Sunday, September 7, 2008

Should Men Read Romance Novels to Learn About Women?

Should Men Read Romance Novels to Find Out More About Women?

The men who actually do read them inspired this week’s question. Several soldiers, just back from Iraq, showed up at the Desert Dreams Writing Conference to meet Sherilyn Kenyon. They had driven from Texas to AZ to get their books signed. It made me wonder what they might learn about women while engrossed in her paranormal plots.

I took a look at my own book, Liquid Hypnosis, and decided there was something a man could learn from the story. I wasn’t thinking of the plot, or the characters, or the sex scene that fades to black. What came to mind were the little touches that heighten the sexual tension between the hero and heroine. For example, he leans in close but won’t kiss her. I love to see that in films. Next, he places his hand on her lower back. That is one of the steps of intimacy. I knew that long before I read the list. I always found it to be a gentle, protective way of guiding a woman through a door, or other area. One of my favorite interactions between the couple took place when the hero and heroine were dancing. I put that scene in just so I could add this move. He envelops her hand in his, and instead of extending it to dance, he tucks it against his heart. I don’t remember the name of the man who did that with me, but I will always remember that move.

I couldn’t wait to see what other women thought about this topic. Here are the responses I received.

--- Tina, I absolutely agree that men should read romance novels. It not only helps them understand a woman and her moods, but it teaches them what women like in the bedroom. Men who read romance novels have a better relationship with their spouse/partner.
Carolyn Hughey
Cupid's Web ~ Available Now

Heck, YEAH!

Then they could understand women are ultimately won by CHARACTER. We'll melt for a pretty face, sure. But if he's shallow, selfish, boring or self-absorbed then we're GONE.

We'll take a flawed man - who may not be the perfect "model" - but if he's truly honest, strong enough both to take care of me and admit his weaknesses, trustworthy, hardworking, and loves me unconditionally, then I'm his for life.

The fantasy is to find both in one: beautiful inside and out. Though, truth be told, when he's beautiful inside, we'll think him beautiful on the outside as well.

Kris :)

"Norway is the new Scotland"
Missouri Territory 1819 -
A betraying husband,the father of her child, a convenient fiancé.
One woman, three very different men. Life is about choices.

Should men read romance novels to learn more about women? Answer-No!. We all learn about the opposite sex through real life experiences and relationships, not romance books. Men begin learning about women through their mothers and then of course later on with their loves. Would reading romance novels give men more knowledge of women, what they want etc., maybe! Would they use that knowledge with regard to their relationships? Doubtfull!
I think romance novels have always been geared toward women and should remain so. Men have their own form of fantasy books and women have their romance novels and other fiction too. Does this sound sexist? Of course! But it seems to be the way of the world. Don't you think?
Doreen Pagliaro

No. I don't want them to know more about us women then they already do. I want them to work for it. Afterall, they like a challenge and women are a definite mystery to them. Of course, I have a man who figured most of it out, but then again he always was an overacheiver :-)

Thanks, ladies. I love your input.


Melanie Atkins said...

Great post, Tina. I do wish men would read romance novels to learn more about women. They would realize that women are strong and determined, and that they are looking for someone other than the proverbial white knight...and that they don't need anyone to save them. They need a partner...someone just as strong and determined; someone honorable who is their equal.

Terry Odell said...

After dealing with a week-long series on "His Brain/Her Brain" at my blog, I think that it's more 'wishful thinking' that a man who reads romance novels is going to 'change'. They're hard wired differently.

Hubby read the ARCs for my next release--because I begged him to and because he was reading it to catch errors. To his surprise, he had to admit he enjoyed it--except he went quickly over the 'mushy stuff.'

I don't know how much a man would "learn". They'd probably scratch their heads and wonder why the heck the hero did that--because I think a majority of romance novel heros behave the way women want them to behave. So, yeah, if a guy would actually take what he reads to heart, it would be great. But I wouldn't hold my breath.

Michele Hart said...

No, men should not read Romance novels to learn about women any more than women should read James Bond to learn about men.

These are iconic fantasies, NOT real life. In Romance novels, we need men to be hunky, brave, and fixated on a goal.
In real life, we need them fixated on paying the bills.

Romance men are not real men, they are a conglomerate fantasy of our genetic drives. Big, healthy, handsome, good fighters, good hunters, aggressive. Those are qualities that made a good mate when we lived in the caves, which is where our genetic imperatives come from and survival was the goal.
Now, we need them to love and care for their children, focus on the bills, and being good husbands.

In real life, all the traits that make an alpha male a great character....cause divorces in real life. IN GENERAL, alpha males do not make great husbands or great fathers. They are, by their definition ALPHA, which means, "Me First!" That doesn't make a good mate or parent.
Beta males do because they're not so self-centered and care about the group instead of just themselves.
BUT Betas don't make great Romance heroes.

How would you feel if our men read James Bond, and used that to model their views of all women? Does James Bond sleep with the 300lb laundrywoman? No, he bangs the super-models!

Romance is no different.

Tina LaVon said...

Thanks for the input, ladies.
I love the diversity of answers.

Michelle said...

Wonderful post Tina. I've never considered this. But men DO read romance now. We have several male members of RWA, some who write under pseudonyms because they know some women won't read romances written by a man while some will.

However, I think both genders can learn something from taking an interest in what appeals to the opposite sex. Women are obviously attracted to romances because they genre deals in fantasies. So if a man reads a lot of romances, he will understand that women don't want emasculate males; they want equal partners who aren't afraid to express themselves.

That doesn't mean they should strive to be just like the heroes written because, after all, this is FANTASY. There are some heroes I've read about that, while his actions fit the story, I would NEVER consider dating because he took too much drama from the heroine.