Romance Novels: porn for women

NoraRoberts-AngelsFall

NoraRoberts-AngelsFallI have heard tell many a time that a woman’s approach to a relationship is emotional while a man’s is sexual. I’ve heard that when it comes to sex, a woman is cerebral while a man is visual. These are stereotypes but I am reminded that all stereotypes are partially based on reality whether we care to acknowledge it or not. I can’t help thinking of the movie "Up in the Air" with George Clooney:

Ryan Bingham: [on getting through airport security] Never get behind old people. Their bodies are littered with hidden metal and they never seem to appreciate how little time they have left. Bingo, Asians. They pack light, travel efficiently, and they have a thing for slip on shoes. Gotta love ’em.
Natalie Keener: That’s racist.
Ryan Bingham: I’m like my mother, I stereotype. It’s faster.

As a man, I can see there’s no doubt that women are more emotional and more cerebral than men. I’m not quoting any university studies with double blind experiments conducted on a representative cross-section of society accounting for age, race and economic status, but is anybody going to question this assumption?

Kat Wilder, my unwitting muse, got me thinking about this question when she referred to friend Sara’s copy of a romance novel by Nora Roberts as porn. (She says romance, he says porn – July 12, 2010)

"What are you talking about? It’s a romance novel, not porn. "

"Same thing, baby. "

"It is not! "

Hmm, well, I guess it depends on what you consider porn.

Ms. Wilder talks about how women worry about men having unrealistic expectations of them based on men looking at pornography. She then raises the issue of romance novels giving women in turn unrealistic expectations about love and romance. Is this true or false? Now remember, don’t come back to the table with one or two anecdotes; we need some empirical evidence which has some statistical validity

Bloomberg Business Week – July 22, 2010
Romance Fiction By Spencer Morgan
The Association of American Publishers reports that U.S. book sales dropped by 1.8 percent in 2009, after a decline of nearly 3 percent the previous year. Books appear to be suffering a slow and rather boring death.

Except for one genre experiencing steady and unusual growth. In 2009 romance novel sales continued to defy industry trends, increasing to $1.4 billion, up $100 million, or 7.7 percent, from the previous year, according to Simba Information’s annual Business of Consumer Book Publishing report. Romance now accounts for 14 percent of all works of fiction sold. Some 75 million people read at least one romance novel in 2009, and it’s the top-performing category on the best-seller lists compiled by The New York Times, USA Today, and industry trade Publishers Weekly.

Psychology Today – July 16, 2010
How Much Do Romance Novels Reflect Women’s Desires? by Maryanne Fischer, Ph.D.
A while ago, I started studying Harlequin romance novels.

When I found out how popular they were I thought it would be interesting to explore Harlequins in an effort to understand women better. (Which might be at least partly why 9.5% of readership of romance fiction consists of men – maybe they want to figure women out, and if so, these men are smart.)
These books are candy for women’s brains. The reader can live vicariously through the heroine and fall in love with the hero, but without any of the consequence. She’s not cheating on her husband (most readers are married) because it’s just a novel. She isn’t at risk of becoming pregnant, but she can imagine the seduction by the hero. She gets the thrill, the rush, of falling in love, all for a few dollars.

Psychology Today – Jan 14/2010
Women’s Rape Fantasies: How Common? What Do They Mean? by Michael Castleman
Rape or near-rape fantasies are central to romance novels, one of the perennial best-selling categories in fiction. These books are often called "bodice-rippers" and have titles like Love’s Sweet Savage Fury, which imply at least some degree of force. In them, a handsome cad becomes so overwhelmed by his attraction to the heroine that he loses all control and must have her, even if she refuses–which she does initially, but then eventually melts into submission, desire, and ultimately fulfillment.

Romance novels are often called "porn for women." Porn is all about sexual fantasies. In porn for men, the fantasy is sexual abundance–eager women who can’t get enough and have no interest in a relationship. In porn for women as depicted in romance novels, the fantasy is to be desired so much that the man loses all control, though he never actually hurts the woman, and in the end, marries her.

