Today we're thrilled to have Maya Rodale on Heroes and Heartbreakers. Maya's latest book is a little different. Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels, Explained, came out at the end of April and explores...the bad reputation of romance novels! Maya is here today to talk about one author that gets a bad rap, Kathleen Woodiwiss, and how her books were actually revolutionary for her time. Thanks, Maya!
When I got the opportunity to write on the topic of feminism and the works of Kathleen Woodiwiss—queen of the 1970s romance novels aka bodice rippers aka the works least likely to be considered feminist—I was thrilled. I had grand plans to count the ways in which these books championed women who got out of the house, explored their sexuality, defied expectations for their lives, and lived happily ever after. But when rereading them, I wondered if it was more complicated. And I got to thinking: how do you look at the feminism of a romance novel? Is it something about the hero, the heroine and the dynamics of their relationship? What about the happy ending or the impact it has on the readers and the culture?