Thursday, July 7, 2011

Are romantic novels bad for women?

PARIS - IT'S all innocent stuff: square-jawed boy meets doe-eyed girl, they fall in love, encounter a few rocky moments but ultimately seal their union with a kiss or a vague hint of sx.

Wholesome yarns like this form the heartbeat of romantic fiction, a genre that has been in existence since the mid-18th century and today sells by the bucketload.

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But, according to a debate launched on Thursday by a medical journal in Britain, romantic novels are an invisible yet potent threat to women's sexual and emotional health. A commentary blasts these formulaic books for failing to promote safe sex and encourage patience in achieving female orgasm - and for defining the success of a relationship as the ability to crank out babies.

'If readers start to believe the story that romantic fiction offers, then they store up trouble for themselves,' says British author and relationship counsellor Susan Quilliam. 'Sometimes the kindest and wisest thing we can do for our clients is to encourage them to put down the books - and pick up reality.'

Ms Quilliam, writing in the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care, says that, according to a survey, only 11.5 per cent of romantic novels mention condom use. 'And within these scenarios, the heroine typically rejected the idea because she wanted 'no barrier' between her and the hero,' she notes.

Even the steamier offerings of romantic fiction are dismal failures when it comes to sexual health, she contends. The typical bodice-ripper ends 'with the heroine being rescued from danger by the hero, and then abandoning herself joyfully to a life of intercourse-driven orgasms and endless trouble-free pregnancies in order to cement their marital devotion.' -- AFP

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