Readers of Romance Novels Have Better Sex Lives
By Bonnie Williams – 2006
According to BusinessWeek, every 5 seconds someone buys a romance novel. For those more mathematically inclined—that makes romance novels a $1.2 billion dollar a year industry.
And it’s no wonder.

Experts agree that readers of romance novels find it easier to “get in the mood” and on average, even have sex with their partners more often. Psychology Today states that women who read romance novels make love with their partners 74% more often than women who don’t. Why? Because, according to a scientific study conducted by Harold Leitenberg of the The Journal of Sex Research and Psychological Bulletin, when women fantasize frequently (as they do when they read romance novels), they have sex more often, have more fun in bed, and engage in a wider variety of erotic activities.

Ms. Williams goes on to quote a couple of other experts who point out that women are turned on by "emotional stimulation" much the same way that men are turned on visually. This emotional turn on is connected to their libido so in effect, it is an aphrodisiac, an emotional aphrodisiac. Some may think that for either men or women such activities take away from a relationship, but it seems that science is saying no, it can set the mood. A good romance novel will put a woman in a romantic state of mind and in the long run, this will lead to a better sex life and a better level of intimacy with their partner.

So what’s the link between romance novel and better sex lives? Emotional satisfaction.

Final Word
Can you say that romance novels are porn for women? Do they develop unrealistic expectations for women? As a man, am I’m competing with some buff young stud muffin with a type A manliness? …reaching for her gently, even though his muscular arms are strong and tan, letting his arms caress the small of her back as he lifts her up to his full, moist lips, never letting his gaze leave hers … Ahem, well, your words, Kat! 🙂

It would seem that the experts are pointing to this fundamental difference between the sexes: women are emotional and cerebral while we guys are visual. – Ah, we are a simple lot. – But it would seem that a romance novel may be touching a point with women, with some women at least, that may be fulfilling a romantic, emotional and sexual fantasy.

A good romance story can steam up a woman’s glasses and whether one is male or female, a self-indulgent fantasy from time to time isn’t a bad thing. Keeping things in perspective, I guess, fantasy is fantasy and reality is reality and never the twain shall meet. This reminds me of the story of a wise woman who said to her husband when they got married, "I don’t care where you get your appetite just as long you come home for dinner."

Amen, er, bon appetit.

References

Wikipedia: Romance novel
Romance novels are sometimes referred to as "smut" or female pornography. While some romance novels do contain more erotic acts, in other romance novels the characters do no more than kiss chastely. The romance genre runs the spectrum between these two extremes.

Erotic Romance
Despite a greater emphasis on the sex scenes, however, erotic romance is not to be confused with pornography. Pornography concentrates on the sex acts, but erotic novels include well-developed characters and a plot that could exist without the sex acts.

Kat Wilder – July 12, 2010
She says romance, he says porn

Psychology Today: Maryanne Fischer, Ph.D.
Maryanne Fisher, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology, and a member of the Women and Gender Studies Program, at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada. She completed her doctoral degree in 2004 from York University in Toronto. Her research on how women compete for men has received international media attention, such as the BBC and Discovery Channel. She also investigates the determinants of women’s physical attractiveness (as covered by CNN), and what women want in a mate. She has published over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles primarily related to interpersonal relationships.

Psychology Today: Michael Castleman
San Francisco journalist Michael Castleman, M.A., has written about sexuality for 36 years. He has answered more than 10,000 sex questions for Playboy, other magazines, WebMD, and other sites. His latest sexuality book is Great Sex: The Man’s Guide to Whole-Body Sensuality (Rodale, 2008), nominated as Best Sexuality Book of the Year by the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists.
In recent years, Castleman, now 60, has developed an interest in older adult sexuality, a subject that is under-researched and under-reported. In spring of 2010, he launched GreatSexAfter40.com, where he answers questions for free and sells 88 articles about sex in the second half of life for $1.99 each, or $19.95 for the whole set.

Click HERE to read more from  William Belle

Article viewed at: Oye! Times at  www.oyetimes.com

Related Articles

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


Confirm you are not a spammer! *