Chasing the Bonnet

by Beth Graybill

Comments for Chasing the Bonnet

  • Melanie Springer Mock

    On July 28, 2010 Melanie Springer Mock wrote:

    Thank you so much for this analysis of the Amish romance and its popularity. Very thoughtful and well-researched. I've been fascinated with the readership of these books since stumbling across the Time article. My mother-in-law gave me a Beverly Lewis book several years ago, but I never read it until Time convinced me this was a phenomena worth exploring further.

    I struggle with the notion that these books are wholesome, though. I read approx. half a dozen Amish romances in the past year, and found their general message to their women audiences highly problematic: that is, that women have no real agency, and that their only hope in a meaningful life is to find a man (and a hunky Germanic one at that). Yes, of course, this is the ideal of the romance novel, but I'm troubled that so many evangelical Christians buy into this idealization of romance and of male/female relationships, and call this idealization "wholesome."

    I think this mythology creates plenty of problems for my female college students, who buy into the notions they read about in Christian romances. And--as I suggest in an presentation I wrote about Amish romances--I think the novels' fundamental message is no different than TV shows like The Bachelor, which provide an ideal setting, ideal male characters, and passive females whose only goal is to win the heart of a man.

    (And don't get me started on what I think about the misrepresentations of adoption. :) )

    Anyway, I guess I'm not the ideal reader for the Amish romance, but I'm troubled by its success in the Christian market. Thank you for analyzing the nuances of this success!

    Melanie Springer Mock

    Post a comment
  • Beth Graybill

    On August 12, 2010 Beth Graybill wrote:

    Thanks, Melanie, I'm glad for your response. As a sometimes professor of women's studies on college campuses, I share your concerns re: women's ultimate lack of power in the romance genre, in general, and its problematic message for women. Perhaps I erred in trying to present the genre as value-neutral. (Of course, Beverly Lewis, with whom I have spoken, would tell you that she looks for characters that are more out-spoken and feisty than the norm.) On the other hand, according to the women in Janice Radway's reader-response research, women read romance novels largely for escapism, not as guides for living. So perhaps we can all relax a bit, and simply try to compensate our students with healthier fare. After all, the Christian romance genre is big on a sense of comfort that God is ultimately in control.

    Post a comment
  • Ervin Beck

    On August 12, 2010 Ervin Beck wrote:

    If you want to find women characters in Mennonite serial fiction who are "more out-spoken and feisty than the norm," try the detective novels of Judy Clemens.

    Post a comment

Post a comment

Sorry, comments are closed for this journal article. If you have something to share, feel free to get in touch.