Want to Know What Consent Looks Like? Start Reading Romance Novels

When we’re writing these scenes, the author has control over every aspect: when, where, and what the characters are thinking and feeling. So we have the power to create something sexy, wonderful and totally consensual. All we have to do is pause, look at what we write, and make sure all the characters have real agency.

But it’s not just sex! A lot of what has been coded “hero behavior” in our brains isn’t cool anymore. Stuff like exerting control or the heroine, or following her home “for her safety” and “because he cares.” As authors we have a choice about what portray is heroic behavior, so we should use our power for good.

What do you wish that people who still think of romance novels as “bodice rippers” knew about what sex is actually like in romance novels today?

Rodale: I wish people knew that in romance we’re not ashamed. We’re really damn proud of it and we don’t feel guilty about it. And you notice these characters never feel guilty for enjoying themselves. Not to mention, that in a lot of [older] literature, the heroine dies after they have sex. There is some sort of punishment for a woman daring to enjoy herself. But with romance novels it’s like, “No. She’s going to have a great time and live happily ever after.”

Gallop: I would love romance novels to actually set the agenda for depictions of fulfilling and consensual sex in a way that no other area in popular culture is doing. Not least because every other era of popular culture is massively male dominated. There’s a misconception out there that consenting sex means stopping every two minutes going, “Is this okay? Is it okay if I do this? Is it okay if I do this?” And of course that’s not it. I would just love to see many more people actively turn to romance novels to understand what really drives fantastic, great, fulfilling consensual sex.

Romance novels have come along way, but what do you believe still needs to be done to push the genre forward?

Rodale: I might be alone in this, but I think there’s a space for the characters to not have perfect sex the first time. People want sex to be perfect on the first time, but in reality it doesn’t always happen like that. I love [when writers] explore the process of two people learning each other. I think that’s sexy and romantic. Then I think we need more overall inclusivity and favorable depictions of nontraditional relationships. Romance is still very one man, one woman, who are probably going to get married. That works for a lot of people and that’s great. But I think that can also be kind of limiting. So I think it’d be interesting to read those stories and explore other definitions of happy ever after for people.

Samantha Leach is the associate culture editor at Glamour. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @_sleach.

The Ripped Bodice Is the Only Romance Bookstore in the Country. For the Sisters Who Opened It, It’s a Love Story

The Ripped Bodice, which counts Stacey Abrams as a fan, officially opened in the Culver City neighborhood of Los Angeles in 2016. With books hanging from the ceiling, walls of antique bureaus that look like they’re ripped from a 19th century heroine’s boudoir, and a one-eyed Chihuahua roaming the aisles (their bookstore dog, Fitzwilliam Waffles)—it’s every inch the fantasy. But its impact on the community has been real, and meaningful. The shop has become a staple for prominent romance novelists on tour, as well as a bucket list destination for readers who for far too long felt marginalized within the greater literary world. And in response to their visitors’ frequent requests for more diverse stories—”Customers would walk in the door saying, “I want books with an Asian heroine. Do you have any books about people with disabilities, or with Muslim characters?” says Koch—they now publish an annual diversity report advocating for more nuanced stories in the genre.

Then in 2018, in true meet-cute fashion, a mystery woman walked into shop and offered them an opportunity to reach an even wider audience. The Ripped Bodice is only a few blocks away from the Sony Pictures lot. So when Executive Vice President of Drama Development Lauren Stein got wind of her new neighbors, she saw an opportunity. As the studio behind the juggernaut Outlander TV adaptation, Sony knows the value of a good romance. So execs tapped the Koch sisters to help them find the next great love story, giving them an overall deal to develop romance-focused projects.

Jenn LeBlanc

With the rom-com renaissance well underway, it seems obvious to turn to romance novels for source material, but the Koch sisters say the books are shockingly underutilized. “Hollywood ignores the romance genre as a possibility for adaptation, with the exception of places like Lifetime or Hallmark,” says Koch. “[Because] Hollywood executives are men, and they’re just not that interested in a genre that’s dominated by women.”

But the Koch sisters, and the all-female team they work with at Sony, are aiming to change that—with two highly-confidential projects already in production. Of their work as the cool whisperers’ of romance, Koch says, “[Our goal] is to bridge the gap between Hollywood and the romance community. To bring the authors that our people are really excited about to the screen.”

