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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2486

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:34 am    Post subject: Well, here goes... Reply with quote

Perhaps it too openly reveals my "stodginess," but I can't see m/m, f/f, m/f/m, or any more extensive configurations as "romance." I can see the first two as "love stories," but "romance" differs from those in a number of ways. First, there is no mystery in the relationship of m/m, f/f; it's narcissistic. Second, any conflict cannot arise from the gender of the participants, except perhaps through resistance by one or the other of the participants to the relationship itself or from completely external forces.
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Linda in sw va



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 4708

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:37 am    Post subject: Re: Well, here goes... Reply with quote

dick wrote:
Perhaps it too openly reveals my "stodginess," but I can't see m/m, f/f, m/f/m, or any more extensive configurations as "romance." I can see the first two as "love stories," but "romance" differs from those in a number of ways. First, there is no mystery in the relationship of m/m, f/f; it's narcissistic. Second, any conflict cannot arise from the gender of the participants, except perhaps through resistance by one or the other of the participants to the relationship itself or from completely external forces.


Oh Dick, we've had this conversation before!

Why does there have to be gender conflict to clarify a book as a romance novel rather than a love story? As long as the main focus is on the love story and it ends with an HEA it meets the industry's guidelines. There is always a mystery in getting to know someone intimately, their likes and desires, etc. I think you can have plenty of conflict, internal and external here.

I'll admit my interest is entirely superficial, I read romance for the hot heroes so I'm perfectly happy to have two rather than just one! What's not to love about that? Smile

Linda
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PWNN



Joined: 11 Apr 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Romance to me is about a love story, about individuals clashing, compromising, complimenting and ultimately joining. Conflict can come from personality, life goals, class, family, religion, gender, ethnicity, race, background, and societal strictures and pressure.

Of these I find the gender conflict part of romance the least interesting since it's often based on cliches and archetypes that I don't find compelling, entertaining of even based in my reality. It's more interesting in historicals because gender was so tied to social strictures and limitations but so much historical romance is so wallpapery with 21st century heroes and heroines playing dress up that it negates any truly interesting conflict.

I agree with Linda that there is always mystery in another person. No matter how well and how long we know another person we never know everything. If a character knows everything at first glace about another then they're poorly written characters.

The concept that two people of the same gender share the same mindset to the degree it's narcissistic self love only holds water if characters are so cookie cutter that they only have their gender and physical appearance to define them. In that case I can't think of a more boring book to read, no matter the gender of the leads though I have read in the past too many of these which usually boil down to you-man-me-women-me-no-understand- but-me-horny-for-you-so-lets-gets-married-and-popout-sprogs.
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ponadog



Joined: 30 Jun 2011
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:44 pm    Post subject: Throw the tomatoes at me; I agree Reply with quote

Longtime lurker, very infrequent poster here, chiming in. I don't know if this post was intended to provoke angry reactions, but I agree with your premise. At 35 I don’t think I’m so old, but seem to be severely out of touch with the current generation of romance readers.

Am I the only woman who has no interest in reading books about male-male romantic relationships? In particular, I despise--yes, that's a strong word --the permutations of m/f/m, m/m/f, m/m/m/m/f, in romance. As for romances between women and werewolves, vampires, aliens, dragons, demons, angels, mermen, I understand the fantasy involved, but these do not appeal to me, either.

I am not religious, but for me the highest form of romantic love is that between a man and woman, united through love, sex, fidelity, trust, a spiritual bond, and then possibly creating/raising children. That is what I look for when reading a "romance novel." There is a duality in the man-woman relationship, often full of ugly strife, yet capable of the greatest heights of human emotion. It is that conflict between two beings, separated by their material differences, yet united by a transcendent bond that draws me to read romance. That is not to say that these “transcendent bonds” do not exist among other relationships. But there is an axiomatic difference in the man-woman love relationship, that “yin-yang” or “polar-opposites” aspect this makes it special.

With other fiction genres, expectations are different: love stories, mysteries, horror, speculative fiction, mystical realism, these are all enjoyable and lead to various endings. However, “romance” is the only genre where as a reader I have hard-and fast rules. The journey can take me to the greatest depths and lows of emotion, but the destination has to be constant. At the end of the story, a human female and a human male have overcome outer and external struggles and are bound together for the rest of their lives in faithful love.

I say this not as a disparagement of other loving relationships, just as an opinion constitutes romance FOR ME. Publishers and most readers feel differently, and I understand their perspective. I simply do not share it.
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Cora



Joined: 12 Mar 2008
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Location: Bremen, Germany

PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What Linda said. We already had this discussion. Exhaustively.

