Saturday, January 16, 2010

Thoughts on Sexuality in Romance Literature

I am aware that some people really like romance novels but are very reluctant to deal with overt sexual content. I just thought to post some thoughts.

First, the world has changed and the world of publishing fiction has also changed drastically in the past 20 years. There was a time not too long ago that strong sexual content would have been considered pornographic. Not so these days. I think there are some boundaries that authors are willing to observe.

One of those boundaries is what I refer to as "gratuitous" sex -- sex for its own sake and put in the story in order to sell books. It's done and unfortunately it is done often by authors who don't necessarily write very good stories or take the time and effort to develop their characters. Now I have to admit there are a few books I have read where it seems that the sex is oozing out the spine of the book. But on closer examination, it is a part of the story in a very legitimate way. Still, there are times that these are just a little overwhelming ( you know -- wiping the sweat off your brow --).

For the most part, I have found that the sexual encounters in most of these romance novels that I have been reading recently are very beautifully crafted and are a seamless part of the story. Adult romantic relationships usually involve sexuality on some level. But as in real life, it is the relationship that is the authentic framework of human encounter and not just sex for the sake of sex alone. Obviously every sexual encounter has the possibility of being beautiful, fulfilling, and a valued part of what binds people together romantically, but it can also be purilent, hurtful, or destructive. It is up to the author to be faithful in making a sick relationship obvious as well as writing the sexual scene in a way that is healthy and beautiful.

I happen to believe that sex is a part of being normal, healthy, and loving. However, like all relational possibilities, it can be turned ugly and destructive. We all know, too, that . . . "beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

Just rambling . . .


Tracy said...

I like the sex in the books - as long as it's not gratuitous as well. I think that as long as the sex is furthering the relationship along there's absolutely no reason it shouldn't be there! :)

Jill D. said...

Hi Dr. J and welcome to blogging! I also believe that romance is about relationships and let's face it relationships tend to revolve around sex, so it would make perfect sense for a book about relationships to have sex in them.

If they didn't, it would be like a cook book not have recipes in them. Of course not everything has to be graphic, but let's face it. Like a cookbook, usually the ones with pictures sell better :)

Joanne said...

Hello -- Just stopping in to welcome you to book blogging. I love reading historical romances, historical fiction, the classics....come on over and visit me at my blog, Slice of Life. I'd love for you to visit!

Dr J said...

Love the cookbook analogy. So true . . . although I have to admit I never really thought about it that way. I am convinced that our most graphic and erotic responses are in our own imaginations. I look at the old movies like "Picnic" and they are so not graphic as movies are today, and yet they absolutely make every viewer squirm in their seats.

Svea Love said...

Dr J, I can not believe I forgot to follow last time I was here lol. Ok I'm a follower now :) Love your profile picture and blog design! Looking forward to your reviews and sharing mine with you!

Casee said...

This is a really good topic.

Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James is a good example that a romance can still be a romance with sex. Gratuitous or otherwise.

Welcome to blogland!