September 3, 2014

“Romance” novels

Posted in Good reads, Random Interesting Facts tagged , , , , , at 3:32 pm by sanguinemare

I ran across this article on my facebook newsfeed today, titled “Fifty Shades, Twilight, and Teaching Young Women To Desire Abusers“.  The article makes the point that those who read Fifty Shades seemed to have more adverse health behaviors and were more likely to have partners with violent or abusive/unwanted behavioral tendencies.  I would have to say that the study is far from robust, and as it mentions itself, there is no temporal connection – meaning, there’s no way to tell whether it’s because people who are already like that are more drawn to the books, or whether people who read these books are more likely to fall into those behaviors.

Having ready the Twilight series (somewhat out of boredom) in my college years since they were a quick read and my housemate owned them, I don’t think the books are necessarily as bad as the article is portraying.  It’s a bit like how people cry “Stockholm Syndrome” with Disney’s (and theoretically all other versions…) Beauty and the Beast.  I think people are reading much more into it than is there, and is not what the consumers actually get out of the stories.  Although I will gladly eat my words if someone shows me a well-done study showing that kids or young girls have actually been psychologically damaged in looking for partners after consuming those products.

On the other hand, Fifty Shades of Grey is something else all together.  Out of curiosity, I did peruse a couple pages of the book at a bookstore once since it was everywhere for a good year or so… and I literally had to shut the book because I felt like my IQ points were dropping.  As the article mentions, it was basically pornography in written form – no substance, just random (and bolded!  What kind of literary book bolds and italicizes random moans/thoughts??  Which I guess answers the question… it’s not literary fiction at all) words and events thrown together with no rhyme or reason.  And it is almost not surprising then, that consumers of this type of work would gain a false perception of the world, much like the visuals of pornography does.

One of the comments there, written by Amy, said the following:

“Thank you so much for writing this. It breaks my heart to see so many women ensnared by this pornographic trash disguised as literature. As a teenager, I read this sort of garbage and it was incredible damaging and though it has been over a decade since I filled my mind with this disgusting stuff, it nonetheless followed me into my marriage and resulted in issues with my husband and me.

I would also encourage young women to be very discerning regarding romantic movies and even so-called Christian romantic fiction as it is blatantly emotionally pornographic and can be quite damaging as well. The unrealistic expectations, obsessive infatuations portrayed as romantic heroism, etc. are extremely unhealthy to ingest. You are what you read, so read well.”

I really liked what she said.  As someone who also reads fanfiction (not always of mature content) and has read romance novels, I know that I also probably have a somewhat warped view of the world.  Men are not all romantic, there is not necessarily someone who we are destined to be with and who will always be faithful, and of course, there is the depictions of intimacy that probably aren’t what most people experience (at least, not without a lot of practice and working together).  “Emotionally pornographic” is an apt description of the experience. So as Amy said, you are what you read.  So read well.