Event report

Conference 2014 - Romance is good for you!

Report published 20 July 2014

Catherine Roach’s seminar focussed on the positive aspects of the romance narrative!

The nine central claims made by the romance narrative:

1. It is hard to be alone.  Most people need and want love, of some kind.  Amid all the possibilities for love as philia (friendship) and agape (spiritual or selfless love), the culture often holds up eros or romantic partner love as an apex of all that love can be and do.

2. It is a man’s world.  Women generally have less power, fewer choices, and suffer from vulnerability and double standards.  They often get stuck looking after men or being overlooked by men.

3. Romance is a religion of love.  Romance entails belief in the power of love as a positive orienting force.  Love functions as religion, as that which has ultimate meaning in people’s lives.

4. Romance involves risk.  Love doesn’t always work out.  Desire can be a source of personal knowledge and power but also of deception and danger.  Romance fiction is the safe, imaginative play space to explore the meaning and shape of this landscape.

5. Romance requires hard work.  Baring the true self, making oneself vulnerable to another is hard.  Giving up individuality for coupledom requires sacrifice.

6. Romance facilitates healing.  Partner love leads to maturity.  Love heals all wounds.  Love conquers all.

7. Romance leads to great sex, especially for women.  Women in romance novels are always sexually satisfied.  Romance reading can connect women to their sexuality in positive ways.

8. Romance makes you happy.  The problematic version of this claim is that you need to be in a romantic relationship for full happiness.  Here, romance fiction can be oppressive if it mandates coupledom for everyone.

9. Romance levels the playing field for women.  The heroine always wins.  By the end, she is happy, secure, well loved, sexually satisfied, and set up for a fulfilling life.  The romance story is a woman-centred fantasy about how to make this man’s world work for her.

Look out for Catherine’s academic book on the subject, to be published in 2015 – bound to be fascinating reading.

It's a fact

12% of romance readers choose a book because they have read an extract or looked inside.