Readers Rant About Sexuality (Part V)

(September 1999)

Corresponds to Robin Schone's Rant about Sexuality

Read the October 5, 1999 lead article at Salon which featured, in part, this discussion
(this is a "jump" link which will open a new window in your browswer)

This is a very large page full of comments. I generally whittle comments down far more than I've done here, but I felt the discussion hit on so many things and therefore warranted extra space. From a sociological perspective as well as one that appealed to me as a romance reader, I found the entire "event" fascinating. I've tried to present this information, which was originally four times the size, in some sort of coherent order, but some of the threads went off on tangents I had to follow.


Subject: Re: Sexuality & Romance No-Nos
From: Jill Shearer
To: LLB
Date Posted: Fri, Jun 11, 1999 at 12:45:02 (EDT)
Email Address: Jazz32@gte.net

Message:
I read Robin's article, and all I can say is, 'GO ROBIN'! As far as I'm concerned, she's right on target and I'm going out to purchase both of her books - tomorrow. I get so tired of the same-old, same-old in romance novels. Especially historicals - with the virgin brides who need to be taught and brought pleasure by the all-knowing hero. Yawn. . . My WIP deals with similarly touchy subject matter. Hopefully, by the time I'm through, Robin and those like her will have opened some doors (and minds) in the romance industry.


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Subject: Re: Sexuality & Romance No-Nos
From: Nancy Beth
To: LLB
Date Posted: Fri, Jun 11, 1999 at 16:04:46 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I say Go Robin too! I like my romance scorching hot and may be the only person at AAR who buys Susan Johnson's books as soon as they hit the shelves. (I do not, however, care for Thea Devine. Not enough romance and the sex doesn't feel hot, just painful.) One of the sexiest scenes I know is in Wicked, by Johnson, and involves a candle and an altar boy fantasy. Whew, hand me a glass of cold water! The phone sex scene in Angels on Zebras by P. Webb, when the hero is eavesdropping, love it. Let's have more varied sexual encounters, and lots of 'em!

Now, as to adultery, hmm. I can put up with it if the heroine's husband deserves it (in historicals) and perhaps if they are estranged in contemporaries. But really, it bothers me. Perhaps because adulterous husbands (and adulterous wives as well I suppose) always have an excuse. The old, 'she doesn't understand me...'. I think the honest thing to do is to end one relationship before moving on to the next. Serial monogamy as they say. Of course in historicals that's not so easy, so I can give a little there.



Subject: Re: Sexuality & Romance No-Nos
From: Rochelle
To: LLB
Date Posted: Fri, Jun 11, 1999 at 16:03:33 (EDT)
Email Address: trnewell@eatel.net

Message:
I think hot, spicy sex scenes are great. I don't want to read about the same old thing. If a woman masturbates in a book I don't see a problem with that. I think its a very natural part of being sexual. I was taught if you don't know your own body, how can you expect someone else to. As long as a book has 'erotic' sex and not 'violent' sex, that's fine by me.


Subject: Re: Sexuality & Romance No-Nos
From: Lisa
To: LLB
Date Posted: Mon, Jun 14, 1999 at 14:47:28 (EDT)
Email Address: lawiser@worldnet.att.net

Message:
I've always judged which books I'll read by reading them. If an author consistantly gives me a good read, I'll always pick them up. If someone recommends a particular author, I'll give them a try -- I don't have to read another by that author if I really didn't like the first.

I think wholesale dismissing of a book because of some part is wrong -- unless reading about that subject just so completely turns you off, you can't imagine enjoying the book. There's only so much available book money in anyone's budget, we have to have the right to choose what we enjoy. But, that is the beauty of living in a society such as ours, the freedom.

I don't think I want a whole book reading about how the characters masturbate, although it has appeared in other of the genre that I have read (such as the before mention 'Pirate Lord' and some others that I just can't put my finget on in such short notice.). However, I wouldn't dismiss a book because it contained masturbation (it's the time travel I have trouble dealing with -- I only rarely enjoy the idea!). As far as adultery goes, some of that crops up in many of the historical romance books we already enjoy. The hero doesn't usually keep his mistress after finding the heroine -- but the practice is there. And, I don't like the idea of a character I like having to put up with a marriage that is completely wrong for them. Generally death is easier than divorce in the historicals, but the concept is still there.

Everyone has to find the types of books they enjoy and want to read. This kind of reading is done for the pleasure and escape, not as a guide to a life style (I just can't see me doing balls and soirees until 3 or 4 a.m.). Too, when we start demanding books be censured, who gets to decide where it stops? The best censure is book sales.

My biggest complaint about the whole subject is the choice of picture for the actual article. Adrian Paul?? No way should the phrase 'romance No-Nos' be used anywhere near the man!



Subject: Re: Sexuality and Romance No No's
From: Lena
To: Kathleen
Date Posted: Mon, Jun 21, 1999 at 21:10:51 (EDT)
Email Address: tdf04@alltel.net

Message:
If this is the future of romance novels and the romance genre, I'm going to immediately place a second mortgage on my home and go to the bookstore and purchase everything out there on the romance shelves before this new era of smut is unleashed! I understand the argument that masturbation and adultery may very well be 'reality', but if I want reality there is no reason to turn to a book for that. I turn to a book for an uplifting,happy-ever-after, boy gets girl (not girl gets herself or cheats on boy) fairy tale type romance to escape reality! Please preserve the romance genre as it is!

Subject: Re: Sexuality and Romance No No's
From: Morgan
To: Lena
Date Posted: Sun, Jun 27, 1999 at 07:01:55 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I totally agree. Catapulted through time by masturbating?? This will surely give romance the respect it wants. Not! I think this writer really writes porn. Sex scenes should only be used sparingly to further the story, otherwise it is just borderline soft porn. I read mysteries too and almost never even come across sex scenes even in hardboiled stuff and from a thread on another list sex scenes aren't used that much in other types of fiction. A few people had mentioned that one difference was that real people have sex in mainstream books and in romance perfect people are having perfect sex and who wants to read that . Any comments on that? Don't get me wrong, I don't mind sex scenes but shouldn't they be more realistic. For instance , how many virgins have a good first time much less orgasam. I would like to see more realistic sex scenes and also I hope writers like Robin Schone aren't the wave of the future because I think she writes soft porn.

Subject: Re: Sexuality and Romance No No's
From: Mel
To: Lena
Date Posted: Tues, Jun 22, 1999 at 00:54:11 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I totally agree with you.


Subject: Re: Sexuality & Romance No-Nos
From: Irritated Beyond Belief
To: Robin Schone
Date Posted: Sun, Jun 13, 1999 at 20:06:31 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I don't care what you want to put in your book. But don't stand on a pedestal and declare it art. Don't whine about creativity and your right to write what you want. Didn't Ogelthorpe do that in the exhibit that nearly brought down the NEA?

Just because you can shock doesn't mean you should.

One man's meat is another man's poison. I would rather have sensuality than sexuality any day, but that opinion is mine. It's not important if it's shared.

But what I deeply resent is this posturing. And this self-aggrandizement beneath the mantle of craft. Get real. It's publicity and your books will probably fly off the shelf because of it.

But frankly, my dear....eeeggggh.



Subject: Re: Sexuality & Romance No-Nos
From: Joan T
To: Irritated Beyond Belief
Date Posted: Mon, Jun 14, 1999 at 12:47:09 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Dear Irritated:

I absolutely agree. I don't think that any romance reader is really offended by border-line soft porn, but for this author to get up on her soap box and pound her chest about it, something is up -- probably her sales figures. I don't think I have had the honor of reading her books, but after reading this anthem of hers, I don't think I want to. As LLB has always said, one woman's sensuality is another's skanky and frankly I have my personal preferences, just like everyone else. Self congratulations belongs on the ball field after the World Series, not by an author and certainly not for writing about masterbation. Who cares? I mean really? Is this discussion SO worthy of our time? This chick is merely after sales figures, nothing more.



Subject: Re: Sexuality & Romance No-Nos
From: Candy
To: Irritated Beyond Belief
Date Posted: Mon, Jun 14, 1999 at 04:47:01 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I don't care what you want to put in your book. But don't stand on a pedestal and declare it art. Don't whine about creativity and your right to write what you want. Didn't Ogelthorpe do that in the exhibit that nearly brought down the NEA? Just because you can shock doesn't mean you should. One man's meat is another man's poison. I would rather have sensuality than sexuality any day, but that opinion is mine. It's not important if it's shared. But what I deeply resent is this posturing. And this self-aggrandizement beneath the mantle of craft. Get real. It's publicity and your books will probably fly off the shelf because of it. But frankly, my dear....eeeggggh.
---
That's pretty harsh. Shouldn't you read her works first before passing judgment? I agree with you about the shock issue (I HATE gratuitous violence, and gratuitous sex is almost as bad), but if all self-expression was safe, doesn't that make for a lot of boring art? I'm not saying anything goes, but I do think we should actually read the work in question in order to make an informed statement. Schone's article may very well be a publicity ploy, but on the other hand, it can also be a statement from a frustrated writer who genuinely feels hemmed in by the strictures that guide writing in the romance genre. Your opinions are your own. Everyone can respect that. But do you know Robin Schone personally in making this extremely personal attack on her character and her work? Most things should be taken by a pinch of salt, but the tone of your comments goes beyond fair criticism, in my opinion--it's actually angry and insulting.

I mean no offense, Irritated Beyond Belief. I'm just kind of curious--especially whether you've read anything by Schone before.



Subject: Re: Sexuality & Romance No-Nos
From: Candy
To: Jill Shearer
Date Posted: Fri, Jun 11, 1999 at 16:29:34 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I read Awaken, My Love back when it was first released and boy, did it scorch my 17-year old toes... But I liked it. It wasn't a keeper for me, but I found the fact that the heroine masturbated very different and interesting. I mean, come on girls, I'm sure 99% of us have, at one time or another, done 'it,' and enjoyed it thoroughly. It was a level of realism I'd never encountered before--I was still immersed in Judith McNaught's so-virginal-they-don't-know-how-to-kiss heroines. And the love scenes in that book... ai yai yai!!!

On a side note, has anyone read The Pirate Lord by Sabrina Jeffries? It has 2 masturbation scenes in it: one with the heroine, and one with the hero. Although I thought the book was mediocre at best, those two scenes were very daring, original and (gulp) sexy. I can accept sex toys (and food, and role-playing, and even mild bondage), but I'm not sure about anal sex. I mean, owwwwwiiee... it can be pleasurable for men because of the position of their prostate, but for women, I think it'd be more uncomfortable than anything else.

As for adultery: I think most true love matches within the aristocracy occured outside of the marriage vows in historical times. Unless the parents were exceptionally lenient, a girl couldn't marry the person she fell in love with, she had to marry whoever her guardian thought was suitable. And men had to consider position, power, breeding and money when choosing their brides--not exactly the most effective method of finding to love. So as long as the issue isn't dealt with in a tacky manner, I can accept adultery, especially if one of the parties is actively unhappy because of the spouse.

Hot romances are one thing, but the thing to avoid in the love scenes is purple prose. I tried reading Bertrice Small and Virginia Henley, but I ended up laughing hysterically instead of feeling turned on (I mean, come on--cones of flesh? MANROOT?!?). From what I remember of Awaken My Love, purple prose was avoided with remarkable skill, although I'll have to re-read to refresh my memory [wicked grin].

All in all: long live variety in romance! Personally, I read and like almost all types: the really sweet ones with hardly any sex, the really hot ones with lots and lots and lots of sex.... I'm looking forward to Robin's new release!



Subject: Re: Sexuality & Romance No-Nos
From: Tanya
To: LLB
Date Posted: Fri, Jun 11, 1999 at 17:14:40 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
If erotica is well-written, which hers seems to be, I have absolutely no problem with it. Purple prose and bad writing (ie. Thea Devine) turn me off - not erotica. Seems like Robin is creating an excellent niche for her talents, and I look forward to 'The Lady's Tutor'.


Subject: Re: Sexuality & Romance No-Nos
From: Kris
To: LLB
Date Posted: Sun, Jun 13, 1999 at 00:01:35 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Gee, Robin, I was right with you up until the 'anal sex' part, which I STRONGLY feel would be degrading to me as a woman. I am of the belief that if God wanted a man's penis there, he wouldn't have given me a vagina.

That said, I have to say that I am a woman who enjoys explicit sex scenes in my books WHEN THERE IS LOVE AND CARING BETWEEN THE MAN AND WOMAN. Linda Howard is my all-time favorite romance writer, and it is in part because she doesn't skip over the sex and simply have the man and woman wake up together the next day. Linda Howard makes it very plain how the hero and heroine feel about each other and that is what I love to read about. I feel like I miss some of the emotion when I am not 'there' for their physical love. Call it voyeurism if you will.

I plan to read your book. I will read about almost anything except the abovementioned sexual act. Yuck, I can't even say it again.



