First off, Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends. In Canada, we celebrated our Thanksgiving more than a month ago, with all of the turkey and none of the great sales. I’m thankful that you and I live in countries where we are free to express our thoughts and opinions, and where it is totally okay for women to write books with hot sex. So while you’re waiting for that bird to cook, here’s some food for thought.
I was visiting another blog last week when I came across a post about romance novels being ‘porn for women’. I’ve heard the term ‘Mommy porn’ as well, especially in relation to a certain colorful trilogy, and I’ve heard the term used to describe romance novels in general. Usually women are quick to deny it. After all, women don’t like porn. Do we?
First, let’s look at the definition of pornography. According to Merriam-Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pornography), pornography can be defined as:
1: the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement; 2: material (as books or a photograph) that depicts erotic behavior and is intended to cause sexual excitement; 3: the depiction of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction <the pornography of violence>
Many erotic romance novels would certainly be considered pornography under this definition. I see you waving your hands and I know you’re going to say that erotic romance novels are about telling a story, not just about sexual arousal. But I dare you to read a story-driven erotic romance and NOT be aroused during the sex scenes. The reason we write these scenes is to cause sexual excitement. They are certainly not often necessary from a plot perspective, although there are some exceptions. Let’s be honest. Readers (and I certainly include myself here) pick up the erotic romance novels because they enjoy being sexually aroused by them. If we didn’t want to get all hot and bothered, we’d pick up the sweet romances instead. A mainstream romance does not fit the definition of porn. It may have occasional scenes of a more sensual nature but not of the sort most people would be completely turned on by.
So here is another way of looking at it. My husband has a huge collection of porn. And he’s got the whole range of stuff from VHS to DVD to books to magazines (sorry honey, you know I love you!). I know what porn is. My standard of judging whether something is pornographic is to ask myself, “Would I want my children finding this?” If the answer is no, it’s porn. We make sure to keep hubby’s stuff well hidden. Would I care if my kids picked up your average Harlequin? No. Not that my eleven year old son would. When I told him I was having books published, the conversation went something like this:
Me: I have a book for grown-ups being published.
Him: Cool! Since you’re an author, can you introduce me to J.K. Rowling?
Me: Writing a book doesn’t automatically put you on speaking terms with every other author.
Him: Well can I read your book?
Me: Absolutely not.
Him: Can I read it when I’m 40?
Me: I guess I can’t stop you then.
Him: What kind of book is it?
Me: A romance.
Him: Oh. (noise of disgust) Well never mind then.
But I digress. Or do I? If my standard for pornography is its suitability for my kids, then my book most certainly is pornographic. I don’t even want them to see the cover! Nor do I want them to find my collection of ebooks, because they aren’t appropriate. Period.
So now that I’ve established that erotic romance (at least the sort I read and write) is pornographic, let’s discuss its suitability for women. Well, duh! Of course it’s for women! And for you hand wavers from before, this is where the story aspect comes into play. I love a good romance story. Many women I talk to love romance. I first read romance when I picked up my mom’s books at home. (Corollary standard for porn: Would I want my mother finding it? Answer: NO!) But as I said before, if it was only about the romance story, erotic romance as a genre, would not exist.
So if you are looking for something sexually arousing, why not try watching porn, too? There really is something for everyone out there. Just as the romance novels have a heat rating, porn has different ratings, too. It doesn’t have to be all hard core gang banging. There is an increasing amount of “couples” porn out there – all the hot sex (which will appeal to the guys) but with the important story included for the girls. Admittedly, some films do this better than others, but so do some books. And while you’re busy watching the porn, give your hubby a book or two. Mine enjoys them because there’s lots of hot sex, but enough of a story to keep it interesting. We’re both finding that my writing ‘dirty fuck books’ has side benefits and me watching porn certainly helps with the book ‘research’.
But the most important reason for sharing your interests is the connections you can make as a couple. It is a starting point for those discussions about sex that are sometimes very awkward. How do you tell him you’re ready to try some BDSM? Hand him 50 Shades, with your favourite parts highlighted. Or watch a movie and tell him which parts you like best. It certainly won’t make things dull! And it may just give you 50 things to be thankful for.
Click here to read Melodee Aaron’s review of Windswept!