The Case for Bodice Ripper Sex-Ed * by @TaylorLeeWrites

NEWS FLASH!  We romance writers have been vindicated. According to none other than the Gray Lady herself, the New York Times: “Romance Novels Are The Best Sex-Ed.”

Sex-Ed

Seriously, this is news. The January 21, Sunday New York Times featured a sensational article by contributing opinion writer Jennifer Weiner titled: “We Need Bodice-Ripping Sex-Ed.” In her clever, insightful article Weiner claims that she got a smidgen of information about sex from her well-meaning parents. Another sliver came from junior high sex-ed classes that named body parts and detailed all the bad things that can happen to you if you have sex.  (Think hideous diseases and of course, the ultimate curse, pregnancy.) Fortunately for Weiner, like a lot of us, she was a reader.  And what did she read? Yep, you guessed it: Romance novels.

Weiner throws a bone to the likely readers of the NYT when she concedes:  “The literary establishment doesn’t have much love for women’s fiction, whether it’s romance, erotica or popular novels about love and marriage.”  She adds, “Romance novels come in for an extra helping of scorn. Critics sneer that they’re all heaving bosoms and throbbing manhoods, unrealistic, poorly written and politically incorrect.”

Not so, says Weiner.

In the central theme of the article she insists as an information-hungry teenager, the romance novels she read, “for all their soft core covers and happily-ever-afters, were quietly and not so quietly subversive. They taught readers that sexual pleasure was something women could not just hope for but insist upon. [And] shaped my interactions with boys and men. They helped make me a feminist.”

WOW! True vindication for those of us as teenagers who hid in the closet gobbling up everything from Gone With the Wind (you know the scene on the stairs when Rhett apparently has his way with a blushing Scarlet…) to  Judith Krantz, to Erica Jong etc., etc. Without understanding that we were being “brainwashed”, we romance readers came to believe that female pleasure was a must, something that we should insist upon.

Weiner explains, “Because these books were written for and consumed by women, female pleasure was an essential part of every story. Villains were easy to spot: they were the ones who left a woman “burning and unsatisfied.” She cites “Shirley Conran’s “LACE” that features a heroine telling her feckless husband that she used an egg-timer to determine how long it took her to achieve orgasm on her own and that she’d be happy to teach him what to do.” Weiner adds with what I’m sure was a grin, “At 14, I never looked at hard- boiled eggs the same way again.”

Romance novels teach readers that all partners are equal participants

Weiner takes her argument in favor of romance novels into the political issue of the day, the #MeToo Movement.  She quotes Bea Koch, the co-owner of the Ripped Bodice bookstore who says, “Romance novels teach readers that all partners are equal participants in a sexual relationship….In some instances it can be a literal roadmap for how to bring up difficult topics with a partner. They give a roadmap to people wanting to experiment with their sexuality, or even get on touch with what they want and need in a sexual relationship.”

Are romance novels “just porn” as so many reviewers sniff?  Given the rampant availability of porn, that is a worthwhile question to ask.  One recent study found that “79 percent of men and 76 percent of women look at a pornographic website at least every month, another that three out of 10 men in that age group were daily viewers.” In contrast, those of us who read and write about a range of intimacy know that while “sex might be easy, relationships are hard.” Comparing romance novels to porn, Weiner says, “The book has the ability to paint a deeper picture. A 400 page novel can teach you more about relationships that any X-rated clip.”

In the current climate where so many people, men and women, are wrestling with crossed wires and mixed signals, Weiner concludes, “If we want men and women equally empowered to form real connection, to talk honestly and openly about who they are and what they want, there are worse places to start than curling up with a good book.”

Amen.

*Confession:  This is a repeat of a previous blog. I think it is one of my best. And frankly given the “sneers” we get from mainstream press, Jennifer Weiner’s insightful and laugh aloud message is worthy of reading again … and again.

P.S. If you like your Bodice Ripper books with no holds barred, check out:  The Olive or Twist Series. Trust me. These guys and gals don’t need egg-timers.

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The Olive or Twist Saga is a steamy legal and law-enforcement escapade. If you like smart lawyers, tough-talking cops and scorching passion, you’ll love my sizzling thrill-ride. Discover how challenging love affairs can be when sex and violence are in the mix. Grab The Olive or Twist Saga today and prepare to be wowed!

