There are people who say that romance works against the feminist cause. Particularly with the uproar surrounding Fifty Shades, it could be said the these sort of books are pushing the idea that we need a man to save us (or control us). In truth, yes--particularly in the earlier 'bodice ripper' years--there were books that were essentially telling women to wait for a man to rescue them. There were also many that said it was ok for a man to force himself--or his way of life--onto you.
I didn't grow up with this. I'm thirty and I grew up with Harlequin books. This was before erotica became more mainstream but sex was very much included. Unfortunately, because of the stigma still attached (which still very much exists), I never admitted to reading these books. However, I'm eternally grateful for what they taught me. I don't need to be ashamed of my sexuality and I understood to respect myself and my body and not to let others make choices for me--regardless of what those choices might be.
I'm also a feminist. And unless you didn't figure it out already, I write romance, particularly in eras where women were considered chattel and had very few rights. My recent Victorian novels have allowed me to explore the birth of women's rights, but naturally I have to abide by the rules of society or I might as well be writing something else entirely.
The thing is, my books are never about needing a man. Yes, a happily ever after is required. Hero and heroine have to come together (there are few exceptions but this is the norm, particularly for mainstream publishers). However, romance isn't about the HEA. It's about the journey.
It isn't about the heroine winning her man and her life becoming perfect. It isn't even about that for the hero. It's about growth--on both sides. It's about learning about themselves and each other. Working together or even working apart before they can come together as two confident, secure people. It is then about creating a true and equal partnership. You see, feminism isn't about putting men down or making women superior, it's about equality.
As is romance. It's about finding that perfect balance with your soulmate.