The stereotype of "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus" is just that. A stereotype. Gender differences are not nearly as great as they are often made out to be and there is a huge spectrum within the genders. Huge enough to satisfy those who like their romantic couples to be polar opposites with lots of internal conflict, regardless of the genders involved.

It's okay if Dick or ponadog don't care for same gender romances or menages or paranormals involving non-humans. I don't care for menages myself nor for the sort of Fifty Shades style billionaire BDSM romance that is currently popular nor for romances set during WWII or involving surrogate pregnancies or arranged marriages or any number of plots and elements that are personal dealbreakers for me. But personal dealbreakers don't change the fact that if the book focuses on a love story and has a happy ending, it is in fact a romance.
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ponadog



Joined: 30 Jun 2011
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 1:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cora wrote:
What Linda said. We already had this discussion. Exhaustively.

While I don’t doubt that this topic has been broached many times prior, I was unaware that a mutual consensus had been reached by all. So is it the universal agreement in the publishing world that any love story which results in happily ever after (or just happily enough for now) is considered a romance novel? The players involved do not matter, only the game? That definition greatly broadens the romance category, now including various books from multiple genres.

I have a fundamental disagreement with this perspective and it is one of the reasons I stick to reading mainly “vintage” romances. Some people argue “gender identity” is a false construct produced by oppressive or progressive cultural norms; that men are not mentally or anatomically different beings from women, except at the most basic cosmetic level. To say that a person’s sex (not gender) does not matter, particularly in terms of romantic-sexual relationships, is not something with which I agree.

As a reader of romance, I like to engage myself within the story, especially with characters with whom I can relate. So for me, as a heterosexual woman, if there is no heroine, then there is no romance. Life experience has taught that me that where one loving man and one woman are concerned, the most intense and open sexual intimacy is possible. Simultaneous multiple partners may seem appealing in pornography, but the reality is not as loving or attractive or enjoyable. M/M and F/F books are not my cup of tea, but I can understand why they are love stories.

However, while multiple partners engaged in every sort of sexual exploit can be a titillating, fun read, romance it is not, and to market it as such is…disappointing. Most men have the rational honesty to state that their desire to view erotic imagery is sexual in nature. Why women have to dress up their erotic fantasies in notions of romanticism is something I can’t comprehend. Getting gang-banged isn’t an act of love.

To discuss this any further might be futile and provoke some angry perspectives. I don’t want to be an argumentative contrarian, I only wish to state that some women's perceptions of reality and mine do not mesh---and I do not mean that as an insult. Human outlooks vary, and these deeply ingrained beliefs can only be changed by strong cultural forces. However, men ARE different from women; women ARE different from men; this is constant and it matters!

As I stated I prefer older romances, even the original bodice rippers. The heroes cheated, raped or abused the heroines, and sometimes the heroines also had multiple lovers. Most of these works were poor examples of the romance genre, but these were the books that made the category popular. As far as historical details and dramatic storytelling were concerned, these were outstanding novels. Moreover, these were early feminist works where a woman’s inner strength helped her surpass enormous struggles. Her victory was to triumph above injustice and obtain love and fidelity from a “chauvinistic” man who rightfully valued his woman’s worth.

In the 1980s to mid-1990s the romance genre hit its stride. The differences between men and women were not exaggerated or ignored, but treated as an integral part of the love story. Women were no longer mere foot-stomping, vase-throwing caricatures, or stammering virgins; men were no longer Tarzan clones, forcefully seducing virgins who said no, but meant really yes. They became fully humanized characters and the genre flourished because of it.

And then came the late 1990’s. The culture changed and so did the books.

Of course deviations occur, as we live in a material world filled with duality. Yet I see it as a self-evident fact that there two and only two kinds of human beings: the male sex and the female sex. There is something inherently special in the body-psyche fusion of man and woman.

But I suppose most of you are correct that as far as my opinion (or dick’s or anyone else’s) on this matter goes, the argument is moot. Publishers and a growing segment of romance readers have claimed it so. Romance novels are whatever people want them to be.
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Linda in sw va



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ponadog wrote:
While I don’t doubt that this topic has been broached many times prior, I was unaware that a mutual consensus had been reached by all. So is it the universal agreement in the publishing world that any love story which results in happily ever after (or just happily enough for now) is considered a romance novel? The players involved do not matter, only the game? That definition greatly broadens the romance category, now including various books from multiple genres.
.


