On Masculinity and Romance Novels

I have a piece up today over at Bitch Magazine’s blog about the author Bill Spence, an 89-year-old white, cis, heterosexual man, and also the person behind the penname “Jessica Blair.” As Jessica Blair, he has written over twenty romance novels in the last two decades. When interviewed about this recently, there was discussion of whether writing romance novels affected Spence’s masculinity.

An excerpt from my piece:

Spence’s masculinity is a source of concern because romance novels are the most gendered of all literature genres. Romance has been derisively nicknamed “chick lit” or “mommy porn.” For a man to be a successful author of romance novels (which at 22 published Jessica Blair books, Spence is certainly successful), the implication is that he must shed his masculinity in order to be left with what is necessary to craft these tales: his feminine side.

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