“‘This..stuff?’ Oh. Okay. I see. You think this stuff has nothing to do with you.”-Miranda Priestly.
So, a few months ago I decided to watch both Fifty Shades of Grey (2015, 2017) movies, which then lead me to reading Grey (for those of you unfamiliar, this is the first book retold from Christian’s point of view), which then lead me to thinking: What is with romance novels/movies and women in publishing?
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for women in publishing. Hell, I even want to go into publishing. But, that doesn’t exclude the fact that there’s this trend that I keep noticing about romance and women in publishing.
Our top contenders include: You’ve Got Mail (1998), Never Been Kissed (1999), How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003), 13 Going on 30 (2004), The Devil Wears Prada (2006), Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009), The Proposal (2009), Letters to Juliette (2010), Younger , The Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy (2015-Present), (2011-12; 2015-18), Lauren Layne’s Sex, Love, and Stiletto Series (2013-15), The Bold Type (2017-Present), etc. And, who can forget the most famous one: Sex & the City (1998-2004).
I just have this nagging feeling that there’s something to be said about this, or explored, or I don’t really know.
It’s not that these women in these books and movies aren’t powerful—hello, have you fucking seen Meryl Streep in The Devil Wear’s Prada? All, I’m saying is she strikes fear into your heart with an Oscar-worthy performance. So, if it doesn’t have to do with power, then what does it have to do with?
I’ve read romance novels where women are cops, teachers, wedding planners, etc., and I’ve seen movies with the same career sets. Maybe publishing—especially with magazines—is glamorous? Maybe I’m just over thinking this?
On a side note, if we do have this trend continue can we have women actually like the magazines they end up working with à la The Bold Type and Lauren Layne’s Sex, Love, and Stilettos series, instead of women like both Andys (How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and The Devil Wears Prada) sneering down at working for a “woman’s magazine” instead of “serious” journalism? I know that’s probably one long, grammatically incorrect sentence, but think about it: What’s so wrong with working for a woman’s magazine? Nothing. Just like there’s nothing wrong with “serious journalism.” In fact, women’s magazines, like Cosmo and Teen Vogue, are super fucking important.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I can see why in romance women end up in glamourous jobs like magazine ones, but I guess what was really bothering me is that their boyfriend’s like Christian Grey end up owning their own companies or being publishing big shots or shitting on their jobs or being hockey players. Maybe, it’s really an inequality thing? Like, why not have the woman be the editor-in-chief of a magazine, while her boyfriend or girlfriend or partner is, I don’t know, something else. Or, maybe, it doesn’t matter what people do for a living, or maybe this is just a larger conversation? Maybe I’m looking for a reason to be bothered by this trend when, really, there’s no reason to be bothered by it. Maybe, I just want my life to be a glamorous?
2 thoughts on “Real Talk: Rom-Coms and Publishing”
I have a lot of thoughts on this. It’s definitely not a coincidence, but I can’t quite pin point what it is exactly. I know statistically women out rank men in publishing (don’t have the link on hand). However, more men in publishing have higher positions (CEO, Presidents, VPs, etc.).
I think Rom-Coms place women in publishing so that they can have their “girlfriends” always around to presumably propel the plot. The “sleeping with the boss” trope is common and makes sense for the ratio of men to women in the publishing industry. There’s sort of a rooster in the hen house link to the publishing setting. However, I can’t decide if this is offensive. By Bechdel test standards I’m sure at least some of these movies/shows pass, but I’d say most wouldn’t. On the other hand, I’m a feminist and LOVE Rom-Coms.
Lastly, I just think publishing is the logical career for creatives with ambition. It balances the romantic and emotional with go-getter strong-headed protagonists that we all know an love.
In conclusion, I decided to pursue a career in publishing after watching The Proposal, so Rom-Coms are great, publishing is great, but patriarchy is lurking everywhere.
Haha, I fully heartedly agree with you! Like there was something I couldn’t quite pinpoint about it that was bothering me, as well. And, yeah, I feel like the only see like women in high powered positions in only a few of these shows/movies, and not many of them are portrayed all too well (Miranda Priestly). I really liked your thoughts on this!