Romance novels: Good or bad for women's health?

Yesterday my Mom and me had a random debate on romance novels. After hearing my Dad talk about a murder mystery he was reading (The Woman in Cabin 10) I chirped that I was reading a steamy romance novel (ok I may not have said steamy since that's an awkward thing to say to your Dad) called 'Most of All You' by Mia Sheridan.

The premise of the book is a man falls in love with a stripper at a joint he frequents and tries to get the woman alone to convince her he's different and that it's who she is, not her body, that he's drawn to. Unfortunately the woman was sexually abused and kicked out on the street at the age of 17 so she naturally doesn't trust men or feel she deserves happiness. Later in the book the man opens up his home to take care of the woman after she's beaten up in the strip joint's parking lot. It's there, in between sponge baths and spoon feeds, the two, naturally, fall in love.

My Mom's reaction to the book caught me off guard. She said the chances of a man falling in love with a stripper or any woman for that matter at first glance are pretty slim. She added the man nursing a practical stranger back to health is giving women false hope that such grandiose acts of romance actually happen in everyday life. In no way is my mom cynical, in fact her and my Dad began dating after locking eyes across the room at one of her work events and have been inseparable since. She just feels that romance novels make dating that much more difficult for women when they're filling their minds with unrealistic tales of steamy all-nighters by the fireplace or a man naming a star after a woman (like Landon did for Jamie in Nicholas Spark's 'A Walk to Remember.'

I argued the reason I read romance novels is for this very reason. I know that most men don't generally walk slow motion across a room, shoving people out of their way, to tell a stranger she's the sexiest woman in the room and "let's get out of here." I know most men don't fly their dates to dinner in a helicopter like Christian did with Anastasia in 50 Shades of Grey. Then there's the passionate kiss in the Notebook where Noah hoists Allie around his waist and passionately kisses her on the dock (mind you Ryan Gosling could push me up against a garbage can and it would be monumental). But isn't that the fun of romance novels and movies? It's being completely swept away to a place, and with a person, that most likely doesn't exist.

I also argued that, steamy novels are a reminder to strive for passion in one's relationship. Sure, the tales on paper are far fetched and, in many cases, completely ridiculous, but the writer had to have gotten the inspiration from somewhere. Romance does exist out in the real world, it's just up to you to create it.

I remember a boyfriend I was dating in Merritt a few years ago surprised me on the opening night of a play . For weeks I had gone on about how nervous I was to be acting in my first play and how disappointed I was he wasn't able to come (he said he had to work). However on opening night, after gracing the stage and staying my first line, I looked up to see his smiling face in the front row. He also showed up to a carolling event I had organized in the community when no one else did. It was two of the nicest things anyone's ever done for me.

Perhaps romance novels aren't just aimed to entertain but to inspire us women to aim higher and to demand a smidgen of romance in our everyday lives. Yes, the chances of finding Fabio at Starbucks is slim to none and you more than likely will never have a Ferris wheel built after you. But there are millions of men out there who WILL whisper sweet nothings in your ear and make you breakfast in the morning . You just have to find them (you may want to skip the whole spoon feeding thing though, that's just creepy).


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