Thursday, February 7, 2008

Again, ARRRGH!

Bernita's post yesterday got me thinking. And ticked off, truth be known. It seems that writers, romance writers in particular, are not only responsible for hordes of unsatisfied, lonely, crumpet-challenged housewives, now they are to blame for any of those impressionable readers having unprotected sex if condoms aren't specifically mentioned in the bouncy-bouncy scenes.

I have one question. Why do we keep having this conversation? It may happen and I'm just not aware of it, but I haven't read of mystery authors accused of alienation of affection because a beloved family member or friend always turns out to be whodunit, or western authors scolded for promoting violence when the sheriff shoots the bad guy. I know fantasy authors are accused of teaching children witchcraft all the time, but that's on the parents if they want to keep Junior's eyes off Harry Potter.

People are trying to convince me that simply by writing a story, I am responsible for influencing the decisions of a GROWN PERSON. Not just to inspire, to comfort, or even to thrill, but to convince them it's okay to engage in risky behavior. I ask you- why on earth would even a not-quite-fully-functioning adult look at something like this...

...and think the story gives them sound advice about anything?

I think I have a reasonable expectation that authors are going to do their research; say, if an author states boldly that orange juice and goat cheese is a cure for cancer I'd better see a footnote. Even so, I'm going to check with my doctor and read all I can before planting an orange tree and buying a goat. But not explicitly showing condom use? Okay by me. It's fantasy. I can ignore it or supply those in-between-the-lines details all by myself.

Even if I am convinced that a Greek billionaire is going to kidnap me, spirit me away on his yacht, and bribe me into marrying him.


StarvingWriteNow said...

Umm... does that billionaire have a brother/uncle/cousin available?

I think the whole "responsibility" thing is kinda BS-ish; if you are a grown person you are fully capable of making your own decisions. I'm not reading romance looking for a morality lesson, I'm reading it for an escape from the ugliness of daily life. This is probably why I prefer historicals--contemporaries, fun though they may be, can come off as preachy (and frankly, reading about rolling up a condom doesn't do much for my turn-on meter...).

Robyn said...

True dat. Although some historicals try to have the hero with modern sensitivities, whereupon we're treated to discussion about sheep intestines with red strings or somesuch. EW!

December/Stacia said...

You know I agree. As I said to Bernita, I did write--or rather, imply, because I do NOT want to write explicitly about condoms--a condom into Unholy Ghosts, but that was only because it would have been rather odd in that world not to have it there. Well, okay, that wasn't the only reason. The other was that it isn't just publishers and editors who get nasty about condoms. I've seen tons of comments from readers who say that if no condom is mentioned they get irritated and think the people are stupid or whatever. And I admit, I've had that reaction once or twice myself, most specifically when that godsawful Madonna movie where she has a baby with a gay man came out. She was supposed to be an AIDS worker, and she had condomless sex? With a man she knew to be in a high risk group?

It bugged me, but then, the presence of Madonna in anything sets my teeth on edge, so...

Point is, I hate the idea that they have to be mentioned. I hate them anyway. And if you're going to have unsafe sex in rea life because a fictional character did it and everything was fine...perhaps you shouldn't be having sex at all.

Bernita said...

And many romance novels are set on the premise of risky behaviour.
So why strain at a gnat when you've swallowed the

Robyn said...

If it fits in the story, December, I don't have a problem with it. I've read several that had one of the characters allude to "we took care of it" in later conversation. What I hate is the idea that a fictional story has to stop an intimate scene with a PSA. WARNING READERS! DON'T EVER DO THIS WITHOUT A TROJAN!!

Ditto on Madonna. Ugh.

Bernita, thank you for pointing that out. Many heroines beat themselves up the first half of the book- why did I go out with him? Why did I kiss him? Why did I like it? Giving in to such impulses is what leads to the HEA.