Suffice it to say, I pretty much sucked at being a Good Girl. Unfortunately, I wasn’t even a Bad Girl in that rebellious, vivacious, devil-may-care sort of way which gives parents grey hairs but gathers friends and fun memories for a lifetime. Except for a few bright moments when I somehow managed to embody parental and societal expectations (hey, if you throw enough darts, you’re bound to hit the target sometime), I was mostly just Disappointing Girl. Which, in turn, meant I was also Guilt-Ridden Girl because I couldn’t be the daughter I thought I should be. Because I couldn’t force my natural character into the mold that was to be “my life as a Good Girl.”
I’m not writing this to gather sympathy or to find a cathartic break-through from my childhood… I’m writing this so you understand when I say: Good Girls also don’t have sex.
While I don’t recall those exact words being said, there were enough other words said, and a general sense that such behavior was unacceptable and… well… bad, that I fully understood I should not engage in, encourage, or enjoy sex if I wanted to be considered a Good Girl. Aside from basic procreation (once I had fulfilled the pre-requisites of graduating from college, marrying a nice man my parents approved of, and achieving financial stability), sex was not something that should ever cross my mind, much less my body.
It took me several years into my adulthood to realize that Good Girls did, in fact, have sex. It took me several more to realize that Good Girls could enjoy it. And, shortly after that discovery, I realized Good Girls could proactively seek it. At my ripe old age of knowing-now-what-I-didn’t-know-then, I realize the pursuit and enjoyment of sex has no bearing whatsoever on being a Good Girl. More to the point, it’s like saying a closet door makes for a better apple. One has absolutely nothing to do with the other.
I’m probably preaching to the choir here. In fact, you’re probably thinking wow, what earth-shattering news will she give us next? That the world is round? What can I say, I’m obviously a late bloomer in this. But truth is truth, and is no less profound for having taken a long time to find it. And what does this epiphany have to do with romance writing? Well, everything.
I recently spent a weekend at a Romance Writer’s Retreat, and it was an uplifting two days filled with laughing, brainstorming, cajoling, encouraging, learning, and writing. This retreat fills my soul with happiness and a sense of contentment that this romance-writing thing is what I am meant to be doing, and I’m in damn good company doing it! While my husband thinks retreat is an excuse for horny women to get together and compare stories about length and girth and toys and favorite positions, it couldn’t be further from this. Retreat is about so much more.
The retreat gals—these romance writers—are sexual creatures. I don’t mean they are promiscuous or licentious or perverse. They are women of various ages who understand that an emotionally-mature and romantic relationship includes sex. And since Romance is a multi-billion dollar genre, there are at least a few others who agree with us on this!
Sex is one of the many ways we express ourselves as human beings. Sex is natural. Sex is good. Sex can even be great! But there is nothing embarrassing or “bad” about sex. It should not be hidden away, denied, looked down upon, or denounced. And, regardless of whether we as romance writers choose to close the doors on our sex scenes before the clothes come off, or invite the reader into the conjugal bed to count the beads of perspiration, sex is part of our stories.
I know I’m late to the party on this epiphany. I blame my failed attempts to be a Good Girl. After years of wondering what was wrong with me because I couldn’t fit into the convention of Good Girl, I have discovered a group who have shown me “Good Girl” isn’t a mold you have to squeeze yourself into, it is a model which changes to accommodate your own individuality. After a few years, I have to say it looks good on me. And there are thousands (probably more!) of romance writers who also wear it well!
Who else out there is a Good Girl, and how do you define the moniker?