A million years ago, I read Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women: Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance, and something Jayne Ann Krentz wrote really stuck with me: that readers of romance identify with the hero and project their emotions onto him as he goes through his journey to love (I paraphrase). And I was like: “Huh. That is not my experience at all. I am not that interested in the interior life of the hero, except perhaps as a projection of exploring the desires of the women who read and write about them.” I have always been more interested in the journey of the heroine.
Imagine my joy, then, when I started reading F/F romance. Here were stories that focused exclusively on female desire, without the distraction of alpha males, opaque males, emotionally constipated males, constipated opaque alpha males, etc etc etc.
Erin wrote a great post last week that talked about her love for M/M romances, and some of that’s true for F/F romances as well: characters tend to not fall into (or focus exclusively breaking out of) traditional gender roles, and some of the tropey behavior that you see in M/F romance falls by the wayside.
Here are some other reasons I love F/F romance:
- I will never come across the phrase “steel wrapped in velvet.”
See: every M/F historical romance ever written.
- The power dynamics between the protagonists is more fluid – especially in historical romances, where, to maintain any semblance of historical accuracy, the characters have to grapple with the fact that a married woman, by law, is under the control of her husband.
See: The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics, Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure, She Whom I Love
- There are twice as many opportunities for fabulous outfits. I hate shopping, but love reading about clothes. Romance authors rarely give their heroes interesting outfits. Which is sad, because we can learn a lot about a character by how they present themselves to the world.
See: Once Ghosted, Twice Shy
- I might be falling into stereotypes here (I totally am), but when characters talk about their conflict and emotions in open and honest ways, I don’t have to be all shocked about a dude processing his feelings like an adult.
See: Being Hospitable
- Sexuality is a spectrum. I am mostly heterosexual, but I would not put myself at 100% all penis all the time. So reading F/F romance gives me a safe space to explore other fantasies. (Sorry, Mom, if that was Too Much Information. That’s what you get for reading my smut blog so faithfully!)