Readers Rant About Sexuality (Part VI)

(September 1999)

Corresponds to Issue #75 of Laurie's News & Views

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: Thanks Laurie
From: Kathleen
To: All
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 02, 1999 at 15:06:37 (EDT)
Email Address: keldridge@pipeline.com

Message:
There are so many important issues discussed in your latest column it's hard to know where to start. Rather than rant this time I would just like to say 'thanks' from somone who doesn't write and isn't on the front lines of most discussions. It is so refreshing to hear the 'live and let live' philosophy. I don't want to beat people over the head with my opinions, neither do I want to be beaten by theirs. Thanks for being out there on the front lines. By the way, I loved your definition of feminist. Both my sons and my daughter have been raised as such. My husband and I feel that 'choice' is the operative word, in life as well as in literature.


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Subject: Feminist child-raising
From: Helene
To: All
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 02, 1999 at 09:51:13 (EDT)
Email Address: hdion@videotron.ca

Message:
Laurie wrote : To me, a feminist is a humanist, someone who believes women have the right to follow their dreams, whether they are traditionally female or traditionally male. I'm of that school of wanting availability of options for all. That's how I was raised, and that's how we're raising our daughter. I would have made that instead: To me, a feminist is a humanist, someone who believes women and men have the right to follow their dreams, whether they are traditionally female or traditionally male. I'm of that school of wanting availability of options for all. That's how I was raised, and that's how we're raising our daughter and that's how we would be raising our son if we had one.


Subject: what an important issue!!
From: sandy
To: All
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 02, 1999 at 00:09:25 (EDT)
Email Address: sc012060@yahoo.com

Message:
laurie,,i loved your new column and as always i agree with about 90% of everything you said. what so many americans seem to forget is that this country was founded on freedom of choice. i hope when i die it is still as important. isn't it great that we are offered and have available a selection that meets everyones likes and needs.? i myself love to read many different types of romance, sweet, sexy, erotic,,you name it. it just depends on my mood. and i relish the fact that i have that choice. i also think that most romance we read, regardless of their sex rating, promote the importance of finding someone you love and making a good relationship. how couples get to that point, is artistic license. if you don't like the way one writer expresses it, guess what, there are zillions of other writers out there and thank god for that.

i read to relax, enjoy, and learn. depending on the type of book i'm reading, despite what critics say about romance, i can honestly say i learn something new with every read. critics have no idea the amount of research writers do on subjects before finishing their books. one example, born in fire; when i finished that book, i felt like i had been through the process of 'blowing glass' and i had actually seen the work in progress. living in a small town, 'romance' books have opened the world for me.

as to another issue you brought up, religion on the message boards. there are two issues that i will not debate or discuss at length. that is religion or abortion. both issues are personal and any disagreements are usually taken as personal attacks. when someone states an opinion about either issue, i will not comment because there is always someone who will take offense. and please don't take offense at what i just said, so i am clear on this,,what i'm trying to say is that i respect everyones right to differences in personal beliefs and i don't want to ever make the mistake of putting someone down just by disagreeing with you.

AND MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY ISSUE YOU HAVE RAISED IN THIS MONTHS COLUMN, i also think that your point about spousal abuse is so important. we don't need to drop the ball on this. nancy's death was a black day for woman and the lack of respect this issue was given by some media sources was terrible. everyone and i mean everyone needs to email or write or call and express their displeasure at the sources that played on the 'romance queens real life tragedy' theme. this had nothing to do with the romance industry,or her occupation in general,it has everything to do with the lack of intervention that is given to victims of spousal abuse and the 'sweap it under the rug' attitude that many in the media give this subject. by playing up the romance industry angle, it's almost as if they wish to soften the blow so to speak, instead of dealing with the issue, which is getting the supports in place for those women who suffer with this problem and getting help or forcing treatment for the men suffer from and cause this problem. for they are victims of their own mental illness too. kudos, laurie,,kudos your anger over this issue is so justifiable.

thanks for a very thought provoking column. this issue was one of your best. sandy


Subject: Re: what an important issue!!
From: LLB
To: sandy
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 02, 1999 at 10:43:27 (EDT)
Email Address: laurie@likesbooks.com

Message:
Sandy - I'm glad you enjoyed the column. Sometimes I feel as though what I'm talking about will offend just about everyone, and, in this instance, that was a very strong fear. Still, I can't help myself from being honest about the things around me, and I'm glad you enjoyed the column.

TTFN, LLB


Subject: What a great column!
From: Vivien
To: All
Date Posted: Sat, Jul 03, 1999 at 02:18:46 (EDT)
Email Address: Lothar.Fritsche@t-online.de

Message:
I thought the latest column was just perfect. Seldom have I read such a fascinating, complex and well-written article. It expresses everything that has been weighing on my mind for a long time as to romance reading and reception, but it also goes beyond analysing romances. Anybody who still disparages romance readers should read this article: they are bound to revise their opinion that romance readers are intellectually limited women who live in a world of their own and spend their days dreaming about a knight in shining armour.

I suppose many of us have found their 'knight' anyway. Experiencing a happy relationship makes reading about love (and about its physical side) so much more enjoyable. I guess many people disrespect romances because they are afraid of standing up for their emotions and do not want to admit that in our modern functionalized time which promotes the image of the tough, independent human being, there is still a longing for love and family.

Men who have been brought up more liberally and without the old stereotypes ('men don't cry' etc.) are in my opinion more likely to accept and respect romance readers. My father staunchly defends my mother against contemptuous remarks whenever somebody attacks her reading, and my boyfriend would never feel threatened or ashamed of what I read.

I mean, don't we as romance readers accept what others read? I think in some ways we may be more tolerant than other genre readers. If somebody has internalized the live and let live - policy, it must be romance readers, who usually have no problems talking about feelings and discussing different standpoints. There will of course never be a complete consensus on any subject, be it sex in romance or types of heroes, by isn't that a good thing about our society, that there is a freedom of opinion and a variety of voices, not just one single accepted discourse?

Let's hope that in maybe thirty years' time, the attitude towards now marginalised readers will have changed. And I really hope this is not a pipe dream.


Subject: Re: What a great column!
From: Sheryl
To: Vivien
Date Posted: Mon, Jul 05, 1999 at 22:19:47 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Vivien,
You know, I think that's true. I read many more romances now that I'm happily married - accept a much broader spectrum of them - than I did before marriage. I couldn't believe in the fantasy until I'd seen it work for myself, I think. Too cynical before that!

Sheryl


Subject: Women and children
From: Adele
To: All
Date Posted: Thurs, Jul 01, 1999 at 16:38:27 (EDT)
Email Address: ronadele@cfw.com

Message:
I found Laurie's comment (from her new column) that grown women are not children to be a fascinating point. Looked at historically, women were always considered 'like' children in that they didn't have the rationality to make decisions for themselves, but needed to obey the decisions of their husbands/fathers. They needed protection from the wicked, outside world. They couldn't vote or sit on a jury because how could anyone trust the mind of a women, and what if (gasp!) she was having her period? When women were given the vote, the common thought was that it would simply double the existing vote because, naturally, women would vote as their husbands did. Let's just pacify them. Historically, it was always, 'women and children first.' Women were considered to be irrational creatures, crying over the silliest little things, pouting when they didn't get their way, illogical of thought, and moody. And, to be fair, women early learned how to use these distinctions against men to achieve what they couldn't achieve any other way.

Whew! This sounds like my kids - ages eight and two.

Now throw sexuality into the equation. This had to have been a mystery for most men in historical times, and probably is for some still today. A woman, historically, who succumbed to her husband because it was her duty was a good little wife. A woman who might have demanded equality in the bedroom (was there such a woman?), striving for her own sexual pleasure was, historically, a 'bad' girl.

What I found most thought provoking about Laurie's column were the comments about the 1950s. It made me think of 'I Love Lucy' because not only did Lucy vacuum in pearls and sleep in a twin bed, she was called a 'girl.' Think about it. Ricky says to Fred, 'Where are the girls?' My grandfather will still say this today when referring to his wife who is in her eighties. What's even more interesting is that women are conditioned to call EACH OTHER girls. 'The girls are going out for lunch.' 'The girls are playing bridge while the MEN are sipping brandy.'

Before the sexual revolution women were nearly always called girls (or maids, maidens, ladies), and I think much of this has to do with the old purity/virginity issue. Herein lies the dilemma over what type/amount of sexuality is permissible in a romance novel, and I think this is why the last debate took a turn toward children. Women-- old women, young women, virginal women-- are not children, and yet it's clear that many of us still sometimes feel the 'bad girl/good girl' pull. When will we, as mature, romance reading women, decide sexuality is a fun, wonderful, okay thing for consenting adults, and reading or fantasizing about it doesn't make us naughty?


Subject: Re: Women and children
From: DD
To: Adele
Date Posted: Wed, Jul 07, 1999 at 01:09:53 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I could be wrong, but when Laurie spoke of the turn of comments to children in last months posts, I don't think they were comparing women to children. If I remember correctly, those comments were in reference to the fact that some of the readers had read their first romance novel at like age 8 and 13. Then it turned to the issue of children reading romance novels, not that women were like or should be treated as children. It was kind of like two topics going on at once.

Subject: Re: Women and children
From: Adele
To: DD
Date Posted: Wed, Jul 07, 1999 at 08:53:11 (EDT)
Email Address: ronadele@cfw.com

Message:
I did understand this, DD. My point is why do we feel we need to protect girls from their sexuality? I do think eight years of age is far too young to be reading romance novels, but by the time girls reach puberty we have to expect them to be curious about it. Weren't we? Better to read about it than to experiment with it! And to argue that a 16 or 17 year old teen shouldn't be reading romance, or should be protected from sex in a romance novel, is ridiculous. It goes back to the double standard that 'boys will be boys' but girls should be pure until married. I simply wanted to stress that in our society, even still today, women are treated 'like' children in that they must be protected from the 'dangers' of the world, this includes, for some, teen girls reading sexually explicit romance novels.

Subject: Re: Women and children
From: DD
To: Adele
Date Posted: Wed, Jul 07, 1999 at 13:16:38 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I feel puberty is one thing, that does not GENERALLY start at 8yrs old. And when it does start, I would rather be the one to talk to my daughter OR son about his/her sexuality, rather than have them read about it in a ficticious novel. This is my own choice. BTW, my opinion for girls is the exact same for boys. I do not have a double standard. I believe boys should stay pure until marriage just as girls should. But, I do believe that a double standard exists out there, just not in my home or any of my friends.

The purity issue isn't really a debatable point for any of us. We all have convictions about how we want to raise our children, and it is not really worth arguing...because I know noone will convince me of anything different, as is probably the same for others.

I just wanted to clarify what was said in last months posts.


Subject: Re: Women and children
From: Rebecca
To: Adele
Date Posted: Tues, Jul 06, 1999 at 21:27:41 (EDT)
Email Address: drekmark@lakenet.com

Message:
You've made some wonderful points, Adele. A few days ago I was watching my and my DH's wedding video for the first time since our wedding 11 years ago. While watching it, I was horrified when the minister asked 'who gives this woman to this man?' and my father said 'her mother and I do.' What the heck is that? I considered myself to be a feminist even back in those days, and I didn't catch that. I was a legal adult. My husband was not becoming my legal guardian. What purpose did and does that question serve? I am horrified when I hear of a woman whose husband gives her an 'allowance' instead of considering her to be a partner. I am horrified when a woman says to me 'my husband won't let me'. We are sabotaging ourselves by allowing people to continue to treat us a children even though we are adults. Attitudes expressed by two individuals in particular that were posted on the board after the last column are examples of how far we have to go, and we are DOING IT TO OURSELVES, gosh darn it!

I loved your 'I Love Lucy' analogy - very fitting. So, here's to us - the women that have chosen to grow the heck up. Now, hand me that steamy romance....


Subject: Re: Women and children
From: TJ
To: Rebecca
Date Posted: Sun, Jul 11, 1999 at 23:57:22 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I agree. Women are doing this to themselves. I'm sorry to say this, but when you're not financially independent or are too afraid to go against your SO (sig other)'s will, or spineless to do anything about it, you're going to get what you deserve.

