Be more controversial. That's what my husband suggested to me when coming up with blog posts. I thought, I don't want to offend anyone! But really if it's my opinion and I'm not forcing you to agree or disagree I can't really offend you. He suggested I read other blogs and respond to them (whether I agree or disagree) so I've read a few but what I feel like responding to is not just people's impressions of romance/erotica novels but my own friends and family who are truly baffled by my insane enjoyment of them.
First a few impressions:
1. Romance novels give an unrealistic expectation of relationships.
This is true, but really isn't that the point!? And isn't saying romance novels gives women unrealistic expectations of relationships the same as saying those violent video games make kids violent (and we all know the debate on that one)?
Recently I read a blog that indicated that woman are demanding that their boyfriends/husbands be and act more like Christian Grey and then are disappointed when they don't give them everything they want and spankings are not as tingly as they had imagined. Really? This is really what women are thinking when they read this book? I for one feel that I am intelligent enough to know the difference between real life and fiction. I may not show it when I go rushing off into the woods looking for Alcide while I'm on vacation but eventually I come back to reality. Honestly! I am fully aware that Christian and Ana are fictional characters. I do not expect my husband (who is not a 28 year old CEO with a great body) to cater to my every whim every time I cry (although I can't say I haven't tried, but I did that BEFORE 50 Shades, what woman hasn't used tears every now and then). My relationship with him is WORK! Yes there is love and fun but mostly it's hard work and who wants to read about that? And what is wrong with trying to recreate some of the more erotic scenes from the book or any of the books I've read? I am ALL for that! If it's not your cup of tea then you move on to something else. But every relationship needs some spice and newness too it. I really would like to try the two sets of handcuffs (one to each wrist and ankle) but it doesn't have to be on a boat in Monte Carlo. Will I like it? Who knows? But at least I've tried and had fun doing it.
Isn't it the newness of a relationship and attraction that makes your stomach flutter and your -insert every creative word for vagina here- start to tingle? Of course these relationships are unrealistic but you could say that about every love song ever written, every popular country song that has ever been sung, and every Disney movie ever made creates an unrealistic view of relationships. I don't see these industries suffering for creating this illusion so someone somewhere must enjoy them.
2. Romance novels are all the same.
Aren't all fiction books the SAME? Give me one fiction book written in the last twenty years that has a truly original plot. Every genre has their own formula and most authors stick with those formulas. Really if you're a big mystery fan haven't you figured out the way plots work in every mystery novel? Same is true of action suspense, horror, fantasy, sci-fi.
Typically boy meets girl, girls thinks boy is HOT, boy thinks girls is sexy as hell. Then there's major misunderstandings, boy loses girl and must win girl back. Ultimately there is an HEA (Happily Ever After) and in the middle if you're lucky some great steamy sex!
All the men are tall, well built and very well endowed and even if they're virgins they know exactly how to get a woman where they need to be. All of the women are fairly non-descript I believe, so that women reading the books can picture themselves in the book.
So, true, there are no big surprises and you know they'll end up together in the end but it's in between that's exciting just like any other fiction book.
3. It's porn for women
I'll concede this impression but it's the kind of porn women would want to watch. The blog I indicated above claimed that 50 Shades degraded women more than any guy porn movie. But let's exam why this is not necessarily true.
First there's a plot in romance books. I know, I know guys don't want a plot. I get that but if you're going to say you're not objectifying women why don't the women have more depth then how deep their throats are? Ana maybe ditzy and clumsy but at least you know who she is and not just how many times she can be pounded in a five minute clip. I know I'm not alone in saying that women are more cerebral in their sexual arousal and need cognitive and verbal stimulation in addition to visual and physical stimulation.
Second there is just as much focus on the man as there is on the woman in a romance/erotica novel. The one thing I can't stand about watching porn is that rarely is the guy featured (and when he is it's not always pretty). I get that too. Porn's major audience is men and men don't (always) like to watch other men. Well guess what boys... WE DO! And we don't want to have to go the gay porn route. A romance/erotic novel gives us that focus on the man as well. We don't really care if a man wouldn't actually be thinking the things they think or say in the books or that they really would not be able to formulate anything more coherent than a grunt let alone sexy banter as they climax. If men only need to see the actually in and out women need to hear the sexy words along with the in and out (something you'll never find in a real porn film... believe me I've looked).
My enjoyment of this genre is for pure entertainment value. I don't want to have to process really deep material when I'm relaxing by the pool. I like being transported to these worlds for the brief time it takes to read them. Does it create unrealistic expectations? Maybe, but no more than romantic comedies, love songs and Disney movies. Are they all the same? Yes, but again no more than any other genre. It is porn for women? Yes, but I don't think they demean women any more than porn movies do. I know it's fiction and don't expect my husband to be more like the characters in the books (some would impossible what with many of them being wolves and vampires) but I will confess that sex has been must more exciting and creative since I began reading so voraciously over the last two years. I'm more uninhibited and my husband will tell you that he "read a study that said men who's wives read romance novels get twice as much sex as those whose wives don't... and that is why I bought her a Nook and can definitely say the study is true". So say what you want in regards to the ridiculousness of romance novels, I will continue to enjoy them and my man will reap the benefits.