Subject: Re: Sexuality & Romance No-Nos
From: Robin U
To: LLB
Date Posted: Fri, Jun 11, 1999 at 18:25:03 (EDT)
Email Address: rnu08@aol.com

Message:
I agreed with much of what Robin Schone had to say. The obsession with virgin heroines is depressing. In the sixties it made sense and viriginity does make sense in historicals unless you are talking about a married or widowed woman. In the nineteen nineties it is strange. Most of the virgin heroines seem to be virgins by accident, not by choice which tells me that this idea of valuing virginity is not about admiring self control. It is prudishness directed at one sex.

What I find particulary upsetting is the idea that a woman who is not a virgin is somehow less valuable than one who is. If we believe that being a virgin makes a woman more virtuous aren't we buying into the believe that a woman is not really a person? That she is in fact a thing that a man will value more if she is untouched? Aren't we also assuming that a sexually experienced woman is somehow more vulgar, course and promiscuous? That she is more likely to lie or betray a lover or friend?

It is true that many wonderful romances help us relive what it is like to discover sex BUT the story has been told so many times!

As for adultry, for the most part adultry in romance novels does not interest me. This does not mean I won't enjoy your book, or that I will avoid it, just that romance is a fantasy and I find the idea of adultry depressing.

OTOH, Anna Karenina is one of my two favorite books of all time.

Very few writers who write very hot sex also write a great story. I only read one Thea Devine and it was my last. the sex was hot but the rest of the book was distasteful.

Dara Joy on the other hand writes great ROMANTIC hot sex and great love stories too. When you put down a Dara Joy book you feel happy and that, to me is one of the tests of a good romance novel.

Oh and BTW I love the way you spell your name. ;-)



Subject: Re: Sexuality & Romance No-Nos
From: Jessica
To: Anne M. Marble
Date Posted: Fri, Jun 11, 1999 at 22:28:56 (EDT)
Email Address: jscart@netwiz.net

Message:
In terms of the history of sex, there is a book called 'Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America' that I've used for history papers. It's by John D'Emilio & Estelle B. Freedman. It only deals with America, but from what I've read, it's pretty good. I have not read the whole thing cover to cover, but it could be a good source, for those who want to know more. There's also an extensive bibliography in the back, in case you want to do some more or different research.

Most of this kind of research is usually classified as 'women's history' or 'social history'.

For those who want to learn more, I hope this helps.

Jessica



Subject: Re: Sexuality & Romance No-Nos
From: Deidre
To: Jessica
Date Posted: Fri, Jun 11, 1999 at 22:52:07 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Here's another interesting book: Love in the Time of Victoria: Sexuality and Desire Among Working-Class Mena nd Women in Nineteenth Century London by Francoise Barret-Ducrocq (1989) trans. John Howe (1991) Penguin. This study was based in large part on applications made to Foundling Homes by women who could not keep their children. This included statements by the woman and various other people who were witnesses to her behavior or the behavior of the father. The conclusions are not at all what one might expect.


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Puzzled
To: Candy
Date Posted: Fri, Jun 11, 1999 at 23:00:35 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
In advance I ask that there be no worm throwing. It is obvious to me that Robin has simply found another package for pornography. The fact that an impressionable 17-year-old is reading it under the guise of romance should give the industry pause. This is not about pushing the envelope or taking new roads, blah, blah, blah. It is about calling a spade a spade. Is romance publishing so low on plot that it must cater solely to sexual appetites? (Questionable ones at that?) And what, indeed, will romance publishing's already shaky reputation be after Robin is finished with her proposed introductions? (You thought you couldn't hold your head up in a Barnes & Noble NOW.) Furthermore, it's time to take stock when a simple romantic story cannot be enjoyed without a veritable sex bath of perversions. There is a place for writing of this kind and it should stay there. On this I will be the first to proclaim, 'The emperor isn't wearing any clothes.'


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Candy
To: Puzzled
Date Posted: Sat, Jun 12, 1999 at 13:27:33 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Well, it all depends on what you consider 'perversions,' right? In the good ol' days, anything other than missionary position with clothes on was considered a perversion. Even touching the genitals or other parts of the body was considered a minor sin. Women enjoying sex and oral sex were also considered extremely perverse. Although I do agree there are perversions (bestiality and pedophilia, for instance), I don't like to put labels or judgments sexuality in general. Which aspect of sexuality in Schone's book or rant did you find perverse? Was it the sex toys? Masturbation? Anal sex? I, personally, don't see a problem with any of these acts (although as I said before, anal sex sounds EXTREMELY uncomfortable to me) if they're performed by consenting adults in a safe manner. And as a 17 year old, I was fully capable of reading the book and judging it on its own merits. I'd learned about the mechanics of sex when I was 12 (no thanks to my overprotective parents--I found out the hard way: reading a medical textbook my friend swiped from her father's library). By the time I was 17, I had read enough and heard enough about sex and sexuality to analyze and judge things for myself. Awaken My Love was not a book that particularly affected me in one way or another; I just remember thinking 'Holy Cow! Someone's written about masturbation!' I was secretly delighted because Schone had addressed such a 'delicate' subject: female masturbation still has such overtones of shame and taboo, in constrast to male masturbation, which has become an accepted fact that men can joke and even boast about. And I don't think the publication of Schone's new book will do the romance industry any harm, if it's a well-written, thoughtfully planned piece of work. I, for one, think many of the 'great' works of romance have damaged its reputation beyond repair already. Read the Flame and The Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss lately? The heroine is raped several times by the hero, with little or no show of remorse on his part. No masturbation, no sex toys, but talk about perversity...


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Puzzled
To: Candy
Date Posted: Sat, Jun 12, 1999 at 17:27:38 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
If so that is so then will Robin's stories suffer if the heroine is not allowed to masturbate or insert foreign objects into her rectum? Do these acts elevate the tone of her books? Enhance her artistic style? Make the reader feel good about what they read? My ony point (beside the one I have already made concerning pornography) is that if a writer or reader is incapable of accepting a book simply on artistic merits unless every minute, microscopic sexual detail has been magnified 100 times then there is a name for that. I only ask that we not fool ourselves. If Robin and others are going to write what they like and are proud of their work then let them emblazon it on the front cover for all to know rather than packaging it in the form of pure romance to make it palatable to a new audience. I am wondering how other mothers like myself would feel if they knew there was the potential for their daughters to be exposed to such subjects while merely reading a romance novel. It might cause some to steer clear of the genre all together. Do I need to start taking measures with my four-year now to ensure that she not be swept up in this? And as for the works of Kathleen Woodiwiss, you make my point for me, Candy. It is because of books like those that romance fiction has such a shady reputation in the first place. Will Robin's works (and others like it) raise that reputation among 'serious' readers or diminsh it further? Will she help in the bid to make romance more legit or will readers have to go to the adult book store for the latest offerings? Would your mother drive you down there to get one? In closing, I have probably changed no minds, but I hope that we won't all look back one day and wish we had spent a little less time on how to include even more sex onto a plate that is already overloaded.


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Colleen
To: Puzzled
Date Posted: Mon, Jun 14, 1999 at 20:33:00 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
The fact that an impressionable 17-year-old is reading it under the guise of romance should give the industry pause. This is not about pushing the envelope or taking new roads, blah, blah, blah. It is about calling a spade a spade. Is romance publishing so low on plot that it must cater solely to sexual appetites?
---
Actually my reaction to the person who read Awaken, My Love at 17 was jealousy. When I was an inquisitive 17-year old, I had the fine literary works of Harold Robbins (rape with a garden hose, anyone?) and ye olde bodice rippers to 'educate' me and satisfy my curiosity. How much better would it be to read about a woman honestly and lovingly giving herself pleasure than being raped, degraded, abused and craving more of the same in the guise of 'love'. So much handwringing about how far we've fallen, but the books I'm talking about are 30 years old now. If we've 'slid down' from there to masturbation, I don't call that a bad thing at all.


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Puzzled & Honest
To: Candy
Date Posted: Mon, Jun 14, 1999 at 14:12:10 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I agree to disagree. I would like to say something though (haha). At 17 I'm sure that if I had read romance novels, I still would have kept my moral convictions. I am a very strong willed person, but just because it may influence (sub-conciously) another girl, does not make her weak minded. Our young people today are not weak minded, they are young and immature. That is how life works, we grow and mature. The problem isn't that they are weak minded, they are young and impressionable. And we live in a culture that has so much available to "convince" them of a lot of things they shouldn't even be sticking their fingers in anyways. They are young and immature. The way it is suppose to be. As you grow you mature. And many, many girls at 17 are still very young and immature. I know this first hand because I have worked with high school aged students for over 4 yrs. And unfortunately most of them don't base their 'decisions' on the wisdom of the older people around them. They base it on what they read in magazines, books,what they see in the media, and what their peers say, which I must ask, where are their peers getting their info? This is getting off on a tangent. I just think that the romance novels CAN be an influence. Also, do you (you in general,not you personally) base decisions or convictions on the general or the minority? I was the minority and it sounds like maybe you were too. I would just rather my daugthers not even open that window at 17. Besides the fact that at 17 I did not need to 'get away' into a fantasy world. My life was so busy being 17 with my friends and job and social life, there was no need for me to lock myself away in some book that took me to another world, let alone one I wasn't ready to step into in real life. Now, as a stay-at-home mom who homeschools her 3 children, I need to 'get away' now and again. My life as a 17yr old was 'romantic' enough just because I was 17 and on the verge of going out on my own and such. On a further note, no offense to you, at 21 I thought differently than I do now at 33, married and a mom. As we grow and our circumstances change, so do we. We grow and mature constantly. Does that mean all our views change? Of course not! But many do. Therefore, We HAVE to agree To disagree(smile).


Subject: Re: Just for Puzzle & Honest
From: Puzzled
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Mon, Jun 14, 1999 at 18:00:36 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
OK Puzzled & Honest, this is getting scary. I have three children and I homeschool too! Now someone will accuse us of being the same person, but I agree with you 100%. I am wondering if any spiritual convictions are at the base of your concerns like they are for me?


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: TJ
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Mon, Jun 14, 1999 at 15:30:57 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I don't think it matters how much parents 'censure' what their kids read because if they want to read it, they'll read it. I read my 1st adult novel when I was in second grade. It was my mom's, and the theme had adultery, etc. in it. She didn't know I was reading it because I snuck it out of the room and read it at night when she wasn't around, but when she did, she exlained to me that it was fiction, make believe, and that it's wrong to be unfaithful, etc., etc. I'm 21 now, started reading romance (the explicit ones) when I was in 10th grade, but I'm not promiscuous or anything. I'm still virgin, and I'm proud of it because I'd rather be virgin than lose my virginity to someone I don't find like. I sometimes feel that adults underestimate kids, and they think the kids are impressionable, etc. because they're immature or whatever. But I want to say that most of times, kids do what they do because their parents don't really TALK to them adult-to-adult, but more like, 'I'm your mom/dad, nad I know better than you, so you'd better listen to me or else!' This is not encouring your kids to open to you. My parents are very understanding and cool, and I talk w/ my mom about anything and everything, but when she gets into 'I'm your mom so you listen' I immediately stop communicating with her, much to her frustration. TJ


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Puzzled & Honest
To: Rosario
Date Posted: Tues, Jun 15, 1999 at 02:34:38 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Yo have just given me another BIG reason for not having this kind of stuff in my house. I certainly do not want my 8yr old reading this stuff. I am certainly going to spend the time teaching my daughters about love and sex, but it not going to be spurned on because I gave them access to a romance novel. It sounds like the problem were talking about here is that your parents didn't do their job when it came to talking to you about these things. My conclusion? Two wrongs do not make a right. It was wrong that your parents didn't take the time and it was definately wrong that you read that kind of stuff at 8yrs old. This conversation started out with adult women reading erotica-which goes way beyond average romance novel sex-to 17yr old reading it, and now it isn't so bad that an 8yr old reads it? Next thing I know you will be telling me it is ok to read a romance novel out loud at bedtime to my 3yr old. I think that we have digressed severely. I realize that you didn't come out and say that, but you do sound as if it was no big deal. It makes me physically ill to think of my little girl reading that kind of explicit stuff and me being the provider.


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Robin
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Tues, Jun 15, 1999 at 09:01:17 (EDT)
Email Address: rnu08@aol.com

Message:
Dear Puzzled and Honest, I haven't participated in this part of the discussion but I think your comments are out of line. No one has suggested that children be exposed to sexually expicit material. To say so is inaccurate and insulting to those of us who disagree with you. Perhaps you feel that this is the way that normal civil conversations are conducted. In that you are mistaken.

When women relate their experinces reading as teenagers it is not the same as when you imply that their behavior leads to any kind of immoral behavior.