Samantha Leach is the associate culture editor at Glamour. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @_sleach.

The Ripped Bodice Was the First Romance Bookstore in the Country. For the Sisters Who Opened It, It’s a Love Story

The Ripped Bodice, which counts Stacey Abrams as a fan, officially opened in the Culver City, California, in 2016. With books hanging from the ceiling, walls of antique bureaus that look like they’re straight from a 19th-century heroine’s boudoir, and a one-eyed Chihuahua roaming the aisles (their bookstore dog, Fitzwilliam Waffles)—it’s every inch the fantasy. But its impact on the community has been real, and meaningful. The shop has become a staple for prominent romance novelists on tour, as well as a bucket-list destination for readers who for far too long felt marginalized within the greater literary world. And in response to their visitors’ frequent requests for more diverse stories—”Customers would walk in the door saying, ‘I want books with an Asian heroine. Do you have any books about people with disabilities, or with Muslim characters?'” says Leah—they now publish an annual diversity report, advocating for more nuanced stories in the genre.

Then in 2018, in true meet-cute fashion, a mystery woman walked into the shop and offered them an opportunity to reach an even wider audience. The Ripped Bodice is only a few blocks away from the Sony Pictures lot. So when executive vice president of drama development Lauren Stein got wind of her new neighbors, she saw an opportunity. As the studio behind the juggernaut Outlander TV adaptation, Sony knows the value of a good romance. So execs tapped the Koch sisters to help them find the next great love story, giving them an overall deal to develop romance-focused projects.

Jenn LeBlanc

With the rom-com renaissance well underway, it seems obvious to turn to romance novels for source material, but the Koch sisters say the books are shockingly underutilized. “Hollywood ignores the romance genre as a possibility for adaptation, with the exception of places like Lifetime or Hallmark,” says Leah. “[Because] Hollywood executives are men, and they’re just not that interested in a genre that’s dominated by women.”

But the Koch sisters, and the all-female team they work with at Sony, are aiming to change that—with two highly confidential projects already in production. Of their work as the cool whisperers of romance, Leah says, “[Our goal] is to bridge the gap between Hollywood and the romance community. To bring the authors that our people are really excited about to the screen.”

Samantha Leach is the associate culture editor at Glamour. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @_sleach.

Hugh Grant Is Recreating Love Actually Scenes To Try To Stop Brexit

For years, Grant had a reputation as a charming playboy. Reports of his romantic life, coupled with his wink-y, roguish interview style, gave him an appearance more like one of his bad-boy characters than a woke activist. But though his dimples are the same, his behavior has changed over the years. Grant’s Twitter account, complete with a picture of Audrey Hepburn dressed as a nun, posts constant political content. He’s also an active board member at Hacked Off, a campaign to hold press in the UK accountable. His quotes these days contain fewer and fewer witticisms about tea with the Queen and more comments like his August tweet in which he raged against current Prime Minister Boris Johnson, “You will not f**k with my children’s future. You will not destroy the freedoms my grandfather fought two world wars to defend.”

Asked by reporters about his habit of knocking on random doors, Grant referenced a gig from long before his Love Actually days. “I did used to sell fire extinguishers door-to-door,” he said. “I was very good.”

Ah, Hugh! Same dry humor, new desire to make the world a better place for his grandchildren. It’s just like he says—“If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” And if you open your door in London this week, Hugh Grant might actually be all around.

Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour.

Hugh Grant Is Re-Creating ‘Love Actually’ Scenes to Try to Stop Brexit

For years Grant had a reputation as a charming playboy. Reports of his romantic life, coupled with his winky, roguish interview style, gave him a semblance more akin to one of his bad-boy characters than a woke activist. But though his dimples are the same, his behavior has changed over the years. Grant’s Twitter account, complete with a picture of Audrey Hepburn dressed as a nun, posts constant political content. He’s also an active board member at Hacked Off, a campaign to hold the press in the U.K. accountable. His quotes these days contain fewer and fewer witticisms about tea with the queen and more comments like his August tweet in which he raged against current Prime Minister Boris Johnson, “You will not f**k with my children’s future. You will not destroy the freedoms my grandfather fought two world wars to defend.”

Asked by reporters about his habit of knocking on random doors, Grant referenced a gig from long before his Love Actually days. “I did use to sell fire extinguishers door-to-door,” he said. “I was very good.”

