Nothing gains respect like success. For the occasional snarky article on the success of romance in the current economic climate (which I'm not going to link to because why give them the hits?), there seems to be a distinct shift in the way the romance genre is being perceived and presented in the media.
For instance, I just watched the Nightline piece that I taped last night, and for all the clips of celebrities reading the naughty bits, the actual piece wasn't nearly as bad as some I've seen in the past.
I think Donna Hayes did a great job speaking about romance and its success. I particularly got a hoot out of her dismissal of male readership. Nope, don't care. Don't need 'em. Don't want 'em. So take that, male establishment! We can survive just fine without you (and by extension, your approval).
As a historical author, I also want to note that Ms. Hayes specifically mentioned historicals. That was a nice surprise.
I truly believe no single thing has garnered romance more respect than Harlequin's success in this recession. No author efforts, no RWA efforts, not the RITAs or romance's strong sales when other books were also selling well. Whether that respect lasts remains to be seen, but I'm hopeful that the romance genre is never going to be dismissed quite so easily ever again.
ETA: Watch the Nightline piece here.