Your moral beliefs are your own. So are mine. I deeply resent your implying that those who disagree with you came to their beliefs casually or that we advocate exposing children to sexually explicit material.

If you are truly conscience stricken about your past expereinces reading romance don't assume that everyone else would have the same reaction if only they were equally 'honest.' Some of us have spent as much time soul searching as you but have come to different conclusions.



Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Candy
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Tues, Jun 15, 1999 at 04:56:21 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
It sounds like the problem were talking about here is that your parents didn't do their job when it came to talking to you about these things. My conclusion? Two wrongs do not make a right. It was wrong that your parents didn't take the time and it was definately wrong that you read that kind of stuff at 8yrs old. This conversation started out with adult women reading erotica-which goes way beyond average romance novel sex-to 17yr old reading it, and now it isn't so bad that an 8yr old reads it? Next thing I know you will be telling me it is ok to read a romance novel out loud at bedtime to my 3yr old.
---
I don't think the point was that it's perfectly OK for an 8-year old to read adult material. The point is that we managed to grow up into healthy, ethical, and (I use this word with caution) moral beings even though we were exposed to sexually charged works at a young age. I'm not scarred, irrational, sexually promiscuous, or otherwise suffering from any pathological disorders, even though I've read many sexually explicit works. I don't think the multitudes of young 'uns out there who read the same stuff we did are either. All I'm saying is that you should give more credit to younger people--especially teenagers--as independent thinking beings. Yes, they're impressionable and they need guidance and love and time, but they're also smart and (dare I say it?) reasonable people on the whole. I think you're the one who has digressed in attacking the way someone's parents brought her up, and in emphasizing the wrong aspect of the issue. Young people will read forbidden stuff, no matter how strict your control may be. Doesn't necessarily mean it's right; doesn't necessarily mean it's horribly wrong either. Doesn't mean we're bad children; doesn't mean our parents are incompetent. We're not advocating that all varieties of sexually explicit material should be actively made available to all ages, either. That's a conclusion you reached yourself via the Slippery Slope fallacy. TJ and I are just trying to demonstrate to you the limits of parental dictatorship (and say what you will, ordering a kid around and refusing to give a reason for the orders is dictatorship), as well as the relative harmlessness of what we did. But I guess we're talking at cross purposes, because the more we try to demonstrate to you that we're healthy and rational despite (perhaps even because of?) reading what you think is harmful, shameful material, the more horrified you're going to be at how we were brought up. Your belief system and ours is so different that we can't even discuss this issue meaningfully. We just don't have common ground. Your kids are your own. Do with them what you will. Just don't judge us, our parents and what we did through your spiritual and moral standards.


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Puzzled
To: Candy
Date Posted: Tues, Jun 15, 1999 at 10:14:40 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I don't think the point P&H is making is about control and keeping her children from things they will one day want to read regardless of her influence, but that by not exposing them to offensive, confusing sexual materials and by providing wholesome, enriching, intelligent, useful reading materials that they will make the right choices on their own when the time comes and will not prefer to cater to some lobe of the brain that needs constant wrongful stimulation that clouds judgment. And I think that is exactly what happens to teenagers (and younger) who have a steady diet of adult material. One can't just turn a blind eye and hope that everything will come out right. What is so wrong with offering good literature that doesn't highten already raging hormones and confused emotions and discussing sex within its own context whenever the need arises - only within the family structure by loving parents whose responsibility it is to handle that?


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Blythe
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Tues, Jun 15, 1999 at 02:51:02 (EDT)
Email Address: blytheb@mindspring.com

Message:
But one can differentiate between what is appropriate for adults and what is appropriate for children. There is a big difference between a 17 year old and an 8 year old. Just because you read romance novels, that doesn't mean you are saying you want your young child to read them also. Movies are similar. I don't consider my five year old mature enough to watch Schindler's List, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't see it, or that she shouldn't see it when I believe she is mature enough to handle the material. Why would you let the guidelines you have for your kids be the same as the ones you have for yourself? My kids don't read romance novels, or watch r-rated movies, or stay up past midnight, or have sex. That doesn't mean I can't, or shouldn't.


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Puzzled & Honest
To: TJ
Date Posted: Mon, Jun 14, 1999 at 16:43:46 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
You know they started saying all this in the 60's and 70's, and now we have the children of that generation. There is no way anyone will convince me we are now living in the happiest most content generation of kids in history and it is all due to the fact that parents started treating their children like their peers. Granted the phrase everyone likes to use is 'treat your kids with respect and they will respect you' All you have to do is look at history. The young people today have gotten progressively more and more disobedient and angry and that is because moms and dads have treated them like peers instead of children and young people. You cannot cover up history. There has never been a more angry or decadent generation of young people as there is today. I am talking America here. I don't know about other countries. This is exactly because parenting techniques have gotten more liberal and young people are left to 'make decisions' on there own. What exactly are parents for? To feed and provide a hotel, and give a little advice(of course that is only if the young person asks)? How can anyone possibly look at what is going on with this generation and say the 'openess' approach worked. Kids are more confused today because they don't know if they are adults or children. Do you realize how distructive what you read in that book could have been for some other young girl? There are some things no little girl should have going through her head, I don't care if her mom was a professional counselor and explained it in the best way possible. Also, if my mom and dad told me not to read something or not to go to a specific movie or whatever, I obeyed them. Not out of fear, but because they were my mom and dad and they said no. Even when I didn't agree with my parents, I could share that with them, but I always, always did what they said. You almost make it sound like kids are incapable of obeying their parents if they put strong boundries on them. I think that is a copout for kids to disobey their parents. I will go back to my original question. Why is there such a need in a womans life (young or older) to CONSISTENTLY read sexual explicit novels? I would even say more so to a young girl or young woman who has no desire to delve into that arena in her real life? I guess no one is going to answer that question. Oh well.


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Blythe
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Tues, Jun 15, 1999 at 02:43:59 (EDT)
Email Address: blytheb@mindspring.com

Message:
Actually, if you look at history one consistency is that older generations have always thought the youthful ones were the most decadent generation. This is absolutely constant since the dawn of time. As a genXer myself, I find it annoying when people go on and on about the good old days. As a culture, we tend to romanticize the past, forgetting in the process that forty years ago anyone different (black, gay, etc) was treated like garbage. Men's and women's job listing were separate, and men in power felt free to pat their secretaries on the butt. I'm not saying the world is perfect, but in many ways, for many paople it is a better place than it was in the 'good old days'.


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Robin
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Tues, Jun 15, 1999 at 13:05:07 (EDT)
Email Address: rnu08@aol.com

Message:
The eighteenth century (remember Tom Jones, Fanny Hill, Moll Flanders etc.) had a far more relaxed view of sex than the nineteenth. History is not a continum. Sexual attitudes go back and forth and generations are often at odds with each other. This did not begin in the 1900's. Are you aware that there were student riots at Harvard in the 1840's? There is a wonderful book called GENERATIONS, which tracks this ebb and flow. You can read quotes from Socrates complaining about the disrespectful youth and how disgusted he is!


Subject: Re: Why have sexuality in romances?
From: Karen Wheless
To: Volterra
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 10:08:54 (EDT)
Email Address: kwheless@rockland.net

Message:
I will go back to my original question. Why is there such a need in a womans life (young or older) to CONSISTENTLY read sexual explicit novels? I would even say more so to a young girl or young woman who has no desire to delve into that arena in her real life? I guess noone is going to answer that question. Oh well.
---
Even though a young woman may not want to have sex in her real life, unless she lives in a nunnery she is contantly bombarded by messages and images about sex. We send young people, ESPECIALLY girls, a lot of negative messages about sex. Sex sells. Buy this car and you'll get a hot sexy model. Wear this perfume and all the men will want to sleep with you. When I was a teenager I wasn't having sex, but it was something I thought about, discussed with my friends, saw on television, and so forth.

I think romances give women, especially young women, a more positive image of sexuality. When I was in high school, I knew quite a few classmates who had sex for all the wrong reasons. They wanted to be 'cool', they were afraid they wouldn't get dates if they didn't 'do it', they were unhappy and didn't fit into the high school cliques that ran everything, they didn't know how to say no without having their boyfriends be 'mad' at them, etc. etc. Immature, perhaps, but reality. I think one of the MAJOR reasons that I never fell into this trap was because I read a lot, and had a wider perspective on life than many of them did. I didn't just read romances, but all of the books I read gave me the idea that sex was not the most important thing in life, and that high school was fleeting but the consequences of sex (particularly pregnancy) were FOREVER. I think a lot of television shows and movies give the opposite impression. Also, I was more likely to believe these arguments reading them in a book than I was having a teacher lecture me on the subject.

I don't think every romance is a positive influence, although I don't think explicit sexuality is the determining factor. When I was a teen, I used to read those old 'teen romances'. And the message in those books, over and over, was 'if you don't have a boyfriend, you are worthless'. 'You should try to look dumb so boys will like you.' I think that's a much more negative message than anything found in the typical romance. But a good romance, in my view, gives girls the message that they are stong and powerful. That they matter, and if they have sex, they deserve pleasure from it. (I was in college before I ever knew women could have orgasms) But most importantly, that sex has consequences, both emotional and physical. And that sex is most fulfilling if you are with someone you love, and that you intend to spend your life with. If I had a daughter, I'm not sure if I'd let her read Kathleen Woodiwiss at 13 the way I did, but I would gladly let her read romances. And I'd be more worried about the message it gives about the value of sex than about the level of explictness. Most teens want to know the 'details' about sex, and I don't think a romance is a bad place to learn them.

Karen



Subject: My two-cents' worth
From: Alison
To: All
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 11:18:58 (EDT)
Email Address: alhenry@primary.net

Message:
After scrolling through the various sexuality in romance discussions, here is my contribution. 1) Just because you don't like it doesn't mean that it's wrong/unnatural/perverted, etc. Don't force your standards on everyone else.

2) Raise your children to think for themselves--then they are less swayed by what they read and see on TV.

3) Ever read fiction written by men? Starfarers (don't quote me on the title, I'm not sure it's correct) by Poul Anderson: in a decades-long voyage to the stars, the characters spend their time bed-hopping. Bridges of Madison County? Only a man would consider adultery a romantic theme. There's a difference between sex, and an emotional, intimate relationship between a man and a woman.

Finally, 4) If you don't like what's out there, then write a book yourself! (And then have fun battling the mindset of the publishers who determine what you and I want to read.)

Alison



Subject: Why have sexuality in romances?
From: Beverly
To: All
Date Posted: Mon, Jun 14, 1999 at 22:04:06 (EDT)
Email Address: bbmedos@geocities.com

Message:
Reality. I can't believe I used that word . . . again . . . it's really getting to be a bad habit . . . but there it is. The simple truth of the matter is that it's a heck of a lot more realistic to have THE ACT in some romances than it is to slam the door in our faces. Why? Because slamming the door is suspiciously similar to a very male trait of hiding real emotions . . . as opposed to the very female one of exploring them. So, yeah, reality. Because, face it, the emotions involved in romance in real life do not suddenly stop or, worse yet, blink out of existence temporarily whenever things get too intense. That's a really BIG fantasy perpetuated by people who would like to keep women from thinking too much about . . . well, whatever they might choose to think about on their own.

Reality says something different entirely. Sometimes the growth of the emotions being described cannot be adequately conveyed UNLESS the author explores every level of intimacy between the pair. To act as if exploring those nuances of loving intimacy between two concenting adults is unnatural instead of natural is a rather strange way of looking at things, if you ask me. And you did. If those increased levels of explicitness is not to any reader's taste they have the choice in America to refuse to read the books. I respect that.

Case in point about it being unrealistic at times to not explore intimacy - I just finished a 'sweet' Regency Romance that really brought me up short on this very issue. Several days before this discussion even started. The problem wasn't that there weren't any sex scenes, but that I kept thinking that it was totally out of character for the hero not to make some sort of sexual advance towards the heroine. It wasn't even that there weren't any opportunities, but that his reasons for stopping were all wrong. So wrong, in fact, that they actually made me feel odd about him and what his motives for controlling the situation might actually be. The reasons why there wasn't something 'sexual' happening were just . . . I honestly don't know the correct terminology here, but maybe stilted would be a good word. It didn't ruin the story for me, but it came close because it would've flowed much better if they'd never had the chance insted of backing off whenever they did.

That's a completely different thing from a well-written sweet romance where the issue of physical intimacy really doesn't come up and so the reader doesn't MISS it . . . because they KNOW it should be there and it isn't.

So, yeah, reality just about describes why I want some, not all, but some romance novels to be more explicit than others. Unless of course, we simply go back to banning it from all books. Say, like to the Victorian age where we weren't even allowed to think for ourselves. Personally, I'd just as soon not.