I've seen intelligent women who can probably be financially independent, etc. stay home and allow their husbands to tell them what they can or cannot buy, wear, read, watch, or do. I'm like, 'What's your problem??? Hello, this is nineties!'

TJ


Subject: Re: Women and children
From: Adele
To: Rebecca
Date Posted: Wed, Jul 07, 1999 at 09:03:21 (EDT)
Email Address: ronadele@cfw.com

Message:
I was horrified when the minister asked 'who gives this woman to this man?' and my father said 'her mother and I do.' What the heck is that?
---
Oh, my gosh, Rebecca, the priest and my parents said the same thing at my wedding 10 years ago, and I never, until now, thought about it! Old traditions die hard, I guess. Thank God I don't get an allowance, but have enough power in my marriage to just spend, spend, spend! (just kidding)

Subject: Re: Women and children
From: Candy
To: Adele
Date Posted: Thurs, Jul 01, 1999 at 17:08:13 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
The huge discussion on sexuality also took a turn towards children because two people in particular expressed concern and disgust over the fact that impressionable children were able to access these 'perverse' novels. I can understand that concern; I wouldn't want an 8-year old kid to read the Kama Sutra or a Susan Johnson. I found it amusing, however, that they considered 17-year olds to be among the impressionable children. Well, yes, they vulnerable and impressionable to a certain extent, but honestly, I can't see how much harm reading an explicit romance or two will do to a teenage girl who's been brought up right. The two people also seemed to be drawing connections between teenage pregnancy/promiscuity, lack of morality and explicit romance novels, which REALLY offended me as person who started reading explicit romances at age 16.

And I agree with you about the strange pull exerted by the old 'madonna/whore' dichotomy. To some, a woman who masturbates, who is unafraid to express her sexuality or who enjoys reading explicit romances is labeled as loose and sexually perverse. Sex is very much a completely private and shameful thing to these people. On the other end are those who think people who don't like reading explicit romances are sexually repressed. Why do we have to label and condemn? Why can't we accept that different people have different tastes, and that some people are just more comfortable dealing with taboo matter in an open forum than others? The assumptions, name-calling and judgmentalism aren't just pointless and stupid, they're harmful because they create intolerance.


Subject: Re: Women and children
From: Lisa
To: Candy
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 02, 1999 at 06:31:31 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Just on the one point 'impressionable children': I think that if you have children, there is a lot of stuff you have to try and be careful about, and try to offer them in such a way that they enjoy it a the right time in their lives and not too soon.

But it is deeply unfair to mix this discussion with the discussion on what should be in romance novels. I find Steven King or Clive Barker or many others like that, are much more of a 'risk' for a child (I remember my own strange nightmares after reading a bit of one at 11), and we still do not go out and say you should not write that kind of stuff. Same with Patricia Cornwell or other explicitly violent thrillers. All these books are out there, and we have to try and keep them out of the hands of children.

So, to me, beating ourselves up about the amount of sex in romance because there are children out there, it seems a very narrow view and not at all to the point.

Frankly, I think that a child (and I am not talking 17, I am talking 8 or 11) is much more likely to pick up a book with a monster or a guy with a big gun on the cover than one of those 'yucky sweet' covers with flowers or clinches, don't you think? I do not want to trivialize the problem, but I think the attempt to make our environment such, that everything in it is 100% Ok for children is impossible, and then why start in on romance, of all things?


Subject: Re: Women and children
From: Candy
To: Lisa
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 02, 1999 at 15:51:20 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
See, I agree completely with you. I think it's very strange that we are allowed to see cars blowing up and people being shot on National TV, but bare breasts are a strict no-no, and thrillers receive less outrage and scorn than romances. I think it's a leftover from the Calvinist/Puritanical attitudes of the first white settlers--you know, the flesh is sinful and corrupt, sex should only be for procreation, etc.

And again, I totally agree with you about the appeal of violence to children. In my experience, 8 year olds tend to think of the opposite sex as yucky and romance as stupid and sappy, but guns and explosions are OK, even kind of cool. What an interesting cultural message we're sending to our children, when romances are vilified as trash, and books featuring lots of violence and goriness are put forward as less shameful to read.



Subject: Love & Lust
From: Candy
To: All
Date Posted: Thurs, Jul 01, 1999 at 16:40:50 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I agree that some so-called romances are not romances in actuality because they don't demonstrate the love relationship between the protagonists effectively. I'm a liberal in my outlook and my philosophy, but I'm a good old fashioned romantic in that I view sex should definitely be an extension of love. I can accept extremely explicit sex, even kinky sex, between a couple who are obviously in love with each other. To me, it's not so much the quantity of sex, the quality of sex or the explicitness of description that demarcate the line between erotica/porn and romance, it's how well the author can convince me that the characters are in love and are exploring their bodies in new ways as an expression of that love. Bertrice Small, Virginia Henley, Susan Johnson and occasionally Linda Howard lose me as a romance reader because I don't see the love, only the lust. The characters in these books don't talk, they boink like busy little bunnies. A lot of the time these people even declare that they hate each other as they're shagging each other rotten, which I find very puzzling--when I hate a man, I don't even want to touch him, much less share an intimate part of myself with him. I can imagine someone feeling such overwhelming lust that he or she feels compelled to sleep with a hateful person, but really.... Not someone I want to read about in a romance novel, unless it's a villain. And of course, some acts just aren't romantic because I don't think they indicate love, like calling the woman a 'bitch' in all seriousness (I can imagine a hero calling the heroine a bitch playfully, although that word should be handled very carefully).

However, I also think that sexual urges can sometimes be entirely separate from love. I'm sure everyone out there has felt incredibly horny for no discernible reason whatsoever at some time or another. I just don't like seeing those urges slaked (that's a nice purple prose word to add to the dictionary) indiscriminately. It's even worse when the indiscriminate slaking carries a double standard. I remember reading Jacks Are Wild by Pamela Burford. While a wonderful book in many ways, one thing about the book almost made me hurl it against the wall: the hero and heroine were divorced for some years, and in all those years, the woman didn't sleep with anyone, while the hero had a couple of meaningless flings. I wanted to scream 'AGH!' Why have this kind of double standard?!? I thought the hero should have bloody well stayed celibate if he was truly still in love with his ex-wife; I'd much rather have read a masturbation scene than know he'd done the 'manly' thing and satisfied his lust with meaningless women. Or why couldn't the heroine have slept around a little as well? I don't like promiscuity, but sleeping around a little after a serious breakup is a fairly forgivable and human urge, if not exactly the healthiest or safest thing to do.

And is anyone sick of the love/lust at first sight device? I notice that's how a lot of the borderline erotica authors bridge the gap between romance and erotica: have the main character feel an unexpected tenderness they've never felt before for the other person about two minutes after they meet, when they hardly know anything about each other. URGH!!!! The only author I can think of who pulls this off very effectively is Barbara Samuel. Bed of Spices and Lucien's Fall both feature protagonists who fall in love/lust almost immediately, but the writing is so beautiful and the desire handled with such sensitivity that they're both on top of my list of Luscious Love Stories. To a certain extent, Dara Joy also does the same for me. Her characters spend pages and pages and pages in bed, but I never doubt that they love each other (well, except maybe in Rejar, which is one of my least favorite Joy books because the heroine is such an irrational man-hater).


Subject: Re: Love & Lust
From: Jennie
To: Candy
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 02, 1999 at 13:38:49 (EDT)
Email Address: jennief@giantsfan.com

Message:
If that's true though, does that mean that any 'hot' romance that just isn't very good is erotica? A romance that does not effectively demonstrate the love relationship between the protagonists is a simply a bad romance, I think.

I have some trouble with the defining line between erotica and porn (though as the saying goes, I know it when I see it), but the difference between romance and erotica is clearer to me. Most of the erotica I've read is just a paper-thin plot held together by sex scenes. When the characters aren't having sex, they're thinking about it and talking about it.

By those standards, the one Thea Devine I've read qualifies as erotica. The Bertrice Smalls I've read seem more like historical fiction than either romance or erotica. Susan Johnson can be considered romance, since the main focus of her books is the relationship between the hero and heroine. But her characters all seem so shallow to me that I can't call it good romance.

While I believe, in theory, that there don't need to be any limits on what's acceptable in a romance, it does seem to me that that authors known for the most explicit scenes fail to convey the emotional side well. I don't know why that is.


Subject: q
From: hi
To: q
Date Posted: Sat, Jul 03, 1999 at 10:36:47 (EDT)
Email Address: q

Message:
I agree that some so-called romances are not romances in actuality because they don't demonstrate the love relationship between the protagonists effectively.
---
If that's true though, does that mean that any 'hot' romance that just isn't very good is erotica? A romance that does not effectively demonstrate the love relationship between the protagonists is a simply a bad romance, I think.

I have some trouble with the defining line between erotica and porn (though as the saying goes, I know it when I see it), but the difference between romance and erotica is clearer to me. Most of the erotica I've read is just a paper-thin plot held together by sex scenes. When the characters aren't having sex, they're thinking about it and talking about it.

By those standards, the one Thea Devine I've read qualifies as erotica. The Bertrice Smalls I've read seem more like historical fiction than either romance or erotica. Susan Johnson can be considered romance, since the main focus of her books is the relationship between the hero and heroine. But her characters all seem so shallow to me that I can't call it good romance.

While I believe, in theory, that there don't need to be any limits on what's acceptable in a romance, it does seem to me that that authors known for the most explicit scenes fail to convey the emotional side well. I don't know why that is.

ss


Subject: Re: Love & Lust
From: Candy
To: Jennie
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 02, 1999 at 15:29:48 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
You have a point there :) . I guess I should have said, some so-called romances aren't really romances because the author doesn't write about a developing relationship, she writes about a series of explicit sex scenes in which the feelings of the hero and heroine are secondary to what's going on in bed... or on the stairwell... or in the garden... or on the couch....

I think it's harder for writers of really hot romances to concentrate on the emotions and the relationship because sex is such a huge component of the book, and it has to take up a tremendous amount of psychic energy to write and plan. Only the dregs are left over for writing the other scenes. In most of these books, the characters spend too much time in bed, and any time out of it is glossed over. I remember reading a Susan Johnson in which the hero and heroine spend pages upon pages having extremely explicit sex, and their non-sexual activity was summed up in a few lines, kinda like 'and they spent much time talking and laughing through the night, discovering each other's minds as well as their bodies.' And, of course, the hero is swamped with tenderness and having the best sex of his life and he's puzzled by this fact. Uh, OK... how about a few pages of them talking now?!? How about showing how and why he's falling in love, instead of just telling us?

Of course, if the non-sexual interaction was given in as much detail and skill as the sexual interaction, the writer would probably have gone over her word limit .

I do believe that some bad hot romances go over line into, well, bad erotica. Bertrice Small is the best example for me; I haven't read any Thea Devine, and from what I've heard, I'm kinda afraid to...


Subject: Re: Love & Lust
From: Alison
To: Candy
Date Posted: Sat, Jul 03, 1999 at 21:24:58 (EDT)
Email Address: alhenry@primary.net

Message:
Ouch! Yes, it is hard writing a love scene--trying to straddle the line between vulgar and too-cutesy, trying to capture the characters' feelings both emotional and physical. But the other scenes don't get any easier.

As for Susan Johnson, well, I see your point. I see her characters as being more in lust than in love. And have you noticed how similar they are? Young male alcoholic slut who sleeps with half the female population in his country, who just happens to be the world's most fantastic lover. Or was that his father...For me reading Sweet Love Survive was enough. The heroine's raped and brutalized by the horrible General Beriozov, yet once she's reunited with the hero they go at it like gangbusters. No flashbacks, no after-effects of the rape, nothing but explicit sex. And, of course, the hero is such a cad he taunts her--well, she didn't try to get away so she must have enjoyed it. Unfortunately I have two others sitting on my shelf.


