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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Leave Romance Novels Alone--A Rant.

I read the following article on the Huffington Post ( ) After seeing it discussed a lot today on Twitter amongst the romance community. If you haven’t seen it, take a look.


Romance novels can be as addictive as pornography

May 30th, 2011 @ 6:07pm

By Kimberly Sayer-Giles, contributor

SALT LAKE CITY -- Romance novels are a booming business. Analysts believe book sales are increasing because romance novels provide a perfect escape during tough times.

Romance novels revenue topped $1.36 billion last year, while religious, self-help and inspirational books combined sold only $770 million. Romance novels accounted for 55 percent of all the popular mass-market fiction sold.

This seemingly harmless pastime, however, is not as harmless as it may seem.

“In fact, some marriage therapists caution that women can become as dangerously unbalanced by these books’ entrancing but distorted messages as men can be by the distorted messages of pornography,” said best-selling author Shaunti Feldhahn, who studies the differences between men and women.

“There is a neurochemical element with men and visual porn, but an emotional element with women and these novels," she wrote.

Men are very visual, and viewing pornography produces a euphoric drug in the body. This drug is the reason pornography becomes addictive. When the natural high wears off, a man will crash and feel depressed (as happens with any drug) and crave another hit.

Women are more stimulated by romance than sex, so when they read romantic stories (and they don’t have to be explicit to work) they can experience the same addicting chemical release as men do.

For many women, these romance novels may be more than a necessity; they may be an addiction -- and Slattery said she is seeing more and more women who are clinically addicted to romantic books.

Many women do not see their love for reading romantic books as a problem, while others are admitting dissatisfaction in their marriages that may stem from reading these types of books.

“For many women, these novels really do promote dissatisfaction with their real relationships,” Slattery wrote.

Women may find their standard for intimacy begins to change over time because may not be able to get as satisfied with their partners as they can reading a book.

Pornography addiction counselor Vickie Burress said reading romance novels or viewing pornography may eventually lead to an affair for some women.

"Women involved in pornography have a hard time keeping their family together,” she said.

Help fighting the addiction

If romance novels are a problem for you, there are things you can do.

First, commit to stop reading any books that are contributing to this problem. Recognizing you have a problem and making a firm commitment to quit is the most important step.

Then, commit to working on your real relationship, if you are in one. Spend alone time with your partner on a regular basis. Invest in help to make that time more enjoyable. Read self-help books together or contact a relationship professional or coach, who can help you to rekindle the flame in your marriage.

If you are not in a real relationship, you may want to focus on finding one. Are you spending time reading instead of getting out there making new friends and meeting people? There are many kinds of social groups you could join.

Find a hobby or other activity you could do instead of reading romantic books. Get some exercise, take up a sport, learn to paint or play a musical instrument.

If you love to read, just choose a different type of book. There are many interesting choices that do not include arousing scenes. Try some books on creating healthy relationships or self-improvement.

There is a wonderful real world out there to explore. Get out there and invest in your real life.

Kimberly Sayer Giles is the founder and president of LDS Life Coaching and and was named one of the top 20 Advice Guru's in the country by GMA. She is a popular speaker and life coach who resides in Bountiful Utah.

Okay? We’ve all read the article now? Good. I don’t usually respond to articles by blogging about them. Oh sure, occasionally I rant on Facebook or Twitter. More of then that, I let my family hear me roar until I feel better or they’ve had enough, whichever comes first. But today, I’ve decided to write a blog post about it.

Like everything else in this blog, which is entitled Rebecca’s Random Musings, these are my opinions and should be taken as such. Also, I have been known, on more than one occasion, to change my mind about things. I think most of us, if we are honest, do this a lot. Or at least I hope people do.

Lately, I feel like every time I turn around someone is attacking Romance Writers or Romance Books. Just a few weeks ago, I was hugely impressed by the outcry of the Romance Community on the side of a woman who writes erotic romance novels. Some local people had found out that she wrote for Ellora’s Cave, a publisher whose work I love to read and who publishes some of my favorite authors, and had decided to petition to have her removed from her teaching job because she must be looking at their children in inappropriate ways.

There was so much wrong with their arguments and I really don’t want to rehash the whole thing right now. From what I understand, their witch-hunt didn’t go very far and I am very grateful to hear that.

But here we are today. Romance Novels are helping to destroy marriages. Really? You’re serious about this?

Let me ask you a question. How many of you have heard about a couple that divorced because the husband looked at porn? It might just be me, but I have never heard a friend, colleague, or acquaintance tell me that they divorced because their significant other looked at too much porn.

But I digress. Because the argument here—that Romance Novels are akin to Porn—just doesn’t hold up for me.

Let’s talk about what a Romance Novel really is. It’s a Novel. It is words on a page put together by an author, or sometimes authors, for the purpose of entertainment. For the most part escapism, but I would hasten to say that I have read several highly researched Romance Novels that I would hold up against books I read in college where I graduated with a degree in English.

So why is everyone always up in arms about the Romance Novel? I don’t hear people getting that upset about say Horror Books or Suspense Novels or the books my parents like that usually have an old, worn out former police officer chasing serial killers all over the country? Why decide to blame the Romance Novel for the breaking down of marriages?

Oh yes, I know. Sex. Yes I said it. The three little letters that makes some people really uncomfortable. Sex. Sex. Sex.