Ah, Hugh! Same dry humor, new desire to make the world a better place for his grandchildren. It’s just like he says—“If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” And if you open your door in London this week, Hugh Grant might actually be all around.

Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Took a Secret Trip to the U.S. for Thanksgiving

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry have already announced (via a spokesperson for the Duke and Duchesses of Sussex) that the two are taking some much-needed time off around Christmastime this year. Though the palace didn’t confirm where or what, exactly, that entailed, rumors arose that this family vacation was set to include a trip to the United States to visit Markle’s mother, Doria Ragland, in California.

And while the couple still hasn’t shared their itinerary—they do like their privacy, after all—it seems they may have traveled to the U.S. a little earlier than anticipated, at least according to royal reporters. This week on the HeirPod podcast, royal reporter Omid Scobie and ITV News producer Lizzie Robinson shared that the Sussexes were away for Thanksgiving and likely already in the U.S.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in London on November 9, 2019 before their trip.

CHRIS JACKSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Scobie explained that the couple wouldn’t be at an upcoming reception because, well, they aren’t in the United Kingdom. “The Sussexes are away,” Scobie said. “They are on their break right up until Christmas…they celebrated Thanksgiving privately with close family, which is lovely.” Scobie then added, “The Sussexes are on official leave at the moment so there are no expectations for them to be there. I think it’s quite normal. We’ve seen members of the royal family on absence on their own personal leave in the past.”

Robinson added, “And we know they’re away so they’re not even in the country to attend.” Later she shared, “[They need the break] and probably being away, back home for Meghan in the U.S.”

It’s likely they’ll stay for Christmas, too. A few weeks ago, a palace spokesperson tweeted about their holiday plans, writing, “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are looking forward to extended family time toward the end of this month. Having spent the last two Christmases at Sandringham, [the couple] will spend the holiday this year, as a new family, with the duchess’s mother Doria.”

Kamala Harris Drops Out Of The 2020 Race

Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) has announced that she’s dropped out of the 2020 presidential race. The official word came less than an hour after news got out that Harris had told some staff she planned to end her campaign.

In a tweet, she confirmed the rumors were true, posting a message to Twitter to thank those who backed her bid and to assure supporters she’ll keep fighting for her values—whether she’s on the ballot in 2020 or not.

“To my supporters, it is with deep regret—but also with deep gratitude—that I am suspending my campaign today,” she wrote. “But I want to be clear with you: I will keep fighting every day for what this campaign has been about. Justice for the People. All the people.”

When she entered the race several months ago, Harris was considered a frontrunner. The former attorney general of California, Harris is the second black woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate and the sole black woman in the chamber now. She gained attention for her tough approach to questioning in confirmation hearings—with s standout performances questioning both Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his current attorney general, William Barr. Harris first announced her campaign on January 21—Martin Luther King Jr. Day. She would run for president, she said, to “stand up and fight for the best of who we are.”

But despite high enthusiasm for her campaign, she struggled to find both her audience and a financial foothold in the crowded field. The New York Times reports that Harris had written in an email on Tuesday that “she lacked the money needed to fully finance a competitive campaign.” Also, her prosecutorial record had alienated some voters, who couldn’t reconcile the fact that Harris had enforced policies that disproportionately affected black communities. Moreover, her poll numbers had dropped into the single digits and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg—a late entrant into the race, but also a billionaire—had pulled ahead in fifth place above her in recent weeks.

Still, some on Twitter pointed out that even though Harris’s numbers had been shrinking, she’s now out of the race while some white men with even lower standings have continued on.

“Kamala Harris dropped out of the 2020 race before Tom ‘Who?’ Steyer, John ‘Who?’ Delaney and Michael ‘Why?’ Bloomberg. That is…. telling,” HuffPost reporter Emma Gray noted.

“There’s something really wrong with a system where Kamala Harris can’t make it to Iowa and billionaires with no base and no message are just gliding through,” someone else added.

And while supporters applauded the historic nature of her run, several couldn’t help but highlight how sexism and racism—and the combination of the two, in Harris’s case—must have factored into her campaign.

Of course, this won’t be the last we hear from Harris. She’ll be an essential person to watch during the all-but-guaranteed impeachment hearings headed for the Senate, and her name has surfaced over and over as a potential vice president or attorney general.

In the meantime, friends, relatives, and supporters have rallied around her, with her husband sharing a loving shot of them together. “I’ve got you,” Doug Emhoff wrote. “As always.”

