Thursday, 7 July 2011

Why Knock Romance Novels?

I was surprised to read an article in the Guardian  this morning reporting that "Psychologist says that 'a huge number of the issues that we see in our clinics and therapy rooms are influenced by romantic fiction'."

I think some Psychologists are a bit obsessed with blaming romance books for all feminine mental health and social ills...

Sadly this latest attack on Mills and Boon books comes via the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Healthcare. (Now I'm not knocking what they do, they are important services for women of all ages).

But we never see crime novels - and some of them feature really gruesome murders- being cited as cause for concern in clinics- unless I've missed that article somewhere...

Sadly you can't read what data Ms Quilliam based her opinion on- unless you are a subscriber to the BMJ or wish to pay £24 for one day's access to the article! But the Guardian item (linked above) does give more detail and some of it is not unreasonable.

" "If readers start to believe the story that romantic fiction offers, then they store up trouble for themselves – and then they bring that trouble into our consulting rooms," writes Quilliam."

They are fiction. And I'm sure the majority of readers know that.

So a serious question, do Mills and Boon romance novels give women unrealistic sexual expectations? Do they think everything will be hunky-dory forever in their lives, just because it always is at the end of a romance novel?

I'm quite sure there are ordinary men out there who could rival some of the sexual abilities of the heroes of these novels, even if they lack the riches and looks.

The saying 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' is very relevant.

There have always been women unhappy in their marriages- it's been going on for centuries. Just because now you can get a divorce it doesn't stop feelings of failure and guilt (and visits to the consulting rooms mentioned )- and that is more to do with society's and other peoples expectations rather than the ideal happy couple at the end of the book.

You don't read a romance to be depressed by reality- at least I don't...

Young women (and young men) are bombarded with unrealistic images and expectations every day from glossy magazines to music videos to talent shows.
They eventually accept that it isn't the real world, but that comes with time and experience.

Romance novels display a lot of positives and that should be encouraged and welcomed.


Anonymous said...

Romance novels are escapism and I think most readers know that.
Losing yourself in a book is a great form of relaxation so I'm sure that these novels actually help the mental health of some people.

Carolb said...

You are so right Sally.
Actually I've now read the article in the journal and there was no new research data to support the psychologist's views.
Reading can be very relaxing and if you're living a very stressful life it will help as you say.

Sandra Patterson said...

And how many issues are caused by psychologists talking out of their a***s?

Carolb said...

There is that aspect Sandra. :)
I've actually read the article since I made this post and there was no up to date evidence to support her statements.