Saturday, July 29, 2006

Harmful fantasy?

Are romance publishers afraid to show sex as it is? I’ve yet to read a Harlequin Romance, so this article I came upon yesterday opened my eyes to a disturbing and, yes, a bit amusing image of the romance industry’s “underground.” *g*

According to Miss H, who read hundreds of the things in the time she worked for Harlequin, not only is fellatio rare—when it does happen, the men usually stop the women midway so they can have intercourse, which is almost always in the missionary position, and during which she orgasms “100 per cent of the time,” says Miss H.

No wonder women end up thinking blowjobs are yucky and feeling inadequate because they don’t come during intercourse.

“I know these books are fantasy, but where do you draw the line between fantasy and reality?” she asks. “I think it’s misleading to have women read about characters who come from intercourse every time and whose male partner requires only a little bit of effort on her part and who never makes a mess.”


There are, however, some positive messages about sex in these books, says Miss H: Condoms are always used, for example, unless pregnancy is part of the plot. And while fellatio is practically non-existent ... cunnilingus is quite common, she says.

“Understandably, it’s couched in sweet, romantic terms,” she adds. “They don’t use words like ‘pussy’ or ‘cunt,’ though ‘clit’ is often allowed. So it would be, ‘He moved lower, dropping kisses along her belly, then finally reaching the juncture of her thighs,’ or ‘He tasted her juices.’”

She also gets to come. At least that’s what I think they’re talking about when it says “ecstasy ripples throughout her body as she goes over the edge.”

I doubt they’re talking about cliff diving. ...

While “dick” or “cock” (always throbbing, of course) is acceptable in some of the racier lines, I can’t say that I’ve ever referred to my man’s penis as “velvet on steel.” ...

And I know “vagina” isn’t the prettiest word, but is “mound” really any better?


“And there’s always a happy ending, though of course 99.9 per cent of the time that means marriage,” she adds. “They never just end up together in a relationship.”

Which is just as well, I suppose, because we all know once a gal’s wrangled a guy into marriage, blowjobs are pretty much off the menu anyway, right?

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36 comment(s):

Anonymous 2nd Amdt said...

Cute article, and it makes some good points.

I will admit that I mostly stick to category romances, Harlequin, Silhouette, etc. They're not quite as indepth as the single title books, but I'm looking more for quick reads and HEA then an involved novel.

I think the weird thing about all of these series is that the sex in them varies enormously from author to author, book to book. Although the Blaze books always have sex in them, some other lines are very hit or miss, and outside of the Inspirational series, I don't any of the lines have no sex in them at all anymore.

But even in some of the erotica lines, and the single titles I've read - the heroine always comes (except for Phantom Waltz by Catherine Anderson or if the heroine was/is a virgin and part of the plot is based on that "bad experience".) The sex may be more realistic in when/how "completion" (there's another euphemism) happens, and shows the enjoyable part of rougher sex, the stuff I've read is still the typical HEA.

Does it give women an unrealistic idea of sex? Maybe. But maybe they are missing the romance part of sex in their relationship and are looking for that in the books.

This is fiction. I don't want to read the realities of romance and sex.

7/29/2006 11:17:00 AM  

Anonymous Emma said...

Miss H. sounds like she is either a complete dud in bed (by choice) or stuck in a relationship that doesn't satisfy her. I'm no sex kitten but, yeah, I *do* orgasm every time I have sex with my husband. Why? Because he's not a selfish knob. If he was, I wouldn't be with him. If he's greedy and selfish in bed where we're supposed to be having FUN then what the hell kind of husband or father would he be during the times when life gets a little tough? Greed and selfishness like that will translate into other aspects of any relationship. As for BJs being off the table after marriage. WTF? Nothing is off the table unless you take it off the table. Now as for pure realism in romances, well, for the most part 'fiction' isn't 'real', that's why it's called 'fiction'. I don't care to read about the clean up or the hero getting a pube stuck in his teeth during oral. I'm a grown-up. I know the difference between a sex scene in a book and one in the real world. I don't think it's a bad thing that women have high expectations from their sex or love relationships and if romances help to reinforce that then that's just fine.

