Romance Novels Are Too Dangerous for Women


love written on bookWomen who read romance novels have an unrealistic idea of what love is. As a result, they're more likely to engage in risky sex. At least that's what's been published in Britian's Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care. Their latest study blames erotic fiction for endangering the emotional and sexual well-being of women worldwide. 

Give me a break and a side of credit too. Romance novels don't provide women with unrealistic expectations of love any more than greeting card commercials or sappy songs by Bryan Adams. Do you think we just landed yesterday?

British advice columnist and relationship psychologist Susan Quilliam might actually think we did (land yesterday). Her claims? Romance novels create the illusion of women being awakened to love and not aware of their own needs. They encourage women to have ravenous, unsafe, cheating heart sex. 

Something tells me she needs an orgasm. 

Smart bitches read trashy books, and they read them because they enjoy being swept away. It is erotic fiction after all, not erotic fact. Romance novels are for escapism, same as going to the movies. And even if a romance junkie finds lust-filled men sexy, most smart-enough women know that Prince Charming does not appear with shoe, pumpkin carriage, and the happily ever after.

Worse yet, the study (published a few weeks ago) uses, as evidence, 78 examples of romance novels published between the years 1981-1996. The romance novel industry raked in upwards of $1.36 billion in sales in 2009, but yet, the most recent research cited is still 15 years old! 

Romance novels do fall short in dealing with the real ups and downs in romance. But that's because they're supposed to.

Does a romance novel affect how you perceive your real life relationship?

Image via Nina Matthews Photography/Flickr

sex, erotica


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SueOr... SueOrder66

Yes, I agree.  When I was reading romance novels I had terribly unhealthy romantic relationships.  Then I realized how bad they were for me and stopped and now have been in a wonderful marriage for the past decade.  

That being said, I've come to realize that I am far too easily influenced and have to be careful with that.  For example, I used to read the Stephanie Plum novels and gained several pounds while doing so.  (The heroine is always eating Entenmanns, donuts, cake, etc).  Subsequently I was always craving coffee cake and other sweets.  Again, I realized this, stopped reading the books and then stopped craving or eating the junk.  

So I don't think that romance novels are bad for all women.  I'm sure that many read them without (consciously or subconsciously) buying into the ideals of love represented in those books.  But I have learned that I am susceptible and thus need to be even more responsible about what I choose to read.

nonmember avatar Cynthia

I LOVE reading "smut" books! Do they skew my real life relationships....NO! I've been happily married for over 11 years and with him for over 14 years. Can I see how some people could be influenced, absolutely, but like the previous poster said, you need to know your limits-no different than knowing drinking or gambling limits. I read around 15 of them a month because they're a wonderful little escape from my daily life raising 3 kids as a full time mom. It's also way better to read some smut books than watch reality tv or much of the other crap on tv-at least I'm reading and setting a good example of this for my children. I'm also able to read while hanging in the yard or at the playground with my kids-can't and shouldn't do that with tv!

Opal_... Opal_skye86

I agree with Cynthia. I love to read, and I switch it up, but they don't give me unrealistic expectations.. if anything.g it just gives me ideas of things to do. Also helpful when we are not getting along. Escapism is only momentary, but it's something pleasant to think on, although one should definitely be able to distinguish fiction from reality.

GlowW... GlowWorm889

I love those trashy romance novels. My friend got me addicted in high school. I like them because I love romance, they're very formulaic and predictable (unlike my life), they're really quick reads, and they all have happy endings. They're kind of like grown-up fairy tales, in a way. I don't assume that this is fact, since I've yet to meet a man anything like the ones I read in the books...or a woman, for that matter... It's just nice to fantasize about having the perfect love life before returning to real life.

Not to mention most of them are actually very well written. They get a bad rap for having sappy dialogue and weird euphemisms, but the characterization and writing are excellent. Nora Roberts, for example, has published 209 novels (not counting the mystery/romace ones under J.D. Robb), and though I haven't read all of them, I have read quite a few, and I've never found two characters that are written alike or two plots that are alike, other than having the standard Harlequinn novel formula.

Fancy... Fancy-Schmancy

C'mon, they are using books from two decades ago!  This form of writing has moved on, just like mysteries and SF.  We might have 'bad boy heroes' but they aren't sexist beasts like they were in the early '80's.  Now our heroines kick butt and take names, only to find a man who loves them for those qualities as well as for their take-no-prisoners sexuality. (Disclosure: I've written over 25 romance novels in several genres, from historicals to fantasy.)

There was study a couple of years ago that showed women who read romance novels have more sex (with their spouses) than women who don't...that's not a bad thing.

And the so-called 'formula' isn't one Romance novelists invented.  If you look back at fairy tales or the more romantic myths, you'll find it resonating through the centuries for the very good reason that it works. If you want to look back that far, the 'formula' is the same as the Story of Ruth in the Bible.  Woman meets man, there are difficulties, happy ending. Esther is the same 'formula' but among the upper crust!

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