Posted by on 13th June 2019

Are Romance Novels Selling Women an Unrealistic Fantasy of Fidelity, Respect, Hotties, and Orgasms?

Just the other day, a man on Twitter (who claimed to be a lover of the romance genre) asked why all the men in romance novels are good-looking, fit, and muscular. My reaction was, why shouldn’t they be?

In most (but thankfully not all) books or movies written by and for hetero men, at best the female characters are the very definition of beautiful—thin, pretty without makeup but always perfectly made up, and fit but not strong. At worst they’re caricatures of real women with big tits that don’t move let alone ever need a bra, and the ability to run, cook, and generally live in stilettos 24/7.  

These images tell us, daily, that if we’re not thin and pretty enough, no one will ever love us. Pile on all the advertisements and articles designed to make us feel less-than—unless we buy whatever they’re selling—and it would be easy to think that’s true.

Romances, on the other hand, are fantasies where women get exactly what the want in life, love, and bed.

Why shouldn’t we fantasize about handsome, strong men who can fuck us standing up without getting winded, if that’s what floats our boats? Furthermore, while people fall in love with people all kinds of body types, what’s so wrong with expecting your partner to be fit and healthy in real life? Or well-dressed, nice-smelling, polite and thoughtful?

Maybe because men who aren’t fit, or financially successful, or talented in some amazing way, feel threatened by the men portrayed in romances. The problem is, they only see the surface and not the subtext.  

Romances aren’t just about attractive people having sex and falling in love because they’re both so attractive. They’re about finding someone who likes you and respects you and genuinely wants to spend time with you because they think you’re awesome. It’s about being with a partner who takes your needs, and your happiness, into consideration.

If the romance falls on the steamy side, they’re also about consent and sexual satisfaction. About wanting to give the other person an orgasm because you love them and want to make them feel good.

Should women deserve or expect orgasms?

I’ve seen this question bandied about too many times to count. And again, my response was, why shouldn’t we?

A while back I blogged about comedian Liza Treyger’s set in the Deplorables Netflix special. At one point she questions the audience about expectations regarding sex. Men, according to her informal poll, expect to orgasm every time. It’s a given. Unquestioned.

Women, on the other hand, are thrilled and excited when they orgasm. And it definitely doesn’t always, or even often, often—especially with a new partner. Yet so many men wonder why women don’t want to have sex more often.

I mean, why would we? If we aren’t orgasming, or at least being made to feel damn good for a reasonably extended period of time, what’s in it for us? Sex becomes another one of many emotional labor tasks.

In case you’re not familiar with the term emotional labor, here’s a terrific explanation from Leah Fessler’s article on the topic:

“Every adult…has received a gift they really didn’t like. And as long as you’re not a horrible person, you’ve tried, at least once, to mask that dissatisfaction so as to make your friend or relative feel good about themselves—probably because you genuinely cared about the gift-giver’s happiness and self-confidence…

You’re doing so because you want to maintain a healthy relationship, and because you feel pressure to be caring.”

Bad or lackluster sex is the gift a woman doesn’t really like. But she’ll try to mask her dissatisfaction so her partner doesn’t feel bad about themselves. If men want women to WANT to have sex, they have to make it good for us too. Because every woman deserves a good orgasm as much as the next guy.

Do you want your partner(s) to be happy? Really?

Ninety-nine percent of the time (okay maybe ninety-five), the response to this question is a resounding, “Yes. Of course.” Yet look at how few people act like that’s the truth in their relationships.

I know a man who won’t scratch his wife’s back when it itches. Such a simple gesture to make his wife happy, and he refuses. They both bitch about their marriage and each other, constantly. And she isn’t interested in sex with him anymore. Go figure.

They both swear they want each other to be happy. Riiiiiiiight. Suuuuuuuuure.

If you don’t try to make your partner happy outside of bed, I sincerly doubt you try very hard in bed.

“Women are constantly told it’s fantasy to expect fidelity, respect, and orgasms in this life, and to seek the same in our reading. It’s not.”
Romance author Tessa Dare

Women (and frankly every person regardless of how you identify or who or how you fuck) are equally deserving of genuine love and respect, and serious sexual pleasure. Why wouldn’t we be? Seriously.

We shouldn’t just expect all this, we should demand it. I did, and I’ve been happily married almost twenty years. We still have great sex because he prioritizes my happiness in bed and out.

Yes, it asks more of men. It asks them to be engaged, and thoughtful, and supportive. It asks them to learn what pleasures women, then learn what the woman they’re with likes best—with zero judgement. It asks them to put off their own orgasm for a little while to make sure the woman is satisfied first.

Bottom line? It asks men to do something more than just buy drinks or dinner or jewelery. Liza Treyger had it right when she said that’s really the least men can do.


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