Subject: Re: Love & Lust
From: suzanne
To: Candy
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 02, 1999 at 11:22:45 (EDT)
Email Address: suwalshAaol

Message:
Thanks Candy, for bringing up the most important issue in the debate about how much is too much. Like sex itself, it's the quality, not the quantity that makes the ultimate difference. I am a reader, so the books that appeal to me, or that I actually read to completion in this genre, are the ones that are well-written, regardless of sexual content (although I must admit a bias to the - very well written of course - erotic.)

I have tossed equal numbers of 'sweet' and 'erotic' novels across the room in disgust, simply because they were so poorly written that I was ashamed of myself for being so taken in by covers or 'blurbs' that I actually bought the stupid things! A reader wants, above all else, to be so lured into the story that it becomes a real 'other' world for a time. The characters should be so well-drawn that they actually have many dimensions - it doesn't matter if they're boinking, or swooning - or swooning from boinking. Give me a writer who understands the power of words any day; it almost doesn't matter what he/she writes. I'm sure we all have saved books for passages we read again and again, passages so well-writtn that they sing to us.

As a reader, Romance covers only a small, albeit important to my stress-reduction, part of my book diet. I currently am also reading A Walk In The Woods by Bryson,Tom Brokow's book, and re-reading some Barbara Kinsolver ; my romance writers better measure up! Sadly, they often do not. I would love it if the industry would stop trying to generalize about what readers of this genre want or will accept and would instead concentrate on developing decent writers for powerful romance - AND sex. Suzanne


Subject: Re: Love & Lust
From: Lisa
To: Candy
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 02, 1999 at 06:16:54 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
To me, it all depends on the story being told and I really give the author the chance to convince me that this is a story, this is character development and not just 'the expected amount of sex/lust/explicit stuff' which I am putting into this book because readers want it.

I do not mind lust coming first, I do not mind lust and some ambivalence between h/h, because when I am touched deeply by something, I often react confused or irritated or upset and only later discover that actually, this was a first reaction because I have been touched emotionally very deeply, or someone got very close to me and I did not expect and accept this sudden connection from the start. And so, a certain amount of physical hunger, a bit of aggressive sex (by both, please, not just the man!), sex before love, sex on the rebound which then grows into something, all that is fine for me. In real life, there are people that just turn me on, and I will probably never discover whether they are lovable or not, because in real life, I cannot go down all the roads that are out there, but in books, I can. And I can discover if going to bed immediately with the suspicious sexy stranger works out, if being a captive in a harem works out, and if love can grow from all these lustful beginnings. So why not?

And that can go as far as the author wants - it will be very difficult to convince me that a drug-induced involuntary (for the woman) seduction scene that involved some bondage can be the basis for a respectful and loving partnership for h/h - but the author is welcome to try. Mary Jo Putney in her 'Uncommon Vows', Patricia Gaffney in 'To Have and to Hold', Roberta Gellis in 'Fires of Winter' - they pulled off something like that for me. Those were books where I needed convincing that this could become a love story, but it did. And because it was such a difficult achievement, I really love and remember those books.

I respond to Candy's comment because she said one thing I really agreed with: some Bertrice Small, some Susan Johnson, they cross the line for me where they are not romance anymore. They are erotica, because the sex is really not part of relationship development, of the story anymore, it is just there for its own sake (which does not mean I don't like them, I just keep them for those times when I really want the erotica, when I want to just phantasize a bit about steamy sex, and not be bothered so much with a relationship and sensitivity and an orientation towards a long term love).


Subject: how much is too much
From: Alina
To: All
Date Posted: Thurs, Jul 01, 1999 at 17:27:01 (EDT)
Email Address: alinalaurie@hotmail.com

Message:
Hi all I'm probably in the minority here but I don't think a limit exists as far as how much explicit sexuality can occur in a romance before it isn't a romance anymore. As long as the story centers around the love relationship between the hero & the heroine, the novel can be as explicit as a porn movie.

However, if the focus of the story is *not* on the love relationship between the hero and heroine, and contains alot of explicit sex, then it can be considered erotic fiction instead of romance.

If someone is reading romance novels just for the sex then maybe they ought to try erotic fiction because erotic fiction authors write explicit sex scenes much better than the average romance author who is trying to develop the relationship between the hero and heroine.

-Alina


Subject: Re: how much is too much
From: Carol
To: Carol
Date Posted: Thurs, Jul 01, 1999 at 18:57:53 (EDT)
Email Address: carol4yak@mindspring.com

Message:
I agree with Alina. I also think that the existing free market place is doing the job of giving readers exactly what they are demanding. I believe romance publishers have a very exact idea of how far their readers are willing to go. Specifically, I believe Susan Johnson, Robin Schone, Thea Devine, et al, can garner enough of a certain segment of the romance market to more than satisfy romance publishers. If the publishers decide to go even further than that, they know they'd have to develop a whole separate marketing program and, probably, book subsidiary corporation as well. There is also the competition factor. Black Lace, for one example, is already filling that next market niche. There are also pornographic movies offered on web sites, such sites varying from the lewd to the tasteful. All of these products, and make no mistake, that is what their publishers consider them, are for sale on the web and, of course, they are all perfectly legal as well. If one wants to encourage the 'growth' of a subgenre one prefers, whether it be erotic romance or sweet romance, the power one has to effectuate that change is through one's purchasing power at new book stores. If one buys at a used book store, the publisher doesn't count that sale as it didn't get any money. Notice how many more sweet romances are for sale in used book stores than erotic romances. Every time you purchase your sweet romance there, you lose your 'vote' as to the future product which will be published in book form. I don't foresee this fundamental of American economics changing any time soon.

Carol


Subject: Sex Issue
From: Tanya
To: All
Date Posted: Thurs, Jul 01, 1999 at 22:02:57 (EDT)
Email Address: tangodiva1@aol.com

Message:
As for the 'how much sex is too much' issue, I believe that as long as it is an outgrowth of the emotional bond between the h/h, it adds to the story. I'm so glad we're out of the 'I hate you; I hate you too, now let's get it on!' phase of romance. I won't touch one of those books anymore. As someone who works in and has a huge interest in film, I liken it to movies. When movies have explicit sex between two people who have no chemistry just for the sake of titillation, it's boring. However a movie like 'Out of Sight' had super chemistry, and a very sexy love scene that faded to black before there was anything graphic or explicit. And I consided it one of the most romantic and steamy movies I've seen in a dog's age.

Subject: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: DD
To: All
Date Posted: Wed, Jul 07, 1999 at 13:48:06 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Nobody has made any comments about the Anonymous Reader comments about her friend. What do you all think about a husband, who doesn't look at sexually explicit material, being somewhat offended that his wife is reading sexual explicit material? It is a tough question, I think, because there are many women who don't have a problem, and in fact buy for their husbands sexually explicit material (i.e Playboy etc...) On the other hand, there are many many women who don't like there husbands perusing the 'perfect naked woman'. Is that equivilent to a wife reading about the 'perfect size, stamina, and often times sexual techniques' of another man? Just asking.

Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Elly
To: DD
Date Posted: Wed, Jul 07, 1999 at 14:35:53 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
In my opinion this is a matter of context. The explicit sex that occurs in romantic novels is only one facet of the evolving relationship between the hero and heroine. The main point of most books is the romance, not the sex. (I admit there are exceptions to this rule but I tend not to read them.) Playboy, on the other hand, has nothing to do with romance. There IS no context-- it consists merely of photos of naked women and is intended solely to arouse.

I don't really consider romantic novels to be similar to Playboy. Romantic novels are fantasy, a slightly exaggerated version of the love we would all like to have. Playboy features slightly exaggerated (or airbrushed) women, but only their bodies are shown. Romantic novels depict men in all their glory-- their minds and souls as well as their bodies.

Oops. Waxed a bit more poetic than I meant to! That being said, I can understand why men might feel threatened by the depictions of men in romance novels, as they are generally idealized to some degree. However, my husband finds the descriptions of sex in romances rather amusing, particularly the amazing ability of most romance heroes to, ahem, perform several times in an evening for several days running. Romance novels are, after all, just fantasy.


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Robin
To: Elly
Date Posted: Thurs, Jul 08, 1999 at 08:35:57 (EDT)
Email Address: rnu08@aol.com

Message:
Although men seem to zero in on the physical atrributes of the heroes in romance novels I suspect it is the non-physical attributes that are the most threatening. Romance heroes tend to be considerate and extremely protective. They risk their lives for love, but, more than that they listen to the heroine and care about what she says. They change their lives for her.

Think about it. This is REALLY threatening. It means that the guy who insists on watching sports all day on Sunday is less appealing than the guy who takes his wife out for a drive. It means that the guy who watches his wife mow the lawn is less appealing than the one who helps with the housework and worries about her when she gets a cold.

I strongly suspect that many husbands are a lot less threatened by a picture of Fabio than they are by a character who takes the time to meet the non-physical needs of the woman he loves.


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Anne M. Marble
To: Robin
Date Posted: Thurs, Jul 08, 1999 at 22:48:25 (EDT)
Email Address: amarble@abs.net

Message:
I heard about a guy who used to complain about the 'glitz' novels that were popular at that time. He said, 'They prove that the women who like those stories are just greedy. They want the man to buy them designer dresses and jewels.' Talk about mising the point! Most women didn't read these books to read about material things -- they wanted to read about a guy who was completely devoted to a woman. A guy who actually *did* things for her instead of whining. The kind of guy who remembers important dates without being prodded.

Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Candy
To: Robin
Date Posted: Thurs, Jul 08, 1999 at 14:28:33 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
You know, I completely agree with you. Men find this threatening because romance heroes violate a lot of traditionally 'masculine' edicts and ideals, like complete independence. If you think about it, girls in nudie magazines are often exagerrated forms of femininity--their forms are artifically altered to achieve impossible curves, their unnatural smoothness (due to shaving and airbrushing) is the diametrical opposite of male hairiness, and their nakedness emphasizes the fact that, well, they're females and objects of desire. On the other hand, heroes in romances care about the heroines' needs, sometimes above and beyond their own, which in a sense co-opts the traditional female role. Women are traditionally supposed to be the nurturers, the ones who have to sacrifice, bend and compromise, not men, but in romances, even starting from the covers, this notion is often overturned. Look at the ultra-smooth cover models, for instance: no self-respecting 'real man' would shave himself for his woman unless it's something socially repugnant like back hair, whereas it's standard practice for women to shave, pluck and wax almost every hairy spot on their body. The fantasy in romances is a powerful one that goes beyond just sex with a rich hunk: it holds before us our desire to be needed, cherished and nurtured by someone who loves us above all else, which in turn can be threatening to most men because it upsets their notions of masculinity.

Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: DD
To: Candy
Date Posted: Thurs, Jul 08, 1999 at 23:42:13 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
This is what I hear...Men in general are thoughtless, unemotional, forgetful beings. Men in novels are basically the ideal. Women, in general, are not gorgoues, perfectly breasted, smooth-skinned beings. Playboy bunnies are. The point seems obvious.

However, I honestly do not think most men know what is going on in a romance novel, other than the sex. How can they be threatened by the emotional side of it if they have never read it therefore probably don't even know it exists in the novels? Even if they read one it would not be enough to make them feel threatened. All my husband knew, was that there was explicit sex scenes in them. I did not go into major detail to tell him the deep emotional side, frankly, because he wouldn't care to hear me go on and on about a romance novel anymore than I want to hear every single detail about his fishing trip. He asked me if there was explicit sex in them and exactly how explicit it was, and I told him, and he said he was not comfortable with that. And, I happen to have one of those extremely thoughtful romantic husbands, he out does any romance novel hero anyone could ever write about. The story did not bother him. The explicite descriptive sex did. The articles in Playboy don't bother me. The explicite pictures do. I don't think men have a clue about the deeper emotional part of a novel. So how could it threaten them?


