Thursday, January 19, 2012

How Romance Novels Relieve Women From Their Role as Nurturer

A thought that came to me as I was reading Radway's "Women Read the Romance" was that even if there are groups of people that do not believe that Americans still live in a patriarchal society, there are women out there who still feel the pressures of taking on the stereotypical and patriarchal labels given to women from the moment they are born. 

What are the kinds of roles that women need to play? We are the mothers and wives. We nurture and we are expected to be our own bosses in the home (not that I see anything wrong with that...). But Radway brings up a good point: She shows us through her research that women use romance novels as a means of "escape or relaxation (46)" from their everyday lives as mothers and wives in the home. 

How could their not still be remnants of inequality and patriarchy if largely married women between the ages of 25 and 49 (46) are using romance novels as a form of escape? 

I had a conversation with a friend of mine who is taking a Women's Studies class at Denison for the first time. He asked me "What's the problem with men working outside of the home and women staying in the home and taking care of children?" My answer was that there is no problem if women have the right to decide whether or not that is the life that they want to live. In other words, if women have the right to choose what they do in life, then I don't see a problem with being a stay-at-home mom at all (I still believe it is the hardest job out there). But if women still feel the need to play that role, a point that Radway explains is the reason why women read romance novels, then there is a sense of being trapped in a role you did not choose. 

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