Bonnets, Not Bodice-Rippers
A Modern Mom’s Love Affair With Amish Romance Novels
It would suck to be a young Amish woman.
Cold showers. Getting up early as balls every day to make meals from scratch. Being barred from learning past eighth grade. Having to wear a prayer Kapp, even on your best hair days.
Never indulging in a whiff of vanity. No haircuts — ever! And the list goes on.
No sex, no lights, no motorcar.
The most rigid of all Amish rules for young women? Your courtship is limited to buggy rides to- and from gatherings. Don’t honk if you’re horny — the buggy doesn’t have a horn, anyway. You’ll have to wait for Rumspringa* to hold a guy’s hand.
I knew almost nothing about Amish life when I started reading Amish romance. I was browsing in Barnes & Noble and happened upon a book with an unintentionally hilarious name. My canon of knowledge consisted of the lyrics to Amish Paradise by Weird Al, so I was intrigued.
Willkumm to the Domestic Serfdom
Amish life and creature comforts are diametrically opposed. It isn’t cozy to milk cows at the asscrack of dawn. So the lifestyle, despite having a Swiss birthplace, can’t be described as any sort of Danish-aesthetic hygge. Nor is it a cottagecore kind of living.
I call the love for the Amish romance genre simplicity porn.
In contrast to hygge and cottagecore, simplicity porn has almost no element of leisure. It is more WORK than werk. And the “porn” part of my name for Amish-culture-homage lit comes from a stereotyped submissiveness of its women. Men’s control is hardline. The female characters are invariably innocent, pure, and charged with domesticity.
The appeal of this genre goes beyond a fetishization of “simple” womenfolk. Even if an Amish wifedom is certain serfdom, the whole family unit seems to enjoy a lordlike status. In turn, the insular community does, too.