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Alison
To: DD
Date Posted: Sun, Jul 11, 1999 at 02:07:57 (EDT)
Email Address: alhenry@primary.net

Message:
And how did he know there were explicit love scenes in them? From the mass media which characterizes all romance novels as 'trashy bodice-rippers'? If the sex is what's bothering him, why not introduce him to traditional regencies or inspirationals? You say you don't want to discuss the emotional content with him--why not?

You've made a lot of posts here, so I assume you have strong feelings about the subject. Yet your husband says he objects, and you just give everything up? Do you let him decide what you wear and who you spend your time with? What about movies with sexual scenes--does he object to those?

Maybe I'm silly, but I always took an interest in my boyfriends' interests, and I would expect the same. Instead of focusing on the sex, maybe you should show your husband the other reasons why you read romances. And there are others, right?


Subject: The threat of emotional stuff vs. good ol sex
From: Candy
To: DD
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 06:27:42 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
But most men are aware about the emotional stuff in romances; personally, I think that's why so many of them are so disdainful and have such a knee-jerk reaction to them. Whenever my ex-boyfriend made fun of my romance reading, he didn't make fun of the love scenes, although he was aware of them. He made fun of the fact that they were 'sappy,' 'bodice rippers' and 'sentimental trash.' I think his reaction was merely a more immature manifestation of the disquiet your husband expressed over the explicit sex, although they were reacting to different aspects of the romance novel.

And please don't oversimplify my arguments: I'm not saying men in general are "thoughtless, unemotional, forgetful"; I'm just saying that some 'feminine' values commonly found in romances such as being emotional threaten certain traditional masculine ideals, which in turn threaten the people, both men and women, who believe in the ideals. As an extension to that point, I was trying to demonstrate how a woman's femininity is exagerrated to make her into an object in pornography, but when feminine ideals are imposed on a romance hero, it somehow becomes threatening to a man's "masculinity." And emotions in romance can be even more threatening than sex to most males, although perhaps in a different way. My ex-boyfriend didn't ever want to read a romance and make an informed judgment because he didn't want to read 'trash.' This is the same man who refuses to listen to Sarah McLachlan because it's 'chick music' (needless to say, the very thought of the Lilith Fair gives him hives). Why this strange reaction? The only answer I could come up with was the fact that he was essentially uncomfortable with the 'softer' emotions and values being expressed.

And why was he so uncomfortable--an adult white male in his early 30s who was very confident about his abilities and his place in the world? The theory I finally came up with is the fact that these values contradict everything he believes as 'manly,' and his reaction comes because something within him feels threatened. And he's far from the only male I know who feels this way, not only about romance, but about romantic movies and 'chick' music. Almost all my guy friends from college feel the same way, in differing degrees. There's a directly proportionate relationship between veneration for the Marlboro man and disdain of romances, in my opinion. I may be completely wrong, and I may be making an obvious point, but I do believe that my theory has at least a little truth to it.


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: DD
To:
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 02:53:57 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Playboy is not 'hard' porn. But it is definately considered 'soft' porn. The dictionary definition of pornography is 'the depiction of erotica (pictures or written) intended to cause sexual excitement' So actually according to what you just stated compared to the Websters definition...both Playboy and romance novels are pornography.

Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: TJ
To: DD
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 09:56:50 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Actually, even according to Webster's def, romance (good ones, not the bad ones) is not porn. To be pornographic, the intent is 'to caues sexual excitement.' Romance novels are not written to cause sexual excitement, but to show the development of relationship between two people. TJ

Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Stacey
To: TJ
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 10:16:02 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
So you are not excited by the 'hot sex' in some romance novels? Does anyone else feel like the inclusion of graphic sexual details is designed and maintained to sell books? Just a little bit even? Does the romance industry not capitalize on the desire for emotional and physical stimulus, knowing that sex does sell? Is is not possible that they take advantage of these urges the way Playboy does men's? And again, would sales plummet if scenes were not graphic and detailed and explicit enough to arouse and excite? Because even though a romance may only have one or two love scenes they are still the culmination of a building anticipation, and a pivotal, crucial point in the relationship the author is describing.

Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: LLB
To: Stacey
Date Posted: Sat, Jul 10, 1999 at 22:01:48 (EDT)
Email Address: laurie@likesbooks.com

Message:
Stacey - Here's where I have a difference of opinion with you. If a romance novel has, say, two love scenes, and, say, the author did intend to sexually arouse the reader while reading those scenes, but the other 350 pages of the book are not love scenes, would you then say that 'romance novels are written to sexually arouse readers?'

Let's try this tack - The Big Easy had a very arousing love scene in it. I believe the movie was rated R. Because this movie had a love scene which was likely included to arouse the viewing audience, does that make the movie porn? I don't think Jack Valenti would see it that way.

So, if a book has one love scene (or two) that is sexually arousing, why would the entire book be considered porn? My definition of porn, does not match Webster's; it's a matter of context. If a book had nothing but 300 pages of love scenes, yes, that would be pornography. But the physical consummation of what two loving and consenting adults do with each other as part of a larger love story is not porn in my book. It is just a natural part of the love relationship.

TTFN, LLB


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Robin
To: Stacey
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 13:10:37 (EDT)
Email Address: enu08@aol.com

Message:
To criticize a sex scene because it arouses you (or any reader) implies that feelings of arousal are dirty. What differenciates porn, or even commercialism, from art is the fact that art finds something unique to say about the experience. A sex scene written using phrases from the ROMANCE WRITERS PHRASE BOOK reflects nothing of how the writer feels about sex. LADY CHATTERLY'S LOVER is very arousing. It is also art. Why? Because DH Lawrence was writing an original work that expressed his own feelings on the human condition.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with finding something beautiful sexually arousing. If that something has been created out of a fascination with the human body, human drives and the feelings most men and women have it can be called art. If such art sells books so what? Isn't that a good thing?


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Stacey
To: TJ
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 22:17:52 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I don't like sex scenes period. I think the sexual experience is precious and private and sacred - not to be viewed by one and all. I don't read horror or mysteries b/c I dislike violence with the same passion. I think the graphic description of either is gratuitous in every form.

Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Morgan
To: Stacey
Date Posted: Sat, Jul 10, 1999 at 01:36:12 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Just like there are romances w/ all levels of sensuality such as most regencies have no sex in them, mysteries vary too. I read a lot of mysteries and don't read many w/ a lot of violence. But even when there is violence it isn't usually gratuitous. It is there to further the story - to show the reader just how henous the murder is not to titulate. If it is there ti titulate it usally isn't very well written novel. Cozy mysteries have violence off stage usually. The Agatha Christie style. Same w/ sex scenes in romance, I don't think it is gratuitous if it furthers the story but also I don't like when a book has more than 1 or 2, after that I think it tends to be too much. My preference would be for one or more writers having that off stage.

Subject: Would you ban the Bible?
From: Mark
To: All
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 22:27:38 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Based on your comment and others by DD, the Bible can be defined as pornographic (Lot & his daughters, etc.). Do you suggest removing the Old Testament from all Bibles?

Subject: Re: Would you ban the Bible?
From: Stacey
To: Mark
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 22:39:32 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Then you must refresh my memory on how graphically Lot's sexual experience with his daughters was described? How long did it last? Were all of Lot's clothing removed? Did his daughters scream with delight? I believe the words graphic and explicit are the keys to my point. I didn't realize I was suggesting that no one ever mention that sex is performed in any way, shape or form (perverted or otherwise). If so then I apologize and applaud your interest in spiritual works.

Subject: Re: Would you ban the Bible?
From: DD
To: Stacey
Date Posted: Sat, Jul 10, 1999 at 00:41:54 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I too don't recall a graphic description of any ones genetalia either. Or exactly what Lot did to them. Mark, you make my point, a writer can make a picture clear enough without all the explicit details, just as Moses did when he told of the account with Lot and his daughters.

Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Mark
To: All
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 01:07:50 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
As a single man who reads both Playboy and romance novels, I can say that a lot of romance novels are more stimulating than most pictures in Playboy. (But then, I'm very verbal.)

Subject: as a man...
From: Nancy Beth
To: Mark
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 17:54:25 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Mark, since you are our only male poster, may I ask a question? Do you think more men would read romances if the sex scenes were more equal? That is to say, usually the scenes emphasize what he does to her and there's very little about what she does to him. Have you noticed that? What do you think?

Subject: Re: as a man...
From: Mark
To: All
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 22:24:17 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Out of all the romances I've read, I can think of only one that I felt was limited to a female audience: Dara Joy's _Mine To Take_. The hero is not human and the heroine is. I believe most romances would appeal equally to any man or woman willing to try them. Within both genders there and ranges of personal taste. I've read F&SF for many more years than romance and have read very few mysteries. Someone posting on this board is a mystery fan who judges all books by mystery standards. Other posters want pure romances without suspense. People have spoken in favor of all degrees of sexual explicitness. Etc.

Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Mark
To: All
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 03:20:19 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
No, I don't agree. There is a vast difference in intent and focus. Pornography focuses on sex without love and sometimes with violence or degradation. Romance focuses on love and, often, character growth. Some romance books include depiction of the sexual aspect of love and some don't, but inclusion of sex does not turn a romance into pornography. Leaving out the love would turn a romance into pornography. Pornography is way down in my tbr priorities compared to romance.

Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: DD
To: Mark
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 04:56:20 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I do not believe the books in and of themselves are pornographic. But the explicit sex scenes IN the romance novels are of a pornographic nature.

I think the problem here is I am seperating the two and many on the board feel you cannot do that. I can look at a romance novel and say-the book is not pronography-but....certain scenes within the book are pornographic in nature. And as far as the dictionary is concerned, I suppose anyone could disagree with Mr. Webster. I just thought it would be interesting to see what he said.


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Robin
To: DD
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 13:24:47 (EDT)
Email Address: rnu08@aol.com

Message:
But DD, seriously, why does this bother you? How can you say that a sex scene that includes two people deeply in love is pornographic? I really don't understand unless you are saying that there is something dirty and objectionable about sex no matter how the two lovers feel about each other.

My personal opinion is that there is nothing 'dirty' or unpleasant about sex if it is written as the expression of the way two people feel about each other. Who cares if this sells books? Who cares if it arouses someone. Do you think arousal is 'dirty'?

I find pornography unpleasant because sex, without emotion gives me the creeps. A pornographic photographer is not trying to create anything original. Sexual arousal that somes with love and caring is a different thing. As far as I'm concerned there is nothing dirty about it.


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: DD
To: Robin
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 13:43:25 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Absulutely not!!! I think sex is a beautiful, wonderful gift. I do not think it is dirty one iota. However, I think it is inapporpriate, not dirty, to read about someone elses sex.

We would think it was sick if there was a person running around our neighborhoods 'peeking' in windows and watching couples have sex. Now, before you say anything, I realize that this is a 'little' different. It is an invasion of privacy. So is the bad thing that the 'peeper' invaded privacy or that he gets off watching other people get it on?

I really enjoy romance novels. My question as to why so many women enjoy reading them is a mystery to me. Even with all the explanations. And for me personally...I ask myself, 'DD..why do you feel the need to escape into fantasy so often?' Is real life so bad?

I don't like the explicit sex, not because I think it is dirty, but because I think it is personal and private. I don't want to come to bed to my husband and have sex with him, wholly or partially, because I just got done reading some 'hot and spicey' sex between two OTHER people.

It is obvious, from other posts on this thread, that the publishers are saying that the novels with the sex sells. Even many of the readers on other threads are saying when a fantastic writer starts writing in another genre without the sex, they are no longer fantastic.

I will ask the reverse question. Why do you like it so much? (not intended to be harsh). Why is not enjoyable to read everything up to that point have some good kissing and hugging and fade to black. Why do you need the explcitness? Do you have a hard time thinking of what goes on beyond that part or what happens when the door closes? I am not being facetious, I am just asking you the same as you asked me.