As to whether the greater degrees of intimacy are appropriate for younger readers or not, that's a personal issue between parent and child until the child is old enough to decide for themselves. However, I will say this. I'd much rather for my daughter to learn some 'good' things about a loving, concensual sex from, say, a Julie Garwood novel than I would from a so-called sweet romance that tells her nothing about true intimacy and leaves ALL of the details in that fantasy land of ignorance.

I've learned, much to my regret over the years, that silence hides a great deal more sins than the free sharing of information ever will. Even when it's information that makes us uncomfortable.

Beverly :-)



Subject: Re: Why have sexuality in romances?
From: Volterra
To: Beverly
Date Posted: Mon, Jun 14, 1999 at 23:54:19 (EDT)
Email Address: volterra@sd.znet.com

Message:
Nice reply, Bev, which I trimmed out to reply to the original question. Is this original questioner suggesting that a woman desires to consistently/constantly read sexually explicit novels? I read plenty of novels and it doesn't matter whether they are sexually explicit or not. If the sex description is laughable, chances are I'll skim or fling the book. The stories, the characters hook me. I've read some erotic novels that got plain boring because I couldn't get into the characters at all.

If a young girl has no desire to delve into that (and remembering my own adolescence, that was not me!) then said young girl is not being forced to read that. There is *such* a variety of books, she can read sweet romances and ooh and ahh over the hero's looks, sigh at his romantic gestures, root for them in their darkest moments and enjoy the repartee.

On the other hand, when a young girl/woman has an interest in such sexual scenes -- where would you prefer her to turn? To books that is about sex for sex's sake -- or where it forms part of a meaningful relationship? And even when a book kicks off with sex -- won't our young reader learn, along with the heroine, the consequences of that act?

Leanne
(who learnt from 'Cleo', Anais Nin and 'The Perfumed Garden')



Subject: Why Have Sexuality in Romances?
From: Kathleen
To: All
Date Posted: Tues, Jun 15, 1999 at 12:51:13 (EDT)
Email Address: keldridge@pipeline.com

Message:
Like it or not, your sexuality is part of life and love. Romance novels explore life, love and relationships. It would be completely unrealistic to leave out such a large and enjoyable component of life. Sex is one of the most powerful ways of expressing love. I am surprised that in this day and age, some women still see sex as 'unimportant' or to be avoided. I guess it shows that we still have a long way to go!


Subject: I'm not sure I buy that argument
From: Nancy Beth
To: Beverly
Date Posted: Tues, Jun 15, 1999 at 12:41:55 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Let me say right off that I like hot romance. I will go so far as to admit that I have learned alot about sex from romance novels (some things which are true and some which are not!)

I do not think that explicit sexual scenes, for the most part, further explore the emotional relationship of the hero and heroine. In fact, it often seems to me that their emotional relationship and their physical relationship are quite separate. I would like to see them more fully interwoven and the best writers do so. Two examples that come to mind: Linda Howard does a great job of reflecting the feelings of the hero toward the heroine in his physical relationship with her (remember the scene in Heart of Fire when the hero finds the heroine after she has run off with the diamond?) Nora Roberts too handles well the move from sex to love when she slows down the lovemaking. The hero refuses to be rushed and takes his time, allowing tenderness and love to come to the surface, in addition to the lust.

That said, too many writers do not integrate the emotional life and sexual life of the main characters. And hey, since this is fantasy anyway, I'd like to see some more words of love. Let's get beyond 'I love you.' I like the flowery stuff, like the poem in Connie Brockaway's As You Desire.



Subject: Re: Why have sexuality in romances?
From: langtreelil
To: All
Date Posted: Tues, Jun 15, 1999 at 13:05:24 (EDT)
Email Address: langtreelil@yahoo.com

Message:
Am I stating the obvious when I suggest that one of the big reasons women like romance- sexually explicit to sweet- is arousal? Please don't misunderstand me: the relationships, the history, the element of escapism- all of these are important factors in why women love reading romance. They also contribute to why we get all hot and bothered while reading a particularly good novel.

I know many people feel the lines between erotica, pornography, and romance should be clearly drawn. I wonder though if our motivations are so very different from men who go out and buy pornography? Maybe it's just that we need to have our hearts and minds engaged to really enjoy the material.



Subject: Re: Why have sexuality in romances?
From: Puzzled & Honest
To: langtreelil
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 12:26:34 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I agree with langteelil. As I have said on the other thread, I think romance novels to women are what pornography is to men. And if you don't agree, take a look at all the 'Rant on sex' part 1,2,3 and 4 on this website. If so many of these women are not reading these books to get turned on- then I can't read English. I did not say that is ALL they are reading it for, but that is defiantely a purpose. As far as adult women go that is all I have been trying to say. That is what I meant by adding the 'Honest' to my name. You are all adults, if you want to read these books, get turned on till you turn green and escape out of the real world, by all means go for it. But at least be honest and admit as to ALL the reasons why you read. Men watch porno to get turned on-PERIOD. Women read explicit sex in romance novels to get turned on-PERIOD. Now I know they read the rest of the book for a miraid of other reasons. But the sex parts turn them on. And if they are all such free thinkers and liberated women- what is wrong with admitting they like porn? It is not about the 'natural next step in the romantic story' You don't need the explicitness for that. Are we not all intelligent enough women to figure it out, even if our imaginations get explicit on their own? When women start using phrases such as; 'I like my sex scenes HOT! I like it spicy.' It rings true to what men say about porno. Now as far as I can see, everyone here is complaining about how women have had to repress their sexuality etc....So by all means do not feel repressed here and admit 'I prefer my pornography in the written form.'

BTW- A personal note...I don't agree with any pornography. Mens style or womens. I say that because a few people have made comments to the effect that noone is saying anything bad about men and magazines etc... Well, there is my comment on that.


Subject: Re: Why have sexuality in romances?
From: Candy
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 17:41:18 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I believe I admitted on an earlier post that yes, love scenes turn me on. That may be a part of the reason why I read them. But I truly believe that I don't read romances just for the love scenes, and I don't read the love scenes just because I want to get turned on. The only thing I object to is labelling them as pornography. Pornography has certain connotations that love scenes in romances don't (and I'm just speaking about well-written novels here, not the bordering-on-distasteful-erotica). Pornography is about lust--PERIOD. Love scenes are about an inextricable combination of love and desire. There is an emotional tie there that is absent from straight pornography. Honestly, if I did want to get turned on through the written word, I can subscribe to alt.sex.stories, for free.

All I'm saying is, you're being a little too black-and-white with your labels and your judgments for my comfort. If you don't approve of explicit sex in romance novels, hey, that's cool. But please don't label it and judge it for the rest of us. More than one definition applies here. I think yours is inaccurate; you probably think mine is inaccurate. But whether you realize it or not, you do come off sounding as if you think sex is something dirty and shameful and a subject not to be discussed in the public forum except with the vaguest generalities. Maybe you're not that way, but some of your posts sure make you sound like it. Once again, I'm not condoning the active availability of pornography to children and teenagers, but I do think that romances give people a healthy way to explore something that is still seen as shameful and dirty.

And on a side note: even IF reading romances was an addiction, I can think of a lot worse addictions to have...



Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Ava
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Mon, Jun 14, 1999 at 21:02:39 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I think this is the wrong board to say 'I don't think anyone will answer that question' !!! (grin) You questioned why someone would need to consistently read sexually explicit novels. Hmmm. Somehow I don't think any one posting on this board would feel that NEED specifically. Just as I don't think many people feel the NEED to consistently read horror/murder novels or whatever. What they do feel is a consistent need to READ, and they choose the kind of literature that brings them pleasure and relaxation. I suppose that if someone WERE to feel such a consistent need, to the point that they could not function in life otherwise, then they could be called addicted. An addiction to anything means that we need it in order to survive life as we know it. Now, a whole bunch of people I know, including me, are addicted to caffeine. I need it in order to survive life as I know it. My addiction harms no one, unless I count myself (caffeine is toxic to the heart muscle). So, is my addiction wrong ethically, morally or politically? I am addicted to reading. I read childrens books, how-to books, history (I just finished 'History of the Jews')and cookbooks. I also read romance. My needs are simply this, a good book, well written, story well told or facts clearly and consisely given, written in a manner that will hold my attention and entertain and educate me.


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Liz
To: Ava
Date Posted: Tues, Jun 15, 1999 at 18:48:19 (EDT)
Email Address: darkwater@mcn.net

Message:
I think Ava has mentioned some good points here. I also feel the need to add my own opinion to DeeDee's (Puzzled & Honest) question. I, like Ava, and a good many others here, love to read. I read fantasy, science fiction, mystery and romance. Why romance? This is my hypothesis. I believe is that sex is a basic, animal/human need. There is no escaping this. Humans are need based creatures. We have some emotional needs that must be fulfilled, the need to be loved, the need to be appreciated, the need to know that we are integrally important to someone else. The need for sex is a physical as well as an emotional need. Although we do not know as a child what these desires to explore body differences lead to, everyone knows that children are curious about the differences between girls and boys. These differences (and maybe samenesses for some) will lead to sexual needs, desires and wants in the future.

Men meet their sexual needs in different ways than women. As someone mentioned before, men like 'looking', rather than reading. I'm not quite sure what emotional need is met for them in this way, but it must be something, or they would all be reading romance novels! For women, I think, the emotional part of sex is much more important. For me at least, sex is a must in romance novels because I want/need that emotional component of knowing that the characters are connected in the most intimate of ways. I have a what I would consider a normal sex life, but I don't expect my husband to meet every need I have. Sometimes, I need to sit back with a good book and lose myself for a while. If I choose a romance novel, that's fine. I accept that I am a needful person, as is everyone else. Romance novels, as with other books, exist in a 'perfect world', one that is different from our every day reality.

I believe, personally, that it is a dangerous path to deny that sex is a part of relationships. Whether they are married or not, they are going to fulfill that basic human need in some way. Teaching children as they grow up how to do this in a loving and kind way for themselves and their partners, one that doesn't deny or shame the feelings that they are having as teenagers, is what my goal will be for my own children. Liz



Subject: Re: Why have sexuality in romances?
From: Deirdre
To: Volterra
Date Posted: Tues, Jun 15, 1999 at 07:58:13 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Let's turn the question around and ask why romances shouldn't have sexually explicit scenes since the implication seems to be that in order to not read them consistently they would have to not be there.

The books aren't published for children or even young adults, they are published for adults. I haven't seen anyone objecting to the explicit sex in action thrillers because impressionable seventeen year old boys might read them or to men CONSISTENTLY reading them.

I will state my first book with explicit sex scenes was not a romance-- it was Boys and Girls Together by William Goldman. I was 12 and a cousin who was going to Viet Nam dropped off a bunch of paperbacks including this one. I snagged it and hid it under my mattress to read by flashlight. It also gave me a very odd idea about the emotional relationship between the sexes since everyone in the book was using everyone else and lying about it.

The second one, or maybe about the same time was a huge unexpurgated version of The Arabian Nights translated by Sir. Richard Burton in the 19th century. Ohmy, ohmy, did I learn thing from that one. It was in our local library and apparently I was the only person in 40 years to check the volumes out. Who could object to a young girl reading such a classic? There was information in a footnote about the longest penis on record I will never forget!



Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: TJ
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Tues, Jun 15, 1999 at 00:26:14 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I don't know what the big deal is. We don't ask this kind of quesiton to guys, who consistently crave porn! Is it wrong to say that women can also feel the same sexual desire and needs men feel and that reading sexually explicit material is a manifest of sexual desire, etc? And if you don't read about things you don't want to delve into, then you should never read murder mystery. After all, you're not going to kill someone or solve a murder yourself, right? I also disagree that young people are treated like adult. That's BS. Parents, at least some, use that kind of crap as an excuse to NEGLECT their children when they're in need of parental guidance. Either that, they become control freaks. I know what's right and wrong. My parents taught me that when I was a little kid and trust me to abide by my personal moral codes and ethics. I never did anything that may shame myself or my parents because I don't want to betray their trust and I have too much respect for myself not to. It's time we think about the self-esteem of the young poeple rather than why they're so screwed up and how we can control them so they don't screw up more. TJ


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Robin
To: Puzzled
Date Posted: Sat, Jun 12, 1999 at 15:14:27 (EDT)
Email Address: rnu08@aol.com

Message:
To me what diferentiates romance from pornography is not the amount of sex, or even the amount of detail in the sex described it is the ROMANCE and the amount of it in the book. Erotica is not romance because it focuses more on the physical than on the emotional side of the relationship. If the book is basically a romance ie. a story about two people's emotional involvement and how they overcome obstacles to a permanent relationship, I don't see why masterbation etc. should be excluded. If OTOH the book is about two people who go to bed it can get pretty ho-hum regardless of what the people are doing. What is done in love is not dirty or shameful so long as the two people involved do not hurt each other. If a hero and a heroine do what they do in the name of affection I am never repelled. Masterbating, and thinking about a loved one is not dirty. there is a scene like that in Deborah Simmons' THE ROBBER BRIDE, and it is quite moving. When I think of all the mistress scenes I've read! I'd rather read about the hero masturbating over the heroine than having sex with a mistress any day.


