In response to The Private Man’s magnificent Emotional Pornography.
IMAGINATION TRUMPS REALITY
Private Man said, “I prefer mine written as words because my imagination is far superior to any porn producer.”
What an incredible sentence! He managed to find the words to convey something I’ve thought, but wasn’t able to bullseye. He nailed it. As a reader, nothing is more rewarding than to be given an ‘aha’ moment like this.
My dating profiles straight up say that I prefer email over texting; if the woman can’t engage in verbal banter via email, then we aren’t going to work long term. Now I know why: My imagination has to be stimulated.
EFFECTS OF ROMANCE GENRE
My takeaway from the piece is that the unrealistic, desensitizing effects of emotional porn can be just as harmful to relationships as visual pornography. This is another huge ‘aha’ moment for me, as I’ve had similar thoughts percolating for some time.
After NaNoWriMo last year, I spent some time on critiquecircle.com . This is a site where writers critique each other’s works. The site, like the industry, is heavily weighted towards the romance genre. This was my first experience reading romance and, having traded notes with the authors, I’ve learned emotional pornography is a bigger plague than I’d ever imagined. It was disturbing.
The most troubling aspect is the culture of victimization because, in romance novels, the heroine is always a victim of circumstance. For example, in one popular manuscript I read the main character cancelled her dinner plans with her husband to go by a bar, where she happened to meet a troop of firemen. (Like real porn, in emotional porn the plot can be bad.) The next day she stops by the firehouse to return an item the fireman had left at the bar. Guess what happens when the husband finds out his wife cancelled plans with him to hang out with a hunky fireman? He gets pissed.
What a shocker.
My critique stated that I had a hard time empathizing with the main character because she’s suffering from a self-inflicted wound and is not a victim of circumstance. How could she expect the husband to not be upset? Was he really supposed to say nothing? Stevie Wonder could see the conflict coming a mile away, yet the main character did nothing to control the situation.
Suffice it to say, this comment was not well received by the author or my fellow critiquers. In romance novels, apparently, relationships between cause and effect are to be ignored.
- CAUSE >>> EFFECT
- Woman dresses provocatively >>> Man notices.
- Woman goes to bar alone >>> Men flirt.
- Woman does not mention husband >>> Men assumes she’s available.
- Woman visits man’s workplace >>> Man assumes she’s interested.
- ‘Just friends’ relationship with attractive man >>> Man and woman have sex.
The plot of the rest of the book was equally as silly. And yes–this example is from a real romance novel that’s sold thousands of copies.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the escapism of fiction. I can see where a woman reader would enjoy thinking about a group of hunky fireman admiring her beauty. Later, she’s pressed against a freshly waxed red truck as her blouse is ripped open.
Nothing’s wrong with thinking about that!
But the example I mention is a romance novel, not erotica (emotional porn, not porn.) The idea is that the reader is supposed to emotionally connect with the main character and empathize with her. Frankly, it disturbs me that so many people can empathize with a woman who creates her own drama. And yes, like real porn, emotional porn leads to dysfunctional expectations.
It seems the original principles of feminism have been corrupted so that modern women believe they’re entitled to victim’s empathy. Whether they’re truly a victim of circumstance, or a victim of their own doing, is of no concern to them; they’ve been indoctrinated to believe it’s always a man’s fault.