The image above comes from a Google image search for "the clinch cover." I'm delighted to find that not every image shows a MF romance of two cisgender white people. If you've been reading the blog for a while, you saw my post from February 17, 2021 in which I wrote five reasons I love reading romance novels. (If not, feel free to go back to read it now, before you come back for this post. Today, I'd like to offer a different reason.
Romance novels are mostly written by and for women. While there are male and gender queer and trans and non-binary romance authors and readers, the vast majority of people who produce and consume these books were socialized as female.
Romance novels show those people as having the right to make choices about their bodies. Women (of all kinds) in Romancelandia can decide what to do with themselves: to enter into relationships or not, to engage in physical contact or not, to use contraception or not, etc.
Many of those people, at some point or multiple times in their lives face issues of reproduction-- either wanting to get pregnant, wanting to avoid getting pregnant, getting pregnant and not knowing what to do, getting pregnant and not having a choice about what happens, and more. All of those situations are fraught with emotional weight, and all of those scenarios find their way into romance novels. I love that romance novels show both the variety of choices people face and the importance of letting them make those choices. We can't have happily ever afters without autonomy.
I believe that every human who enters the world should know what it feels like to be wanted and safe. Romance novels demonstrate that when all people can decide what to do with their own bodies, people are more likely to end up happy, productive, and beneficial to themselves and to society.
Do you agree that romance promotes autonomy and that personal autonomy is necessary for a good society? Please share your thoughts in the comments.