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Alison
To: Puzzled
Date Posted: Sat, Jun 12, 1999 at 19:45:52 (EDT)
Email Address: alhenry@primary.net

Message:
Romances more legit? Do you think Steven King cares what critics think of his novels? Let's face it; a male-dominated society will not warm up to a genre where: 1) the focus is on the woman, 2)the emphasis is on those things men hate to discuss--relationships, feelings, and commitment, and 3) women are portrayed as having sex and enjoying it without being described as sluts or whores. I say bravo to Robin for trying something different. You may not like what she writes, but, hey, I detest those baby/cowboy/wedding books. And, having nearly finished a futuristic, I despise well-meaning advice at writing conferences to write the above plots because they sell. Kudos to those authors who write from the heart and not what looks good in the market. And finally, romance is a big enough genre to include all sorts of stories--sweet books, sizzling books, and everything in between.


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Candy
To: Puzzled
Date Posted: Sat, Jun 12, 1999 at 19:35:50 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
First of all, let me say that I do think young children should be protected from matters that involve explicit sex and violence. However, once they've reached puberty and beyond, I think it's OK for them to read racy material. My parents, while extremely protective of me in every other way, allowed me to read pretty much anything I wanted barring hardcore pornography. I'm so grateful they didn't try to shelter me in that respect. Because they treated me like a mature, thinking adult who was able to make my own decisions about how to interpret what I read, I acted accordingly. So by all means protect a 4-year old, and even an 11-year old, but I don't think a 15 or 16 year old needs protecting any more (in terms of reading material anyway) if she has been brought up to think critically and in an independent manner. Plus forbidden fruit is always sweetest, and if you try to protect or forbid teenagers from reading something, you know what inevitably happens... It might be more constructive to read the books or magazines with the teenagers and discuss it intelligently with them. And I do think that explicit sex has a part in romance novels. If you've read Awaken My Love, you'll realize it's not pornography. The sex is graphic, but the characters are also in love and exploring their bodies with each other. If you read that book and contrast it with, say, some piece of straight erotica or something from the Penthouse Forum pages, you'll notice the difference (and trust, I've read all three so I know what I'm talking about). The first is difference is the emotional involvement between the characters--in erotica and pornography, the main objective is the fulfilment of lust. In 'hot' romances, the love relationship has to come first and foremost. If the romance writer fails in demonstrating the love as well as the sex, then I do chuck the book away in disgust (Bertrice Small and a few Susan Johnsons are on top of this pile). A big second difference is in the language. Romances--at least the good ones--should be able to describe love scenes in a manner that's both sexy AND tasteful. Erotica often veers into the purple, while pornography is just plain crude. While I do agree with you that some books don't deserve to be labelled romance and should be consigned to the erotica or pornography shelves while others should simply be thrown away as trash, I don't think it's as simple a process as going through the book and counting the number and variety of explicit love scenes. As in the real world, everything needs to be viewed in context. If the acts take place in a loving, monogamous relationship between adults, then heck yeah, it's a romance. I think Schone and anyone else out there should explore the boundaries of sexuality in their romances because that's what keeps romance from becoming stagnant. I'm such a big romance fan because contrary to the popular opinion that it's just the same ole, same ole rehashed again and again, I think it's a vital genre with a lots of variety. I love the sweet romances that don't describe the love scenes in detail, but I have to admit a well-done scorching hot love scene between the hero and heroine can elevate the story to another level. Of course, what's gratuitous sex and what's not is a very hard thing to judge and a matter of personal opinion. Your opinion on this is as valid as mine, Puzzled. But if you want to check and see which romances are 'hot' and which aren't, you should maybe do a little research before buying a book. Websites such as this one have ratings on how hot a book is. And you can always perform a 'flip-through' test: go to a bookstore, and flip to random pages in 6 or 7 different sections of a book. Scan the pages. If there are more than 3 graphic love scenes, then don't pick up the book.


Subject: Re: Sexuality & Romance No-Nos
From: ruth
To: Candy
Date Posted: Sun, Jun 13, 1999 at 11:19:54 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I'm inserting this message after having read Candy's remarks (I haven't finished the entire thread.) I, also, am all FOR variety in the romance genre. I read everthing from Regencies to erotica and enjoy good themes, plotting and writing where I find them in them throughout the range of the genre. Since I've noticed that this thread devolves into 'Let there be shame,' I'm guessing that we're going to be treated to some sort of repressive commentary re: masturbation and adultery. It is amazing to me that anyone could be so out of tune with human response in general as to deny that masturbation is a nomal aspect of sexuality. As for adultery in romance fiction, I, too, find it uncomfortable, in general. There are two aspects to this discomfort: (1)the HEA of Romance fiction is important to my enjoyment, and it's VERY difficult to work out HEA within the context of an adultery theme; and (2) even if the author is gifted enough in plotting to work out a HEA, the anguish that the characters must feel (to my mind) over the hopelessness of the situation prior to the HEA renders the book work, not pleasure, to read. That said, I understand that Jo Beverly's soon-to-be-released work revolves around an adultery theme. Since I LOVE her work, I will be prepared to give it every benefit of the doubt!


Subject: Re: Sexuality & Romance No-Nos
From: Puzzled & Honest
To: ruth
Date Posted: Sun, Jun 13, 1999 at 15:23:38 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
In response to the repressive comment; Just because a woman has no need to touch breasts & a vagina-hers or anyone else's- does not mean she is repressed. I'm not naive, I realize it happens and happes a lot. But just because something exists does not mean I need nor want to read about at my liesure. What will we say when someone wants to start writing stories that do include beastiality and pedophilia in a 'romantic' light? As in an earlier comment,it used to be anything but missionary style was perverted,well we have well moved beyond that now haven't we? What makes us think it won't go any further? There has to be a line somewhere.


Subject: Re: Sexuality & Romance No-Nos
From: LynnO
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Tues, Jun 15, 1999 at 10:03:56 (EDT)
Email Address: Not provided

Message:
But who is to decide that line? Who's morals will dictate this? Not that I totally disagree about a line, but when it gets into how to draw it, well.....

Subject: Re: Sexuality & Romance No-Nos
From: Puzzled & Honest
To: LynnO
Date Posted: Tues, Jun 15, 1999 at 12:31:50 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Well...since you asked. My personal belief is the One who draws the line is the One who created us and sex in the first place. That One would be God. His lines are pretty clearly written out for all to see in the Bible.


Subject: Re: Sexuality and morality
From: Katarina
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 03:28:22 (EDT)
Email Address: Greensis@yahoo.com

Message:
Well, if we want to draw lines regulating the contents of romance according to your preferences, this presupposes a number of things.

1) that most people reading romances are Christian
2) that most of those Christians also share your interpretation of the Bible
3) that most people reading romances are Americans and so put great stock in both the Bible and their puritan heritage.

I'm not trying to negate your faith in any way, just point out that if moral codes are to be generally respected and followed, the vast majority must agree with them. Same thing with laws. Otherwise, it will just be a waste of time, effort and words, regardless if the words are quoted from the Bible.

/Katarina
who is happily non-Christian and non-American



Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Puzzled & Honest
To: Candy
Date Posted: Sun, Jun 13, 1999 at 03:54:09 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
OK! Ok! I have been reading this message board and can be quiet no longer! I agree with Puzzled. I would like to add a little (or a lot) of honesty to this discussion. First of all- we all know that when it comes to sex generally men are sight oriented and women relationally oriented. The eqivalent to romance novels is not magazines, but porno 'flicks' Ok-there is more of a 'story' in the novels but the descriptive sex scenes in romance novels,especially erotic novels, is exactly the same-in not just average porn, but what would be considered 'hard' porn. Websters Dictionary meaning of pornography is 'the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitment'. Now- we ladies like to make things pretty- Erotica is a pretty word for pornography. The books in and of themselves may, and I repeat may, not be porngraphy but the sex scenes can be called nothing less. I have been reading romance novels for years now, and I ashamedly admit to reading Susan Johnson, Thea Devine, & Bertrice Small. I have never felt 'good' after reading these. Now I will add another aspect to this discussion by asking a question that relates to this. Are romance novels addictive? My honest answer for myself? Absolutely!! I have been pondering this myself the last several months. Lastly I must say I have been married for 12yrs and have never, and I mean NEVER, masturbated since or before and I have many friends who don't and never have. Be careful how you generalize. I do not in any way find masturbation romantic in the least!! BTW, Websters definiton of romance? Nowhere does he mention physical love however he does state 'an emotional attraction or aura belonging to......' No porno there.


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Candy
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Sun, Jun 13, 1999 at 17:31:29 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
All I'm advocating here is variety in romance. Can you honestly say that romance doesn't involve sex? So by the dictionary definition, are all romances with love scenes pornographic? And is Webster really the definition you want to turn to when talking about love and sex? I think there are nuances to pornography (either on film or in the written word) that don't apply to love scenes in romances. The issue can't be as black-and-white as you contend. Very, very few things are. When I fall in love, I want to share everything with the person, including my body. And I admit it. Love scenes turn me on, especially in the context of a love relationship. On the other hand, I've read Bertrice Small, Virginia Henley, Susan Johnson and Linda Howard novels with sizzling love scenes that left me cold. I still think masturbation is a relatively normal and healthy activity (unless it becomes pathologically compulsive of course). If you don't masturbate, fine. But all I ask is for those who don't to not pass judgement on those who do. If you don't think masturbation can be in the least romantic, again, that's fine. But again, don't pass judgment on people who do. Hey, bondage and sex toys aren't really my bag, but if some consenting adults decide that's what melts their butter, I say go for it. And there IS a line that I think cannot be crossed. Anything that doesn't involve consenting adults is a definite no-no in my world. Bestiality, pedophilia, rape, necrophilia, maybe a couple others I'm not listing. Actively hurting someone while in the sex act is also distasteful. But otherwise, why put boundaries on something as beautiful, vital and creative as human sexuality? Why automaticaly define anything you don't personally find romantic as something tawdry, shameful or dirty? Hey, I hate the color orange, but that doesn't mean it's an ugly color. And why shouldn't this be explored in romance novels? I am staunch believer that romantic love must include sexual love, and although there are parts of sexuality that I don't particularly like, that doesn't mean I think they're tawdry, dirty or shameful. And I can honestly say that I don't read romance novels for the sex. If I wanted that, there are plenty of porno websites with stories and newsgroups I can subscribe to, not to mention lots of erotica at Powell's Books right down the street from my apartment. The first romance I ever read was chock-full of love scenes, and it was responsible for turning me off romance for 6 years. The 'addiction' isn't as simple as that. The sex may be a part of it, but I don't think such a generalization is true or fair to romance readers.


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Puzzled
To: Curious
Date Posted: Sun, Jun 13, 1999 at 19:21:06 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
As for addiction, just stand in a supermarket checkout line or watch a television commercial and decide if sex is a case for it. They can't even seem to pitch a breath mint these days without employing it, but is the romance industry currently really suffering from a lack of sex? In my own defense I have said nothing about basic/general love scenes just the ones that border on and are pornographic. But by all means feel free to defend the worthy cause of anal, toy, and self sex being made accessible to all. I'm sure the world will be a much better place.


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Colleen
To: Puzzled
Date Posted: Mon, Jun 14, 1999 at 21:38:51 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Right now the world is a place of compulsory monogamy and heterosexuality, where it's assumed that if you are not in a relationship that is both of the above, you wish you were and aspire to be, and if you assert that you do not aspire to this, you are sick, wrong, in need of censure. It's a place where women who do embrace their sexuality are still seen as sluts by many people. It's a place where in some locales you can be arrested for selling or buying sex toys, and where small-minded people spend time and money they could spend in doing something like making schools better or feeding hungry people, instead defining how much skin is obscene and exactly how much and how often of a certain act makes a movie worth banning. In the state where I live, until very recently, any variation of oral or anal sex was illegal and in some cases, actively prosecuted. What we have as a result is a nation of people who are terrified of sexuality, their own and others', and acttively seek to limit it in response, at every turn. You know what happens when you put pressure on something? (C'mon, let's all flashback to those high school chemistry classes). Two things: temperature rises, and the pressure makes the substance seek an outlet--any outlet, no matter how destructive it ultimately is for the container trying to hold the substance, no matter how unappealing the resulting mess is. Maybe the pornography you decry (and I do not concur with your definition of explicit sex in romance novels with pornography) is so ugly and unappealing to so many precisely because it's pushed into the dark corners, decried, and placed under tremendous legal pressure. Maybe the other forms of sexual expression you find so frightening and awful appear that way because there is so much pressure to ignore one's desires, repress them, and hide from them. Maybe that's what warps so many people sexually--not the expression but the fear of it.


