Is Romance Reading a Form of Porn for Women?

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I’ve recently been reading some fluffy romance novels for pure entertainment and escapism but I’m starting to wonder if that’s such a good idea.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for entertainment, escapism, and romance.  The novels I’ve read aren’t of the trashy variety.  They’re just unrealistic.

But that’s what they’re supposed to be, right?  I wasn’t expecting realism when I picked them up.  If I want realism, I’ll watch the news.

No, my problem isn’t with the concept of lighthearted reading.  My problem is what that reading might be doing to me.

It seems that when I read romance novels I start to play the “Why doesn’t my husband ever do that for me?” game.  Unfortunately, there is no winner for that game.  So even though I’m a rational adult woman with a good head on her shoulders, I start to get grumpy and discontented.  I thought I was smart enough not to consciously compare my hubby to a fictitious character but evidently I’ve fallen into the trap that so many women do.  I wouldn’t even be aware of it if it weren’t for an interview of Joseph Gordon-Levitt I heard on the radio a few months ago.

In the interview, Gordon-Levitt was promoting his latest film, Don John, about a modern-day Don Juan character who is a porn addict.  Not having seen the movie, I can’t comment on the value or appropriateness of it.  But something the actor said in the interview gave me pause.  He brought up the point that, for men, porn encourages unrealistic expectations in much the same way that romance novels or movies do for women.

Really?!?  Did he say that romance novels are basically “female porn”?  Wow.  I did not see that coming.

In defense of romance novels, I have to say that some of them, especially some of the Catholic romance fiction I’ve read, actually inspire me to be a better wife.  The novels that depict the real-life challenges that marriages face remind me that we’re all human and that marriage isn’t about perfection.  It’s about fidelity and love that continues despite the stresses of daily life.

I don’t know if Joseph Gordon-Levitt is right or wrong, but if reading romance novels makes me even the least little bit discontented with my wonderful, sweet, faithful, handsome, supportive, steadfast husband then I’m officially removing them from my reading list.

What about you?  What do you think?  Do romance novels make you discontented or inspired in your relationship with your spouse?

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Copyright 2014 Laura Nelson

11 Comments
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