i dream of non-romance

I love the story of Little Women. Probably because I see much of myself in Jo. I read or watch and think That’s me. Louisa May Alcott was inside my brain. The part of Little Women that people always talk about is Jo’s relationship with Laurie. In fact, many people are heartbroken that the two don’t end up together.

Here’s a little-known fact: Alcott didn’t want Jo to end up with anyone. She wanted her to remain independent and free. But public outcry was so great when Jo rejected Laurie (obviously a woman needed a man!) that Alcott was forced to add Professor Bhaer, but she made him as unconventional a match as she could.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Professor Bhaer is a fantastic character. But I wish Alcott had been able to pursue her original plan and made Jo an adventurous, unfettered single woman, debunking those pesky myths about lonely and bitter spinsters.

The thing is, I can appreciate a good romantic novel every now and then. (Hello, Pride & Prejudice, am I right?) But then I want something aromantic (as in, without romance). I want to read about real life, not a woman desperately seeking a man. Yes,  in some cases, that is real life — unfortunately, many women do seek fulfillment in a romantic relationship, but I wasn’t one of those. And I want to read about women really living. Not hunting every potential mate or pining away for that “someone, someday” over the rainbow.

But the publishing world hasn’t caught up yet. Occasionally I find a book that pretends to be non-romance and then *wham!* there it is. She falls in love and lives happily ever after. Because isn’t that what every woman should want?

There’s an assumption that if a book is for a woman, it must have romance. Period. The end. No discussion. Well, I’m a woman. And I say no thank you. If I may borrow characters from Austen and Alcott, it feels like women’s fiction today caters to the Marianne Dashwoods (at the beginning of the book), Lydia Bennets, and Amy Marches of the world. What is left for the Elizabeth Bennets, Elinor Dashwoods, and Jo Marches? Not much, it appears.

We no longer live in a world where a woman has two options for her future: get married or be a school teacher. Women can become surgeons, astronauts, CEOs. I’m not saying marriage is passe. I’m a big fan of marriage. But I’m saying stop making every women’s fiction book about romance. God’s plans for a woman’s life are so much bigger than just that. Let her dream of more than a husband. Show her all the possibilities. God doesn’t limit her dreams. Why should we?

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6 Comments

  1. Abbie
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 15:40:29

    Am I feeling inspired right now thanks to my anti-romantic, level-headed, extremely talented writer friend?
    Yes.
    Yes I am.

    Reply

  2. halee
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 19:29:55

    Lol! I AM anti-romantic sometimes. Flowers die. Buy me chocolate. Or coffee. I’ll appreciate those much more. How in the world did I end up married? I’m so lucky my husband understands me. He knows that I appreciate a yummy cup of coffee more than I ever would a diamond. Speaking of which, I think my next post will be about what he bought me for Christmas… It’s kinda awesome… (And yes, we had Christmas early. We had to because we hit the road to do the rounds of family.)

    Reply

  3. denise
    Dec 22, 2011 @ 21:36:11

    oh wow. that was so well expressed. i wanna say YES and agree! but also i cant help but feel that writers just write what sells best. and i hate to perpetuate stereotypes but the people who buy the magazines on relationship tips and losing weight and the whole drama of falling in love… are mainly women. christians buy into it all the time too (cue rant about endless books on becoming an ‘alluring’ woman and proverbs 31 as the ultimate husband-formula) and reinforce the narrative that male is universal and female is all sticky love and relationships. it drives me up the wall! hahaha. so yes! i am all for departing from the current state of ‘chick lit’! 🙂 you are so right. it just seems an insurmountable task! :/

    Reply

    • halee
      Dec 23, 2011 @ 12:12:12

      It does seem insurmountable sometimes. But I want to be that one who is willing to say it. And write it. I couldn’t find what I wanted to read so I started to write it — funny, entertaining fiction for women that doesn’t center on a relationship or end in marriage. That doesn’t mean none of my books will ever have romance in them, but I want to have plenty of options that can be encouraging for women who find romance in fiction either just depressing or annoying. I think they’re out there, suffering silently. And I’m willing to stand up and make some noise on their behalf.

      And oh my yes, the Proverbs 31 perpetual pursuit! I rather think the entire Bible is useful for both men and women. And that Proverbs 31 definitely isn’t a “to do” list on your way to ensnaring a husband. But we want easy answers now! We want what we want wrapped up in a perfect tall, dark, and handsome package! Oh my. It breaks my heart to see women buying into half-truths.

      Reply

  4. Lella
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 14:03:49

    In many ways yes romance has died as modern technology has killed it literally. With numerous dating sights that are online we no longer go out to make the effort to meet new people but try to do it in the confines of our home, we really have lost the art of being romantic. Gone are the days where u walk into a crowd and from across the room you see someone there who just takes your breath away, the love at first sight thing, there you see the real person. Now we have settled for a profile and picture that in many ways can be misleading. If this is what they call a better modern future then really in my opinion we have gone backwards. Thanks Fabia for letting me have my say xoxoxox

    Reply

    • halee
      Jun 28, 2012 @ 15:56:42

      I agree – the art of romance has definitely changed over the years. But I think some authors overcompensate with their novels, trying too hard to make up for the changes in our culture. It starts to feel forced.

      Reply

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