Hang on to your flip-flops, ladies, because I'm dragging out my soapbox
There's been a concept bandied about for some time now that irritates me, and you know how I get. Once something starts bugging me, I can't keep my mouth shut for long. I don't know who started this nonsense, but since I've heard a few preachers "preach the word" into their microphones, I can only guess. (A disclaimer here folks: my brother, an uncle and my late grandfather are/were all preachers). A small part of me will always belong to the religious right and a larger part of me will always think things through for myself. Because I'm of the generation who instinctively thinks, Oh yeah? Who are you and why should I listen to anything you have to say? So here we go...
FACT: Reading romance will NOT break up your happy home.
I've also read books on gardening and I can't grow a patch of veggies to save my life. I've read books on cutting hair and, believe me when I say, you do NOT want me near your tresses with a pair of scissors. I love reading David Morell's action, spy thrillers and I have yet to want to kill somebody. I've read books on self-improvement, yet I still feel inadequate in many ways. So WHY would reading a romance make me want to leave my husband and home? Who comes up with this nonsense?
FACT: If you write romance, you are NOT a lonely, frustrated woman who can't get a man on your own, which is why you invent them in your books.
Pardon me while I laugh until my husband walks in to see what craziness I'm up to now. Have the men, who've made remarks like this, looked at pictures of authors at writers' conventions? There are plenty of hottie writers out there. Not here at this laptop, you understand, but I'm 66 and have been unmercifully attacked by bags of Oreos and potato chips over the years. I've tried to outrun them, I really have.
FACT: If you write romance, you are NOT writing "mommy porn."
The very definition of porn is fluid. It has changed over the years--and will continue to change. We were told if we listened to Elvis, the pelvis, we'd go to hell. In 1969, when Bob Dylan, one of my favs as a teenager, wrote and sang "Lay, Lady, Lay....lay across my big brass bed," parents went nuts! Now we think nothing of the lyrics. As an older woman I do admit to getting a little tense over song lyrics like "do it in the butt all night long," but, hey, that's me. Remember the collective gasp in the movie theaters when Rhett Butler said, "Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a damn?" Now if a scene doesn't contain the phrase "mother f_cker", the writer wasn't doing his or her job. I've been reading romances for 50 years and have seen trends change. A chaste kiss at the end of the book has morphed to implied sex to detailed wild sex to kinky sex. And yet I've remained faithful to my husband as I've read AND written all the different varieties.
Now, ladies, can we talk a minute or ten about the men?
FACT: Men love to look. Is that cheating?
Next time you're out in a crowd or at the mall, watch the men watch the women. Even the men traipsing along with the wife and kids will turn their heads to get a gander at the back end of a woman in a tight pair of jeans or a short skirt. Some guys do it overtly...and some have perfected the scratch their neck as they turn their head to take another look. Now, would one say they are about to leave their wives? No, they just enjoy looking.
FACT: Men like to read and watch porn on the Internet. Are they packing their bags?
Men are visual creatures. Many--not all--enjoy what we've labeled as porno magazines. Many men enjoy watching women giving oral sex and having anal sex on the Internet. It arouses them, yet they are emotionally removed. Now, this is one of the differences between the sexes. We can read a good romance and cry. Men can watch a woman have sex every which way and feel their reaction only in their pants, not their hearts. It's sexual wiring, folks.
FACT: A man watching a woman in a skimpy bikini is not porn, but a woman looking at a ripped man in his boxers or jeans hung low is.
I don't even want to discuss the double standard on this. Okay, maybe I will. Does the man act on seeing a bikini-clad woman? Not if he's mentally healthy. Does a woman act on seeing a few pics of guys with ripped abs? Okay, she may lean against the washer while she's doing laundry, but she's too busy with kids, cleaning, laundry, cooking and saving enough energy to have monkey sex with her mate after devouring a few pages of her latest romance.
Now, having said all that. Here's what really, really bugs me about this whole "women who read romance are prone to leave their husbands" concept.
It implies we are stupid.
It implies we cannot think for ourselves.
It implies we are so easily swayed that reading a certain type of book will turn us into wanton women who will leave our hard-working men for fictional men with six-pack abs who can make love like no body's business. As if I'd read a book on brain surgery, I'd rush out to buy a couple scalpels, grab the first person I saw and start operating on them. Same reasoning process...right? That whatever I read, I will automatically want to do. Get a grip, people!
It implies writers of romance can not research, develop and weave an interesting, if not educational story, which revolves around a romantic relationship.
It also implies that when some men--not all, now, but those who are more conservative or insecure than others--realize they can't control women's likes, our actions, our creativity...by golly, even our thoughts...they seek to belittle us by turning whatever it is we DO enjoy into something utterly degrading. Thus, "If you read romance, you're stupid" philosophy. Kinda leaves a bad taste in your mouth, doesn't it?