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Monday, February 27, 2006

The Great Debate: Is Romance Porn or Isn't it?

This is a debate that's been going on for decades. Ever since the beginning of the romance genre men and women the world over have been arguing about the same thing:

Is romance Porn or Isn't it?

Dylan says:

Being a romance reader, you hear it all.

"What's going on in your book right now? Are they having wild, hot monkey sex in the middle of the barn?"

Or...

"Ewww, you're reading a smutty book, how can you read those horrid books? There's nothing but sex in there, gross!"

You get something along the lines of those sayings, you even get those stunned looks, those horrified looks, the looks of disbelief that you, a woman of worth are reading something as taboo and degrading as a romance novel. And really, can you blame them? We're here to fill you in on why people think romance novels are porn books and why we know you're wrong about them. Let's break it down for you, shall we?

The Covers:

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why romance novels have gotten such a bad rep, or why they've been labeled as "porn books"...I mean, take a good look at what people see when they see a romance novel.





Okay, each of these books have one thing in common. They're all getting down and dirty on the cover. If they're doing that on the cover, can you imagine what they're doing inside the hot damn book? People are easy to judge, they're quick to jump to conclusions about things they really know nothing about. And let's be honest here, before we read our first romance novel, we were thinking the same thing.

There's nothing but dirty sex and bad writing in those things. Why on earth would I want to read something like that? I'd rather be having sex then reading about it.

We've all thought it.

It's alright, you can admit it. We have.

Holly says:

Now, personally, I am not one to judge a book by it's cover. That Nina Bangs book you see above? Yeah, I read that. In public. While sitting alone. And I laughed out loud.

But so many others are. They see the cover of a book and automatically assume it's smut.

I was curious about other people's opinions on romance being porn and found some very interesting views. This one struck me as a bit over the top, but still, does she make a point? How about from a Man's point of view? While I can appreciate that we all have our opinions, I'd like to suggest he try another novel before making a comparison. Jude Deveraux isn't the author I'd like representing the romance genre (A Knight In Shining Armor anyone?).

There are tons of websites making fun of the romance genre, but I found very few that defended it.

I have to be honest and say I've looked at both sides of the debate and put some credence behind the opposing opinions (i.e., that romance is porn). I can see how a man (or even a woman) could consider it such. There are explicit scenes in them. They are very descriptive. Some are even downright raunchy.

But...(yes, of course there's a but...er butt, depending on the context..hehehe)

There's a big difference between straight porn and romance novels. The whole point of a romance novel is....love. There's no such thing as love in porn. It's strictly about sex. Sex, sex and more sex. Sure, there are sex scenes in romance novels, but there are sex scenes in romantic comedies, too and no one would say they're porn.

Take Mr. and Mrs. Smith for example. The movie was basically a romance novel turned movie. And *gasp* there were sex scenes. Maybe they weren't extremely explicit, but they did exsist. Are we saying that movie was porn? I think not.

Grace says:

I started reading romance novels at 14. And it's taken me some time since then, to feel comfortable reading the books I read. Why is that, do you ask? Well..at 14 I couldn't justify spending $20 on a single paperback (hehe, sometimes even now..) so I used to borrow alot of my books from the library if they had it available. I would put a stack of books on hold and pick them up all at once and read to my hearts content. The only thing I dreaded in this process? The part where I actually had to borrow them out.

Each and every time I brought my books to the counter, I felt flushed and embarrassed. At 14 I was bringing covers such as Master of Desire to the table. But what stunned me about the whole experience most, were the reactions I receieved from the librarians who worked there..people who I thought would be most understanding. Boy, was I wrong. Here are some of the reactions I received:

"You'd like to borrow, this?"
"Are you sure you wouldn't like me to find a more appropriate book for you to read?"

and then some not so subtle and nice..

"Does your mother know you're bringing these smutty books home to read?"

and this I overheard from two librarians talking at the counter..
"Girls these days, all they think about is SEX. She's probably only reading it for that." And then she snorted.

How I wish I had the courage to step up at the time and set the ladies straight. I wanted to, oh I really wanted to, but nothing ever came out. And slowly the librarians reactions began to creep into my head, and I started to think, were they right?