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Word of Wisdom

“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.” ~ Timothy Leary

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

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“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” ~ e. e. cummings

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Healing Plans

Love Plans Series, book 8

Melissa Blake, a bright young surgeon, worked long hours to gain a remarkable experience. Fed up with her controlling mentor, she interviews for a better position.
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No Vacation Plans

Love Plans Series, book 9

Denise Lambert fell in love at first sight with Damien Booker, a biracial law student. They danced the night away, and she welcomed his passionate kiss. But then he disappeared.
Five years later, she can’t believe her eyes when the pizza delivery boy sporting a long frizzy mane and a bushy beard is none other than Damien. He kisses her and runs away. She manages to get his phone number and reconnect with him. For weeks, they chat on the phone, until she bumps into Zorro, the exotic male dancer, at her friend’s bachelorette party—Damien again who kisses her senseless. But Denise is fed up with the jack of all trades, working long hours at three low-paying jobs. She’ll have to break it off with him unless…
Determined to be worthy of her love, Damian set aside his resentment against discriminating lawyers. Clean cut and well-groomed, he applies to various firms, until he garners several interviews and finally lands the right position in the right firm. Will his effort pay off? Or will he have to fight her friends and relatives to bring Denise into his arms?

FALLING IN LOVE by @PatriceWilton

No matter your age, finding yourself in love with a new person you’ve met or the same person you’ve been married to for fifty wonderful years—it’s an amazing, wonderful, uplifting and life changing event. Perhaps the most important of all. You love your children, your family, the beach, travel, writing, reading and a thousand other very satisfying ways to restore your soul and bring joy to your life, but doing it alone is just not the same as with someone you deeply love.

Love

I’m in my seventies and have lost two very special people, my son and my last partner of seventeen years, and trust me being on your own weighs on you. Sure, we have friends and people who care about you as you do them, but nothing makes your heart sing again until you run into that one person who lights you up inside.

I’m a romantic at heart, and I know a great many wonderful people who are. Like romance novelists who write about couples that have known heartache and loss. It takes a special someone to help them open their hearts once again and find hope and to trust in love, and joy without fear.

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The Magical Balm of Friendship #RachelleAyala @mimisgang1 #mgtab

Photo by Matheus Ferrero: https://www.pexels.com/photo/four-men-sitting-on-ground-1974927/

Why do we like friendship fiction so much?

Think about it. What would your favorite story be like if the hero or heroine had no friends? Think about Frodo without Samwise Gamgee, or Harry without Ron and Hermione. I’m betting your favorite romances have at least one friend character, either the hero’s or the heroine’s or one of each. I like to write romances with a friendship group, such as the Bumblebees in my Bad Boys for Hire series or the Girl Crew in my Not Mine romantic comedy series.

Having friends is one of the most basic joys of being human. A friend is someone who wants to be with you because he likes you and enjoys spending time with you. It’s a voluntary association and it makes you feel special and recognized. Friends help you celebrate the good times in your life as well as support you through the bad times. They provide you with social cues and help you understand yourself, and of course, they give you a chance to care about them too. They also reveal things about your personality, either directly through feedback and counsel or indirectly as a foil or contrast or comparison of how they would have handled a situation.

Having a group of friends provides even more feedback. The love and caring as well as fun times and sometimes, friction, bring out the best in group dynamics. That’s why books and TV shows about friendship groups are so popular. We enjoy the drama, the loving, the hijinks, and even the support during sad times. When we read about friends and relationships, we learn how to relate to other people and we can vicariously feel the love and emotion, as well as taste the strife that sometimes breaks up a friendship. Of course, we root for the characters, individually and as a group, and when they are back in harmony and celebrating, we get to go along and party with them too.

These are some of the reasons I enjoy friendship fiction. It invites me into the group as a participating member and also allows me to hone my friendship skills by experiencing the drama and angst the characters go through. Do you enjoy friendship fiction? If so, please check out my Bad Boys for Hire series, where my group of Bumblebees met in preschool dance class. They’re all grown up now and still dancing together, and as each one of them finds their bad boy, the others are there to support them and celebrate and give advice. The boys become friends too, but only after meeting the girls. Check out all seven Bad Boys for Hire.

Bad Boys for Hire: Complete Collection