The latest danger sweeping the world: novels

Romance novels, specifically.

According to this article — this half-assed, non-researched, badly argued piece of self-promotion — women are “more stimulated by romance than sex, so when they read romantic stories… they can experience the same addicting chemical release as men do” when watching pornography.


“Romance novels can be as addictive as pornography.”

Romance novels revenue topped $1.36 billion last year, while religious, self-help and inspirational books combined sold only $770 million… This seemingly harmless pastime, however, is not as harmless as it may seem.

“In fact, some marriage therapists caution that women can become as dangerously unbalanced by these books’ entrancing but distorted messages as men can be by the distorted messages of pornography,” said best-selling author Shaunti Feldhahn, who studies the differences between men and women.

I’d deconstruct the whole lame article point by unsupported, illogical point, but I’m tired, and reading it only makes me more exhausted. One “expert” cited in the piece is associated with a super-conservative Christian fundamentalist organization. A “pornography addiction counselor” says that “reading romance novels or viewing pornography may eventually lead to an affair for some women,” and, ominously, “Women involved in pornography have a hard time keeping their family together.” Got that? Reading romance = “involvement in porn” = broken families.

And then the author warns that to save themselves from slutitude and insanity (I paraphrase), women should basically stop reading.

But she gives the game away at the end. She suggests that if some gals truly can’t rid themselves of the urge to read, “Try some books on creating healthy relationships or self-improvement.”

Yup. Put down those novels and start reading self-help books instead. And oh, what a surprise: the article’s author is a “life coach.”

Before writing this post I asked a romantic novelist her opinion. She said: “Tut, tut — plus ca change and all that — and what a load of rubbish!”

What she said.

IN THE COMMENTS: Patti, for the win.

15 responses to “The latest danger sweeping the world: novels

  1. This has been a major concern of mine for some time. If my wide even utters the names Sharon Kendrick or Jojo Moyes, I make her sit down and read a Top Gear magazine from cover to cover. 😉

  2. Not saying nothin’, DJ.

  3. “Women, of every age, of every condition, contract and retain a taste for novels …The depravity is universal. … From the mistresses of nobles they descend to the mistresses of snuff-shops – from the belles who read them in town, to the chits who spell them in the country. I have actually seen mothers, in miserable garrets, crying for the imaginary distress of an heroine, while their children were crying for bread: and the mistress of a family losing hours over a novel in the parlour, while her maids, in emulation of the example, were similarly employed in the kitchen. I have seen a scullion-wench with a dishclout in one hand, and a novel in the other, sobbing o’er the sorrows of Julia, or a Jemima.”
    –from journal dated 1796.

    Plus ca change…

  4. susanintoronto

    Amazing. When everyone knows that women who read romance novels actually have BETTER marriages.

  5. My jaw dropped. As bad as pornography? Do romance books denigrate women, robbing them of any shred of dignity, making them objects of lust and abuse? Simply unbelievable.

  6. After all, we can’t allow women to think about what might be, right? Pshaw!

  7. Snart, you are so right! Why, next we may have to deal with women wanting to wear shoes and not be pregnant. And if that happens, where or where will I find a wench to bring me my beer and nachos?

    • Eddie, I’m editing a book right now on the fight to attain rights for women around the world from 1914, led in the beginning by French female lawyers, with the banner raised elsewhere as the decades passed. The battle continues! But, we march onward! (I think the invention of the hats with built-in beer-and-straws came at the same time! when women said, get yer own **** beer, buster!)

      • Come to think of it, the beer does taste better when I put in the effort to get up off my ass and get it myself. And while I’m up, I might as well see if she wants one too.

      • …and maybe I can bring her a romance novel…

  8. … and while you’re up, you may as well: cook the dinner, help the kids with their homework, chop and haul in the firewood, stoke that fire, pop over to the neighbour and see if she needs her colostomy bag changing, whip up a berry soufflé for dessert, go online and pay the bills, fill the car with gas and repair the puncture in the spare… ooh, make sure you leave yourself enough time to pay the babysitter and don’t forget to drop in to the dry-cleaners before they close on your way to work this evening.
    (By God don’t you hate those late night shifts?)

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