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Puzzled & Honest
To: Candy
Date Posted: Sun, Jun 13, 1999 at 20:04:59 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I understand that sex is a natural outlet for romance. That wasn't my point. If you take so many of these novels and make a motion picture out of them-including the explicit sex scenes as they are described in the novel-what would the rating be? I'm not meaning to sound judgemental, but I am the type of person that wants to be honest. I've read these novels for years. I said sex can be a natural outcome of romance. But- I think that they can go together and they can be seperate.Just because they are together doesn't make it not pornographic in its explicitness. And just because there is some romance with the sex doesn't make it romantic. Why do we need the explicitness? Can we not just build the romance and fade to black knowing as adults exactly what they are going to do? I'm just thinking out loud here. They leave nothing to the good ol' imagination. Besides the fact that over 50% (at least) of the romance novels have sex going before there is hardly a relationship at all. Are you going to tell me that most women get turned on and melt in a mans arms just because he kisses her and touches her breast? Come on. That is not romance. Most of the time these men don't do any 'romancing' at all!! They look good, they're tortured and the woman can help him. Since when is that romance? My husband romances me by spending time with me, being interested in what is going on with me, telling me he loves me(there is one you almost never see unitl the end of the book),and hey, he brings me flowers every month on the 22nd in remembrance of the day we got married. He has done this for 12yrs. That is romance!! The more I think of this the more I wonder what is exactly romantic in these books? I am right now asking myself this question. Is this what you want a man to do to you? These men in these books almost never do any romancing at all. Somehow the heroines see the real man underneath and that is enough romance for her to have explicit sex. So again I ask what causes women to pick up one after another of the romance novel? I'm willing to accept that it is not all sex, women are not made that way. So what else is it? I like to ' get away' once in a while just like the next Mom. But when it turns into 'getting away' often instead of once in a while I have to question the reason. As far as the masturbation- I wasn't being judgemental. Robin made a pretty general statement about women and masturbation, I was just trying to say be careful how you generalize. I also know in talking to my husband about this, he is no more thrilled with me reading in explcit detail about another man-his perfect physical appearance,size shape and virility of his 'manhood'-than I am about him wathcing some 'perfect' naked woman moaning and wiggling on top of some guy. Now I realize this is my personal experience and I realize there are women out there who could care less if there husband sees every woman that crosses the street naked, but I have a feeling there are a few out there who would agree with me. By the way the age of a 'consenting' adult in some states has dropped to 13. Don't be surprised if years down the line we see true black and white lines turn a grayish color.


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Puzzled
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Sun, Jun 13, 1999 at 14:57:17 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Honest has hit the nail on the head. The question of addiction has concerned me for quite awhile too and I can find no other reason for women to doggedly pursue a genre that has more mediocre to bad work than excellent. Also, I haven't yet met a romance fan who so faithfully haunted used book stores or spent so much time and money in the search of the CLASSICS as she would in the pursuit of romance novels. I believe there must be something to it.


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Anne M. Marble
To: Puzzled
Date Posted: Sun, Jun 13, 1999 at 22:13:24 (EDT)
Email Address: amarble@abs.net

Message:
Yes, I have haunted used book stores for romances. But I have also haunted used bookstores for mysteries, science fiction, horror, general fiction, nonfiction. Did I miss anything? Most romance fans don't haunt used bookstores for romances because they're addicted. They haunt them because all too often, their favorite authors' books are out of print. They're not necessarily reading them all at once. They're saving them because they know that one day, they'll be almost impossible to find. (I bought dozens of Gothics when I realized the used bookstore was culling its Gothic section.) Many of the 'regulars' in used bookstores are men who are looking for westerns, mysteries, or whatever they enjoy. Yes nobody calls that an addiction.


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Tanya
To: Puzzled
Date Posted: Sun, Jun 13, 1999 at 16:00:12 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
If we are going to discuss generalizations, I don't think it's right to assume no die-hard romance fan(which I consider myself) would spend the time hunting down other books (classics included). I have a degree in English Literature, and spend huge ammounts of time hunting down ALL types of books, including first editions of Edgar Allen Poe and the entire catalogues of Henry James and Edith Wharton. I spend just as much time searching for romance author backlists. Not trying to be snippy, but just wanted to prove a point.


Subject: Re: Question for Puzzled and Puzzled & Honest
From: Puzzled & Honest
To: Robin
Date Posted: Mon, Jun 14, 1999 at 21:00:36 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I am convinced that most women who join these disucssions read a lot of romance, and obviously other novels. The friends that I have that read romance novels read them at a pretty fast pace also. I think there is some level of addiction, which I realize isn't a pretty word, from what I have seen of comments from both readers and reviewers that they are reading these novels at a pretty fast pace. I also read somewhere on the net on one of the romance sites that the average woman who reads romance spends an average of $100.00 a month. That is a lot of books a month, especially if some are used. I'd call that some sort of addiction.


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Puzzled & Honest
To: Tanya
Date Posted: Sun, Jun 13, 1999 at 20:09:04 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I'm willing to admit I could be wrong. But from what I have seen on the internet on the romance sites you seem to be the minority. It appears most romance readers have a certain time period they like and they general stick to it. I do believe though that there are women out there who read a wide variety and range.

Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: LLB
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Sun, Jun 13, 1999 at 20:26:51 (EDT)
Email Address: laurie@likesbooks.com

Message:
To Puzzled, Puzzled and Confused, and others, especially those who won't leave their email addresses - Most romance readers I know read a variety of books, from the classics, to other genres, to contemporary fiction. I think this thread has become very interesting. My own preferences in love scenes run more what I prefer in my personal life. While I won't share that, I will say that many romance authors I know have very long and happy marriages - from authors who write borderline erotica (such as Thea Devine) to authors who write more sweetly sensual romance. I am not threatened by anything in either traditional love scenes in romance or erotica, and masturbation can work - Connie Brockway did it brilliantly in All Through the Night; I understand Deb Simmons did it in one of her deBurgh romances. I'm convinced a skillful writer could probably get to me to like just about anything - I've learned after reading thousands of books in my life that excellent writers can convince me of anything. That goes for romance writers, Classics writers, and writers of contemporary fiction. What does bother me about some of the postings here is the anger. We invite anyone to post here who reads and enjoys romance, but if you don't enjoy it, why bother to post? TTFN, LLB


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Puzzled
To: LLB
Date Posted: Sun, Jun 13, 1999 at 21:13:57 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I've learned after reading thousands of books in my life that excellent writers can convince me of anything.
---
And that is pretty scary.


Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Puzzled & Honest
To: Puzzled
Date Posted: Sun, Jun 13, 1999 at 21:23:46 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I've learned after reading thousands of books in my life that excellent writers can convince me of anything.
---
And that is pretty scary.
---

---
I concur.



Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Puzzled & Honest
To: LLB
Date Posted: Sun, Jun 13, 1999 at 21:10:42 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
LLB- If you were to ask anyone who knows me I can come across angry when I am really not. I am however very passionate when in a discussion/debate. I do enjoy romance books. However just because I enoy something doesn't mean it is edifying to me. There are several points of frustration, not anger,that Puzzled and I were trying to make. The first one, which everyone keeps avoiding, is the old adage 'if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and sounds like a duck-it is probably a duck.' Erotica-as the words come to life in an imagination looks like, sounds like and acts out like pornography. It seems everyone is avoiding that point. Secondly, the 17yr old comment was quite unsettling to me as a mother of 3 daughters. I agree that it is mine and my husbands responsibility to teach them about sex, romance, and most importantly that love is a committment not a romantic feeling. I have faith in our ability to raise them so in that when they are 17 years old, which is not a child but neither a mature adult either, they will make wise choices. I am not thrilled with the idea that my daughter at 15,16,or 17 could pick up a 'romance' novel only to find it full of 'romanticized' premarital sex. And to be quite honest LLB, if you as an adult can be so convinced by a writer, where does that leave a still impressionable 17yr old girl? On a personal note; How can I teach my young daughters to be modest and pure when their mommy is reading just the opposite,err condoning it? As far as the e-mail address goes, I do not leave my e-mail address for anyone on the net because my husband asks me not to. I sincerely thank you for giving this forum for discussion, and I apologize if I came accross angry. Through this, I have realized that I need to make a change in my reading material. Will I still read romance? I think so. I think I will go back to reading the Regency romances with no sex. That is where I started, and I really enjoyed those books. They are smaller and have less of a 'full' story I realize, but, they help me to 'get away' once in a while. I along with Puzzled have said all I need to say. My point in sharing so much was to possibly be a help to someone else who may be questioning her own reasons, as was I, as to why does a woman feel the need to read so much sexually explicit romance? Thank you again.


Subject: Let me rephrase: 'convincing'
From: LLB
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Sun, Jun 13, 1999 at 21:48:48 (EDT)
Email Address: laurie@likesbooks.com

Message:
I'm afraid I have been misunderstood, likely due to my own error. When I say that a skillful author can convince me of anything, I'm talking about plot lines. For instance, until I read Christina Dodd's A Well Pleasured Lady, I didn't think I'd love a scene of 'forced seduction,' and let's not get into rape vs. forced seduction because the reality is that in real life there is no such thing as forced seduction, and even when I was 17 I knew this. I commented similarly a couple of months ago after having read a book by Tom Robbins which featured some incredibly bizarre scenes. Had another author written those words, I would have chucked the book against the wall. So, what I meant to say and didn't say well is that a skilled author can have me like to read something I would not have thought I would have liked. I didn't mean that a skilled author could have me believe there wasn't a Holocaust or that I should drink poisoned Kool-Aid.


Subject: Re: Let me rephrase: 'convincing'
From: Puzzled & Honest
To: LLB
Date Posted: Sun, Jun 13, 1999 at 21:58:14 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Now I am confused. You say there is no difference yet you enjoyed this scene? It seems Christina Dodd 'convinced' you to enjoy something you otherwise would find abhorrent.Is it because it is in a book and it didn't happen to somenone you actually know it was enjoyable? I am not being sarcastic, I am actually confused.

Subject: Re: Let me rephrase: 'convincing'
From: LLB
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Sun, Jun 13, 1999 at 23:18:01 (EDT)
Email Address: laurie@likesbooks.com

Message:
Have you ever read a book where the heroine fell in love with a dangerous hero - which, in real life, is something you'd never do? I know I have, and yet my own husband is nothing at all like those dangerous heroes. When a romance succeeds for me, it is because the author has brought me into the fantasy. Such was the case w/Dodd's book, and when I reviewed it, it led to such a firestorm that readers were talking about it for nearly six weeks (if you are interested in the broo-ha-ha, check out Rifs on Political Correctness here at AAR). When I reviewed the book and opened the topic of forced seduction up for discussion, a reader wrote something in response that I've never forgotten. She said, 'There is a whole section of rape fantasies in Nancy Friday's My Secret Garden. These fantasies aren't about violence. They are about being forced to accept pleasure. And that's a totally different thing. Women are taught to be caretakers. And we all know how hard it is for some of us to take care of ourselves. This can spill over into our sexual relationships, too. We worry about our partner's pleasure and have trouble accepting our right to our own. So the fantasy of a strong lover forcing us to be pleasured in spite of ourselves is an appealing one. We don't have to feel guilty for needing more than a man does to be satisfied. We are forced to lie there and take it until we can't take it anymore. Tie me up and kill me with pleasure. There's nothing I can do about it. I think this 'forced seduction' scene fits into A Well Pleasured Lady. She really wanted him, but she couldn't admit it to him. She needed him to do what he did.' This reader really made me think - was this what I found so erotic in that scene? Perhaps; but for whatever reason, I found that scene incredibly erotic, and I'd never found such a scene at all erotic in other books. Interestingly enough, I heard from a number of women who had been victims of rape when all this was going on and they understood that I was not condoning rape. One even wrote that she agreed that a rape fantasy is not wish fulfillment. If I asked my husband to blindfold me and tie my hands to the bedpost some night, in essence, I'm saying, 'Do with me as you will.' It's an incredibly powerful fantasy, but one that does not mean I'd want him to beat me or rape me. This is a very explosive topic, and one which I'm not sure I want to revisit right now, but I hope I have sufficiently explained myself. I was able to remove myself from the reality of rape and read that scene, which I happened not only to find erotic, but poignant as well. I connected both with the hero and the heroine very deeply in that scene, and, for me, that's a sign that the author has done her job well. In real life, if my husband ever raised a hand to me, we'd be divorced in a New York minute.


Subject: Re: Let there be shame????!!!!!!
From: LynnO
To: Puzzled
Date Posted: Tues, Jun 15, 1999 at 09:59:49 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Let there be shame????!!!!!!! I'm finding this thread absolutely fascinating. I find the choice of words very interesting, and maybe I'm reading way too much into the comments in this portion of the thread, but I for one am not interested at all in making sexuality shameful. Now, if it said let there be discretion, or modesty, or please lets leave something to the imagination, I'd understand. But personally I don't find romance novel or sex shameful. I'm not sure if that's what you meant or not.