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Julie
To: DD
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 21:49:11 (EDT)
Email Address: conmeoAwebtv

Message:
Your comment about 'why do you need to escape into fantasy so often?' bothered me. All fiction is fantasy, after all, and I don't think the unrelieved misery in literary fiction is any more realistic than the happy endings in romance. Non-fiction is fine, but sometimes fiction tells you more of the truth than plain facts. There's a really good essay by Ursula LeGuin about this (sorry, I've totally forgotten the title & my library is in another building. Can somebody help me out?). There's a line in it that says something to the effect that trying to escape from a world that's been warped & trivialized is not self-indulgence - it's more like a captured soldier trying to escape from the enemy. I'm not trying to get away from the parts of life that matter - I'm just taking a break from attempts to turn me into a 'human resource' instead of a person.

Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Karen Wheless
To: DD
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 17:15:57 (EDT)
Email Address: kwheless@rockland.net

Message:
I will ask the reverse question. Why do you like it so much? (not intended to be harsh). Why is not enjoyable to read everything up to that point have some good kissing and hugging and fade to black. Why do you need the explcitness? Do you have a hard time thinking of what goes on beyond that part or what happens when the door closes? I am not being facetious, I am just asking you the same as you asked me.
---
Part of it, I think, is simply that showing something is much more effective than just saying it happens. If I say to you, 'I went for a drive in my car', you know the basics of what happened. But if I say, 'I went for a drive in my car, and I opened the windows and smelled the flowers by the side of the road, and I could feel the wind in my hair' you get a very different impression of my experience. So if you just say, 'they had sex', you may know the mechanics of what happened, but you don't know the feelings and emotions that were going through these people's minds, and how their actions reflected that.

To give an example, Mary Balogh wrote a book called A Precious Jewel, where the heroine is a prostitute. It does have explicit sex scenes. In fact, there's a sex scene in the very first chapter. The hero has hired the heroine, and they have sex. It's not 'making love', although the hero and heroine are both surprised at their attraction to each other while they are in bed together. Later in the book, after the hero and heroine have fallen in love, there is a second love scene. In this love scene, the hero has realized that he cares for the heroine, and wants to please her in bed. The scene describes how he touches her gently, shyly, because he wants to make love with her, not just have sex. If the author had just had them kiss and then faded to black, I don't think these scenes would have been as effective. We would have heard the author say, 'they had sex', but we wouldn't know the meaning behind it, because we didn't read a description of what happened.

I'm sure not every love scene in every book is 'justified'. But when I read a book that's wonderful, a keeper, I always feel that the love scenes in those books are like the love scenes in A Precious Jewel - they add something to the story that wouldn't be there otherwise.

Karen


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: DD
To: Karen Wheless
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 17:30:42 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I don't think these scenes would have been as effective. We would have heard the author say, 'they had sex', but we wouldn't know the meaning behind it, because we didn't read a description of what happened.
---
But a good writer, it seems to me, could make you feel all those things before the bedroom. As a matter of fact, you should already feel that the hero feels this way about her before sex. Why is the focus of the feelings on the sex, instead of the sex being a outpour of already existing feelings? And there are a hundred romantic ways to let the reader know that the H/H are having sex besides 'they had sex' that is not what I meant.

If some people NEED this in their novels, fine. I am just saying I do not. And I think that some of the really good writers could write some really good romantic, yes even passionate books without explicit details.


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Robin
To: DD
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 19:54:55 (EDT)
Email Address: rnu08@aol.com
DD, You have asked repeatedly why people are getting upset about your comments and this is why. I agree that you have a perfect right to like whatever you like and dislike whatever you dislike. But the reason so many people are getting upset is because you keep saying we NEED this in our novels. This is insulting, whether you realize it or not.

We do not NEED it. We admire it. This has been said repeatedly but apparently you do not agree that we understand our own taste. If I admire Mary Balogh's use of sex in A PRECIOUS JEWEL it does not mean that I need it. To say that I or anyone else admires a piece of art that includes sex, implies a kind of purient and truly distasteful sexual attachment. If you refrain from casting aspersions of the taste of others (saying they NEED sex scenes) they will have the same respect for your opinions.


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: DD
To: Robin
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 20:18:32 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I fully accept that. What has been said though is that many of the books needed the sex scene to make it a full romance. That is why I used the word need in that context. I totally accept the statement of someone wanting it in or admiring it in the books. It was the use of need that I was questioning. Now that you have made that point- I understand. But you have to admit that the word need implies a lot. Both ways. I was making a point by using it the way I did.

Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: LLB
To: DD
Date Posted: Sat, Jul 10, 1999 at 22:19:57 (EDT)
Email Address: laurie@likesbooks.com

Message:
DD - The reason why I generally prefer to not have a love scene 'fade to black' is that I'm a grown-up. Fading to black is the kind of romance I used to day-dream about when I was 11 through 17 or so. Now that I'm an adult woman who has sex, fading to black would seem kind of absurd. Now, that's not to say I don't enjoy romances that don't include explicitness, but, strangely enough, they generally don't include sex at all - they end in a kiss, or, they include a love scene in a vague way - but it's still not fading to black. That seems more honest to me than fading to black. In movies, I'd just as soon skip the explicit stuff, but that's because the watching on screen is a lot more like peeping than the reading about it in a book.

I don't know if I made myself clear, but, to restate, 'fading to black' doesn't appeal to me as an adult woman because it seems dishonest and juvenile. Ending in a kiss and not making the pretense of fading to black works better for me.

TTFN, LLB


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Robin
To: DD
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 22:14:48 (EDT)
Email Address: rnu08@aol.com

Message:
I fully accept that. What has been said though is that many of the books needed the sex scene to make it a full romance. That is why I used the word need in that context. I totally accept the statement of someone wanting it in or admiring it in the books. It was the use of need that I was questioning. Now that you have made that point- I understand. But you have to admit that the word need implies a lot. Both ways. I was making a point by using it the way I did.
---
Ah, the lightbulb goes on! Yes, I understand what you are saying. When I personally say that a book needs a sex scene it is always when the writer has put one in and done a very good job of it. I guess that that is the case whenever I read a well done book (including many sweet ones) I will say that the writer made a choice that the book 'needed.' It is a way of speaking. But I personally don't need books to have sex. Thank you DD for clarifying that. I think many people will feel a good deal better about this conversation.

Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Tanya
To: Stacey
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 23:35:18 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Stacey, I was wondering if you and DD had checked out any of the Inspirational Romance lines yet. I mentioned them in one of my posts in last months board, and several others have mentioned them this time.

If you have, are they providing what you're looking for, or is the writing not to your liking?

I'm interested in hearing your thoughts.


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Robin
To: DD
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 14:28:31 (EDT)
Email Address: rnu08@aol.com

Message:
I will ask the reverse question. Why do you like it so much? (not intended to be harsh). Why is not enjoyable to read everything up to that point have some good kissing and hugging and fade to black. Why do you need the explcitness? Do you have a hard time thinking of what goes on beyond that part or what happens when the door closes? I am not being facetious, I am just asking you the same as you asked me.
---
DD,

Why do I need the explicitiness? Here is a better question. When do I need the explicitness? The answer is that I need the explicitness whenever sex is so much a part of the action that the story or the development of the characters could not be told without it (or could not be told as well). Mary Balogh's stories are an excellent example of this. You will notice when you read a Balogh that the sex is part of the action. When we watch the scene we see the characters change. We see the action move. Balogh never throws sex it as a matter of course. There is always a reason. Putney is the same as is Kinsale.

Why do we need to show lovemaking in detail? All art celebrates the human experience. This includes what people do publicly and what they do privately. Our sexuality is as much a part of us as the color of our hair or the sound of our voices.

I can understand why sex between you and your husband is a beautiful and private thing. I feel the same way about my own relationship with my husband.

But art, whether it be literature, poetry, film or theater is something else again. You are correct that the sex in many romance novels is repetative and 'thrown in'. However that's not the kind of thing I'm talking about. There are some stories, LADY CHATTERLY'S LOVER, being a good example that cannot be told without sex. The point is not to titalate the reader (though the reader may feel that) the point is to give us a greater understanding of the characters in the story.

I feel the same way when I look at Roden's 'The Kiss.' This is a beautiful sculpure because when you look at it you have greater insight into what makes us all human. Is this a moment too private for art? The work is sensual. You can't get around it, but it is also beautiful and uplifting. I cannot imagine saying that it is partially pornographic or that it would be more beautiful if the figures were clothed. Privacy belongs in individuals bedrooms but if artists are to explore what makes us human they must have the freedom to explore the whole of humanity.


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: DD
To: Robin
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 15:44:40 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
If someone were to ask me about my relatinship with my husband. I could paint a beautifully romantic picture. I could tell all about the things he has done for me. His creativity is astounding!!! But...could I not say that all of this culminates into a wonderfully beautiful intimate life, and you get the depth enough without giving you the exacts of how we make love. It isn't the idea of people making love to show a culmination of a very well written courtship or relationship that bothers me. It is the details that seem unnecessary to anynyone who has an imagination. Why do I need to know exactly where and how he touches this woman as long as I know that he did? To me, if a writer is good enough, she has built such a great situation that we don't need to wonder if he is doing it right. If the story has lead you on such a wonderful chase, it seems to me just the opposite would be true; you wouldn't need all the details.

Here is a true-life example. When Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were making films together the producers opted in many, if not all, of their films to not even have them kiss. Why? Because the dancing and music and story was so romantic the producers and directors said there was no need for the kiss. This did not seem to stop movie-goers, infact their movies are considered classics. This is my point. If writers truly wrote wonderful romance, there would not be a need for the explicitness. You would feel all of it before the act and just knowing that this wonderful man and woman were now entering into the ultimate conclusion would be enough. I don't need to know the semantics of the act. Not because I think it is dirty or icky, but because it is just unnecessary for me, and I think for anyone else if the story were written well.


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: LLB
To: DD
Date Posted: Sat, Jul 10, 1999 at 22:52:00 (EDT)
Email Address: laurie@likesbooks.com

Message:
DD - I have a video collection of 300 movies taped from cable channels of old movie musicals and comedies. Astaire/Rogers are among my favorites. One the one hand, I think I was born a generation too late because I love those old movies from the 30's, 40's, and 50's so much. On the other hand, I think I was born only ten years too late because I'm fairly radical in my political and social views and would have fit well into the 60's (except that I can't stand dirty feet).

And it's the combination of those two parts of me that sort of has an answer for you. We no longer live in the 1930's or 1940's. Times have changed, mores have changed, and world views have changed. I love those old movies because I think they are fun, and I often say, 'They don't make 'em like this anymore.' No, they don't, and a part of me wishes they would, but another part of me knows those days are long past and to cling to them really is like living in a fantasy and not facing reality.

When I was a kid, my favorite thing to eat was a muenster cheese sandwich on white bread. Now that I'm an adult, I prefer thai curry. The reality is that I am no longer 7 years old - I'm 38. I've changed just as the times have, and it's time to live in the now and to live as an adult.

I still love Astaire and Rogers, but I also love modern movies. I am a fan of Jane Austen, but that doesn't mean I can't also appreciate Tom Robbins.

I have a feeling I'm just rambling, but I thought I had a point to make. Only I don't know that I made it coherently.

TTFN, LLB


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: TJ
To: DD
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 13:57:55 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
To me reading sex is fine. Not reading sex is fine. I read many romance novels without sex, and they were very good, and I enjoyed reading them, and I didn't mind that the books had no sex. Sexual contents don't matter to me as much as good plot, great characters, consistency, etc. TJ

Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: DD
To: TJ
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 14:10:13 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
The problem is that the really good writers write with sex in them. Why? Because the publishers say sex sells, and that is what counts. Why does sex sell to a predominantly woman audience? If it doesn't matter to most women if there is sex or not, as long as the plot and characters are well developed, why are the publishers saying hardly anyone will buy it without sex? I am sure the fact that some writers enjoy writing the sex scenes and would do it no matter whether it sold or not plays in there somewhere too.

Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: TJ
To: DD
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 16:29:26 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Maybe some good writers feel that their stories won't be complete without lovemaking scene. We do NOT know their true intentions behind their writing/vision. I don't know why this kind of second guessing questions are asked when the only way you can get the answer is to write to the writer and the publisher.

