"Expressing" Herself: The Romance Novel and the Feminine Will to Power

Publication year

In order to attempt to understand the romance reader's desperate and increasing need for the hero's viewpoint, it is necessary to advance beyond Radway's heroine-centered theories of nurturance to Michel Foucault's analysis of power gained through confession. [...] The female reader interprets the hypermasculine, "alpha male" hero's confessions as a symbol of his "purification," colonizing the patriarchal economy of use and transforming it into the "salvation" of a matriarchal power based on a female economy of exchange. (20-21)

The scenes I will be examining span the whole genre as little else in the romance does because they are an integral part of the individual romance's sex scenes. These particular scenes are, however, themselves sometimes scorned by both critics and readers, making them doubly interesting. Occasionally when the heroine has just given birth, the hero breast-feeds from her in scenes to which readers' reactions are, according to one reader, "extreme - no in-between. Loved it or hated it. Erotic or silly." (23)