My column over at Comixology is about romance and Ai Yazawa’s pre-Nana series, Paradise Kiss. Here’s a quote:

The romance genre, is not, in other words, a fantasy of female disempowerment, but of female empowerment. Which isn’t to say that it’s necessarily empowering. In fact, the insistence that women can save men from themselves is, overall, fairly depressing. Why on earth would you want to save Richard Gere in the first place? I mean, fuck him…and no, adamantly not literally.

And yet, the romance genre can’t get enough of him and his ilk. From Jane Eyre and the moody, violent Rochester to Maggie Gyllenhaal and the utterly emotionally inaccessible James Spader in the film Secretary, the excitement of romance is all wrapped up in the magical power of masochism. Yes, this guy is an abusive shithead…but that very abuse makes the relationship all the more rewarding when I tame him through the power of my redeeming love! No pain, no gain…or, to paraphrase another fairytale, no magic kiss without the frog.