TJ


Subject: I've asked authors
From: LLB
To: DD
Date Posted: Sat, Jul 10, 1999 at 22:55:17 (EDT)
Email Address: laurie@likesbooks.com

Message:
DD and TJ - I posted to an author's list earlier today asking for their input on this. Some may respond on this bb while others might write to me for inclusion in an upcoming column. Stay tuned. . . (I presented an author round-table in my follow-up column, Issue #76.)

TTFN, LLB


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Nancy Beth
To: DD
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 00:41:43 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
DD, you make your point well. I've recently switched to reading a lot more Regency because I was burned out on the sex in regular romances. I just plain sick and tired of all these men who constantly put the moves on and these women who can't say no and the completely unrealistic sex that follows. I do think it colors my perceptions of my own romantic life, in some good ways and in some bad ways. I would be upset to find my husband looking at pornography and even just Playboy. I think when he gets back from his business trip I will show him an explicit sex scene and see how he feels about it. My guess is that he won't have a problem but who knows?

Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: DD
To: Nancy Beth
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 01:39:44 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
My husband is pretty laid back. After he found out about the sex scenes, he didn't tell me not to read them, he just looked at me with a concerned look and said he was uncomfortable with it. He didn't tell me what to do, didn't actually say a thing about it after that. I continued to read them until the scenes wore on me too.

You too make an interesting point in the way the plots follow. I have recently asked myself what I find so 'romantic' about these books. I would NEVER want or wish or fantasize that my courtship with my husband would ever have been the way most of these novels are written. The men are always pushing the women away (until the last chapter)are often assumptive and downright rude in their aggresiveness as far as sex(that goes for kissing on up to the hotter stuff). It is curious to me why so many libertated women want to read such unliberated material and then call it a fantasy. I think maybe what is so drawing, at least for me, is that you get to see inside the head of a man. What he is thinking ,even when he doesn't act like it, how he feels, even when he doesn't show it etc...This is truly the fantasy. Men don't think this way (and this is gonna stir up a hornets nest I know but there has been some pretty big male bashing on this board, I think I'll bash the women a little) and women don't like to face it. They like to run to a romance novel and meet an unrealistic guy who thinks the way they do. This is the conclusion I have come to. It is fun to see inside a guys head, and lo what do we find? He may not be acting like he loves me....but I know on the inside he does, at least the reader knows. The poor Heroine is going through hell, which I might add is not romantic. As I look back at my courtship the hard times were not what I say were the romantic times. The romantic times were.

OK, go ahead and bash me. I know itsa comin'^_^


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: LLB
To: DD
Date Posted: Sat, Jul 10, 1999 at 23:06:36 (EDT)
Email Address: laurie@likesbooks.com

Message:
DD -

You are right when you talk about the allure of getting inside a man's head in a romance. And you are right when you say that men don't think the way they do in romances. At least, a lot of them. That's why some of my favorite romances are written by women who were raised w/lots of brothers or had lots of sons. My husband is one of four brothers, and while he and his brothers aren't like Nora Roberts' depicts brothers in, say, her recent trilogy set in Maryland, she does have a better understanding of men than some other authors do.

I used to watch soap operas in college, and then again when I had my daughter and was working from home. But I stopped because no real men talked the way they did or thought the things they did. The fantasy seemed too unbelievable to be true. In romance novels, it is also often the case, but I choose romances that, I hope, will have a good mix so that the fantasy is more believable.

TTFN, LLB


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Anne M. Marble
To: DD
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 20:18:19 (EDT)
Email Address: amarble@abs.net

Message:
You too make an interesting point in the way the plots follow. I have recently asked myself what I find so 'romantic' about these books. I would NEVER want or wish or fantasize that my courtship with my husband would ever have been the way most of these novels are written. The men are always pushing the women away (until the last chapter)are often assumptive and downright rude in their aggresiveness as far as sex(that goes for kissing on up to the hotter stuff). It is curious to me why so many libertated women want to read such unliberated material and then call it a fantasy.
---
Chest-pounding behavior in a romance hero is *so* '80s. :->

Most of the books I read aren't like this. If I read so much as a cover blurb that even suggests the hero will act like this, in most cases, I will leave the book on the shelf. If I'm not sure about the book, I glance at the dialogue to make sure the hero doesn't make a fool of himself with his jealousy and domineering behavior.

I will sometimes make an exception if I've read a review that implies that the hero is tormented, has believable reasons for his behavior, and reforms after going through much angst. But even then, I'm wary.)

Sometimes, because I'm a reviewer for AAR, I'll get 'stuck' with a book that has a possessive, agressive, rude 'hero.' When this happens, I will make a point of mentioning it in the review -- because I know that most readers don't want to be subjected to this sort of thing, either. And you'd better believe it will affect my grade.


Subject: Why read romance?
From: Tanya
To: DD
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 09:30:41 (EDT)
Email Address: tangodiva1@aol.com

Message:
I'm not gonna bash you either, but I'd like to make some points. I don't read romance to:

1) See inside the head of a man 2) Read about a man pushing a woman away or being forceful and agressive

I read romance to lose myself in someone else's story. To empathize with the characters and feel their emotions. To experience other times and places I've never been. I think the truly gifted authors allow me to do just this.

My view on sex is this - does it advance the story? Does it let me into these characters world more? Then great. Bring it on.

I have a confession. I used to read Bertrice Small, and I don't anymore. Not because of the increasing spiciness of her love scenes, but because every book is the same and the writing's gone downhill. But when I did read things like the Skye O'Malley series, what impressed me most about them was the breadth of the Elizabethean history. I really felt like I knew Queen Elizabeth after reading the series. That was what impressed me more than the sex.

The reason I read romance more than any other genre (though I read from a wide variety) is because after a hard day at work, I want to escape from MY problems by reading about someone elses. Their hopes and dreams and trials and tribulations. Just like a good movie lets me project onto the screen characters, a good novel lets me live someone else's life throught their eyes. Only truly gifted writers (and I'll name names if you like) allow me to do this, and for that I'm forever grateful.

Tanya


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Candy
To: DD
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 05:45:47 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I won't bash you :) but I do think you're generalizing unfairly. ok, some romances are exactly the way you depict them. I'll be the first to say that many, many romances are complete and utter turkeys. ok, women aren't perfect, although we'd like to think we are (but I stand by the belief that men have done far more crummy things to women throughout history than women have to men). But most of the romances that i like don't involve alpha males abusing and raping the spineless heroines--my favorite plot device is the best friends falling in love with each other device. Nice guy heroes are tops on my list; in fact, I'm all for less beefcake and more intellect. If the hero in a romance pushes away the heroine initially, that's OK with me if the author convinces me that he has a compelling reason. However, if he ever gets out of line or is too mean, I generally fling the book against the wall. When I think of romances I loved in which the heroes treated the heroines badly, at least in the beginning, I think of books like Loretta Chase's Lord of Scoundrels, or Laura London's The Windflower. Sure these heroes are jerks initially, but they have convincing motivation stemming from their pasts. And a little later in the book, we see them making amends, setting the heroine's needs above their own, and really, truly grovelling their little hearts out. Think of Devon volunteering to take arsenic and a poisonous cure for malaria to see whether it's safe for Merry to use. Think of Devon stopping himself from making love to Merry because she's still recovering from malaria, or because he doesn't want to force her in any way. Think of Dain not making love to Jessica because he's afraid he'll hurt her much smaller, delicate frame. Actions speak louder than words, and the best authors not only show us what the hero is truly thinking, they show us through action that the hero, despite being an occasional ass, is still a redeemable human who is healed by love.

And face it, if the hero and heroine don't have any conflict (either internal or external) and everything is peaches and cream from the get-go, the romance would be pretty frickin' boring, unless the author is really, really, really good. We have to throw a monkey wrench in the works to stir things up. The conflicts may become formulaic, but that's the danger in a genre that's as big as romance. Good authors take the same ol' same ol' and give it a fresh twist. The difference in the degree and quality of the conflict, as well as the quality of the writing, is often what defines an acceptable or unacceptable romance for me. Of course, this is speaking personally. Lots of women love romances with rapist heroes and extremely abusive protagonists, and I can't figure out the appeal...

But I don't think that the appeal of romances is as simple as us wanting to compartmentalize men into neat little boxes and pretend they think like us--although that may certainly be part of it; I think the most powerful draw is the appeal of finding true love, and the achievment of love is somehow more satisfying fictionally (if not in the real world) after a rocky road.

Qquestion: why aren't similar judgments made about readers of other genres? Do we assume that people who love Tom Clancy or John Grisham are people who revel in violence and corruption and want the same destruction the protagonists face in the novels visited on them?


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Sarah P.
To: Elly
Date Posted: Wed, Jul 07, 1999 at 17:11:23 (EDT)
Email Address: sepearson@hotmail.com

Message:
I actually, to a certain extent, agree with DD. How many men can compare to (most of) the heroes in romance novels? And how can women compare to what is in those nudey magazines? Face it ladies, we all have some pretty good imaginations: what's the difference between picturing your ideal man with a large staff (ooh, a purple word!) between his legs,the perfect amount of muscles, a flatboard tummy, a full head of hair, and shaved armpits/chest/back, then a man SEEING an idealized woman?

Now, I really think that there is a difference, and that's that romance isn't porno. but aren't men more visually turned on, while women are more...well, I don't know the word, but it's more by emotions and love and stuff? Taking into account the differences in the gender's mindsets, it's a lot alike, yet different.

Oh ick, I'm confusing myself. If I'm rambling (and yes, I am!), ignore me, but I hope I got at least a little bit of my point across...didn't I? :-)

Sarah P.


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Karen Wheless
To: Sarah P.
Date Posted: Wed, Jul 07, 1999 at 19:23:22 (EDT)
Email Address: kwheless@rockland.net

Message:
I think most women look past physical looks when they look at men. Look at the popularity of the 'beauty and the beast' stories. We may fantasize about the buff abs, but I think physical beauty is a minor consideration for many women.

However, I was having a heated conversation with a feminist group about romance novels. And one person made a very interesting comment. She said that she used to read romances, but stopped because she found herself expecting certain unrealistic things of her boyfriend and then husband. That she wouldn't have to put any effort into making the relationship work, that she could just stand around and look beautiful and sexy, and magically everything would work out. That her husband would automatically 'know' what she wanted, and he would and could fulfill her every need. That you didn't have to work and compromise to make a marriage. This wasn't someone who read one romance and then slammed the genre, she had read a lot of romances and enjoyed them. I don't think that every book has these particular messages (and she had read them 10 years ago, I think the genre has changed since them) but I do think that some romances give us messages that we unconsciously may carry over into our lives. Messages that are probably uncomfortable for men in the same way that being compared to Playboy bunnies is uncomfortable for women.

I'm not saying that romances aren't fantasy, and we can't separate the 'fantasy' from reality. And I definitely think that many of the messages that romances give us are good ones! I was home at lunchtime today, and flipped by a talk show. I saw some women talking about the kind of treatment they put up with from men, and I was saddened by it. I think romances have a great message about relationships, that you deserve to be treated well, and not put up with being stepped on. But there are certain assumptions in romances (more so in some books than in others), that give us the same kind of unrealistic expectations for behavior, in the same way we see unrealistic expectations for women's bodies in Playboy or in advertising or on television or..

Karen


Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: WendyG
To: Karen Wheless
Date Posted: Wed, Jul 07, 1999 at 23:14:06 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
If I expected real life to be like a romance novel, I would definitely be divorced by now, instead of being married 24yrs. Romance novels are fantasy but they do have 'life lessons' in them. Many do teach compromise although it does seem as if the heroine does most of it.

Subject: Re: Anonymous Readers Comments
From: Beverly
To: Karen Wheless
Date Posted: Wed, Jul 07, 1999 at 21:21:36 (EDT)
Email Address: bbmedos@yahoo.com

Message:
But are romances any more unrealistic in their portrayals of women, men and relationships in general than say sci-fi, fantasy or mystery novels are? One doesn't normally hear anyone accusing a mystery reader of expecting people around them to be just like the dectective or the murderer.