Hi ponadog, I'm glad you came out of lurking! I don't agree with some of your perspective but that's ok and please feel free to chime in on other threads too now that you're here. Very Happy

Regarding your question above, here is a link to the Romance Writers of American's definition of a romance novel.

http://www.rwa.org/cs/the_romance_genre

About the Romance Genre

Romance fiction is smart, fresh and diverse. Whether you enjoy contemporary dialogue, historical settings, mystery, thrillers or any number of other themes, there's a romance novel waiting for you!

Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally-satisfying and optimistic ending.

A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.

An Emotionally-Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.

Romance novels may have any tone or style, be set in any place or time, and have varying levels of sensuality—ranging from sweet to extremely hot. These settings and distinctions of plot create specific subgenres within romance fiction. Click here http://www.rwa.org/cs/romance_literature_subgenres to better understand the subgenres within romance.

*I do agree with you on the gender issues, in fact I celebrate the differences between men and women, I don't think we all need to be the 'same'. That said, I think a M/M or a F/F can be a romance just as much as a M/F couple. I don't think gender differences are necessary to provide romance, that seems kinda silly to me. *shrug*

Linda
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LynnS/AAR



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 116

PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally, I don't read much M/M romance. It just isn't my thing, just like some folks aren't too into erotica or inspy or whatever subgenre just doesn't tickle their fancy. However, I don't see M/M or F/F as narcissistic, and I don't think it necessarily follows that having leads of the same gender would mute the conflict. I've known enough same sex couples in real life to know that they can still have relationship conflicts, including conflicts between people who have different ways of coping with the gender expectations society places on them.

Frankly, I'm all for publishers being more open to M/M, F/F. etc..., and I'd like to see them be open to a whole lot of other things as well. I like seeing lots of variety in the romance market even though not everything out there will be my favorite type of read.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah. I intended to provoke. And it worked at least a bit, for it brought ponodog's response, a much more eloquent and well-reasoned commentary than my own.

But, in addition to provoking, I have always thought that verbal appelations had limits; they don't work very well when they don't. No one, for example, would want to ask for the salt and get sugar, both substances, but with entirely different effects. Both loafers and boots are shoes. Both are made of leather or some similar substance; both cover the feet in some way. Yet no one would willingly call one the other or confuse them. All these terms, with the possible exception of "loafers" have long histories and traditions behind them; they're meanings and applications haven't changed, because they work so well.

And that's certainly true of "romance," as well. From the earliest times, the term "romance" as most readers apply it to romance fiction, has referred to a relationship between a man and a woman. Yes, stories were written about relationships between m/m and f/f very early on but they were not considered "romances."

It puzzles me that females would support the idea that a genre supposedly written by, for, and about women, a genre that glorifies the feminine principle more than any other, would support m/m love stories as romances. That persons of the same sex can love one another cannot be denied; that their relationship be called a "romance" requires a shift as equally as silly as calling salt, sugar; loafers, boots; cats, dogs.

To insist that the genders of participants in a "romantic" relationship makes no difference is akin to insisting that one could as easily replace the required amount of sugar with salt in a cake or a cookie and still arrive at the same end.

Of course it makes a difference.
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NoirFemme



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1463
Location: America

PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only issue I have with the popularity of M/M romance is that it continues the shift in romance towards creating nuanced and well-rounded heroes at the expense of nuanced and well-rounded heroines. Carina Press editor Angela James recently asked her followers to list their favorite romance heroines and mused that a great majority of romance readers gush and squee over heroes, but have difficulty remembering or even having a bevy of favorite heroines. This is flabbergasting to me, especially when the whole "romance novels are feminist" rah-rahing is trotted out whenever a non-romance reader calls it porn or trash.
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Linda in sw va



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
But, in addition to provoking, I have always thought that verbal appelations had limits; they don't work very well when they don't. No one, for example, would want to ask for the salt and get sugar, both substances, but with entirely different effects. Both loafers and boots are shoes. Both are made of leather or some similar substance; both cover the feet in some way. Yet no one would willingly call one the other or confuse them. All these terms, with the possible exception of "loafers" have long histories and traditions behind them; they're meanings and applications haven't changed, because they work so well.

And that's certainly true of "romance," as well. From the earliest times, the term "romance" as most readers apply it to romance fiction, has referred to a relationship between a man and a woman. Yes, stories were written about relationships between m/m and f/f very early on but they were not considered "romances."

It puzzles me that females would support the idea that a genre supposedly written by, for, and about women, a genre that glorifies the feminine principle more than any other, would support m/m love stories as romances. That persons of the same sex can love one another cannot be denied; that their relationship be called a "romance" requires a shift as equally as silly as calling salt, sugar; loafers, boots; cats, dogs.

