Difference between romance novels, porn lies in emphasis

0
2738

Romance novels get a bad rap. A lot of people believe that romance novels are essentially glorified porn for women. It isn’t socially acceptable for women to be watching porn, so we as the fairer sex should assume porn is gross and instead read it under the acceptable guise of a romance novel.

I’ve read my fair share of romance novels to know that in some instances, they truly are just an excuse for porn. But that can’t be the case for all romance novels, right? So where lies the difference between a romance novel and a cover-up operation?

The difference is where the emphasis lies. If the emphasis is on the relationship between the characters or the plot, it is not porn. However, if the emphasis is on the sex, it is porn.

Take “Irresistible Forces” by Brenda Jackson as an example. The whole plot is that a woman asks a man to go on a one-week vacation with her for the sole purpose of getting pregnant. This means that for almost the entirety of the book the two are just having sex in a resort room. Or on a yacht.

The author attempts to shoehorn a relationship in there in between the love-making. Apparently they have such good chemistry they literally cannot stop having sex and would probably die if they didn’t have to sleep, which means it’s true love.

At some point she falls in love with him (I don’t really know why, probably because he’s a good lay) and they get married. But really, you didn’t read the book to know whether they would or would not get together. You read it because they were having superhuman sex, being rich and watching porn together for 100 pages. If interested, “Irresistible Forces” is available for free from Amazon on Kindle or the Kindle app.

There are plenty of romance novels that are just flat-out porn, and I can point you to them if you’re so inclined. However, there are many romance novels that have no sex whatsoever. In fact, there’s a specific genre known as “inspirational romance.” This genre focuses on religion, which means the most characters do is kiss epically.

Plus there are several chick-lit books that, while not neccessarily the stereotypical Harlequin romance we have come to expect, also fit within the romance genre, such as the “Shopaholic” book series. While the characters have sex, you don’t get more than a discrete, “You don’t expect me to tell you everything, do you?”

What about the in-betweens, then? There are some books that toe the line and are hard to define as either porn or romance. Take the famous (or infamous, your choice) “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E. L. James. Many people who have read it who are not familiar with the romance genre assume it is sexist schlock that is appealing because it is “naughty” and inaccurately displays the world of BDSM. Basically, they assume it’s just porn.

However, many others claim it is an intriguing series about true love and learning to compromise and accept your partner for who they are. So which is it?

I have read “Fifty Shades of Grey.” While it is not necessarily a good book, it is a good romance. 

You see, romance is the most formulaic of all the book genres ever. There is literally a formula most writers have to follow, because the formula is what sells, over and over and over. Essentially people are getting the same story over and over with different colors of paint (kind of like the “Final Fantasy” series).

“Fifty Shades of Grey” branches out from that typical formula, and that is what makes it more of a unique and good romance. The characters (while not really good characters in terms of books in general) are unique for the genre and more human in the way that they make mistakes and don’t serve to epitomize the “ideal” man or woman.

In fact, it was really winning me over until about halfway through where they just start having sex and then never really stop. This is probably where most of the arguments that it is porn come from, because the rest of the book is almost nonstop sex scenes with a few filler scenes in the middle to further build their relationship and complicate the “plot.”

However, at the same time the author developed their relationship and the characters within the sex scenes — not something you’d necessarily assume is the hallmark of a well-written romance novel until you’re actually familiar with how underwhelming most romance novels actually are.

So which is it? Porn or romance? I’d say it’s both.

Oh come on, can’t a girl have her cake and eat it, too?

Cara Hillstock is a sophomore in English. Please send comments to edge@kstatecollegian.com.

Advertisement
SHARE