Hello! Many of you don't know me so please, let me introduce myself. My name is R. Renee Vickers (please call me Renee) and I'm one of the newer members at ERAuthors and a soon to be published author at Noble Romance Publications. My debut book, Sly's Surrender is a M/F BDSM short story due to be released on November 21st. To say the least I'm very excited about its publication, the success I've seen so far and the toasty reception from fellow authors.
I'm honored to be posting here today about a topic that's close to the heart of many of the writers in the Erotic Romance genre.
A few months back, a friend brought to my attention several high profile articles talking about the supposed degrading effects of the Erotic Romance genre on marriage and life in general. One of these articles asserted that women who read erotic romance stories become so entranced with the fictional hunks they find their own real-life spouse less appealing. Fellow author, J.S. Wayne provided the following link to one of the articles in question. (http://ladeetdareads.wordpress.com/2011/06/07/romance-book-addiction/)
If you follow the link provided in the blog you'll be led to an article highlighting several professionals in the psychiatric and counseling fields discussing the risks women face when exposed to pornography including addiction. They include the Erotic Romance genre of fiction in the pornographic category. It's not difficult, in fact, to do an internet and turn up a plethora of sites discussing the potential consequences women would face should they be introduced to the Romance and Erotic Romance genres. Some of the potential consequences they discuss include (but are not limited to): addiction to pornography, expectation of unrealistic romantic situations, dissatisfaction with spouses, affairs, and becoming incapable of maintaining healthy relationships.
Sadly there is no shortage of articles arguing against the erotic romance genre which imply women who are exposed to the erotic romance genre are at a high risk of becoming delusional.
While the thought we romance writers are so powerful we could snooker the skirts off a nun is humorous, it’s simply not true. Think about it for a moment. If anti-Erotic Romance genre assertions were true, readers of fiction in general would be boarding their houses up in preparation for the upcoming zombie apocalypse; they’d be readying their flight plans to Never Never Land, or perhaps sleeping with a garlic garland in an attempt to ward off stalking vampires. That last one would be a marriage killer for sure, far more than reading a little naughty tidbit.
An article written by Catherine Bennett, highlights flaws in the accusations of the anti-Erotic Romance advocates. “…but as Quilliam points out, it is the very escapism of romantic fiction that fosters psychosexual problems." (the article she's discussing can be found at: http://jfprhc.bmj.com/content/37/3/179.full?sid=7afe8cdb-1d8e-4428-b592-3f88054cb6ad)
Bennett continues, "While," Quilliam allows, "there is much more real-life awareness nowadays – female characters have jobs, male characters are sensitive and sensible, both face challenges such as addiction, disability, single parenting or domestic violence – still a deep strand of escapism, perfectionism and idealisation runs through the genre.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jul/10/catherine-benett-books-propaganda-libraries)
In this article Bennett specifically addresses Quilliam’s arguments that in addition to fostering unhealthy addictive traits in our readers, writers in this genre fail to educate and influence their readers in the use of safe sex practices.
It’s laughable that someone would go so far out of their way to propose that a genre is responsible for the ails of society, but it’s really not funny. Saying that those who read erotic romance become so enthralled with the subject matter they find their spouses less satisfying, or completely forget there are such things as sexually transmitted diseases or unexpected pregnancies, is a sizable insult.
What they’re saying is that Jane Doe was smart enough to marry John Smith but as their happy marriage wore on, Jane got led astray by the big bad wolf who sucked her brain out with a straw. Then, returning to John, she realized she liked the wolf better. The truth of the matter more likely is, Jane and John had children (let’s name them Jack and Jill), each worked a full time job, stressed over looming bills, mortgage payments, and obscene work deadlines and realized the love was no longer there.
Blaming problems on outside sources is easy, but not reality. Life is not easy. It’s painful, difficult, and answers are not that simple. And our readers are not stupid.
Make no mistake, I can say with confidence that writers in this genre are also readers. If anyone knows how the material affects the consumers, it’s the writers. I can speak to this with experience on both sides. Yes, reading erotic romance has changed my life as a reader. But rather than limiting my perspective on romance, it’s been expanded.
I started my adult life with a rather prudish outlook, a condition that was only exasperated by surviving years of domestic violence. Even after working out the emotional issues following my experiences, I had impenetrable trust issues which stymied any attempts at intimacy. Meeting the man who became my husband certainly helped, but even after years of being together, I was stuck, incapable of moving forward. It wasn’t until I began reading and writing erotic romance that the last little switch flipped in my mind. What I read gave me a peek into the minds and emotional states of the characters involved. These stories helped me believe I was worthy of pursuing my desires and helped me create a more open dialog with my spouse.
Yet, even reading romance and relating to the characters and situations portrayed in the stories, I never dismissed reality. I’m well aware of both mine and my spouse’s physical and emotional limitations. I have no interest in pursuing the heart throbs portrayed in the cover art. I’ve never lost touch with the fact that, without proper contraceptives, consequences happen. As a reader, I’m more than aware fiction is fabricated for entertainment. As a writer I assume my audience is intelligent enough to understand that, though I write about situations, it doesn’t mean I’ve experienced them.
There’s no doubt the Erotic Romance genre has affected my life positively, not only in the bedroom, but in my creative world as well. What started as a challenge by a friend, writing my first erotic romance short story has provided my first publication opportunity.
Sly’s Surrender won't be released until November 21st, but I’ve already made so many contacts with so many great writers in this genre it's mind boggling.
Being a writer, by its nature, is a reclusive occupation. Everything from the writing process to publication, marketing and promotion takes so much of the author’s time that it’s easy for us to feel isolated and alone. But I’ve had exactly the opposite experience with my involvement in this genre. I’ve been in touch with and welcomed by so many incredibly talented, creative folks.
If my experience has proven anything to me, it’s that writers in the Romance and Erotic Romance genres are far from the social degenerates naysayers would have you believe. They are certainly not conspiring to foil the sacred nature of marriage and healthy loving relationships. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion of course, but before blanket statements saying an entire genre is responsible for the downfall of the sanctity of marriage are made (and accepted), think about the implications. What’s being communicated is not that the genre is bad, but that the readers are too dim to discern fiction from reality.
Thanks so much to the wonderful authors at Some Write it Hot and ERAuthors for having me here today. I truly appreciate the opportunity to express my thoughts on this topic. Thanks also to all of the readers who gave a few moments out of their days to spend reading this.