Thursday, June 2, 2011
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 KSL.com 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."