Thursday, June 2, 2011

Romance Kills and Yet I’m Still Alive

By now you may have heard or read the article called Romance Novels Can Be As Addictive as Pornography by Kimberly Dayer-Giles on the website. (this new site is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) From the article it’s a given fact (because marriage therapists and psychologists have been quoted) that, “women can become as dangerously unbalanced by romances” much like men can when they read or view pornography because of the messages found there.

So, if you’re a woman who reads romances, you’ll have the same reaction men have when they look at pornography. And it seems women read romance because they're dissatisfied in their marriages or romantic relationships.

This article is so insulting, prejudiced and uniformed, and when I read it, I rolled my eyes. I actually feel sad for Kimberly and wonder what she reads for enjoyment, if any. Even though romance novels account for 55% of all popular mass-market fiction sold and amassed almost $1.4 billion last year, romance still gets the bum wrap. If the public reads romance novels in such large quantities and the romance industry is well known for making a great deal of money, why such a stigmatism? Next there will scientific proof in some article or another that romance novels are leading to the downfall of civilization, and the Mayans must have read a romance novel to help them figure out the end of the world that has been forecast to occur in 2012. This has become such a tired debate and argument for those who read romance and constantly have to go up against critics who turn their noses down at the genre I have spent 20 years of my life enjoying.

Want to know something I've been accused of because of my love of romance? A few years ago a friend of mine told me she knew why I read romance novels. She said the sex scenes turn me on so much that I masturbate to them. When she asked me if I did that, my eyes bugged out of my head. I can only speak for myself, but I’ve never done that. Maybe after I read a sex scene, I may have felt a tingle or had a hot flash. Am I ashamed to admit that? No. After two decades of reading romance, the sex scenes are not the only reason I read romance. It all comes down to the deep connection the main couple have and knowing through all the heartache and drama, everything will turn out well in the end for them. I read for the escape from the stress of my every day life. Romance novels give me that escape I so desperately crave, especially on days when I rather stay in bed with the covers over my head.

The reason I started reading romance novels was to fill a void. I was a very lonely girl who had a hard time finding joy in anything. Romance novels gave me an inner peace, a sense of belonging. When things got rough, I opened a romance novel and instantly all my problems and personal inadequacies vanished. As I grew older, I didn’t come to rely on romance novels as a crutch, but as something more. Romance novels empowered me.

Romance novels showed me that I could never settle for less. In romance novels, the heroes are large than life, a perfect specimen of manhood. No real life man could ever compete. The heroines are what most female readers long to be. Even when the heroine goes through the most horrid of circumstances, and even in some cases at the hands of the hero (think back to old school romance) she comes out stronger, wiser and with the affirmation she's special. I imagined myself as some of these heroines because I wanted to believe I was special and someone would love me, faults and all.

No man I meet will compare to the heroes I’ve read in romance novels. And because of that I have refused to settle. Is this a distorted view of life? Perhaps.I've been told many times I should settle and be happy with what comes my way because if I don't, I'll be a lonely old woman with nothing to show for it. I disagree. I have chosen this path I've laid out for myself and I refuse to back down and "settle" because of what others think I want and need. From reading romance novels, I found my inner self-esteem and refuse second best in all things I do. This goes not only in romantic relationships, but as well in professional and other personal aspects of my life.

The article goes on to say things one can do to break their romance novel reading addiction:

One must commit to working on relationships. I'm very committed to my relationships. I've learned many types of commitment in romances, where I’ve read some of the most loving and dedicated relationships not only between the main couple, but between family and their friends. And even if the main couple is lacking a supportive family or friend base, by the time the story comes to an end, they will have formed new ones.

One must find a different hobby or find a new genre to read. After I started reading romance, I opened my mind to reading new genres. I’ve read horror, mystery, science fiction, among other genres. If romance is an addiction compared to pornography, then what about horror? Do those books promote murderous addictive tendencies in people? How about Science Fiction? Do Sci-Fi readers become obsessed with proving that aliens from another planet are in fact truth? If so, then all romance readers must be raging nyphos who need sexually fulfillment to get through the day or they'll faint from the wanting.

Kimberly Sayer Giles goes onto say reading romances stops a person from going out into the world and investing in their life. I can certainly say that even though I read most likely thousands of romance novels, my so-called addiction hasn’t stopped me from enjoying my life. My romance reading “addiction” hasn’t killed me. It has enriched me. Am I pathetic because the majority of the books I read are romance? Some may think so, but you now what, I don't give a rat's ass what they think. Only my opinion matters and counts.

