Recently, I was incensed–yet again–as someone maligned romance novels as being nothing more than formulaic pap. Which got me to thinking about the phrase that pushes all of my Angry Buttons, and that is “bodice ripper.”

Yes, romances used to feature scenes of forced seduction. Rape. The ripping of bodices. That was close to thirty years ago. As all of us know (and believe me, I do know I’m preaching to the converted, but I can’t exactly go out and find every single ignorant person, can I?), those types of books went out with shoulder pads and leg warmers.

Thirty years ago, I was 15 years old. I was still reading some romance, but not nearly as much as a few years previous–I’d like to say it was because I found the ‘forced seduction’ offensive, but I don’t think I was that self-aware. Just suffice it to say I didn’t like romance as much anymore.

Thirty years ago, I didn’t know about the internet, my husband, my son, Brooklyn, birth control pills, Barnard College or Clive Owen. My best friend was a boy who lived across the street. He and I are still friends, only he’s got two boys of his own, one of whom just entered high school.

So why are people so determined to hang onto something that is so clearly of the past? I think it’s a combination of ignorance and women’s passive acceptance that what we like is okay to make fun of. Imagine if the same standard applied to other forms of popular culture: “Oh, you like rock’n’roll, well is Electric Light Orchestra your favorite band, then? No? Maybe you prefer Billy Joel? It all sounds the same anyway, doesn’t it, with that music and vocals and stuff.” It’s like allowing someone who’s eaten Italian ONCE, or even NEVER, to tell you it’s all tomato-ey and pasta and stuff, not allowing for the diversity of regions, or the possibility of other types of sauces.

Ignorance makes me crazy, which is why I will NEVER proffer an opinion of a subject about which I know little about. I wish other people had the same respect.

How about you? How do you combat ignorant comments?

Thanks for letting me rant,