As for the impressionable 17 year old, where might you find one of these? In America, by the time a kid is 17, they have probably seen thousands if not millions of acts of sex and violence on tv, and yes, even PAX tv contains sex and violence. And if they've been to any movies rated higher than G, well.... To say nothing of what they see and hear at school.




Subject: Re: Let there be shame
From: Candy
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Mon, Jun 14, 1999 at 04:18:23 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
OK, as the 17-year old in question (or former 17-year old), I feel like I have to jump into the metaphorical fray... I don't see why it's so unsettling that I read a sexy book at that age. I read quite a lot of sexually explicit material when I was a teenager, but I didn't even KISS a boy until I was 19--the same year I finally got involved in my very first romantic relationship. Modesty and purity, I firmly believe, can be maintained regardless of one's reading material. (And I'm not including masturbation in my definition of modesty and purity, because I think women have been scarred enough and made to feel far too much shame over a relatively healthy, normal and perfectly harmless urge.) I'm a person who believes that premarital sex is all right as long as both parties act in a safe and responsible manner, so I guess the romances I read aren't clashing with my philosophy. On the other hand, you sound like a person who would prefer your daughters to wait until marriage. That's cool too. I have friends who believe in that, and I admire the strength of will and self-control they must have because you have to admit, it gets pretty tempting when you're young and in love. But why can't the person read about it? If the girl is brought up according to that philosophy and she truly believes in it, she'll be disgusted by a sexually explicit book and put it away. Or she'll enjoy escaping into the fantasy for a little while but continue living her life in a manner that's in accordance to her beliefs. While not underestimating the effect a work of fiction can have, we mustn't underestimate or negate human will and human responsibility either. At 17, a girl may not be fully an 'adult' but she's not as impressionable as you think, either. I know, because I was 17 only 4 short years ago, and I already knew what was right and wrong for me. So did a majority of my friends. I knew I wasn't ready for sex, so I didn't have sex (much as I would have liked to!) even though I was reading a lot of works that contained sexual scenes. A person who at the age of 17 can be persuaded to change her life's philosophy merely because she reads a sexually explicit work, or even several explicit works, is probably weak-minded--and weak-willed. If your daughters should ever catch you reading hot romances, tell them that it's fiction, NOT real life. That they shouldn't lead their lives way the characters do because it can have serious repercussions, whatever. Again, I repeat: just because you're reading something doesn't mean you have to practice the author's philosophical viewpoint, even if she does immerse you in the fantasy she creates. If that's made clear enough to children and teenagers everywhere, I think we shouldn't have too worry too much about their 'impressionability,' especially after a certain level of maturity. And personally, I read the romances for the escapism. The love scenes can be cathartic, and when done as they should be, they can demonstrate the intimacy between the characters in a way nothing else can. I agree with LLB: a good author can get me to read and enjoy almost anything. Whether it's lots and lots of sex or no sex at all, doesn't matter to me. That's the wonder of fiction (of all sorts, not just romance): it allows us, the readers, to view things from a completely fresh perspective and to live through things we probably never will in real life. And I do agree that American culture is becoming oversexed in very strange ways. And I also agree that there are probably more mediocre and bad romances than good ones. I agree that some romances border on the pornographic, and some of these are downright disgusting. But I think sex firmly belongs in romances, and that explicit scenes do belong there--as long as they're well-done and show the growing relationship between the characters. But sweet, non-sexual romances are just as necessary and just as valid too--some of my all-time favorite reads, such as Knave's Wager by Loretta Chase, have no love scenes in them at all. Once again, my point is: the more variety, the better. But on that final issue, let's just agree to disagree. On another note--I'm not angry either. I'm also very passionate when I debate an issue, and I can come on very strong. So apologies in advance if I seem angry in some of these posts. I'm not, really :) .


Subject: From AAR's publisher
From: LLB
To: LLB
Date Posted: Sun, Jun 13, 1999 at 21:56:12 (EDT)
Email Address: laurie@likesbooks.com

Message:
I've been reading all the comments posted to this thread and it occurs to me that readers seem to come down into two camps. One camp believes 'anything goes' while the other believes limits should be set based on norms of decency and mainstream acceptability.

No one has asked me for my own thoughts, but I'll give them anyway. As publisher of this web site, I love to present all sides of an issue - the more controversial, the better, because it makes things more interesting. As a person, I am what is commonly known as an endangered species - a fairly liberal person on social issues, although as I get older, I get slightly less liberal. Not a lot, but a little. And yet, I read romance because it is romantic, and there are things I personally don't find romantic. Feathers and whipped cream can be romantic to me, but most other sex toys fall into the 'insert tab A into slot B' realm and are sexual rather than romantic. That doesn't mean, however, that I won't read a book that includes some of these features because:

1) I'm interested to see if the author can make them seem romantic, and

2) What the heck - I respond to prurient things like everyone else. If we didn't, why did this article get more than 500 hits in something like two days?

Regardless, I'm glad this is a place where people feel they can talk about such things. I hope you are too.



Subject: Sexuality and Romance No No's
From: Kathleen
To: All
Date Posted: Mon, Jun 14, 1999 at 15:01:30 (EDT)
Email Address: keldridge@pipeline.com

Message:
Please let there not be shame. Especially imposed on women by women. Men impose enough shame on us as it is. I recently read that there are two types of people regarding masterbation. There are those that do it and there are those that lie about it. This may by a cute one-liner but I think that it is essentially correct. Thanks Robin, I look forward to your new book. I enjoyed your last one also. Kathleen


Subject: Re: A great source for sex education
From: Puzzled
To: Puzzled
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 02:19:07 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Song of Solomon Her: He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love. His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me......... Him: Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse: thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine. and the smell of thine ointments than all spices. Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments like the smell of Lebanon. A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed........... Her: His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend.......I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine........... Him: I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs thereof: now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine.....And the roof of thy mouth like the best wine for my beloved, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak. Her: I am my beloved's and his desire is towards me. Come, my beloved........Let us get up early to the vineyards: let us see if the vine flourish, whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranates bud forth: there will I give thee my loves.

Subject: Re: A great source for sex education
From: TJ
To: Puzzled
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 09:57:38 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
And your point is? TJ

Subject: Re: A great source for sex education
From: Puzzled
To: TJ
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 11:10:26 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Only that Robin Schone and others could learn a lesson or two from these passages. They are beautifully written and make their point without a pomegranate being shoved anywhere. Please, no more responses. My earlier comments stand and I am now fading to black.Laurie was right - two camps, two views and only pointless arguing in between - with no one giving any quarter. Isn't there going to be a new column to save us all from ourselves?


Subject: Re: Sexual Privacy
From: Adele
To: Puzzled
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 15:36:34 (EDT)
Email Address: ronadele@cfw.com

Message:
I find this discussion fascinating. First, let me say that I'm not sure why this topic has moved to one of religion. Many Christians, myself included if it must be known, have great, uninhibited sex. Some of us (gasp!) even had great sex before marriage. In today's world it's unrealistic to assume young men and women aren't going to engage in sex before marriage when the average age for marriage is on the rise. We must expect our children, when they reach an age of responsibility, to use a little common sense. Knowledge, with or without religion, is the key to avoiding sexual promiscuity, STDs, and teen pregnancy. Having said that, I'll now get to the point.

I read Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss in 1976. It was my first romance novel and I was 13 years old. Before reading this book, I knew the mechanics of sex but did not understand the emotional aspects. Mechanics of sex can be learned in school, in the home, or from peers. But even with a parent explaining that love should be involved, or even marriage, it doesn't mean much to any teen coming of age and trying to understand his/her sexuality. When I read Shanna I really was nave about sex. This book opened up a world of information for me-not mechanics, because that I already knew, but what sexual love was all about. I was riveted by that story. From that moment on I sucked up romance novels as fast as I could buy them, and at that time the pickings were few.

Now. Had my mother known exactly what I was reading she probably would have fainted. Not because she's a sexual "prude" but because I don't think she would have known how to discuss it with me. And I know for a fact I couldn't have discussed romantic love in the bedroom, especially orgasms, with my mother, and I really think few teens would. Here's the thing. Did reading explicit sex at such a young age, in the context of premarital sex, make me promiscuous? Certainly not! If it did anything at all it made me more likely to wait for the right man to discover physical intimacy. Maybe Shanna isn't the best book for this, but now that choice is nearly unlimited. Julie Garwood's books are fun, entertaining, engaging, relatively easy to read, and yes, they have wonderful, sexually explicit love scenes. When my daughter is old enough to move from Nancy Drew to something more "mature" I would probably suggest a Garwood novel, hopefully by way of Victoria Holt, sweet Harlequins, or classic regencies. She's going to be curious and I know from experience that saying, "don't do it" won't work. Because of experience I know a 14 year old girl is going to be interested, even anxious, to learn about the loving relationship between men and women in the context of marriage, monogamy, and realistic hardships that get them there. Since I might have trouble explaining these things to my daughter, what better way for her to learn? From experimenting? Knowledge is everything.

I have a friend whose first sexual experience was at the age of 13. (She's 23 now.) I was stunned to learn this and when I asked her why on earth she was having unprotected sex at 13 her answer was that everybody was doing it and she wanted to see what the fuss was about. I was reading explicit sex in a romance novel at the same age and I never would have considered sex at that age. I feel fairly confident in saying that reading romance novels does not create promiscuity. In my case, and probably many others, it prevented it.

Finally, I have to add that I once knew a woman who thought masturbation was morally wrong. She discussed this with me. She also wouldn't undress in front of her husband of six years, nor have sex with the lights on, and she thought a woman having an orgasm every time she had sex was unheard of because it was so difficult to have one in the missionary position. My point is, explicit romance novels with a "hot" or "R" rating probably wouldn't be for her. But maybe a sweet Harlequin or regency would. The wonderful thing about our genre is that not only do review sites now tell us what to expect sexually in each book, THERE IS SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY! If you don't want to read about "nasty, immoral sexual contact" there is so much more to read to satisfy your taste.

Adele


Subject: Re: How Dare You!
From: Puzzled
To: TJ
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 13:42:17 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Sexual knowledge cannot protect us from poor judgment no matter how much is available, and that knowledge in the hands of those who are not capable of utilizing it correctly is DANGEROUS. There is more at stake out there than STDs.

Subject: Re: How Dare You!
From: Puzzled & Honest
To: TJ
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 16:44:41 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I did not say they couldn't handle sexual knowledge. I just don't like the idea of it coming from a romance novel, which by the way is not a accurate view of sex either. Some of the women are saying this where they got a good view of the way it should be.

Subject: Re: How Dare You!
From: Anne M. Marble
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 20:55:04 (EDT)
Email Address: amarble@abs.net

Message:
That depends on the romance novels you read. As I look back, I wish I'd learned about sex from romance novels first. Instead of learning about it from gritty 'mainstream' books and dirty jokes. Yuck.

I learned about the mechanics of sex through sources ranging from William Goldman's 'Magic' (about a man who thinks his ventriloquist dummy is alive), an Executioner novel, and believe it or not, dirty jokes I learned at Girl Scout camp. Yuck! Luckily, I finally read some romance novels, and I learned about how sex can be a part of LOVE. Not just something to be giggled at or something to be tossed into a novel to shock people. Those novels weren't perfect, but they were much better than jokes told by giggling teenagers.

I had the usual sex education in Health class. But the teacher made it so boring that she lost her audience instead of keeping us informed. Our class in Moral Theology was much more informative. The teacher wanted us to be informed about the potential consequences. His love for his students came out in his teaching style. I'll never forget that class.


Subject: Re: How Dare You!
From: Adele
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 17:09:44 (EDT)
Email Address: ronadele@cfw.com

Message:
I did not say they couldn't handle sexual knowledge. I just don't like the idea of it coming from a romance novel, which by the way is not a accurate view of sex either.
---
I'm not sure I understand this comment. What's not accurate about sex in a romance novel? I both read and write them, and have had enough sex in my 36 years to know what's accurate. Of course there are romance novels where the blushing, virginal heroine has monstrous, multiple orgasms the very first time, but I think these are few. Most romance novels with explicit sex are very touching, explaining the hardships, and the physical and emotional pain that can come with an adult sexual relationship. To me, this is very realistic. I think reading a well-written romance novel is a much more realistic way for teenage girls to learn what sex can be about. Regardless of your views, the fact remains that teens are not learning about sex from parents, and not very adequately from schools, either. At least romance novels offer another way of suggesting what a good, moral, loving relationship can be like between two people.

Subject: Re: How Dare You!
From: TJ
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 16:53:37 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Why is romance novels a bad source of sexual knowledge? Is it because the women in romance novels really really enjoy sex?

