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Welcome to the Conversation


Women’s activities — both entertainment and employment — are often considered less serious or less important than men’s. Often they’re even deemed unworthy pursuits, unsuitable for women to engage in and enjoy. Women regularly find themselves justifying their choices and preferences at great length or, alternately, hiding them. In the realm of entertainment, nowhere is this more obvious than in the fiction many women choose to read.

UNSUITABLE is a space for open, frank and informed conversation about women and popular fiction historically and today, as well as related topics. We welcome you to join in the conversation both here on the blog and at our events throughout the year.

Click here to learn more about us.

Regarding comments: All comments are subject to moderator approval. Anonymous comments will not be approved. No slander or hate language is allowed on this site. This is a space for informed, educated conversation. We ask visitors to maintain that level of discussion. We welcome your participation.


  1. For a timid only child books opened doors to possibilities. I started reading romance novels with Kathleen Woodweiss as a preteen. While it showed me what I wanted in a lover (someone considerate and honorable) it also gave me courage to stand up for myself. As a teen and later as an adult I was often the only girl or the only white person participating in events. I learned that I could wait on the sidelines or plunge in. In the south we teach our girls to be ladies but we don’t often teach them to be women. Romance novels sparked an idea that I could.

    • Customary gender roles are a challenge to ignore and shed, it’s true, Sherri. So often it takes a strong female role model to inspire a girl to disobey social mores. The most powerfully influential fictional role models for me were those who struggled yet triumphed, which certainly describes the typical heroine of twenty-first century romantic fiction.

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