Why then is everyone convinced that we romance readers expect our husbands or other significant other to be exactly like heroes in the books and are disappointed when they're not? Do they really think we take the books that seriously or do they simply want to feel superior and 'control' what we read, as if, like LLB wondered, they believe we have no more brains than children?

Beverly :-)


Subject: Romance
From: Lynn
To: All
Date Posted: Sat, Jul 03, 1999 at 22:09:12 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I agree with the anonymous reader about enjoying the sweeter side of romances. Not everyone prefers sex in their books - I know I don't. And people should realize that there is a difference between sex and romance. A scene in a story can be very romantic but have no sex at all. Some books I've read have so many sex scenes that my head spins and I end up skipping most of them to get on with the story. Moderation is the key. I think reviewers should accomodate by listing how much sex there are in books, such as hot and spicy or kisses and cuddles.

Subject: Re: Romance
From: Nora
To: Lynn
Date Posted: Tues, Jul 06, 1999 at 17:02:44 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Lynn--

AAR does assign a sensuality rating to all the books it reviews, ranging from 'Kisses' to 'Burning,' and we provide an explanation of what the reader can expect in each category. This is to help the reader decide if s/he's comfortable reading something with that level of descriptive intimacy. Take a moment to look through the definitions, then you can concentrate on books with the sensuality level you're looking for.

Of course, then there's the Purple Prose Dictionary, but that's an entirely different matter...:-)

Cordially, Nora


Subject: Re: Romance
From: Nancy Beth
To: Lynn
Date Posted: Sat, Jul 03, 1999 at 22:58:14 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I find myself doing the same thing lately, skimming over sex scenes because they don't seem to be adding anything to the story. This is, as I have written before, the result of the author not integrating the romantic relationship with the sexual one.

Subject: sweet or spicy,,not the key!!!
From: sandy
To: All
Date Posted: Wed, Jul 07, 1999 at 23:52:45 (EDT)
Email Address: sc012060@yahoo.com

Message:
i don't know about anyone else, but i really don't think the type of sex scenes really matter. spicy or sweet, i don't care as long as the author creates characters that are interesting to me and are attracted to each other.

i am a reader that normally enjoy books that really sizzle,,but i need to qualify that,,the author has to build the story, the romance, the attraction and passion equally. i love linda howard (son of the morning is my ultimate only 6 star romantic suspense and its even a time travel), dara joy, nora roberts (jd robb is one of my favorite and she is hot). but i equally enjoy the work like lynn kurland.

what are the things that all these authors have in common? they all take the time to build their characters, their story line,,involve the reader in their characters emotions, and just as important, there is no doubt that the characters are attracted to each other. they may have disputes,,they may hate the sight of each other to begin with,,but the attraction is there and just builds. it doesn't really matter how much sex or how little.

the problem with many of writers lately, and what has become boring, is that many are trying to write romantic suspense lately, and that they have forgotten the key word..romance. even our historicals,, the plots are so involved with the suspense,,so much time is spent evolving the mystery and not the characters and relationships between the characters. in books like these,,the steamy sex scenes thrown in about 3/4 into the book seem almost out of place, even added just to qualify it as romance.

so my point, ladies, is that a good read is a good read whether it's sweet or spicy. if you are able to fall a little in love with the characters as they are falling in love,,to me that makes the book a success!


Subject: Re: sweet or spicy,,not the key!!!
From: Mark
To: All
Date Posted: Thurs, Jul 08, 1999 at 00:17:58 (EDT)
Email Address: MarkPottenger@msn.com

Message:
I started my romance reading with regencies, so I read quite a few romances before I ran into a sex scene. I now describe my tastes as enjoying all levels of sexuality I've read AS LONG AS IT FITS THE STORY! Most Heyer books would not feel right with sex added. Most Quick books would not feel right with sex subtracted. Etc. It is up to the author to convince me that the characters' behavior is appropriate. Failure to do so, with or without sex, is simply poor writing (for me).

Subject: Re: sweet or spicy,,not the key!!!
From: Candy
To: Mark
Date Posted: Thurs, Jul 08, 1999 at 04:00:22 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
See, I agree completely with what you people have said. Sex is truly not a consideration for me when I read a romance, unless its inclusion or exclusion seems forced. I love regencies that barely have the hero and heroine kissing; I also love books with tons and tons of sex, like Dara Joy. But then, most people who object to sex in romances (and I'm talking about sex in ALL romances, not just the awful turkeys) aren't objecting to it based on artistic or aesthetic considerations; most of them are protesting from a moral/religious point of view.

Subject: Re: sweet or spicy,,not the key!!!
From: Karen Wheless
To: TJ
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 09:16:58 (EDT)
Email Address: kwheless@rockland.net

Message:
For someone who doesn't want to read sex scenes, the options are a lot more limited. I'm generalizing, but a lot of Harlequin Romance stories are very blah and light. I read the back blurbs, and I don't see any conflict, the darker side, it's all sweetness and light and 'does he like me'. And yet, if you want to read a darker story that doesn't have sex, you may be out of luck. The same if you want a longer historical with no sex, or basically any longer book that is a straight romance (not suspense), unless maybe you want a book with a strongly Christian focus.

Now, part of this may be the author's choice. The authors who write longer historicals want to write love scenes. But I don't think that's the whole story. I can think of at least one author (Carla Kelly) who has said that she wants to write longer, darker historicals without sex, and she can't find a publisher. I don't think she's the only one. The publishers say, 'it won't sell'. I have my doubts, but maybe they are right, it won't be a blockbuster bestseller. Does every book have to hit the bestseller list? Even when the publishers are trying, there are a lot of books that don't. I prefer books with sex, but I'd rather have Carla Kelly writing romance than deciding to write nonfiction or Westerns because of the sex issue. A terrific book with no love scenes is a hundred times better than a blah book that's really hot. >{? But this is another symptom of the publishing industry. I think the publishers have decided that they will only publish books that have 'blockbuster' appeal. They are moving away from publishing a lot of books that appeal to different segments of the readership, and instead want to just publish a million copies of a few titles. Maybe that's the most 'profitable' way, although I think in the long run they are shooting themselves in the foot. But I think it's very, very bad for the readers. I think that's the heart of a lot of complaints we have - the categories have nothing but baby books, it's hard to find contemporaries with serious storylines, so many romantic suspense books, Regency printruns slashed, etc. A small but devoted audience just isn't enough.


Subject: Re: sweet or spicy,,not the key!!!
From: Stacey
To:
Date Posted: Thurs, Jul 08, 1999 at 16:22:09 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Nobody is forcing anyone to read a spicy romance, but there are those of us who like a certain authors style, characters, wording, dialogue, plot, etc. only to find that we can't buy her books anymore because of the sex scenes. We are not demanding that the genre clean up to suit our religious needs or that authors try to please us all. We just wish that sex scenes were not always a requirement for these popular writers that we all want to enjoy. (And buying the book and just skipping the scenes is not an option if you don't want to send the wrong message to the Publishing industry by continuing to consume them.) If from now on bedroom doors were left completely (and I mean completely) closed in romance novels would sales plummet considerably? Would interest wane somewhat for some? I've already read lots of complaints from readers who are upset with their favorite authors for going mainstream and cutting out the love scenes, yet they also say they just want the writing to be good no matter what the level of spice. ? Finally I wonder if there are any romance authors who feel trapped by sales figures that rest on these sex scenes? Is there just that understanding that sex sells and they have to conform their work to that standard? I'm sure they are not at liberty to say, but I have read interviews where the author said she had a hard time writing sex, but knew it was necessary. Finally, there have been a lot of suggestions on great book with sweet or small love scenes, but have I must have missed the comments on great books with no sex scenes. Maybe where the door just closes and you see them the next morning or where the consummation was passed over totally. Jane Eyre was in no way a 'sweet story', but it was wonderful and there were NO sex scenes.

Subject: Totally confused
From: LLB
To: All
Date Posted: Sat, Jul 10, 1999 at 16:40:20 (EDT)
Email Address: laurie@likesbooks.com

Message:
I've been watching the posts to the board and am totally confused. Here's why - I'm a grown-up, adult woman married to a grown-up adult man. Perhaps it's because he's never felt the need to read Playboy or Penthouse, or, god forbid, Hustler, but if he did, so what? If he got excited looking at a picture, would I be threatened? No more so than I was when we watched a porno movie together so I could finally see what they were all about. And, btw, I wasn't threatened.

Neither is he threatened by my reading romance, or any other sort of reading material, including those with explicit sexuality - when we got married, someone gave me a Playgirl subscription and it never bothered him.

Now, if I were reading a manual on how to make a bomb, I'm sure he'd have some concerns, but in our marriage, we talk about things. I asked him whether or not he imagines other women when we're making love. I have to believe him when he said no, because I have never imagined another man when we are making love. In fact, he looked at me as though I were insane when I asked him the question - we've been together for more than 20 years (since I was 17 and a freshman in college), and when we're in bed together, we're the only two there, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

So I have to wonder about couples where either the husband or the wife feels threatened by what the other reads or looks at. The real kicker is that love scenes in most romances I've read don't take up more than two or three scenes in the whole book. I think there is something else 'underneath' that's going on and I'm too obtuse to figure it out. If reading something gives me pleasure (and I'm not talking about sexual pleasure, but even if I were, the sentence would read the same), my husband cheers me on and is glad I've found something to make me happy.

TTFN, LLB


Subject: Re: Totally confused
From: DD
To: LLB
Date Posted: Sun, Jul 11, 1999 at 01:08:35 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I too am a grown-up, adult woman married to a grown-up, adult man. We are just happen to have different convictions than you. And that is not wrong, nor does it make us childish or immature.

My husband and I vowed to stay faithful to one another in both heart AND mind. The fact that we don't like the other one 'fantasizing' about another is not childish nor insecure. It is what we decided as two grown-up, adult people. Does the mind naturally wander? NATURALLY!!!!!! We just decided not to give it any help or encouragement.

We do not tell each other what to do. We don't have to. We share with each other our feelings and we are considerate of one another. It is not a matter of insecurity. We trust each other very much. But we also have vowed to put the others needs or feelings before our own. And...when BOTH of us are doing this, neither one feels stepped on or taken advantage of, quite the opposite, we feel very loved.

And, quite frankly, even if it was insecurity for some reason on my husbands part. I love him more than romance novels and would not want him to feel that way.

It seems, in todays world, unimaginable to even think of giving up what one enjoys for anyone, leta lone the one you love. It becomes a matter of my wants vs. his wants. That is not what love is about. I don't think anyone would argue that marriage is full of compromise. Two people coming from two different backgrounds, and in my case two different races(Japanese/Caucasion) working together to be together. If my husband, who treats me so wonderfully, says he is uncomfortable( not going through the roof crazy-screaming at me to stop reading that 'silly trash')just a little uncomfortable, I think, no I know, that I love him enough to make him feel comfortable.

Now you can say that if he really loved me he would want me to enjoy whatever I want. This is not realistic(well, maybe in a romance novel^_^) generally speaking. Sometimes what we do hurts our spouse, I want to feel free to share that with my husband just as he wishes to share with me. You can't stuff hurt all the time. Sometimes, or often times, we have to compromise. If it was something we didn't care about or enjoy, it would not be compromise. It would be change due to indifference.

Soooo....please don't be 'Totally Confused'. It would appear that I just have a different marriage than you. You are happy in yours, and I am happy in mine.


Subject: Re: Totally confused
From: LLB
To: DD
Date Posted: Sun, Jul 11, 1999 at 12:44:21 (EDT)
Email Address: laurie@likesbooks.com

Message:
DD - It's hard to tell from your post whether you are calling me selfish or not, but, unfortunately, that's how your comments came across. The marriage I have with my husband continues a relationship we have had for nearly 21 years. I met my husband when I was a 17-year-old college freshman and he was a 23-year-old law student. In essence, I grew up with him. We are both very opinionated people, which is one of the reasons we still have so much spark after so long together. But I cannot fathom either fantasizing about someone else when I am with him nor can I fathom either of us asking the other not do engage in an activity either of us adores. I love to read - he doesn't particularly enjoy that - but he would never ask me not to read, or not to read a particular type of book, just because it doesn't appeal to him.

