Opinion | Sexuality

Why Romance Novels Aren't Emotional Porn

Just because such novels are about escape doesn't mean they are destructive.

I slink into bed, click on my light, and grab the book. Guilt shakes me a bit. After all I've read about these sorts of stories, I figure by the end I'll hate my husband or hunger for more of the escape they offer.

So why do I risk this? Because the night before, I had sat next to its author at a book-signing. Because she and I chatted and laughed for hours. Because I really liked her. And because I want to find out if it's true: Whether she, as a romance novelist, is really just an emotional pornographer.

The belief that popular romance novels are "pornography for women" has been around a long time. In my tenure as editor of Marriage Partnership magazine a decade ago, we ran stories of women addicted to romance novels, whose obsession with romantic ideals had destroyed their marriages. Other articles have claimed romance novels are sort of a gateway drug to actual porn for women. Others still say that even romantic comedies are a sort of emotional porn. And just a few weeks ago, popular ...

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December

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