7/29/2006 12:06:00 PM  

Blogger Lola Lovegood said...

I love the fantasy in romance novels; I think we all do. I don't mind descriptive sex as long as it doesn't turn too gross. I mean, I don't want to read about a guy going down on a woman who has her period for example =P

Re: The swallowing and the spitting. Not sure which one I'd prefer; perhaps neither. The swallowing is ICKY IMO since I don't do it in my personal life, but the spitting would pull me off the fantasy.

I hate purple prose. I find it irritating and stupid. A penis is a penis and a vagina is a vagina. I don't want to hear about spears of love and moist caves! What are we 12?

7/29/2006 12:07:00 PM  

Blogger Dakota Cassidy said...

Oh, Emma,bravo! well said-- "I *do* orgasm every time I have sex with my husband. Why? Because he's not a selfish knob. If he was,"

I think that what writers try to portray is exactly what you said, A FANTASY. Yes, we keep some aspects realistic, but for the most part in your fantasies, when you think about your soul mate, he/she fulfills you and would certainly make your pleasure as important as his own. It's a book--fiction, not a guide to better lovemaking.

That there are certain word guidelines for each pub is standard and one of the reasons I write erotic romance. I depict the total culmination of the love between two people and it's always fair and square on the give and take. LOL. I think it would be much harder to try and write it without being able to use the more graphic words. That's when you have to be super creative.

I also agree with the idea that we're adults in a pretty informed society and we should have a basic idea of what borders realisim and what doesn't. You can watch anything almost anytime and be informed on a million doifferent topics. Not to mention the Internet being a haven for a wealth of info.

I don't want to read the icky stuff either, Emma, LOL. Cuz it's a fantasy and in my fantasy, you just don't need any cleanup :)

Dakota :)

7/29/2006 12:36:00 PM  

Blogger Scott from Oregon said...

Ooops. I just wandered into a sewing circle full of helpful knitting tips and hand stitching techniques...

Backing out...

Pardom me, ladies...

7/29/2006 01:07:00 PM  

Blogger HOTMAMA said...

The only Harlquin I've read was a re-released Stephanie Laurens and was very sorry. Just way too tame for me.

Many of the great romance authors we love started with Harlequin. Maybe they moved on bec of all those restrictions.

I like graphic love scenes, I like euphemisms, I like details, I like sexy dialogue, especially during the love scenes. Some authors do this extremely well, others sort of leave you hanging. Haven't read Dakota's yet, but off the top of my head, Lysa Valdez, Shannon McKenna,Christie Rigeway, Karen Marie Moning, C Dodd know how to write a satisfying love scene. I've also read erotic romance that, despite being graphic, it still doesn't work.

As far as messy, spitting it out is a lot more messy than swallowing. Can't imagine spitting it out :P

I happen to have learned many things and gotten great ideas from reading romance. Yeah, its based in fantasy but that doesn't mean some of it won't work in reality ;)

7/29/2006 01:29:00 PM  

Anonymous Tisty said...

You are a coward Scott. Maybe this is the kind of 'knitting' men should read! :-P

Yes Romance has some funny conventions. For instance my book is now in the copy edit stage and i was surprised when I read that all of my hero's 'erections' had been changed to 'manhood' or 'member' (HATE MEMBER. its a terribly dislocated word and I'm from Australia where all of our successful politicians are called 'Members of parliment' or the 'member for wherever'. and I do not find Politicians sexy. Ewwww). I was even more confused when my villian was, however, allowed to keep his entirely nasty erection. WTF? what kind of convention is that?**

But have you read the sex scenes men love? All the women are cum eating monsters who wilt if they don't give a blow job a day to three different men and go down on at least one woman. Fantasy? You bet. That is deffinatly only some women

Different strokes for different folks then, if you forgive the blatent double meaning. Sure in Romance the woman comes every time becasue the hero trys very hard to make it so. Why would we call him a hero if he was such a selfish fuck that he cums, rolls over, burps, then snores. That may be some womens reality, but it is neither romantic or heroic IMHO.

