Yesterday I made my daily pilgrimage over to Smart Bitches because well, I love them and they are made of awesome. They’re intelligent, funny and quite often are a great news source for what’s going down in romancelandia (and not in a negative sense)
So I see this link to a sort of “From the Right/From the Left” Column in the Atlanta Journal Constitution about romance novels entitled “Harm in Reading Romance?”
Right Leaner (and total kook) Shaunti Felhahn says with alarm!
I was concerned to learn that many romance novels are not as harmless as they look. In fact, some marriage therapists caution that women can become as dangerously unbalanced by these books’ entrancing but distorted messages as men can by distorted messages of pornography
Gasps! Dangerously unbalanced! OHNOES! But wait, it’s worse. Worse because you’re reading soft core porn and promote an unattainable standard of maleness
The male heroes are all strong, rugged and breathtakingly handsome, yet sensitive, patient listeners and utterly unselfish.
And ladies, step away from the porn, because it’ll make you want a husband who listens and that is not okay. Further, you simply cannot be trusted to know the difference between fact and fiction. You are too soft headed, your brains rotted from all the porn you’re reading in those NASCAR romances and the secret baby books you hide under the mattress. YOU CANNOT BE TRUSTED WITH REALITY!
So Shaunti, being the giver she is, tells you about a book by a an author who knows women who are addicted to those books. Instead you should read the doctor’s book about submitted wives. And whatever, you know, if that’s your thing, good for you. If you choose that life, I support your choice. I just wonder why it is these folks are always trying to limit everyone else’s choices. Anyway, I digress – what I want to say is that if women escape for a few hours into a book, that doesn’t make her addicted or dissatisfied.
Not to be outdone by Shaunti’s disdain of romantic fiction and the women who choose to read it instead of setting up a shrine to her husband’s dirty socks or whatever, we get Diane Glass “from the left” who is less annoying and offensive but sadly, quite condescending.
Boys and girls –
Harlequin novels may not be like reading Maya Angelou, but at least women are reading.
At least they’re reading! Even if it isn’t real literature like Maya Angelou writes. *Diane pats our heads and smiles gently as to not upset our low intelligence and simple nature*
She does go on to make the important point which is that women aren’t idiots and they know the difference between real life and what they read in books and she also gives us permission to like romance because it isn’t porn *whew*
Gets out of chair and stands on soapbox:
First if all – women don’t need permission to like or read romance. They don’t need permission to like sex in their books either. They don’t need “acceptance” from women who think they’re better than other women and are somehow qualified to tell us what we can or can’t do.
Second of all – sex is not bad. Liking sex isn’t bad. Liking sex with your partner in a multitude of ways is not bad any more than liking sex in just a few ways is bad.
Third of all – wanting a partner who listens to you is a GOOD THING. If women learn that from a romance novel, good. Still, I’d wager women know that anyway.
Fourthly – don’t write a column if you don’t know what you’re talking about. Don’t write about something like an expert when you’re going on what your friend’s brother’s wife told you about a romance novel she read ten years ago.
The thing that gets me about both these women, is that neither one of them appears to have actually READ a romance since 1972. And while some suggest they shouldn’t actually have to understand the subject they’re writing about, I disagree.
We aren’t stupid. We aren’t nymphos. We aren’t going to leave our husbands because we read romances.