I think that, most of all, what I am saying, is that neither of us can imagine a written word being a threat to the other. I was raised to treasure the written word, whether it be Jane Austen, Albert Camus, or Julie Garwood. I'm fairly certain my husband was raised the same way. Neither words nor ideas are threating, although what some people choose to do with them or how they choose to interpret them may well be.

TTFN, LLB


Subject: Re: Totally confused
From: DD
To: LLB
Date Posted: Sun, Jul 11, 1999 at 17:32:05 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Laurie-
I did not mean in any way to imply that your were selfish. But just as you and your husband are happy and content, so are my husband and I. I was just explaining a little of why and how we came to those agreements. And just as you are not selfish, we are not threatened. We don't agree with a certain TYPE of novel , not all. I was not implying either, that anyone thinks of someone else while they are with their spouse, only that at some point, while reading the novel they are.

Please accept my aplogies if you felt I was implying any selfishness. I hope, also, that you are not being critical in the way we have chosen to have our marriage, simply because you cannot fathom yours the same way. Truce?*_*


Subject: Re: Totally confused
From: Tanya
To: LLB
Date Posted: Sun, Jul 11, 1999 at 00:49:35 (EDT)
Email Address: tangodiva1@aol.com

Message:
Because I'm single, I am reading with interest all the comments as well. To say that this discussion has been fascinating is an understatement. Not to mention that my knowledge of military time has improved :).

What I can add is this. My best friend is married, and is an avid romance reader. Her husband emphatically DOES NOT have a problem with her reading romance, which she loves to do. She has told me he is very interested in the novels, and they discuss them freely, sex scenes included. They even talk together about possibly writing one together someday. Sound too good to be true? Maybe, they have problems like any other couple, but that kind of openess is refreshing.

As for porn, yes, I've watched porn, and while I don't stand in judgement against it, for me it is not very arousing, mainly because emotions are not involved. Then, there's all the bad film technique that I can't help criticizing (look, what's that boom mike doing in the shot? LOL). But when I watch a beautifully shot, erotic movie like Henry and June, all my senses are engaged.

For all the posters who have been adamant in their problems with sex in romance, I've tried to suggest they try inspirational romance. It seems like common sense to seek out something intrinsicaly suited to your state of mind, rather than trying to change something you don't like.

The only thing that has gotten me riled up is the implication that reading romance is somehow eating up time (re: Where do you find the time? comments [LLB: DD did start a thread on this, but I deleted it to save space]) that could be better spent doing something else, and the supposition that romance readers have a great need to escape reality. I work hard every day, at more than one job. You better believe I need to escape sometime, and I won't apologize for it.


Subject: Re: Totally confused
From: Blythe
To: TJ
Date Posted: Mon, Jul 12, 1999 at 01:41:16 (EDT)
Email Address: blytheb@mindspring.com

Message:
I think you've brought up an interesting point. I have never heard anyone ask my husband how he has time to watch football when we have three kids, but I am CONSTANTLY asked how I find the time to read books, let alone review them. Unfortunately, it is always women, not men, who ask this, and usually it's other women with kids. They then make some comment about how they haven't read a book since their children were born.

I have always felt that I am a better wife, and a better mother, because I take the time to do what I enjoy. I place reading very high on my list of priorities, but that doesn't mean that my children go hungry or go without my attention; I also place a high priority on reading to them. And what better way to teach them to love reading than to model the behavior yourself?

Blythe


Subject: Re: Totally confused
From: Sheryl
To: Robin
Date Posted: Sat, Jul 10, 1999 at 21:28:31 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I would find it very difficult to tolerate my husband reading porn. I doubt I'll ever have to deal with it - my husband counseled for a group of pornaholics, some of whom had raped and some of whom just recognized pornography as a problem in their lives, and he's seen how it can go bad so he's not going to mess with it. He looks askance at my romance reading; he's never forbidden it or anything, but he does gripe that my 'rationalizations' in favor of the sex scenes are the same ones the guys in his group used. He also claims he can open a romance to a certain point near the end and always find a sex scene, which sounds like porn to him.

I can only guess why a guy would feel threatened by his wife's reading romances - but it would make sense to me if a former (or present!) pornaholic found romances threatening, because he'd figure his wife was doing the same thing with romances that he did with porn. And certainly any woman whose husband insisted on bringing his porn mags to bed with them (which some of these guys did, literally laying the open magazine on the pillow beside her head) would be justified in not wanting the guy she's involved with to be involved with porn.

Just my suspicions.

Sheryl


Subject: Re: Totally confused
From: Adele
To: Robin
Date Posted: Sat, Jul 10, 1999 at 21:15:33 (EDT)
Email Address: ronadele@cfw.com

Message:
I agree with all of you. This is historically how women were treated, first by their fathers (frighteningly clear in Anne Perry Victorian mysteries, where she brilliantly describes the 1880s and how Charlotte's father gets so angry with her when she 'sneaks' a peek at the newspaper) and then their husbands. It reminds me of Titanic, when Cal says about Rose, 'I'll have to be minding what she reads from now on...' A great line, and very true to the times. Men nearly always restricted what their wives/daughters were allowed to read. What astonishes me is that this still goes on in the 1990s. It doesn't in my house. If something truly offended my husband I suppose I would listen to his concerns, but I don't honestly expect that this would ever happen.

Subject: Re: Totally confused
From: Carol
To: Adele
Date Posted: Sat, Jul 10, 1999 at 23:55:38 (EDT)
Email Address: carol4yak@mindspring.com

Message:
I can't imagine letting anyone enter my imaginary or fantasy life or feeling that some other person has a right to enter it. I believe this was a major theme in the novel '1984'. In that scenario, your society had total mind control over you. It's not much of a leap to realize that creative people who bring fantasies to life in their own novels or their own paintings would easily be subject to the same restrictions of all of these would-be censors. I also can't imagine telling someone who is not a child (under age 18) what to watch, read, think or imagine. It is hard for me to envision a worse invasion of a person's privacy and ultimate civil liberties. Perhaps some of these people who don't believe in the fundamental liberties that this country has given us ought to try life in a a totalitarian or fascist country for awhile to learn the value of these freedoms. I can only believe they have no idea of every lack of freedom most peoples have suffered from throughout the history of the world. It's a terrible thing to just take freedom for granted that way. I suppose they don't realize that even being able to post to this board is one of their privileges and freedoms.

Subject: Re: Totally confused
From: Stacey
To:
Date Posted: Sun, Jul 11, 1999 at 16:52:49 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
I put all my sexual eggs in the basket of my husband. It is my preference to save up and center in all my sexuality on him. I do not wish to become aroused in some other way and then run to him for satisfaction. Nor would I want to be the receptacle for an arousal that didn't begin with me. It not only keeps things simple, it keeps things fresh. My husband does not feel constrained by this singlemindedness, but agrees completely. In return, his constancy is rewarded by my equal ardor and delighted willingness. Conversely, I do not expect him to perform for 8 hours, three times a night, seven days a week. Basically there is no illusion between us and what we bring to the table is from within in ourselves with no baggage. At least this is what we are working on anyway. We have tried to learn from our mistakes and experience and just enjoy each other fully for what we have that is real - the good, the bad and the saggy. So if I don't want him comparing me physically to some woman who doesn't even really look like that herself in real life then he doesn't want to be compared emotionally to some man who exists only in some other woman's mind. Though I have to say, my husband has never asked me not to read love scenes. He thinks romance novels are just plain stupid on their own merits, so he puzzles - but he doesn't forbid. And he is pleased by my refusal to read things that might cause a sense of dissatisfaction with how things are between us intimately. I believe most of you feel the same way, I have just taken it one step further. But I digress. I am seeing things a little differently now that I have tried to see another point of view. I see that I picked this battle in the wrong place. I have a close relative who loves to read romance and says of love scenes, 'I have been skipping those crappy things for years.'

Subject: Re: Totally confused
From: DD
To: Stacey
Date Posted: Sun, Jul 11, 1999 at 17:45:28 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
Very well written, Stacey, and I agree I too have picked the battle in the wrong place. Although, it doesn't start out as a battle, it just ends up there(smile). Hopefully, this will all end peacefully with not ill feelings. I have none. I hope I haven't created any. I am leaving the board now, but not on a bad note. I have shared enough.*_*

Subject: Re: Totally confused
From: Alison
To: LLB
Date Posted: Sun, Jul 11, 1999 at 18:06:34 (EDT)
Email Address: alhenry@primary.net

Message:
How sad and ironic it is that as romance readers we spend so much time defending this genre from the 'trashy bodice-ripper' mentality, only to spend so much time discussing sex here.

I read romances to escape for a few hours, to immerse myself in the world of dashing heroes and valient heroines. I write romances because I have all these stories in my head just bursting to get out. As for the sex--it's like whipped cream atop a bowl of strawberries. You can enjoy dessert just fine without it, but in the right proportion it makes everything a little sweeter.

How many sexual scenes are there in a 300-400 page book? Enough to overshadow the plot, or the character's budding relationship? I don't think so. I don't understand these people who are so upset about this--do they close their eyes at the movies or while watching television when lovemaking is depicted? Why is the sexual component of a relationship seem so threatening when put on paper? Perhaps if more men were secure enough to admit how important the emotional part of a relationship is they wouldn't have such hangups over reading about the physical part.

The other thing about some of these posts that disturbs me is seeing people give something up just because the men want them to. If what you're being asked to give up is trivial, then why all the fuss? And if reading romance is important to these women, then why not try and work out a compromise with their husbands. Isn't that what a relationship's supposed to be about, anyway?

Just wondering.


Subject: New Column
From: Ava
To: All
Date Posted: Fri, Jul 09, 1999 at 19:22:35 (EDT)
Email Address: Not Provided

Message:
What a thought provoking column, Laurie. As usual, very interesting. And WHEW!, what comments that have been stirred up. I didn't know whether to gag, laugh, or raise my brows frostily and say...'Oh, Really!'

I think womens literature will gain the respect it deserves when we ourselves stop being ashamed of it. When we no longer care what 'someone' may think of us for desiring to read a certain type of book. Whether that 'someone' is man, woman or publishing industry. Money talks. That's a fact we may as well face. If anyone intends to belittle me, as a person, for what I choose to read, that opinion is worthless. After the article published about the murdered romance writer, there is a certain magazine that will never grace my doorway again. I will continue to cast my dollars worth of votes in the manner I choose.

Which brings me to, if I buy a book that offends me so much it makes me mad, I am not above returning it to the store and demanding a refund. Also, I believe in writing to the author of said book and giving her my opinion. It doesn't matter if that may seem a small pebble in the pond. Pebbles can cause ripples. Ripples can instigate change.

Be that as it may..(my personal favorite quote!).. I believe firmly in freedom of speech, press and bodily functions. :-) I like my romance reading burning, hot, spicy, sweet, tepid and luke warm. But as others have said, it MUST be romance. I don't believe that any said reading is an invasion of privacy, as the writing is a figment of an authors imagination, freely (well, maybe not freely!) given and unforced upon us. If one is offended by any material in any book, one does not have to read it. AND, one does NOT have to understand why anyone else would WANT to read it. I hate green olives, I can't understand why anyone could like them. And it would be a perfect waste of my time to try.

I hope that romance authors will continue to write with all the varied, wonderful ways they currently do. I hope they leave no avenue of romance unexplored. And that includes the forgone conclusion to any romance...love making. Whether I like/approve/abhor a certain 'type' of lovemaking does not give me the right to tell someone they should/should not write about it. I always have my vote! My likes are made known when I cast it.

I read a survey once, somewhere, about how that women who are satisfied with their current sexual/love relationships are three times more likely to read romance novels as women who are not satisifed. Hmmmmmm.

If my husband tried to tell me what to read, or not to read, I would suspect his motives. And then I would blindfold him the next time we went to the beach.

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 V (This page derived from comments based on Robin Schone's article)
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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