Romance novels = sexual agenda?

On May 23, 2011 by Aimee
Romance novels = sexual agendas?

Romance novels = sexual agendas?

I think a lot of people equate a ‘romance’ novel as a trashy, sex-filled story that has no plot, only characters that ‘do it like bunnies’ for hundreds of pages. Don’t believe me? Look at some of the covers out there. What do you see? Horses and wind-swept cliffs with beautiful sunsets? Picnic settings with two people barely touching, clinking champagne glasses, in silhouette, no less so you can’t see their faces? How about Moms, in bed, slippers on, kids romping around them, jumping up and down on the mattress.

Of course not. There are bare chests. Groping hands. Half-torn sleeves. Slick bodies that are meant to entice, arouse and otherwise, create the expectation of some sort of sexual encounter.

So then, does that mean the whole book is filled that that one naked chest, walking around and having conversations (from his headless bodies — I challenge you to go look at some of the romance covers out there) only to plow into some form of an escapade with whomever he follows?

Of course not again. Those covers are a marketing ploy. Guess what? This reader (that means: me) has never once bought one of those books. Why? They are actually a complete turn off to me. They don’t entice me. That’s probably why I write more mystery and suspense than I do straight ‘romance’.

Let me get on thing clear: a Romance novel is not a plotless book with nothing but a sexual agenda.

It’s a love story. It’s a story where the plot centers around the relationship between two main characters. It’s a way of showing off the problems, excitement, pitfalls and Mt. Everest-like situations two people find themselves in to progress from ‘interested’ in each other, to ‘madly in love’. The beauty of reading a Romance is that you know one thing for the end : it will have a ‘happily ever after‘. Oh yes, a true Romance will end … well.

Reading a romance, to me, is a way of reminding me what it was like to fall in love the first time. The tingly sensations in my fingertips anytime I’d see his face. The smile that bloomed when his did the same. The deep and desperate desire to be with him, even just for a few minutes. The tug on my heart at his departure and the rekindling when more than just a few moments passed while separated.

If you’ll note … none of those facets are sexual. They are emotional.

When I read a Romance, I read for the emotion and the desire of two who people are willing desperate to make their relationship happen. And no, that’s not like saying “I read Playboy for the articles”. C’mon … first, I don’t read Playboy. Second … if I did? It wouldn’t be for the articles. 😉

Is there sex in romance novels? In a lot, yes. There is in horror, suspense, literary fiction, mystery … you name it, too … if there are people, there may be sex.

So then you might say, there’s way more of it in Romance, right? Like 50%? Try 3-5% of the story. Now, this probably isn’t scientific, but I have a few hundred romances on my bookshelf. If I cull through, say 10 of them, I will find 1-2 with no sex (and by this I mean anything beyond second base). ~5 with 1-2 scenes of sexual activity and the rest have *maybe* three scenes.

If a scene takes up 10 pages and a book is generally 300-400 pages, that puts the heavy-hitters of Romance with 7.5% of the words dedicated to ‘sex.’

That leaves 92.5% of the story for everything else. Everything else! See what I mean? A 92% in college was an ‘A’ … so ‘A’ for plot, tension, conflict, passion and romance that is not sexual.

So no. Just because it’s a Romance, doesn’t mean there will be sex.

Now that I’m off my soapbox (and no comment on my own novels), what do you equate with books your read? No matter their genre, do you have a belief about certain novels that has been changed by reading one? Share in the comments!