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From Kiersten White, author of the upcoming YA Paranormalcy
, on romance in YA
"But I knew—KNEW—that we were meant to be together. And if I could just figure it out, convince him, I’d be able to root out his personal demons. He would confess he simply feared he wasn’t good enough for me/was actually protecting me, and we’d be able to have our happily-ever-after.
As long as I earned it. As long as I was good, and pure, and self-sacrificing. Then I could make it work.
Romantic, isn’t it?
Wait. You mean that was creepy? You mean that no girl should ever, EVER have to “earn” the right to be treated well in a relationship? That if a guy treats her like that, he is not worthy of her?
[....] So here’s to making sure that our girls know they are worth far, far more than a bad boy. That they shouldn’t have to work to earn the right to be treated like they deserve. That they shouldn’t have to sacrifice themselves or their dreams for someone to love them."
It's good to know some YA authors are listening.
I particularly appreciated her emphasis on how women, and especially young girls, are socialized to believe that they must earn
their happiness, and in earning it they must compromise themselves (which isn't portrayed as compromising oneself at all, but rather making a general compromise for the good of the relationship if not solely for the boy).
I think that, in regards to relationships, there is a very strong American rhetoric of "making it work." Couples are encouraged to compromise and to be flexible enough to take as well as give, which all in all is sound advice. Gender roles throw a wrench into the equation because women are already encouraged by society to give more than they take. And so when you look at the current trend in romantic YA (and especially in paranormal), what Americans see--because it's what they expect
to see--is a couple "compromising" when what's actually occurring
is a greater portion of the burden of "compromise" being shouldered by the woman.