** When I asked my real editor what was going on, he got very cross and said I could have my erections back. I'm sure my hero is most releaved!

7/29/2006 01:44:00 PM  

Blogger Petra said...

I've yet to read Harlequin books so this is news to me: fellatio rarely happens??? I thought Harlequin has a lot of those? I mean, it's frequent enough in mainstream romances, and it's been said Harlequin sex scenes are getting hotter and hotter these days. Aren't they?

I don't like purple prose too. Velvet on steel? What the hell? Is this supposed to be what women fantasize about? I don't even think there's something sexy with that! Not that I, as Lola pointed LOL, would like to read about a man getting gross and getting down on the heroine while she has her period. Euw!

One of romance novels' appeal is the "fantasy" so I don't mind if they omit parts like swallowing, or unrinating. Though I won't mind too if it's included in the book. Nothing gross about giving your man a blowjob and him coming all over you. That's sex people.

7/29/2006 01:59:00 PM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

I just wrote a freaking long comment and it's gone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm not writing it again~ Hmmp

7/29/2006 02:06:00 PM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

*Grrrrrrr* and my comment was so good too! *Sob* FUCKING BLOGGER!!!!

7/29/2006 02:08:00 PM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...


7/29/2006 02:10:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Cough, karma, cough. Oh LOL

Anyway, all i can say is sex is sex. Why do publishers/authors have to paint it into something it's not? Fellatio, cunnilingus, coming, swallowing (i don't, but some people do), masturbating, and more postions than Trollop can think of (er, hmm, maybe not :/ she's verra dirty, i tell ya), it's all part of the bee-yoo-ty of sex. Like Woody Allen said, "Is sex dirty? Only if it's done right." ;-)

7/29/2006 02:14:00 PM  

Blogger Dakota Cassidy said...

I'm with ya there, Harlot. I was thinking about the word fellatio, though. That sounds like a romance novel hero's name, don't you think? LOL

Scott, you wimp. LOLLOL and no, that doesn't mean look out ladies. LMAO

DC :)

7/29/2006 02:55:00 PM  

Blogger Danielle De Barbarac said...

"I doubt they're talking about cliff diving." LOL Good article. :)

Anyway, 2nd Amdt has a point. Even in erotica, women ALWAYS come. Though the sex there are done in many positions. LOL I think Dakota, our erotica expert, can confirm that. ;) I don't have anything against women who keep coming LOL it's part of the whole "fantasy" thing. And really, who doesn't want to always come? I do. But yeah, I guess, it could be misleading to young readers. Usually, it takes more than a grind.

Yesterday's romance readers are not the same romance readers of today. Why not have a little change?

7/29/2006 03:06:00 PM  

Blogger Dakota Cassidy said...

Well, I gotta say I haven't read an erotica where the woman doesn't come, Danielle. However, it's fantasy and sure, there are times when a woman doesn't come in real life and I wouldn't be upset by it in a book much. Cuz that is REAL, but I think I'd prefer that she ends up satisfied. I'd prefer I end up satisfied too. LMAO

The point being is that it's fiction and if I were to write my fantasy, it'd include the big "O" baby, every bloody time. LOL. We read romance to go somewhere we've never been and might not get the chance to go to. That's what I want from my fiction :)

I do understand that younger adults may get an impression that's unrealistic, but then, I have to wonder if they were taught to dream and explore? Just a thought.

DC :)

7/29/2006 03:18:00 PM  

Blogger Petra said...

Tisty, I'm with you on that "member" shit. Member? MEMBER of what? What the fuck?!?

Dakota, LOL, you dirty you. You're just thinking of grampa Fabio. :P

7/29/2006 03:20:00 PM  

Blogger Jordis said...

Let's face it, romance novels are fantasy for women. How many handsome, sexy, successful multimillionaires fell in love with a Plain Jane?

