As a reader and a lover of romance novels, I am enraged by the recent trend of bookstores sticking “Adult Content Warning” stickers on romance novels. It is not only an inconvenience to have to peel off yet another sticker from my book, but it is also oppressive to the romance genre as a whole.
The reason for these stickers, according to some bookstores, is to warn parents and teenagers of sexual content in popular Booktok recommendations. While I understand the intention behind the stickers, the execution is problematic. Any book not in the children’s and YA section should be considered adult. It is on the reader to consume content responsibly, and if you are a parent, it is up to you to monitor the content your children are consuming.
But even if we assume that the stickers are necessary, why single out romance novels? There are plenty of other genres that contain explicit content, such as thrillers and horror. Why aren’t these genres also getting content warning stickers? The fact that romance novels are being targeted speaks to a larger societal issue – the devaluation and stigmatization of romance as a genre.
Romance novels are often seen as frivolous and “trashy” compared to “serious” literature. This is in spite of the fact that romance novels are a billion-dollar industry, with a loyal and passionate fanbase. And while the genre has certainly made strides in recent years in terms of diversity and inclusivity, it still faces a great deal of stigma and discrimination.
This discrimination is reflected in the way that romance novels are marketed and sold. Romance novels often have discreet and cartoon covers precisely to avoid drawing attention to their content. This is not because romance readers are ashamed of what they read, but rather because they know that the genre is stigmatized and judged by others.
The “Adult Content Warning” stickers only serve to reinforce this stigma. By singling out romance novels, they make it clear that the genre is seen as inherently more explicit and offensive than other genres. This sends a message to readers that they should be ashamed of what they are reading, and that they will be judged and ostracized if they are caught.
But why should readers feel ashamed of what they are reading? Romance novels are a form of entertainment, just like any other genre. They provide readers with a sense of escapism and comfort, which is especially important in difficult times. And they are often much more than just steamy sex scenes – they deal with important themes such as consent, healthy relationships, and self-discovery.
The fact that romance novels are growing in popularity is a testament to their importance and value. They provide readers with a way to explore their own desires and fantasies in a safe and consensual way. And they often feature strong, independent heroines who are not afraid to pursue their own happiness and fulfillment.
Instead of shaming and stigmatizing romance readers, we should be celebrating and supporting them. We should be recognizing the value and importance of the genre, and the role that it plays in the lives of millions of readers around the world. And we should be fighting against the societal attitudes that devalue and stigmatize romance as a genre.
Sticking “Adult Content Warning” stickers on romance novels is not only silly but also oppressive. It reinforces harmful societal attitudes towards the romance genre and sends a message to readers that they should be ashamed of what they are reading. We should be celebrating and supporting the romance genre, not stigmatizing and shaming it. So let’s peel off those stickers and read our smut with pride!