I have been resting this afternoon, although I'm never very good at accepting the importance of doing so. I've been reading a charming book by Mary Balogh, and I refuse to call it lightweight even though it's a romance. In my youth I disdained the very idea of reading romance novels, because I was an intelligent liberated woman, but now that I've settled more deeply into real feminism, I enjoy them a great deal, for I've come to understand that "women's literature" is just as valuable as any other. The histories of so many romance novel characters are quite tragic, and their struggles to find inner peace and happy relationships make worthy plots which no doubt would be more admired if they were written in artful prose by male authors.
It's also true to say that, when I was younger, I was an independent creature - I had relationships with others, but I was mostly focussed on myself. As I aged, that changed, and I discovered how centering my interest away from myself enriched my life indescribably. My reading preferences changed along with this. I saw that the truly ripe stories and biographies were to be found within an exploration of relationships rather than just the narrated experiences of one person, or the telling of what happened instead of to whom it happened.
I now personally believe that the most important thing in life is relationship - which is to say, relationship with other people, with nature, the environment, animals, ourselves, and Spirit. Romance novels unabashedly explore relationships not only of a hero and heroine but often of their families, their communities. And they're almost always interested in how happiness is reached. I've never been willing to read a novel with an unhappy ending (and yes, quite often I will read the back page first, just to check.) Apparently this makes me of lower intellect. I don't care. I choose joy.
Of course, most of my own stories are romances, although I present them as fantasy tales.
I would love to see more "women's literature" adapted to the screen - more relationship stories, romances. I think they would gain large audiences. No, I don't mean Outlander, the vulgarity and violence of which I find distasteful. I mean tv series and films which charm, uplift, and invite us deeper into our own tenderness and desire for contentment.
This post has become very long! I'll stop now, leaving you with a link which shows that smart and liberated women can like romance novels.