TJ


Subject: Re: Sexual Privacy
From: Robin
To: Puzzled
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 13:05:46 (EDT)
Email Address: rnu08@aol.com

Message:
There was a tremendous decrease in the spread of STDs after the discovery of penecillian. As you may know antibiotics have been abused and these diseases have grown stronger. Widespread availability of condoms is a relatively recent thing. Even when I was in college in the 70's and as a young adult in the early 80's one did not see them prominently displayed and never in supermarkets. Are some people, young people behaving irresponsibly? Of course. Are romance novels to blame? Books that stress monogomy and long term relationships are an odd target unless one is anti-sex to begin with.

Subject: Re: Sexual Privacy
From: Puzzled & Honest
To: TJ
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 15:11:59 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Because someone doesn't agree with sex outside of marriage doesn't mean she is repressed. Do you realize that you basically just said that because she is private about her sexuality she is repressed. I am the same way, but if you talked to my husband, the only man I slept with and that was after we were married, he doesn't find me repressed in the least. Don't confuse conservativeness with repression. Because I or puzzled choose not to be so 'free' about or views does not mean we are repressed. That couldn't be farther from the truth for me. I just choose to keep it between me and my husband. What exactly does it mean when everyone keeps saying they enjoy there sexuality? Reading romance novels is proof of this? It seems to me were heading to a line of more ' I have to prove I'm not repressed, therefore I will do things to show it' Is not possible to enjoy your sexuality without reading about someone else's?

Subject: Re: Sexual Privacy
From: Robin
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 15:46:46 (EDT)
Email Address: rnu08@aol.com

Message:
What an odd comment.

In my experience reading the posts of the women have on these boards, the vast majority of them are happily married. Not only are they not promiscuious they frequently post that they will not read novels where adultry is part of the story. Having read hundreds, perhaps thousands of posts I have yet to read ONE by a woman who condons adultry, much less a woman who practices it.

What they mean by not being repressed is that they are not repressed in reading about sex or discussing it. They don't think that sex is dirty and because they don't think it is dirty they cannot understand why someone would object to their reading about a couple in love having sex, or someone masterbating as they think of a loved one.

You seem to be assuming that because someone likes to read detailed romance novels that they are addicted to some kind of female pornography and that is leading many of us to promisuity. since promiscuity it frowned on in romance novels you must think that just the prescence of sex is doing it ie. that sex is dirty.

I have been married for 23 years and am very happy with my husband. I don't believe I have been any more graphic or forthcoming about my personal life than you have been on these boards. I just disagree.


Subject: Re: Sexual Privacy
From: TJ
To: Robin
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 16:25:52 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Robin, Thank you for such eloquence! I don't know why Puzzled and Puzzled & Honest seem to assume that reading explicit romance novels make you promiscuous. I read tons of romance novels, among other things, and I'm still a virgin. I don't know how I'm supposed to be promiscuous. Reading romance novels taught me that mutual respect and love should exist before sex, and I expect them when I have a relationshp with guys. However, I feel Puzzled and Puzzled & Honest don't seem to realize this fact. They're looking at the elephant too closely that all they see is its feet, not its entirity.

TJ


Subject: Re: Sexual Privacy
From: Puzzled & Honest
To: TJ
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 16:40:26 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I think that there is a whole group of women who read romance addictivly, who are not being represented here. The one reader on here, I don't remember which thread, said once she read her first novel, she sucked them up as quickly as she could buy them. I don't understand why everyone cannot see this. It seems there is a need to get away from real life an awful lot.

Subject: Re: Sexual Privacy
From: TJ
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 16:50:58 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
As for addiction, are you saying that if these women forced to stop reading romance, they go nuts and can't function? Most of times, drug addicts can't even function if they can't have the drug, not that they functioned any better. Also drug addiction causes halluciation and biological disorders, yet romance novels don't. I'm offended by the fact that you make loving romance novels sound filthy.

TJ


Subject: Re: Sexual Privacy
From: Puzzled & Honest
To: Robin
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 16:25:19 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I just don't understand how reading romance novels is enjoying someone's own sexuality, when it is reading about someone esle's. I don't understand the connection between reading romance novels and enjoying their own sexuality.

Subject: Re: Sexual Privacy
From: TJ
To: Puzzled & Honest
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 16:33:29 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Anyway -- when you read a book, you project yourself onto the main character, i.e. the hero/heroine. When you read Hamlet you emphathize with Hamlet, not Claudius. When Hamlet is tormented over his father's death, you feel his pain. If you can't do this, you won't enjoy the book, and you'll stop reading the book.

Therefore, when we read romance novels, we project ourselves as the heroine, and we go through an emotional roller coaster ride, and feel empowered at the end when the heroine heals and redempts the hero, etc. Now I hope things are more clear for you.

TJ



Subject: Re: Let there be shame????!!!!!!
From: Jill
To: TJ
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 16, 1999 at 11:27:10 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Second, I get annoyed when people attempt to shove their morals, beliefs, religion down my throat. I've found it to be *the* thing that makes me want to run away from organized religion - not towards it. (ie. I haven't found too many good 'witnesses'.) And last, but not least, if you don't like what Robin writes - don't buy the book. If you don't consider her subject matter to be romantic, or if you are offended by what she writes - don't buy the book. If enough people stop buying them, the publishers will stop printing them. I personally hope it never happens, but it is the way things work. Poor Robin will probably be the topic at the next Southern Baptist Convention. But Robin's rights are protected by the U.S. Constitution (thank goodness), and so are mine. Every American citizen on this list should be thankful for that fact. It's what allows Robin (and many other people) to write what they want to write - and it allows for freedom of religion. You don't tell me what I can write, and I won't tell you who to worship...


Subject: Romance Reading, Sex, and Addiction
From: Juliet
To: All
Date Posted: Thurs, Jun 17, 1999 at 01:44:29 (EDT)
Email Address: jjbeier@ix.netcom.com

Message:
Hoo boy! This issue has clearly raised some tempers! But being more than a bit foolish (and definitely *not* angelic), I will now rush in. As I read the posts, what occurred to me was the following:

1) I've met quite a few women, some of whom were neither religious nor at all prudish, who nevertheless contend that romance novels 'are basically soft-core porn for women'. It is true that these folks find ammunition in books with more numerous and more explicit sex scenes, and more of these books exist today than back in the distant past, when I was an impressionable young thing (I'm in my mid-forties). I say to them that there is also more sex in the mysteries, science fiction and fantasy, and 'mainstream' fiction coming out nowadays, and that romance readers don't buy the books as masturbatory aids or to get ideas that will spice up their sex lives, in general, but because they enjoy reading stories about people falling in love with a perfect partner and overcoming all obstacles to live happily ever after. Sexual pleasure and compatibility are part of that story. And I don't deny that some sex scenes in romances are very arousing. But it seems to me that we've been reading romances at least since the days of Eleanor of Acquitane and her code of courtly love, and probably before that. Most of them weren't explicit, but they were read 'avidly' anyway. You could take the explicit sex out of romances, but I don't think the readers would follow you if you took the story of finding a true love out and left the sex scenes. I've read many negative comments on books that the poster felt were 'just a string of sex scenes'.

2) Like many romance readers, I buy a lot of books, both new and used, and I read even more (as I also use the library and write reviews of another genre, in which I get a lot of proofs and advance reader copies sent me by publishers). I too read very widely -- all sorts of fiction and nonfiction. My husband and I own about six thousand books, and we both find it extremely difficult to pass a bookstore without going in. My TBR pile is frightening. So I think I am safe in claiming a reading addiction, and romances are well-represented. But I don't spend the mortgage money on them, or refuse to socialize with other folks, or ignore my husband, or even use all my leisure time for reading. If someone found that she was unable to do anything else, or was reading romances instead of living her life, I would certainly tell her she should stop. But that's not the case with me, or with most of the romance readers I know. We read the books partially as an escape from 'real life', but not instead of real life. And our real lives often include long and happy marriages, fulfilling work, postgraduate education, and major committments to our communities, both secular and religious.

3) Will varied forms of sexual activity, explicitly described, appearing in romances cause the rest of the reading community to condemn romance as a genre? Let's leave aside for a moment the question of how deeply contemptuous many people are *now* of romance, its fans, and its authors (tragically demonstrated in the insensitive coverage of Richards-Akers' murder). Well, mainstream fiction seems to have survived intact despite the publication of Joyce's Ulysses, Nabokov's Lolita, Roth's Portnoy's Complaint, Hesse's Narcissus and Goldmund, and Erica Jong's Fear of Flying. In fact, all of those books were taken very seriously as literature. I have read much more varied and graphic sexual scenes in mainstream fiction than in romance.

4) Are some types of sexual activity totally inadmissable in a romance? Probably. I just can't reconcile the HEA ending with pedophilia, beastiality, fetishism, or sadism. But I don't approve of censorship; too often such power is abused as a way of controlling 'dangerous ideas', which include anything the censors and their masters disapprove of. I think that if the author can make the sex in a romance novel tell us about the relationship between the hero and heroine -- how love changes each of them, what they give to each other, and how they connect with each other's deepest self -- then it works and it should be there.

5) I think that for many romance readers, the heroine's enjoyment of sex and her partner's desire to satisfy her completely is validating and liberating. They see both those things as intrinsic to a strong, lasting relationship. Many also think that women who are passive, ashamed, or don't seem to respond sexually are women who have been left in ignorance or conditioned by their society's views of proper female behavior -- views developed by males who are usually more concerned with keeping women under their control than with allowing them to become fully adult and equal. ( That doesn't mean that they believe promiscuity is okay.)

I personally like reading all sorts of romance, from historical to contemporary to futuristic, and from 'sweet' to 'hot'. I think that the genre can afford to cater to different tastes. I *do* think that reviews and rating systems such as the ones on this website, that indicate how sexually explicit a book is, are important. Readers should be able to know what kind of book they're getting.

Sorry to be so longwinded, but I too feel strongly about these issues.



Subject: Old Married Lady Speaks Out
From: Laura Jane
To: All
Date Posted: Wed, Jun 23, 1999 at 11:43:17 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Good Grief-I leave for a week and I come back and everybody is all hot and bothered by some people's posts. It took 2 days to read the entire thread and I'm still confused as to who said what. I thought I would speak up and offer my opinion. First of all, I remember the first 'naughty' book I read. We had company one summer and someone had a copy of Harold Robbins 'The Betsy'. What an eyeopener-my mother would have had a fit if she knew I had read that book. I can remember reading 'Everything you always wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask' and that book by 'J' who talked about the big 'O'. Then came the Joy of Sex book-with pictures. Yes I wanted to know about sex, but I was a wallflower in high school and didn't date much. I remember reading Barbara Cartland back then because it was sweet and romantic and the hero was dashing and because for it's time it was more explicit than other so called teen-age romances that were in the market place. I can remember when my friend gave me 'The Flame and The Flower' and the love scenes were HOT for it's time. Now when I read it it seems dated and I don't like it as much as I did. I was not a popular girl and until I met Mr Right I was a virgin and I'm not sorry. I am very happily married and have a full life (sometimes too full). I have more demands on me than I can count most days. I used to follow the soaps but I gave them up years ago. (It took too much time to tape them and watch them on the weekends-I would have 10 hrs a weekend to watch and I couldn't keep up.) Also with soaps I found that I had invested months in a romance and all that lead up to the big wedding day, and 6 months later they were having affairs or divorced but where was my HEA? I felt robbed. For the last 12 years I have worked nights and my husband days so we can juggle the family schedule between us-so nighttime TV does not exist for me except for maybe 1/2 shows I have hubby tape for me. My escape of choice is a romance book. I can pick it up when I have a free moment and put it down when chaos erupts. I can come back to it and reread favorite passages. I like a wide range of titles and when I am in the mood I like them so hot they will peel the paint off the walls. Other times I may go for the sweet story or the 2 hankie read or for something funny. It all depends on the mood I'm in and what is going on in my own life. As most married women will agree it ain't red satin sheets and wild all night sex every night. After almost 20 years together, sex drives ebb and flow, but when it is good it is very good, but when it's not and you're in a rut of the same old same old-that's where I will reread one of my hot romances and try to schedule some time alone with hubby. But in this fast paced, two income, work a day world, a little daily escape into the wonderful world of romance keeps me sane. Romance books unlike soaps once the h/h say I do they do live happily ever after and I like that.
Readers Rant on Sexuality - Part I
Readers Rant on Sexuality - Part II
Readers Rant on Sexuality - Part III
Readers Rant on Sexuality - Part IV
A Writer Rants about Sexuality - Writer Robin Schone
Readers Rant on Sexuality - Part VI (This page derived from Issue #75 of Laurie's News & Views)
Another Rant from LLB About Sexuality - AAR Contributors Weigh in as Well
A Writer Rants about Sexuality -Writer Emma Holly (This page derived from LLB's previous rant)



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