I seem to have written a feminist romance. Which is interesting because I’ve had a long and complicated relationship with the label of feminist. I think now I am in a place where I feel able to claim it, but I still have a lot of opinions that are not really mainstream feminist. On abortion, for instance. I do truly believe that life begins with conception and, therefore, it is as wrong to kill an unborn child as it is to kill a baby after it has been born. Hattie, however, the heroine of Flirting With The Camera, thinks differently from me on this issue. She had an abortion in her early twenties and she is okay with that. It was a hard decision in difficult circumstances, but it has not ruined her life.
Abortion is a rare occurence in romance novels. Accidental pregnancy is EXTREMELY common, but almost every heroine I’ve ever read dismisses the notion of abortion instantly. Partly this is for plot reasons – a baby is an ongoing potential source of conflict. But I think even more than that it’s because there is an idealised notion of a romance heroine: limited sexual experience and preferably a virgin, not bitchy, often lacking self-esteem and having low body-confidence. And she must be a maternal woman who would never dream of having an abortion. Hattie is, um, not exactly like that. She’s confident in herself and her body, she enjoys sex, she can be a little bit bitchy at times, and she not only contemplates having an abortion, she does it.
I love her.
I really, really love her.
Usually, I’m very sanguine about criticism of my books. I don’t think they are heartbreaking works of staggering genius. I don’t expect everyone to love them. It’s fine.
I don’t think I can be dispassionate about criticism of Hattie. I don’t think Flirting With The Camera is a perfect book and I can see why not everyone will fall for Tom. But I think that if – when – people start criticising Hattie, I will have to go and hide in the corner and have a little cry.
Anyway, you can see what Jackie of Romance Novels for Feminists thinks about her – and the whole subject of abortion in romance – here.