If You Can't Beat'em, Join 'em: Using the Romance Series to Confront Gender Stereotypes

Publication year
The ALAN Review

This is the conclusion:

Once students start to look at these romance series through the lens of gender expectations, they might still read these series just as much -- but there is a chance that they might become aware of both how sexist the series is and how these novels promote the idea that involvement in a traditional romantic relationship is the answer to any girl's problem. Generally, with young girls, the process of questioning the way females are portrayed in the books they read is a bit threatening. They want to avoid being labeled as "feminists," since in middle school and high school they associate the term with females who are not accepted by males because they appear too independent. So this questioning process may be slow, but, over a period of time, with gentle urging from the teacher, romance-series readers can learn to be more objective about what they read.

Thus, since many of our female students have a natural attraction to the romance series either as a way of finding solace in an increasingly demanding world or as a way to reassure themselves of happy endings, we as teachers need to use this interest as an opening instead of fighting the losing battle of warning students against reading them.