If oral sex, coming, etc, ruin the fantasy, I think it's better off that they're not included in the books. Though doing it just in the missionary style? Er, someone should tell those Harlequin people that's NOT a fantasy at all! The more positions the BETTER!!! Jeez.

7/29/2006 03:27:00 PM  

Blogger Isabella said...

"I was even more confused when my villian was, however, allowed to keep his entirely nasty erection."

Tisty, what does that say about the hero? Oh god, he'll be the loser with towering lance of lurve while the villain runs rampant with his erection. Ack. Glad you got your erection back. :)

And I didn't know you're a writer too! You never mentioned anything! :o

7/29/2006 03:33:00 PM  

Blogger Scott from Oregon said...

LMAO-- That means Leave My Ass Out, right?

Alright. A couple of things. Men love women who come regularly and easily. If a man could just breath on a woman and make her delightful, he'd be a happy man. Then he can get on to his snoring and other commodities without feeling "guilty" about not sharing in the nights'cookies. This is a fact. So the real trick is in how much "training" a woman is wiling to do to make herself susceptable to the vagaries of the artform?

Rather than complain about "his" inconsiderations, how 'bout makin' his life easier in regards to your pleasure?

Just a thought...

In Japan-- the word for masturbation for men is "sen zuru" (a thousand strokes.)

For women it is "mon zuru" (ten thousand strokes.)

Women need to get up to speed, here. They're laggin' behind...

7/29/2006 03:35:00 PM  

Blogger Lollie Rose said...

I don't mind the word pussy. Or clit. Actually, please, let there be a clit! But cunt? I don't like that word.

With that said, what's the purpose of making everything like it is anything but a fantasy? Is it to remind us that these books represent nothing BUT dreams? That, unless you look like a freaking gorgeous model, really, those things are not going to happen? Now THAT I find disturbing.

7/29/2006 03:40:00 PM  

Blogger Nicholas Borelli said...

Those romance novels are unrealistic. The sex in my novels is much more realistic. See them at:

And as for fellatio being off the menu after marriage, I dare say that hasn't happened around here and we have a long marriage.


Nick Borelli

7/29/2006 03:50:00 PM  

Anonymous Tisty said...

Isabella, I'm not a real writer. You know the kind. a catolugue of thirty books, 2 houses and a poddle name mr Darcy. I've only just sold my first book for a spectacularly tiny amount of money and as it's not even on sale yet, I can't take myself seriously.

Or that's how my logic works. Besides I vist this site as a reader because it makes me smile when I should actually be working. Bad Bitches they are, always distracting my.

I only came out of hiding because my erection story was sooo on topic.

and Scott a thousand strokes???? seriously????? Gosh you must know some men who are stayers. In the teenage years, when masturbation was a life style choice, all the boys I knew need was 6 good strokes and a dirty thought. It's only a little better now.

Maybe I need to get to know some Japense men!

7/29/2006 03:51:00 PM  

Blogger C said...

Blow jobs don't stop after marriage. When I was married - what ended the blow jobs was the turn off of always being around his mother. That ended the marriage.

7/29/2006 05:07:00 PM  

Blogger HOTMAMA said...

Scott, I checked out your blog. I daresay, you've certainly lead an intriguing life (if, in fact, it's all true *wink*)

DH was blessed with a lover who can come easily and often (and can make a mean meatball too, lol) So the sex in these romance novels is NOT unrealistic for everyone. The circumstances and characters are, very much so! And therein lies the allure of a sizzling, romance.

7/29/2006 05:10:00 PM  

Blogger Lorelei said...

Seriously, I don't think sex scenes are necessary to sell a book. There are a lot of audiences for books that don't have sex scenes. But if you must do it, for heaven's sake, do it right.

7/29/2006 05:12:00 PM  

Blogger Serendipity said...

Well, they have to print it pretty or some emotional constipated reader will not buy the book...what about the marketshare of the preacher's family?

