Jennifer Weiner has an interesting op-ed in the NYT celebrating sex ed via the romance novel. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never read any of Ms. Weiner’s novels and I want to change that soon. I’ve put her memoir Hungry Heart on my wish list and will be grabbing some of her older novels as well. But in the meantime I enjoyed her article in the NYT, even though I didn’t agree with all of it.
We’re on the same page with the idea that “what goes where” sex ed is necessary but not sufficient for young peeps and of course they will be curious for more information. They will search for it relentlessly. I definitely agree with Ms. Weiner that romance novels give a woman’s sexual satisfaction equal priority to a man’s. No fantasy duke or pirate or spy or CEO ever forgets to please his heroine in the bedroom (or wherever), multiple times. Ms. Weiner makes a good point that, unlike pr0n, romance novels describe complete scenes, including birth control (in contemporaries), various other awkward moments, and follow-up conversations.
Talking is important!
But romance novels, like so many forms of entertainment, focus mostly on fabulous looking characters with beautiful faces and perfect bodies. These are the kinds of people deserving of soul mates, true love, fantastic sex, and happily ever afters… this is the message insidiously drilled into our minds as soon as we’re able to read a book or watch a movie. Ms. Weiner quotes Jennifer Crusie in her article, and Ms. Crusie has given us plus-size heroines in several of her novels, but still they are gorgeous overweight women with great legs, lips, and hair, not the ordinary fat chicks you find shlumping around the supermarket. This is not to criticize ~ I lurve Ms. Crusie’s novels and they’re among my favorite romances. I am… JUST SAYING.
[I know some of you go into a peevey fit when peeps just say. Sorry about that.]
Point is, there’s a downside to young people (aka women let’s be honest cuz young men aren’t going to be reading Crusie et al) consuming the emotional content of their sex ed via romance novels. I should know. I was one.
On the bright side, people are still reading books.