Reinforcing stereotypes through romance – Mills and Boon style

I have never read a Mills and Boon novel in my entire life, and am proud of it. I can go as far as to say that touching them might soil my hands. Even during my girls school days – a time to channel all that naughty hormones into sleazy paperbacks, I hardly knew about it, but its presence was made felt through whisperings in coded language; “M and B”, or simply as “the goods”. Now it seems that there is no letting up of the archetype romance novel as it celebrates its centennial at the Guardian. But please, is a photo gallery of truly appalling titles with seriously offensive racial/gender stereotypes that necessary?

Image from the Guardian

Image from The Guardian
Image from The Guardian

By Angry Malay Woman

I like plants.


  1. Awful!

    I always see the Harlequin novels in the stores with the “sheikh” and “desert prince” stereotypes, but never anything like that pic at the bottom!

    what I find annoying about the books is that sometimes the lead guy nearly (or actually) RAPES the woman and it’s portrayed as an erotic experience.

  2. The ‘romantic rape’ is indeed very disturbing, but it is quite common. Often it’s the ‘hottest’ scene in the book, and pretty much always, the female lead ends with the rapist happily ever after. I always ask my friends and other women why they read these novels, and they usually say that it’s ‘relaxing’ and ‘easy reading’. But without realising it, they’re actually passively internalising extreme and unrealistic gender stereotypes. Men have their so-called lad’s mags with fantasy women, women conjure up in their imagination sexually aggressive brutes as romantic heroes through these books.

  3. Hello, My name is Sarah and I’m a junior in college working on a writing seminar paper about romance novels. I’d very much like to use the contents of your blog here in my paper, and any sources you used. Would that be okay?

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