created their own fractions of the promotion they weren’t getting inside the mainstream storyline. But both have people inside and outside of that narrative who claim, created, promoted, and encouraged these two labels.
 Which, whether you read “romance” or not, you’ve read romance. In case it hasn’t occurred, almost EVERY STORY WE TELL has a romance in it, the only difference being the main focus isn’t on the romance. (Okay, and also that a lot of them are so damn bad; check out basically any romantic comedy or action-adventure made in the last fifteen years for an example.)