Skip to content



Romance is so retro: its pages are full of delicate women and dominant men, rape fantasies and senseless smut. Right? Wrong. Since the 1980s, romance has undergone a quiet revolution, unseen by the oblivious mainstream publishing industry. Women have become the subjects rather than the objects of desire in many romance narratives, more often choosing and using their men than the other way round. As opposed to mainstream pornography, romance is an arena where female desire is centred on enjoying pleasure rather than performing it. And while traditional publishing serves a patriarchal literary meritocracy, romance is run by and for women … and as digital self-publishing continues to blossom, it’s become increasingly democratic.

What role might romance play in rewriting the latent sexism embedded in our collective subconscious, over hundreds or even thousands of years? Can it teach women to discover (and ask for) what they want in bed? Join host Maxine Beneba Clarke as we get comfortable and explore it all, with speakers including Kate Belle, Kat Mayo and Beth Driscoll.


Maxine Beneba Clarke

Maxine Beneba Clarke is the author of the acclaimed memoir The Hate Race, the award-winning short fiction collection Foreign Soil, the poetry collections Carrying The World and How Decent Folk Behave, and many other books for adults and children.

Kate Belle

Kate Belle is an author of challenging love stories. The Yearning and Being Jade (Simon & Schuster) received rave reviews. Her short story, ‘Cool Change’, won the 2011 Southern Cross Literary Award and the script by the same name received a highly commended in the... Read more

Kat Mayo

Kat Mayo is an avid reader of romance novels. She curates the Romance Buzz, a monthly newsletter for Booktopia’s romance readers, and she hosts the Heart to Heart podcast for Destiny Romance, an imprint of Penguin Australia. In 2014, she won the Romance Media Award for her essay, Dear columnists,... Read more

Beth Driscoll

Beth Driscoll is a Lecturer in Publishing and Communications at the University of Melbourne, and is part of a team that recently received a Romance Writers of America academic grant to study the genre world of romance in twenty-first century Australia.  Beth has written about her experienc... Read more


The Wheeler Centre

176 Little Lonsdale Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

More details

Stay up to date with our upcoming events and special announcements by subscribing to the Wheeler Centre's mailing list.

View our privacy policy
Acknowledgment of Country

The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we work. We pay our respects to the people of the Kulin Nation and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, past and present.