In the Concrete Now: Investigating Feminist Challenges to Popular Romance Production


This paper assesses feminist position-taking in the realm of capitalist book production through a close reading of four novels written by Joi Barrios for the Rosas series. The paper adopts, as a heuristic tool, a particular focus on masculine domination in order to analyze the construction of masculinity. The construction of the male textual subject is regarded as a significant moment in advancing the feminist challenge to patriarchal stereotypes reproduced in mainstream romance novels. Barrios’ ‘alternative feminist’ romance novels demonstrate a symptomatic exposition of masculine domination through a defamiliarization of the domestic, an approach that is suggestive of a break with our embededness in the social world and the taken-for-granted notions about its givenness and order. However, Barrios’ reluctance towards decisive ruptures in the representations of masculinity and femininity affirms the enduring effects of the masculine and feminine habitus and the structuring structure of masculine domination.