Yesterday Malinda Lo (@malindalo) tweeted about "disparaging remarks about girls' interest in romance" and followed it with, "Love (the point of romance!) is the most important experience any human being will ever have. Girls are right to think it's important."
I've had a note
on my desk for a while to blog about the belittling of romance, and
Malinda's comments reminded me of it. They also reminded me about the
belittling of girls, but that's a topic for another post. One problem at
a time. (I do note that I have met guys who are also interested in
romance, and I'm sure they've heard belittling remarks about romance,
We human beings are famously afraid of our own
vulnerabilities, and we often get squicked out by our own desire to have
someone hold us or show us we are cherished or tell us we are loved.
Whereas some of our other desires--such as to see our enemies
humbled--make us feel powerful, and we give them much freer rein in
books and movies. It's no secret that we're far more tolerant of
violence than of sex in our artwork. Not only that, we often see love
stories as--well, mushy. Or frivolous. Cute but not vital.
I'm with Malinda on the importance of romance. There are some
romance-related questions that are central to most of our lives:
Does this person love me? Do I love him/her? How do I know? How can I be sure? If I am sure, how do I show it?
Is this person right for me?
quickly should this relationship develop? How do I balance my needs and
the other person's? What does a good relationship look like?
If I love someone who doesn't love me (or doesn't anymore), how do I cope?
If my love and I can't be together for externally-imposed reasons, how do we deal with that?
The answers to these questions change the directions of people's lives. And of course novels themselves don't
do that, but they enable us to explore these feelings and questions in
situations where our own futures are not at stake. Even in the most fun,
escapist romance, we're trying on some of these emotions and decisions,
toying with what-ifs, using our imagination to help define happiness.