I believe romance novel readers are some of the smartest people I’ve met. They’re intelligent, kind, and witty. An example of their wit is the #romancekills hastag on Twitter. Never have I met a group of people who are so abused by what they read. And yet they don’t listen to the criticism and proudly admit their joy for the romance genre and keep going back for more.

If reading a romance novel gives someone great joy and makes them feel better, why would you frown down upon that?

At least I know, if romance kills, I’ll go out with a big smile on my face because of the ultimate pleasure romance novels have given me.

The happily ever after is my ultimate high, my drug of choice, the addiction I proudly admit I have.

Romance author Christina Dodd may have said it best: "every time a woman reads a romance novel, her lover dies … slowly, and with great pleasure."



Lily of Darkness said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lily of Darkness said...

"You'd think the very thought of a romance writer would bring a smile to people's lips. Ah, how nice. Love. Making love. Laughter. Kissing.
But no, the world is upside down as far as I can see, and romances and their writers are ridiculed, hisses and generally spat upon.
For what reason? One of my favorites is that women who read them might get mixed up about reality and imagine a man is going to rescue them from Life. According to this theory, women are so stupid that they can't tell a story from reality. Is anyone worried that the MEN who read spy thrillers are going to go after their neighbors with an automatic weapon? No, I don't remember anyone thinking that. Nor do I remember anyone worrying about murder mysteries or science fiction. It just seems to be dumb ol' women who might think some gorgeous, thoughtful, giving hunk is going to rescue them.
Honey, if any woman thought a gorgeous hunk was going to rescue her, romance novels wouldn’t be forty percent of the publishing industry."
This is from Rememberance by Jude Deveraux

Bravo Katie. Willfully stupid peopel annoy the crap out of me.

Danielle said...

Fantastic rebuttal, Katie. I found myself nodding in agreement with pretty much everything you wrote.

Literary Cravings said...

Wow, You hit the nail on the head with this post. I totally agree with everything you wrote. Reading romance make me feel the exact same way. Like you said, if reading romance kills, then i'll die a very happy woman.

Susanna Carr said...

Well said! I agree wholeheartedly that reading romance has expanded my world and enriched my life.

Kim in Hawaii said...

Aloha, Katie! Just remember the silent majority who purchase romance books ... we're out there reading what we want!

I share a Hawaiian proverb:

He ma'uka'uka hoe hewa.

"A person from the uplands, unskilled in paddling."

Think of these naysayers as uplanders ... they don't know how to paddle and therefore cannot enjoy the rewards of life beyond the land.

Ava Bleu said...

Pardon my language but she's full of bunk. Frankly, I believe that in the same way society becomes desensitized by the overload of violence and negativity in the media, music and--yes--literature, society can also become sensitized by remembering what love feels like. Heck, I read romance to remind me that people actually feel things. In a day and age when watching the evening news can make you want to throw up or take a shower, I feel bad for any living human who doesn't feel the need to seek out positivity, and that's all a romance is: a story with a friggin' happy ending that tells people that love can win in the end.

Whew! I'll climb off my soapbox now.

Teddy Pig said...

Romance gave me girl cooties. Now I am icky.

orannia said...

Part of me wants to read the article, and part of me thinks it might send my BP soaring! But from your post, it appears that women can become dangerously unbalanced by romance novels... Considering 55% of all books sold are romances there must be a large number of
'unbalanced' women running around....

*heads desk*

KB/KT Grant said...

TP: Are you feeling faint from those cooties?

Debbie S said...

Well I guess Iam unbalanced like all of us romance readers are.I will stand up and say to kimberly .I have a book addiction and proud of it.My grandmother started me reading those oh so hot way back when books at age 11. Today age 52 and still reading romance I have stacks. But still have a life friends.Books do not kill do not have a drug habit and still happy married to the same man.I did not marry till age 30 I waited for the person who I knew was right for me.Books did not stop me from going out having fun.Boy what I learned from them and still do today makes MR happy happy.I had one of them come to my door over the week of easter.I had a book in my hand when I went to the door.I live in TN and bible belt area the look on the faces of the women who saw what I was reading was priceless.I needed to come and talk to them soon ect.So that meant I was unbalanced right because I was not reading the good book.This kind of stuff just burns my butt. Who has the right to tell anyone romance readers are not right in the head,or we have no life. I have both and I read tons of books and yes I had one of lora leighs books in my hand when I went to my door .So I made sure they saw what I was reading and that made it priceless even more since I just got on line today and read what you wrote on thursday.I never knew romance killed a person .I have not killed my husband yet and been reading for years.SO I guess Iam addicted to romance and proud of it so keep us happy KB keep putting the books out for us unbalanced women.