Suleikha Snyder has something to say about Sheikh romances

And she’s 100% right

The romance genre has embraced then tossed aside a number of institutional -isms since it’s inception. In the past: gay characters often telegraphed “villain” to readers, heroes and heroines of color were relegated to niche imprints, and rape was par for the course. But romance changes with the times, which is a huge part of why I love it so much.

So what’s the deal with Sheikh romance? It’s 2014, and it’s time for us to think about why this is the last remaining acceptable romance trope that should make us all feel squicky. 

As Suleikha says, "The sheikh trope wants to be civil and savage all at once and, in doing so, erases the minority experience completely from the page.”

Read more of what she has to say here

The typical excuse for that exclusion is genre, not gender. But those two words have a common root, and are intertwined in many ways. Romance is seen as unserious and frivolous because women are seen as unserious and frivolous, and romance is written largely by women, for women, about concerns traditionally seen as feminine (Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult have made a similar argument about commercial fiction by women).
For years, I’ve hemmed and hawed about how to cover genre fiction more consistently. As our readers know, we do well by mysteries and thrillers (every Monday), but other popular genres have received only sporadic attention from Book World.
Of course, we’ll never be able to satisfy the thirst of the most devoted fans, but I’m pleased to announce the introduction of two new monthly roundups dedicated to some of the most popular fiction in the country: science fiction & fantasy and romance. Each month, critics will present their favorite three new novels in these genres.

The best new science fiction & fantasy and romance every month

Ron Charles and the Washington Post take a stand for genre fiction. Word.

The consensus that female lust is normal and real has been a long time coming—so long that any acknowledgment that our desire is adulterated by doubt can still seem anti-woman, or anti-sex, or anti-sexual-woman (or just a downer). The challenge that the new group of memoirs converges on is to show otherwise: to get at what feels true, which is that the endless internal oscillation that happens during sex needn’t sabotage our sexual experience, much less our autonomy. If questioning can’t be part of expressing female desire, that is a diminishment.

Why Is It So Hard for Women to Write About Sex? - Claire Dederer - The Atlantic

A fascinating piece — mainly about nonfiction and memoir — but I confess, it is awfully difficult for me to write sex scenes because I feel so compelled to get them right - and to provide my heroines with agency around the act.

My new favorite expert on obscenity is Melissa Mohr, the author of ”Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing,” which came out this year from Oxford University Press. (You can hear her on this hilarious episode of the linguistics podcast Lexicon Valley.) With her PhD in English from Stanford University, she is perhaps the only woman in the world I can call up on the phone out of the blue to ask about the word [barnyard fowl].
“Oh, that’s very interesting,” she says in her laughter-filled voice. “It’s a word used much more in Britain than in the U.S., where it became incredibly taboo, of course. But in Britain they still use the word for ‘watercock’ and ‘roosters’.”
After a quick trip to the Oxford English Dictionary, she tells me: “The first obscene use is in 1618, and it’s way down at meaning No. 20. But there’s also this amazing 15th-century lyric poem. Some scholars says it’s not a description of a penis, but it must be!”
She reads it to me. I take her off speaker-phone.
Mohr says the word was not tremendously common “until Victorian pornography — then it’s used quite a lot. But I suppose because romance novels are written for women, that word would have been seen as kind of masculine, kind of harder, and so previously, romance novels would have used other words.”

Ron Charles from the Washington Post discusses fowl language in Romance Novels.

Romance writers feel the heat from ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

More interesting, is the way MacLean touches on the heteronormative objectification of male violence and the prurience inherent in the Fallen Angel’s winning business model, which incorporates a women-only one-way mirrored viewing gallery alongside the ring, where ladies of all classes mingle, wearing masks, for ogling.

Sarah MacLean’s Killer Duke and Eroticizing the Thrill of the Fight (a little violence with your romance, Part 2) | Badass Romance

I’m wild about this post on No Good Duke Goes Unpunished. It’s a thoughtful, fascinating analysis of romance heroes and violence, using my latest as an example more than anything else. I wish I could hand it out to every person who looks down their nose at romance readers and the genre.