Hello, hello! Today, let’s address the elephant in the room. The NSFW tied up and gagged elephant in the room…
I am quite happy to see the movement happening, #MeToo. I’m a child of the 90’s, and I saw too many problematic sexual themes going on– in movies, books, and real life. It’s always a good day when we are willing to address sexual harassment issues head-on.
But what about in modern fiction? How does the #MeToo movement influence today’s writers of romance?
Here are my thoughts on writing romance and #MeToo:
These are not answers or me telling you what to think. They are only topics to consider.
1. Is the Romance for YA or for Adults?
Here’s the dealio—your audience matters. The younger your audience, the more impressionable they are. Younger kids often find their heroes and role models in fiction books.
When writing a romance, consider this: how mature is my audience?
I really hated that Edward stood in Bella’s bedroom and watched her sleep—creepy!! That is a totally messed-up view of “romance.” We adults know it, but a younger audience may not know it. And worse, they may imitate it.
Kids, DO NOT try this at home 😠
So make sure that your audience is old enough to understand what is fantasy, purely and solely written for the thrill. Which brings us to…
2. What Excites in Fiction vs What Excites in Real Life
Your audience should be able to tell the difference between something exciting in fiction vs in real life. For instance, finding a dead body in a museum at the opening of The DaVinci Code was super exciting! In real life? I would have freaked out. Eww. Not-Cool.
Fiction is an opportunity to explore danger from the safety of a book. Sometimes this ‘danger’ is sexual.
And whether or not that is your cup of tea, it might be someone else’s cup of tea. A person who loves to read horror doesn’t secretly want to kill people, and a person that reads risky romances doesn’t secretly want to be sexually harassed.
Hello, I am fictional!
Some readers love dangerous books. It appeals to the part of us that enjoys fantasies…
3. Adult Fantasies Are a Thing
To understand more about how someone can enjoy a totally non-#MeToo romance book, it’s good to take a look at what adult fantasies are all about. For this, I give you a quote from the book Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D. She writes:
The context—external circumstances and internal brain state—of a fantasy is very different from the context of real life. When you’re alone in bed fantasizing about being dominated by five big, unknown men, you are actually safe, there is no threat to activate your stress response, and the novelty of the fantasy adds fuel to the fire. Great context!
But if in real life you were surrounded by five big, unknown men, your brain would probably react with a stress response—Run! Fight! or Freeze!—and that stress response would most likely hit your sexual brakes.”
I highly recommend this book to nerd-out about sex as a science!
The level of sexual risk in your book will depend not only on your audience, but also your genre (just romance? erotica?) and your level of comfort writing these things, of course!
It is clear that fiction is fake, but as writers, we need to understand that fiction influences. Words matter.
The message behind your book matters to your readers.
Write and consume your media wisely. Without giving away your plot, do forewarn your readers about what level of sexual explicitness (or cleanliness!) your story contains.
When your audience knows what to expect or avoid, they are happy.
What are your thoughts on romance & #MeToo? LMK in the comments!
Okay, see? Even Ron gets it 😄
🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜🌸 🌜