Blog by VONNIE DAVIS -- International, Award-Winning Romance Author: Adventurous...Humorous...Amorous.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Women Who Read Romances are Not Stupid by Vonnie Davis

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?
  

30 comments:

Liz Flaherty said...

Good one, Vonnie.

AJ Nuest said...

I am standing and applauding here, Vonnie! Amen sister! God, this just riles me up. And what makes it worse is that romance writers take a HUGE amount of flak for supposedly breaking up marriages. I ask you...I ask everyone...if a marriage is so unstable that it can be broken apart by someone reading a book, what in the heck are those people hanging onto anyway? Get real and grow up, already. Stop blaming romance writers for the problems in your marriage and deal with them like adults. I love you and I love this post! Thank you!

Rachel Brimble said...

Love it!! I still have so many men AND women roll their eyes and look disinterested when I tell them what I write…if not that, then they leap on to the question of whether or not I am penning the next 50 Shades…

Give me strength!!

Great post, my lovely :)

Rachel xx

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks, Liz. I resent the attitude that we lead women astray. For Pete's sake!!!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

AJ, can you imagine my shock when I heard my own brother say this during a sermon? I jumped all over him afterward, firing questions. His face turned beet red. Well, no, of course he'd never read a romance. Well, then, what was he doing putting down something he knew nothing about? Of course now that I'm writing them, he's disowned me, but I don't think that's what Christ had in mind.
Thanks for chiming in.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

LOL...oh Rachel, hon, see the double standard. Writing romance is so beneath you, but writing books full of BSDM would make you so utterly cool. If they only knew how hard writing a good romance truly is. We sweat blood over every page, beat our heads over every scene and cry because there's something wrong that we can't put our finger on. When some dingbat says, "Oh, I could write one of those, I just laugh." They have no clue.

Kayelle Allen said...

Puh-leeeze. I've been married 40 years to the same man, and I read and write romance. Stupid? Hello? I own my own business, am ex-military, and run an organization dedicated to helping writers learn how to market their books. What a crock. Go, Vonnie, go! I am with you all the way.

Amy Rumler said...

Very Well Said! Hit it right on the head and did it with style, grace and humor! Applause and Standing Ovation here!

Lilly Gayle said...

Preach on Vonnie! I have been reading romance (with complete sex scenes *gasp*) since I was 17. I married the only man I have ever loved or (done it with) in 1980. I have been a published romance author since 2010, and next week, my husband and I will celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary. And here's the kicker...neither of us have EVER cheated. How do I know he has remained faithful? It's called trust people. And when you lose that trust, it doesn't matter if your man actually cheated or not. The relationship is over. OH, and BTW, looking is not cheating. EVERYONE looks. It's the lusting and wishing for something "better" that gets people in trouble.

Jerrie Alexander said...

Way to speak up, Vonnie. Noting irritates me more than to have somebody roll their eyes when I proudly tell them I write romantic suspense.

Kym Roberts said...

Yay, Vonnie!

You go girl! It's time for the double standards to get checked at the door!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks, Kaylee Allen. This whole idea that romance readers and writers are "less than" really gets my goat.

Janice Hougland said...

Oh boy, Vonnie! You hit my "hot" button with this blog post! I used to keep my reading of romances secret from my family members (both sides, in-laws included) because they thought it was silly or lascivious or something was wrong with my marriage, etc. etc. etc. (gag) I don't keep it secret anymore. Some of them unfriended me from Facebook even because I often post about an author's book I like or an author's contest that i think my friends would like. Of course, they are all about romances. :-) I simply don't care anymore. I think it is their problem they have with romances, not mine. And I think they're missing out. Yea for romances! The love of life and good things! A positive note in our otherwise many-times negative world! Thanks so much for your post, Vonnie. jdh2690@gmail.com

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks, Amy. A man can read a book about building muscles and he's not dumb, but a woman can read a story of love and hope and she is??? Pffftttt.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Lilly, dear, good for you and for your husband that you have a marriage built on trust. Good for us that you write such wonderful romances!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Jerrie, let them roll their eyes. It shows the empty spots behind them. Writing romantic suspense is not easy. They should try to balance the romantic elements with the suspense.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

My sweet Kym. Some things just irk me, like someone trying to make me feel stupid because of what I enjoy reading. If your enjoy gardening, do I have the right to put you down for that? If you enjoy getting grease under your fingernails, do I have the right to call you stupid? I mean, really...

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Janice, it takes courage to show others what we like. Good for you. As for their unfriending you...they were never your true friends to begin with. That's utter foolishness. I'm sorry you've had to go through that. Hugs, hon.

Angela Adams said...

Thanks for the post...

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

You're welcome Angela!

Renee Miller said...

V, what a great post!Such valid points. I'm still chuckling over the idea it ruins marriages.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Renee, I've heard this nonsense on religious TV and radio shows and just want to stomp the thing to pieces. What moronic crap.

Zara Stoneley said...

Love it, Vonnie!

Mona Risk said...

WOW that's a funny post! Love it. Thumb up, Vonnie dear.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thank you, Zara. I am a romance writer and proud of it.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Mona, how nice to see your lovely face. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Kelly Moran said...

Word! Rock on. I wrote a blog post on 10 Things Every Writer Wished You Knew that touches on this subject.

Tell it, sista!

SharonStruth said...

Bravo, Vonnie!!! Yes, if one more person acts like it's mommy porn of 50 Shades of Grey, I might go insane (I think I already am.) The critics have no idea how a good romance requires great writing skill, strong characters and a great story…just like any other novel they pick up. Thanks for saying what needed to be said!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks, Kelly. I am a romance writer and I love my job.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Someone asked me once if what I wrote was like 50 Shades and I said, "Oh my, wouldn't it be fabulous if it was? I'd be a multi-millionaire off of people who like to read that kind of thing in private, hoping no one ever finds out. No, what I write makes up over half of the market, outselling the NYT's best selling list, by far."