Hence to cock, or suck, or vagina because it would offend even though everyone in the world either has a cock or vagina and will most likely engage in fucking relationship at some point. Most anyway!

7/29/2006 05:15:00 PM  

Blogger Scott from Oregon said...

tisty-- That's right, a thousand strokes. But we're talking Japanese men. Think of the way a Caddilac's piston goes up and down when you are tooling along on a coastal highway. Now think of a Datsun B210 's piston...

More like a bee in a plastic bag, if yo ask me....

Hotmama. My life is true. Just ask me. And I'm pacing myself. Just getting started.

Mum is old now, and we almost lost her last year. She asked me to write all my stories down so she can read them. I've been telling her my stories for over twenty--five years. She knows me, and still thinks I'm makin' half this stuff up.


And I post pictures and everything...

7/29/2006 07:44:00 PM  

Blogger Jolie said...

Sex scenes in romance novels can be pretty creative. Not directly using the actual/real words. But I think many readers prefer that than reading graphic details of the sex. They'd rather read about how the hero made tender, passionate love with the heroine.

Reading is an escape. Does reading romance novels create unrealistic expectations about love? Probably. But women readers are smart. We know the difference between reality and fantasy of course, that real life is far from a love story we read in a book. Still that shouldn't stop us from hoping that we too would get that kind of romance.

7/29/2006 08:31:00 PM  

Blogger Ladybug said...

What? blowjob is off the table after marriage?!?

No wonder men are afraid of getting married. Snort.

7/29/2006 10:18:00 PM  

Anonymous Mulheres Nuas said...

very nice blog

7/29/2006 10:31:00 PM  

Blogger C Bradshaw said...

This is fiction and really, I'd rather not read about farting, burping and a guy's hairy balls and ass.

However, these stories are still based on our reality and therefore should adhere to what is real. I don't know why authors and publishers are afraid to show what's really going on while you're having sex. This is like Trollop's previous post about ignorant authors refusing to mention the use of condoms in their books because "it ruins the fantasy". Yeah, let's advocate fantasy of STDs!

Would it ruin the "fantasy" if a guy cums in your mouth? What's wrong with swallowing cum that it's not allowed? Why restrict intercourse with just so very few foreplay or positions when, in reality, LOL, women prefer more of those?

7/29/2006 11:28:00 PM  

Blogger Ranting said...

Bj is kindda lowered in rank of importance once ur married and got kids runin' around. Couples just fall into a routine, It does not stop some from begging

7/30/2006 12:12:00 AM  

Blogger Angel Jamie said...

hello there bitches! u guys leave me speechless all the time! :D love this site!!!

7/30/2006 10:56:00 AM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

I think BJ's are important always. And so is cunilingus :D I luuurve those :P

I'm not sure I want to read about spitting and/or swallowing. I think better swallowing if done tastefully (is that even possible? LOL) than spitting. I mean, where the hell would the girl spit in any case? Ughh.

My thing on body parts and their names. A cock, penis, vagina, pussy I can take. but what the hell is a "wet cave of love" or a "velvet shaft"? GIVE ME A FUCKING BREAK! No wonder I've been skipping most sex scenes lately!

Oh god I need help LOL

7/30/2006 11:43:00 AM  

Blogger Gun_Wielding_Bitch said...

Ok, personally I read romance to get that big breathy sigh when everything is perfect at the end. In-between I want good sex.

I know that 70% of women don't get off on intercourse alone and I know people don't get off every time they have sex.

I want the fantasy or it's a waste of book. If I wanted honest sex (hatred of blow jobs, no orgasm, sticky mess, ruined bed sheets and bad sex) I'd call one of my married friends and ask, "How is everything going?"

7/30/2006 09:52:00 PM  

Blogger Sparkling Cipher said...

I just read three different Harlequins published within the last 7 years that made no mention of condoms. Come on! All three made a big deal about how the hero loved that the heroine was "intelligent." HA. Two of the three heroes were of questionable trustworthiness until near the end and had been known to the heroine for less than a week.

7/31/2006 10:40:00 AM