If a woman is reading a book that has SEX in it than she must somehow be causing a problem with her marriage. She must somehow be neglecting her husband’s real needs because she is reading about Vampires falling in love. She must not be fulfilling her real life obligations because she is reading about SEX.

Most of the people I know who read Romance Novels do not read them for the sex. Oh sure. They like it in there. It’s fun to read the smutty words telling you about adventurous things you would not or possibly could not get away with in real life.

They read the books because they believe in love. And who believes in love? Mostly its people who are, in fact, in love. People who don’t believe in love are not, in general, reading romance novels. Why would they waste their time? They don’t like the subject.

But all of that aside, I also can’t help but wonder if we spend so much time attacking Romance Novels because women read them. And anything a Woman does, even in 2011, that somehow takes her away from what is considered her essential roles: family, work, responsibility—that must be to blame for the breakup of her marriage. It’s a problem that she spends so much time reading? She should—what was it the article said—take up a hobby? It won’t be a problem for her marriage if she spends too much time collecting stamps? Somehow that won’t break up her marriage?

This self-proclaimed romance writer and reader is rolling her eyes today. Come on, get a life.

“Oh you know John and Jane, their marriage broke up because Jane read too many Romance Novels.”


  1. Omg... really? This has got to be one of the lamest... immature... brainless things I have seen. You tell them! And I am ranting right along side you!

  2. People who aren't grounded in realty don't need fiction to validate their lack of clarity. Romance novels are a wonderful bit of escapism...just like a hot bath or a cup of tea. Jeepers.

  3. Really. I mean come on. You can get addicted to TV and video games. Yeah the do write about it. Just another excuse for peoples actions. If we do something wrong we have no one to blame for it but ourselves. I love how they say read a "self-help" book. Fudge no.
    Romance novels that I write and read are my self help. Writing is a wonderful outlet for the writers, and if you are happy in your marriage as I am, then when you read one of these books it makes you want your partner more. *wink
    I do not have time to read as much as I would like, but my addiction is with the Romance community. I have met the most wonderful authors and readers on my blog, twitter, facebook and at events.
    This article can bite me. LOL

  4. LOL. If our culture's problem is that people are just reading too much, I say bring it on.

    Well, plus there's all the bad science in the article (bad as in inaccurate and/or wrong).

    Though I love the expansion of "addiction" to "anything anybody does a lot that I don't like."

    The author herself though makes it clear the issue is mostly sex because she says you can choose books that "don't include arousing scenes."

    Because of that I wonder how much of this is just an extrapolation of her religious beliefs. I have many LDS friends, and many (not all though) of them are uncomfortable with any sort of depiction in sex in media.

    I respect that those are their beliefs, but I'm not exactly going to think their opinions on how sex may or may not damage society are objective or grounded in deep scientific concern.

    This makes me wonder though if the author objects to sweet romance. I find it hard to see anyone reading a Bonnet book and think that is going to somehow undermine a person's marriage even if the person is reading twenty of them a day. :/

    "That Zachariah! He's always keeping a respectful distance, never raising his voice in anger, and going to Church on Sunday. He sets up an unachievable standard for real men!"

  5. Reading? Reading is the problem? I have already ranted on twitter but I thought I would say something here too.

    WTH. You can read a book on violence it be called the greatest book of the century. (yea Dragon Tattoo Trilogy that I loved yet there is WAY too much violence and yes sex for some people I am talking to you)

    YET when you read a book written by a woman made for a woman it must be the end of the world. Yes Rebecca since you and I are of an age where we should be breeding and taking care of our young NOT writing SMUT!

    We cannot write about alpha and beta heroes that may comfort and take care of us but still allow us to be independent - because that doesn't happen in real life.

    You can't write about sex either because then a man might have to live up to expectations rather then just "Wham Bam..."

    And if you are an avid reader you also realize that books are books and you have to be accountable in your marriage - but where is the evidence that those two are connected?

    This article and those like them disgust me. People are out there READING and yet its horrible apparently.


    I am off to go write more of my SMUT and then I am going to go read a book - because its SMUT release day for some of my favorite WOMEN authors and I am going to support them!

  6. I like to mainline my romance books.

    First, I cook them in a spoon, mix them with a little crack, though.

    I have some great product coming in. Smuggled in from the Golden Triangle. Last week, stupid DEA agents raided my supplier, though.

    He lost 50 kilos of Harlequin categories, including some Mills & Boon, and 50 kilos of some St. Martin's Press.

    Now, I'm on the floor, curled up in withdraw. I'm thinking about robbing a library to get my fix.

  7. This is self promotion on the part of someone trying to sell her self-help book. Her theory is in no way based in fact.
    Not to mention, last I heard, #1 cause of divorce is infedelity. I'm sorry. How can you blame that on Rom novels where affairs are a big no-no?
    There's so much wrong with that mess… it's hard to know where to start.

  8. What a far-fetched theory! Where did she get that from? Jupiter?

    As a writer of romance and a reader of romance, I can go on the box to say reading romance has saved my marriage in many instances! Why, because my husband is a typical pig-headed man who drives me insane at times. Yet, in the romance I write and read, the hero is a man with flaws but he loves his woman and is not always a jackass. And that is close to my own reality!

    You said it, Rebecca! Women cannot be allowed an outlet, and *gasp*, something that involves sex? Oh shame!