I recently read my very first bear shifter romance. I was intrigued by the fact that this is an entire (very popular) subgenre. Zoe Chant’s ‘Green Valley Shifters’ series is very popular and the covers are gorgeous. I took a dive into the bear shifter subgenre with the novella ‘Dancing Bearfoot.’
The third act twist is that he’s also a billionaire, so…..joy. Another reminder that women need money to fall in love. This is doing wonders for my self-image as a human of the female variety.
The romance itself is pretty cute. It’s like a Hallmark movie. Cute scenes with a precocious toddler, a snowball fight, dancing in the empty dining room. It was all very sweet.
So, why did I hate it?
Harriet. The absolute abysmal treatment of Harriet.
Basically, I think the romance genre is THE most misogynistic genre. Mainstream liberal feminism does a lot of blaming men for misogyny. Nah. It is not systemic. It is not patriarchy. But misogyny does exist and most of it comes from women. Misogyny comes from women policing the gender performance of other women.
If you want to learn about women, what they really think, how they really feel, the romance genre, a genre that is pure fantasy, pure female wish fulfillment is a great place to start. The majority of women today are anti-slut shaming, pro sexual liberation, etc.
Yet, if you want to see how women really feel about sluts, take a look at the romance genre.
One character trope that we see pop up all the time in romance is the slutty, tawdry, caring FAR too much about her appearance (because women should care but not TOO much), and sexually assertive female competition character. This character is sometimes the waitress, or the real estate agent, or a coworker. Harriet is the ‘performing femininity all wrong’ female competition character in this book.
Harriet wears what she wants, drives what she wants, goes after the men that she is attracted to. She’s a single mother who makes time to be involved in her son’s preschool (letting Patricia know what foods and activities are not acceptable for her child) while also buying and selling real estate. Like a bad ass BOSS BITCH. I fucking stan Harriet. Fuck Lee and Patricia and their slut-shaming, purple car-hating ways. Y’all wish you had enough confidence to wear teased 1980s hair and drive a purple car. Fuck off, Lee. Who gave you the right to decide how reasonably shiny a purple car can be? A woman makes her own money, is self-made, and not afraid to let a man know she’s feeling him? Go off, queen. Have as shiny a purple car as you fucking want.
There is a long tradition in media, particularly media produced by and geared at women, of demonizing hyper-femininity. Women who like clothes and fashion are “silly.” Women who buy designer purses are the villains.
This is always the character compared to the main character to show us, the readers, what the “right” way of performing femininity is.
A friend of Lee’s says that all women wear silly shoes (like the “silly” heels Harriet was wearing in snow-a decision that affects fucking nobody-yet these judgy main characters be tearing her down) and Lee thinks about Patrica in snow boots and says “not all women.”
Patricia can cook and is nurturing, but she isn’t too prissy or vain.
Women are judged by their appearance constantly, but god forbid a women actually likes looking good.
Women are conditioned to view success as material items-yet God forbid a woman makes her own money and wants to show off the luxury she has fucking earned, with a “silly” designer handbag.
The way both of the main characters judged poor Harriet made me detest them.
Harriet is the fucking hero of the story.
Patricia talks about how nobody in the town has much money. It’s a shithole town with a dying economy. Harriet up in here making money moves and trying to bring some life and industry to the town. She’s not the villain for buying “family farms.” A sale of property is something that both parties have to agree to. She isn’t the government. She doesn’t have eminent domain. If both parties agree to the sale, then how is Harriet the bad guy? If they agreed to sell, I have to imagine the farm wasn’t doing super well and probably would have gone under eventually anyway, leaving them with nothing. Harriet saved them from destitution.
Also, farms are so fucking useless most of the time. The U.S is just not an agricultural nation anymore. That’s why the U.S government subsidizes corn. Taxpayer dollars pay farmers to grow more corn then could ever possibly be used (although they sure as hell try and that’s why corn syrup is in everything) and then the excess corn is fucking burned every year.
Farms are useless. In the U.S at least. And if you can NOT find a way to make a profit from your farm, then you shouldn’t keep it. Why you taking up land growing food nobody fucking wants?
Such anti-capitalist nonsense in this book. Harriet did nothing wrong.
And you could say, “Jyvur, it ain’t that deep.”
I do think the values that are spread via fiction are deep. The repeated use of particular character archetypes belies societal values. Not only that, but by continuing to use these tropes without subversion, writers ensure they will be incorporated into the value systems of the next generation.
The misogyny that permeates the romance genre and belies the insidious gender policing of women BY WOMEN-not men (men would fuck us if we walked around in potato sacks-they ain’t the problem) it is wrong. It is ugly. It is a demonization of any woman who is sexually assertive (really “vultures”?? How many nasty words were used in this book to describe any woman who DARE show her interest in a man). It is a demonization of any woman who is “too feminine”-whatever in the fuck that is supposed to mean.
And then the demonization of entrepreneurial grit was just an extra little dose of bullshit. Common in fiction, but not exclusively the romance genre.
Now that I’ve got that out of the way, what did I like about the book?
The chemistry between Lee and Patricia was cute and if they weren’t both fucking misogynists hating on Harriet for no reason, I probably would have really enjoyed their cute romance and sweet chemistry. The snowball fight was adorable and the sex scenes were nothing special, but serviceable enough.
This has been an episode of Jyvur rant reviewing amazon fluff.