“Great Balls of Fire!”
The words sung by Jerry Lee Lewis could never be truer in our ‘do what you want as long as you’re not hurting anyone’ culture with its focus on sex and novelty. People like to snicker and roll their eyes at men who say “they only read Playboy for the articles” but it seems to me that reading romance novels is exactly the same thing.
Watch This Video (UPDATED)
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Switch the woman in that video for a man and wives everywhere would be appalled! The idea of our guy thinking about doing those kinds of things with another woman — real or imagined, especially when he’s being intimate with us, is one of the most hurtful betrayals there is as far as I’m concerned. The disparity in appearance of the man she’s living with and the man she’s imagining herself with is quite stark.
Why doesn’t that work both ways?
How does consuming this kind of content not affect our perceptions and our attitudes, toward the person we’re living with?
What Are The Consequences?
How do you unconditionally love your spouse when in your head you’re already comparing them with someone who’s stronger, trimmer, taller, a better lover, etc. Even if you never say it — you’re thinking it: I wish you were different. I wish you were more (fill in the blank) because then I’d be happier. Then you could make me happier.
That’s not unconditional love. That’s selfishness.
According to a Barna study commissioned by Josh McDowell Ministry (source here) among those 25 years or older, when asked which actions are always morally wrong, viewing pornography ranked #7 behind “thinking negatively of someone who has a different viewpoint.” Reading pornographic material (ie. erotica or Playboy articles) ranked #9 behind not recycling.
Answering The ‘So What’
I’ve read more than my share of romance novels mostly as a teenager. I’ve read stories with strong, independent, kick-butt heroines who are interested in partners not heroes, but I’ve also read quite a few pirate-bride the-hero-rescues-the-helpless-woman romances as well. Usually the former are disguised as a hero who is in law enforcement: a fire fighter, private investigator, the military, etc. So it feels like he’s more equipped to rescue the girl not that she’s helpless.
I fail to see why this is a welcome escape! Is the reality women really want?
In a May 2014 article in The New Yorker that looked at the history of the romance novel, this stood out to me:
“By 2010, romance novels were the fastest-growing part of the e-book market; Julie Bosman, of the Times, wrote that readers were trading ‘the racy covers of romance novels for the discretion of digital books.'”
Are women really any different?
And men traded the brown-paper-bag-hidden magazines for their online or amateur equivalent that could be consumed any time, any where, in public or private without consequence or public comment. Text is more easily shared and consumed secretly than images or videos. And then E.L. James had her fan fiction published and the world of romance got a little seedier by making erotica mainstream.
“In 2012, the Fifty Shades trilogy, by E. L. James, had more total sales than Harlequin’s North American retail division…A few months after James’s books exploded across the best-seller list, Harlequin released some B.D.S.M. titles (“Bonds of Desire,” “Bonds of Courage”) on its digital imprint, Carina Press.”
Are you tracking with me?
In her book 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage Sheila Wray Gregoire writes of her own impending nuptials, “Sex seemed like such a beautiful promise. Some may have discovered that bliss, but for many of us, reality failed to live up to the promise.”
She goes on to say, “I think we wind up with disappointment in the bedroom because most of us have never really understood the fundamental difference between sex and making love.”
But being present and being content with the partner you have, working to make sex better — that’s hard. It’s easier to escape into a fantasy, into a story, and live that out in our minds than do the hard work in the present.
What do you think?