Monday, March 8, is International Women’s Day in 2021.
According to UN Women, all women deserve an equal future free from stigma, stereotypes, and violence. We’re talking about equal rights where women should have an integral role when it comes to decision-making.
The media empower our voices
The media play an important role in influencing our thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors when it comes to perceptions of the roles women and men play at work, at home, and in relationships.
I am thankful for podcasts such as Speak Seductively, hosted by five-star romance/erotica author Kyle Canon and his partner Lilly. Lilly Canon is a model, narrator of audiobooks a naturist, and, with Kyle, a swinger. Their podcast explores relationships from a #sexpositive perspective.
The topics on their show include the ‘difference between art, erotica, and pornography’, BDSM, and bring up themes of empowerment in their interviews with various authors.
I was recently interviewed by Kyle and Lilly, and we had a wonderful chat about strong voices in romance novels. We also talked about my female character’s journey in embracing her femininity and emancipating from controlling relationships. Finally, we discussed the importance of trust and communication, which are empowering factors in relationships.
Recommended read (certified STEAMY!)
Romance books influence empowerment
As a romance reader and writer, International Women’s Day is a personal reminder of the stories that made a lasting impression when I was in my teens and early twenties.
Back then, I was influenced by romance novels where the woman came second to the man. He was the rich guy. The smart guy. The strong guy. The playboy. He was the guy with a career, may it be business, law, or a hotel empire.
The female character would, of course, be a virgin or celibate. She would try to outwit her playboy love interest with halfwit jokes. She pretended to be dumb, played silly mind games, and came up with failing tactics. She was less powerful socially, depended on her hero financially, and her voice faded like wallpaper losing its luster as the story progressed. Ultimately, she needed him to ‘save’ her (and the story plot).
Right now, I feel angry at my younger self for being such a gullible reader. Yes, I admit that I wanted the hero to stomp into my life, throw me over his shoulder, and ‘rescue’ me. Back then, I was someone who accepted the status quo and took in all the kicks in the gut that came my way. Looking back, I’m glad I abandoned the books and waved good-bye to my old life.
I started reading a different type of romance book, thanks to a few good friends. I had never read an erotic romance until this point, and the books my friends put in my hands were eye-popping. The novels transported my curious mind to a place where women could dominate their lovers (both men and women) freely.
In addition to the BDSM books, I read other novels that had great messages on equal rights. These books helped me strengthen the voice I have today. I learned that the hero and heroine cooperated and communicated to achieve their journey together. These stories were enjoyable to read and I would read them again.
You have the power to empower others
I want to challenge every romance reader on International Women’s Day and every other day:
- Are you willing to put aside stories that weaken our voices and diminish our role as equal human beings?
- Will you read a book that portrays women having an integral role when it comes to decision-making?
- Will you share with your friends a book you’ve read that portrays women having an equal future, breaking away from stigma, stereotypes, and violence?
International Men’s Day
Later in the year, on November 19, we will celebrate International Men’s Day. This year’s theme is “Better relations between men and women.” The day celebrates the positive value men bring to the world, their families, and communities.
I believe it’s important that men are portrayed accurately and that stories show their sensitive side. A man who shows empathy, kindness, and feelings is a man of great strength.
Let’s do both genders a favor and portray them as equals. After all, together, we are stronger.
Loving Jack in Cowboy Desire, an anthology of country and western romances by 14 talented romance authors.
>>>Romance books that empower by publisher Black Velvet Seductions
21 Replies to “Celebrating International Women’s Day”
Great post Estelle! I too started reading stories with heroines who were virginal and submissive. Now I read and write stories where the females are kick-ass!
Thank you, Alice. I love kick-ass females 🙂
Great article! Very well written, and I agree both should work together.
Good article Estelle. Both in the real world and in the world of fiction, I find that many women don’t know how strong they are until they are put in a situation where they have to make a tough choice. When that time comes, we women realize we are capable of doing so much more than we have been doing. The best relationships between men and women are those in which they work together as equals.
Well said, Suzanne. Thank you
Great perspective on how far we’ve come in the span of a generation. Bravo to you for writing and supporting strong voices.
Thank you 🙂
Fun moment: while reading your reading journey and progress you’ve made changing from one type of literature to the one empowering women, I recollected mine and realized that I never liked to read romance, especially this man-hero type, BUT! I liked to read literature where a man was portrayed weak) So, unconsciously, I supported women through watching men being weak:)
I love this discovery about myself provoked by your article)
Thanks, Dasha. I love reading about men go through their own journeys. My favorite story from a male perspective is “A Bad Fall” on Wattpad and its sequel.
Great article Estelle. In everyday life, I believe in equality between men and women. In literature, I am drawn to strong women characters. So many of the romance scripts I read have put women in the weaker role, confusing her desire for love with weakness. It is a pleasure to read stories where the female lead, is every bit equal to the male. there is no need for the heroin to be some form of doormat. Again, a really well written article Estelle.
Great article Estelle. A good reminder that romance genre has matured from stories supposedly read by stereotyped 1950s housewives into something that portrays strong women in charge of their lives, including the erotic and the sexual aspects.
Erotic romance books may not change the world tomorrow but every book that breaks away from the stigma, stereotypes and violence is a small step toward an equal future
Thank you, Simone
I still have to admit I love a good white knight, and a man strong enough to toss me over his shoulder…for more than one reason *lol*
But I do definitely think that we need to see more women step in to be the hero in the stories we read. That we aren’t always the weak one needing protection. We can stand up and rescue the man for a change. 😀
Thank you, Patricia 🙂
Great post. I love strength in both sexes, but it does seem women don’t always get a fair shot.
Thank you, Gibby. I hope more women will get a fair shot in romance books to come 🙂
Great blog, Estelle.
I love intelligent, motivated men that can make their love interest laugh. What I also love is an intelligent woman that doesn’t depend on a man to get ahead in life. A woman that buckles down to get their degree, finds a starting place in the business world, and works her way up threw hard work and perseverance. Neither of them has to have a degree, but they are willing to work hard to get ahead in life. Having that special someone to cheer you on along the way just makes their success even more special. I enjoy reading and writing about women that achieve their goals whatever those might be.
Thank you, Callie. I agree wholeheartedly 🙂
Another great article Estelle and this might be my favorite yet because you’ve hit the hammer on the nail! I wasn’t all that thrill by the romance books back then I always questioned why the men only had power and my friends thought I was strange and some blamed my tom-boy nature but yeah I wanted to know why a woman couldn’t dominate and why not highlight that we can😌. Thankfully as I got older I discovered there’s a whole other world out there and I’m satisfied with the progress so far but I know we can do so much better.
Thank you, Latty. I hope to see a more fair place for women in the romance books to come 🙂