Ahead of the impending blizzard about to pound those of us foolish enough to live on the east coast, I went to the bookstore to pick up a couple of beach-ready books for my Florida trip next week. I glanced at the Romance section and was fairly surprised at the absence of any notion of romance there. Yes, there were plenty of books on bondage, men objectifying women and treating them poorly, but no romance. At least not the kind of romantic and chivalrous gestures and language I would imagine any sane woman would welcome.
It's been many years since feminism took hold and it is actually considered social suicide to label one's self a feminist. The concept of Fifty Shades of Grey, an erotic depiction of exquisite sexual torture masquerading as 'what women really want' makes me gag. And in a marketing campaign that I would like to believe was thought up by a team of men, the movie version is being released on Valentine's Day. And there are now shelves and shelves of books, hastily written and barely edited (because good writing is besides the point) that exalt this new genre of Adult-Romance.
I haven't read any of these novels, and I don't intend to. Perhaps I would feel differently if I had, although I doubt it, but I'll skip the wasted afternoon. Now don't get me wrong. I lapped up Kathleen E. Woodiwiss' bodice-ripping books as a high-schooler, and although the Duke/Captain/Earl was sometimes a laconic,widowed bastard, he always got reformed at the hands of the Governess/Orphan/Widow into something worthy of her love.
My point is: What the hell is wrong with us women?
I know, I'm sounding harsh and preachy when what I'm really feeling is disappointment. And fear, for a whole generation of women that are equating sexual satisfaction with mistreatment. Wouldn't you encourage your own daughter to run like the devil from a man who treated her with dagger-tipped gloves rather than kid gloves? Wouldn't you tell your daughter that anyone who wants to control her isn't a safe bet and to make sure to keep the exit door clearly in sight?
Call me old-fashioned, call me a prude, I don't care. Female empowerment isn't something for males to grant. It comes from a sense of self, of true confidence and being told we are worth being treated well. My new daughter-in-law bought me a plaque that reads: "A man who treats his woman like a princess is a proof that he has been born and raised in the arms of a queen." She appreciates my son and he appreciates her, as he witnessed his parents treat one another. When did that become something so easily dismissed?
Our little girls idolize Disney princesses who are brave and confident, our tweens idolize Taylor Swift, a talented and bright young woman, and as grown women we welcome men who abuse us under the guise of pleasure?
Let's change the narrative and by all means, enjoy sex, but with someone who doesn't mistreat or seek to own you.
Please, embrace your power as women and as enforcers of your own destiny.
And for goodness sakes, put down the silly books and think of your daughters.