To insist that the genders of participants in a "romantic" relationship makes no difference is akin to insisting that one could as easily replace the required amount of sugar with salt in a cake or a cookie and still arrive at the same end.

Of course it makes a difference.


Dick, I don't have that same issue with making that shift as you do, you have yet to state a valid reason why a m/m, f/f love story can't also be a romance other than for years that's how most readers thought of it. The romance genre is in itself a product, it has to evolve and grow as it's readers do. As a reader this does not limit your choices, you can always chose the traditional route, they'll keep publishing them as long as there is a market for it. If you were to ask two people what they find romantic you'd likely get very different answers, variety is the spice of life! Smile

I don't know if you're serious about this statement or just using it to provoke. You are truly puzzled why a female audience would support m/m stories as romance? I'm surprised you would feel this way considering you are a male reader in the romance genre, not many of those out there, at least not brave enough to talk about it. I wouldn't drum you out of the romance genre and send you to general fiction or poetry instead merely because your gender doesn't match the majority of romance readers.

Linda
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LordRose



Joined: 25 Mar 2012
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While they may be different in their genders, I definitely consider m/m and f/f to be romances. They are still stories about people falling in love and having happy endings, and, therefore, are romances. Just because a book is about a man who happens to fall in love with another man (or a woman with another woman) doesn't mean that it's narcissistic in any way. There are all sorts of different types of characters in m/f romances, so why would m/m and f/f be any different?

And any other person is mysterious if you don't know anything about them. If you try to make assumptions about them based solely on their gender, then there's probably a very high chance that you'd be wrong. Personally, I believe that while basic biology may be different, there are no inherently masculine or feminine traits- these are, in large part, social constructs. And there are plenty of people out there who don't believe that the physical bodies they were born with properly represent who they truly are- these just aren't the people you tend to read about in traditional romance novels.

I just don't see what is so different about m/m and f/f as compared to m/f. The genders are different, but otherwise they're the same sort of stories. People who fall in love, have difficulties, overcome their difficulties, and live HEA.
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
Yeah. I intended to provoke. And it worked at least a bit, for it brought ponodog's response, a much more eloquent and well-reasoned commentary than my own.

But, in addition to provoking, I have always thought that verbal appelations had limits; they don't work very well when they don't. No one, for example, would want to ask for the salt and get sugar, both substances, but with entirely different effects. Both loafers and boots are shoes. Both are made of leather or some similar substance; both cover the feet in some way. Yet no one would willingly call one the other or confuse them. All these terms, with the possible exception of "loafers" have long histories and traditions behind them; they're meanings and applications haven't changed, because they work so well.

And that's certainly true of "romance," as well. From the earliest times, the term "romance" as most readers apply it to romance fiction, has referred to a relationship between a man and a woman. Yes, stories were written about relationships between m/m and f/f very early on but they were not considered "romances."

It puzzles me that females would support the idea that a genre supposedly written by, for, and about women, a genre that glorifies the feminine principle more than any other, would support m/m love stories as romances. That persons of the same sex can love one another cannot be denied; that their relationship be called a "romance" requires a shift as equally as silly as calling salt, sugar; loafers, boots; cats, dogs.

To insist that the genders of participants in a "romantic" relationship makes no difference is akin to insisting that one could as easily replace the required amount of sugar with salt in a cake or a cookie and still arrive at the same end.

Of course it makes a difference.


You see, this is where you lose me. I understand if you don't find m/m or f/f stories "romantic", but to say they aren't romance is your personal definition and not necessarily that of others. Dogs are not cats but both are companion animals, and sugar is not salt but both are in the broadest sense condiments. So while you may not care for a subset of romance -- just as some people don't care for cats as a pet -- they are still romance per the RWA definition.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@linda in wv: I'm talking about meanings of terms which are almost grounded in the psyche but which have come under attack by stretching boundaries, jargon, and political correctness. These attacks are making language into a mish-mash of constant shifts.

Soon we'll have to shift the term romance so that it includes 'My Friend Flicka," Old Yeller," "Lassie, Come Home." After all, if the participants in a relationship make no difference, why not a f/horse, or a m/dog. Absurd, right? But is it really?

And I am truly puzzled by females supporting m/m relationships as romances, and it has nothing at all to do with my being a male reader of romance (something of an ad hominem argument, by the way). It has to do, as noirfemme states, all the rah rah about the romance genre promoting females. It is ironic, I suppose, that a male reader defends it.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2012 1:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@susan/DC: Doesn't it follow, logically, that if I can't label them romance I don't see them as romantic? Doesn't romantic mean that something has the qualities of romance anymore either?
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