Orientalism, Freedom, and Feminism in Popular Culture

Publication year

Most of the time [...] the writers of contemporary sheik romance novels show little awareness [...], blithely assuming that American women are indeed free, and that part of their responsibility as free Americans is to liberate less fortunate Muslim men and women, bringing feminist reform to Oriental cultures. In this regard, the discourse of Orientalism in romance novels dovetails with the "War on Terror" discourse justifying military intervention as a way of liberating Iraqi and Afghani women and children. Still, Mayne's and Marton's novels show that these assumptions are not universal, nor are America's military interventions in the Middle East viewed uncritically in romance novels. The subgenre of sheik romance novels is evolving rapidly and it is no longer possible to make vague generalizations about their Orientalist content based on samples from the 1980s or even 1990s. (200)