One would only need to look as far as some of the titles of books that are released and their explicit front covers to see how these librarians and many many others would come to the conclusion that romance books equate to porn. After all, what would you think if you read these titles off the shelf without knowing anything about them..One Night of Passion, A Well Pleasured Lady, Rules of Passion..wouldn't you think that all there was to these books was sex?

But then I thought about all the wonderful books I've read. Stories which captivated me, characters which took a little piece of my heart, and books which had me staying up all night to finish. I thought about those books like Honor's Splendor by Julie Garwood and Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught which both had a wealth of character development and I just knew..romance books did not equate to porn. These books were about character growth; a journey for both the heroes and heroines and as a reader you were welcomed to this journey to see the H/H meet, to feel the connection that H/H felt for one another, to cheer on their HEA while all other drama erupted around them.

The next time one of the librarians questioned my book choices at the counter, I was firm but polite. I told her: "Yes, my mother knows I read these books. She even comes with me to the book store when I buy these books. And she has no worries because she knows that there's absolutely nothing wrong about reading these." And then I just couldn't help myself, I recommended a Judith McNaught (my latest craze then,) to her and told her to see for herself. LOL.

Now just a few weeks ago, I left one of my books at a friends place..and by the time I returned to pick it up, she had shown it to all our guy mates. Well you could have imagined their reaction to seeing this book cover Night Pleasures. Silly boys that they were, all assumed that I was reading porn. They even referred to my books as "chick porn". I was fully prepared to answer all their questions and defend my love for these books but as it turned out..I didn't have to. I had recommended this book to another friend a few weeks before and she stepped up and defended this book. She set them all straight, telling them that yes..the cover is raunchy, yes, there is sex but does that make it porn? No. And then she went on and on about why anyone in their right mind wouldn't classify it as porn..and her grand finale? She said if anyone still doubted us, that they should read the book for themselves and then compare it to the porn flicks they've seen..and then they'll see that we're right. Gosh, I was so proud of her. LOL.

I think people judge romance books and romance readers simply because they don't know. They don't know what these books are about beyond what they see on the front cover. And I think thats a poor source of judgement. I believe if people who frown upon reading these books gave it a chance and actually read the content, they'd see that they're wrong. They'd see that these aren't "chick porn" books, they're ROMANCE books..and maybe then, romance writers all over will stop being judged and be given the true credit that they deserve.

Isabel Says:

Is Romance Porn?

I will admit, I thought it was. I made fun those book. "Ewww, look at the sex books. Look at the covers" I turned my nose at romance and stuck to Stephen King. Until I picked up The Wedding by Julie Garwood.

I was wrong. Really wrong. So here are my thoughts on the subject.

Porn. What is it? It's sex. Pure sex. I've been told there is a plot, but come on now, it's just sex. We meet the characters and they just go at it. There is no character development, no emotions, no plot. Just sex. Kind of like a one night stand. No emotions, no strings attached. Wham, bam thank you ma'am and move on.

Romance on the other hand is like a long term relationship. Totally different. We meet the characters. We get an insight to who they are, why they do what they do. We watch them grow and change. If the author is good, we'll feel their pain and joy. Yes, there is sex in a romance book. And sometimes it is a bit descriptive. But we're not reading about two people having sex. For the most part we are reading about two people who love each other or are about to realize they love each other. In a romance, sex is what connects the characters, it brings them closer. Which is what sex should do in real life.

It's really easy to get lost in all the hype that surrounds romance novels. It's easy to judge without knowing much about what you're judging so our advice to you is to pick up a romance novel and read it, the entire thing too, and then after you've read it, I'm sure you'll see the error in your previous thoughts, we know that you'll be biting your tongue, because trust us, we've been there and we've done that.

Some authors and books we'd like to recommend are:

Judith McNaught
Julie Garwood
Suzanne Brockmann
Sherrilyn Kenyon
Linda Howard
Jennifer Crusie

In conclusion, a romance novel evolves around two people, it's more than cheesy covers and sappy titles, there's a storyline and characters, lots of characters who you will either come to love by the end of the book or learn to despise with every fiber of your being. A really good romance novel will take you on an emotional rollercoaster and have you thinking about the story and the characters long after you've finished the story. It's more than sex scenes (which are an added bonus yeah, but not the core of the book) and really, the story as a whole is more fulfilling than anything Playboy or Penthouse will ever come up with.

Porn is about sex, but romance, romance is about love.

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