Photo source: Boston Phoenix
One of my professors (he taught math) once observed that the shift in focus of the liberal arts from literature to the social sciences gives us laypeople the freedom to decide for ourselves what is and is not serious literature. Conservative writer Jamie Wilson has put that freedom to good use in her recent blog entry, Romance Novels as Conservative Fiction. She starts out,
Romance novels are commonly dismissed as trash, housewife porn, formula fiction, or bodice rippers. They are accused of committing purple prose, engendering female dissatisfaction, debasing literary values, and forcing men to live up to an impossible ideal. I, however, see most modern romance as positive conservative fiction.
Consider this: most modern romance novels feature a strong female protagonist and an equally strong male protagonist. They generally end in marriage or a commitment to marry; in most cases, the characters plan to have children within the confines of that marriage. I don’t think I’ve seen a single romance novel talk about abortion, let alone promote it as a reasonable alternative; in fact, a common plot device is the “secret baby,” in which the heroine gives birth to the hero’s child despite financial and social penalties, only to have her secret revealed to him later.
From there, Jamie considers the role of social movements, government solutions, work, war, religion, and sex in the romance genre. On the last topic, she concedes “There’s a lot of sex in the steamier romances, which many conservatives (not me!) are uncomfortable with.”
My own observation is that most conservatives are not prudes. With some exceptions, they rather enjoy the naughty parts. I noticed this when I was peddling my novel, Full Asylum, at the conservative Defending the American Dream Summit. When I showed people my book – with the sexy picture of heroine Cheri Tarte on the cover – most of them smiled; only a few contorted their faces into expressions of pinched disapproval. So I doubt that a few steamy scenes disqualify a book from being conservative.
Jamie blogs on ConservativeFicton.com. It’s just getting up and running, and it looks like it will be a great site for thoughtful conversation about changing the culture. Check it out.
Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on Amazon.com.