The comment was met with swift backlash from romance readers, with a multitude of think pieces to boot. (One even prompted the hashtag #RomanceNovelsForHillary, a call to create a syllabus for Clinton to teach her about the genre. ) As it turns out, having women "thrown on a horse and ridden off into the distance" is a trope that many had furiously worked to dismantle, long before 2017.
We talked about it among ourselves and that became a thing of like, "Oh, if you're writing a romance that's actually relevant to today's reader, you need to include [a condom]. [Explicitly emphasizing] consent functioned the same way.
The whole romance novel industry is about women being grabbed and thrown on a horse and ridden off into the distance," Clinton said during a recording of the Post’s Cape Up podcast.
What do you wish that people who still think of romance novels as "bodice rippers" knew about what sex is actually like in romance novels today?
Gallop: I would love romance novels to actually set the agenda for depictions of fulfilling and consensual sex in a way that no other area in popular culture is doing.
In 2019, romance novels have evolved past bodice rippers and forced seductions—thanks to the legions of fans and writers who have fought to push the romance novel industry forward.
I would just love to see many more people actively turn to romance novels to understand what really drives fantastic, great, fulfilling consensual sex.
Take it from Hillary Clinton, who told the Washington Post in a 2017 interview about the Me Too movement that the novels normalize men behaving badly. "You understand why somebody might believe that if you watch movies, and if you see how men often are very aggressive toward women who love it.
But with romance novels it’s like, "No.
Of course, as even women who’ve never cracked open a romance novel know, conversations about progress are different from actual progress, and romance fans are the first to concede that there’s still more work to be done.
Here, Gallop and Rodale open up about the genre’s evolution, what Fifty Shades of Grey taught them all, and why romance novels should be required reading for everyone who wants to have good sex.
Cindy Gallop, creator of the sex-tech platform MakeLoveNotPorn, and Some Like It Scandalous author Maya Rodale are two prominent changemakers behind the push for better representations of consent, and the women have teamed up to help ensure sex scenes go beyond the heroine “wanting it” and to showcase women fully in control of their relationships and desires.