Kelley asked me to check this out. Kelley either really values my opinion or is engaged in psychological warfare to destroy me. Given what zie linked to, it's a little hard to tell. ;)
The question at hand is Is Chick Lit Emotional Porn.
Well, I think-
No, fuck that. The title alone is too much to gloss over.
a. Chick Lit.
Allow me to spare you at least 9 hours towards a degree in English literature: books written by men are literature, books written by women using male pseudonyms or androgynous names may also be literature, books written by women using an obviously female name are chick lit. Because while men are human beings and male experiences and male feelings are universal, women and their experiences and feelings are only suitable for a ghetto decorated in pink, lace and stiletto shoes. (Seriously, check out the covers of books written by women.)
b. Emotional Porn.
Fuck if I know what that means. Okay, I know what porn is. I worked at a porn website (well, actually we ran 30 of them) way back when people paid for porn online. Yes, children, I'm ancient. Emotional porn? I . . . um . . . now I'm picturing someone furiously fapping to pictures of people experiencing emotions.
Inside my head is a scary place.
So, okay, before we get into the article proper (are you happy, yet, Kelley? are you entertained? THIS IS . . . never mind.), full disclosure time: my mother wrote romance novels for over 30 years. She was reasonably popular at one point, and at her height was writing three in a year. My mother has, btw, a master's degree in English literature. Romance novels were the reading equivalent of snacks to her, to be consumed between Tolstoy and Orwell. A palate cleanser, if you will.
Once she had children, she no longer had the time to devote to such heavy reading and fell back entirely on romance novels for entertainment. She got so sick of the plot driven characters and other such crimes of writing that she started writing her own. Thus was a career born.
So, do I think romance novels are literature? Eh. Does everything have to be deeply meaningful all the damn time? Is there no room for movies in which shit blows up and that's the plot? I guess it depends upon who's answering the question. Sometimes I want to to experience illumination, sometimes I just want to read how Harry and Sally got to the fucking.
Okay, full, full disclosure: I'm not into visual porn, but I am into written porn. So, there you have that.
So, anyway, what was I- oh yeah, the article. Here, I'll link it again.
On the nightstand of a woman you know, there’s a Christian romance novel and a Bible. Does that matter?
Matter to whom? Also, read that in Phil Hartmann's Troy McClure voice and tell me that ain't hilarious.
A new book by Boston University researchers Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, A Billion Wicked Thoughts, offers a disturbing look at how Internet search engines reveal much about the sexual and emotional desires of men and women, and how they differ. The research confirms in some ways what almost everyone knows: men are visually engaged, attracted to youth and sexual novelty, and are thus vulnerable to visual pornography.
The research explores further what the commercialized romance industry tells us about what it means to be a woman (at least in a fallen world). Women are much less likely to be drawn to visual pornography (although more do so than one might think), but are quite likely to be involved in such media as Internet romantic fiction or the old-fashioned romance novel.
The romance novel follows, the researchers argue, a typical pattern. The hero is almost never, they say, a blue collar worker, a bureaucrat, or someone in the traditionally feminine occupations (hairdresser, kindergarten teacher, etc.). He is competent, confident and usually wealthy. He is, in short, an alpha male.
But, they argue, this alpha male is typically a rough character who learns to be tamed into kindness—kindness to her. Thus, you wind up with not only the strong silent cowboys with the soft interior life, but also vampires and werewolves and Vikings.
And all of this is moving toward the climax of the romance story: the “happily-ever-after.”
Okay . . . so romance novels are female porn because women consume, or admit to consuming, more romance novels than porn. I . . . what?
Let me try again. Romance novels tell you the true psyche of a woman because the protagonists are wealthy Greek shipping magnates (this actually does come up a lot in Harlequins. you'd think Greece is entirely populated by wealthy shipping magnates. sexy wealthy shipping magnates. with secret hearts of gold!) and vampires instead of guys you meet in line at Walmart.
Here, let me tell you a little secret about writing: nobody wants to read boring shit. There's a reason writers don't include every detail of opening every door or a description of every breath the protagonists take: because it's boring. If I want boring shit, I'll just live my life. I'm not going to pay to read it.
Heroes are sexy, powerful and wealthy because that's exciting. Following construction worker Joe throughout his day as he runs errands and cares for his lawn, not so much. I've got a demon assisting a nephalim in stopping the apocalypse in my book, fighting archangels and the Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the Messiah! That's exciting right there! (pro tip: if you run out of plot, blow some shit up. that's what i'll be doing.)
Look, the Romance Novel Panic(tm) is not new. My mother tells people about her writing with a note of defiance because she's gotten so much shit* for writing romance novels. The argument is basically this: women who read romance novels will develop a skewed vision of love that will cause problems in their marriages because real relationships are nothing like what is portrayed in romance novels.
Because women are so fucking stupid they can't tell the difference between fiction and reality. Our pretty little heads just don't contain the necessary grey matter to make the distinction. We need to be protected from our own childlike naivete.
Wait, holy fuck, those researchers are relating romance novels to evo psych. Apparently, sexy Greek shipping magnates with secret hearts of gold represent Darwinian [mumblemumblesputter]. Wow.
Fuck off on that, too.
*apparently, that's my word for today.