We know what romance officially looks like – the chap who brings flowers. The chap who writes a poem inspired by his beautiful beloved. In fact, poke around in the origin of the sonnet, and you’ll find the Petrarchan sonnet is defined in part by being written to/about a beautiful, unobtainable woman.
As a female writer, I’ve always found this a bit of an arse. As a lover, I’ve always found it annoying. I want to write poems and serenade under windows. To be the focal object of someone else’s creativity has never seemed like the aim of the game to me. Sure, it would be flattering, but it’s not my primary interest. An exchange of inspiration is a far more exciting prospect.
And then there’s the whole ‘romance’ issue – this brief part in an early relationship where the man is to bring stuff in order to persuade the woman to have sex with him. Fuck that! Fuck it in all its over-tight patriarchal orifices! But then, we have a history that for too long considered marriage to be consent. Get your woman to make that one big declaration of consent, and you’d never need to woo her ever again.
I like wooing, and courting. Not just as a kind of intellectual foreplay, but as a way of relating to people. As an expression of love that isn’t simply romantic, isn’t just about getting in someone’s pants. I like to praise and admire, and offer up love and adoration, sometimes with rhyming couplets. It’s a whole other expression of bardic love.