The New Best Beauty Products of December 2019

Beauty brands are dropping new products at lightning speed, and sorting through every eye shadow palette, CBD serum, and mascara launch can start to feel like a full-time job. Lucky for you (and not to brag, but us too), that’s literally what our beauty team is paid to do. We dig through the piles of stuff that crosses our desks each month to narrow down the best new beauty products worth your time and money. If you’re wondering whether that new shampoo, eyeliner, or moisturizer is really as good as it claims to be, you can count that we’ve tried them and will be sharing our favorite things each month, below.

While December’s launches are largely holiday-oriented (check out some of our gift guides for more faves), we also found the perfect vegan nail polish, a moisturizing primer with Victoria Beckham’s seal of approval, and a fragrance you’ll want to wear to every holiday party. Check back throughout the month as add more new products we can’t stop talking about.

All products featured on Glamour are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

‘I’m on Antidepressants—And I’m Pregnant’

Research on the subject has historically produced some scary findings. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the type of drug typically used to treat depression, have been associated with an increased risk of certain birth defects. But many of these older studies compared pregnant depressed women who are taking antidepressants to pregnant women with no history of depression, which is “like comparing apples and oranges,” says Pooja Lakshmin M.D., a perinatal psychiatrist and clinical assistant professor at the George Washington School of Medicine.

But newer studies are more nuanced, finally comparing the right control group—pregnant women with depression who take antidepressants vs. pregnant women dealing with untreated prenatal depression. In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did a critical review of past studies and added new research. They found that while some antidepressants can up the risk of birth defects, the overall risk is “very low.”

On top of that, recent research has found that not treating depression during pregnancy can also be harmful. “People are so worried about harming the baby with meds. But if you have prenatal depression and you don’t treat it you can still cause harm,” says Dr. Lakshmin. “Either decision comes with a risk.”

Untreated prenatal depression actually mirrors some of the same risks previously thought to be associated with taking meds for depression, such as preeclampsia, low birth weight and preterm delivery. Additionally, untreated prenatal depression can limit a woman’s ability to self-care, eat well and keep up with doctor’s visits—all things which studies show to be disruptive to maternal bonding and potentially harmful to the baby for years to come. “Women with prenatal depression are at risk for future depressive episodes and a lot of research shows that their parenting skills are negatively impacted,” says Darius Tandon, Ph.D., a psychologist and principal investigator for multiple Mothers and Babies projects, an evidence-based program, which aims to prevent postpartum depression. “There is evidence of negative outcomes not only in the first year of life but persisting into toddlers and school-going age or even into adolescence.”

The Stigma of Being a Medicated Mom

The good news is that prenatal depression is very much treatable. The bad news is that many women forego treatment because they can’t get past the stigma of seeking help.

In These Books, Happily Ever After Is Just the Beginning

Romance is a billion-dollar industry. In 2016, these novels made up 23% of the overall fiction market, and they consistently out-perform all other genres. But while we’ve reclaimed the rom-com in film, these books are still often relegated to being “guilty pleasures,” or considered “mommy porn.” This week we’re discussing these overlooked, often powerfully feminist books—that just so happen to have a happy ending.

There are many hallmarks of a good romance novel. Meet-cutes, fiery chemistry, strong heroines, sex. But one thing that’s a must-have? Happy endings. It’s a genre mandate.

IRL, readers know that happily ever after doesn’t necessarily mean forever. But in books—from Jane Austen to Nora Roberts—the marriage plot has been part of the allure: picture perfect ending, roll the credits, no fights over who does the dishes. Which is why it might come as a surprise that in the past few years there’s been a rise in romance novels that solely focus on couples in the post-“HEA” stage of their lives. A marriage or relationship is in trouble, leaving couples attempting to overcome these real-life issues and fall back in love.

Post-happily ever after is something New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover explored in her 2018 book, All Your Perfects, which centers on a couple having fertility issues. Their struggle to conceive rocks their marriage and forces them to find their footing again. Hoover, who is also the author of the upcoming novel Regretting You, argues, “A person doesn’t need the perfect marriage or the perfect spouse or the perfect family to find fulfillment, and I think it’s important to portray that.”

Readers agreed. “I’ve received many emails after writing All Your Perfects from readers who state the book helped them open up communication with their spouse, and even saved their marriage,” says Hoover.