So What If It Is Porn?

I’m sure this post is going to bring me quite a bit of accidental traffic, but oh well. Sometimes, things have to be said, even if they bring in the wrong sort of crowd!

We all know the truth. Romance is the Rodney Dangerfield of genre fiction: it just can’t get no respect. Those who write it and those who read it are regularly sneered at as having no talent (“anyone can write to a formula”) or no taste (“how can you read that trash?”). We do what we can to combat this sort of prejudice, of course, but in the final analysis, we all know it’s ultimately a waste of time and breath. People who are anti-romance aren’t going to change their minds no matter what we say any more than people who read Glenn Beck and watch Fox News are going to wake up tomorrow morning and think, “OMG, I was so WRONG about Obama!”

But the one charge against romance that is absolutely certain to raise both hackles and heated responses is to call it “porn” (with or without the phrase “for women” tacked on). The defenders of romance rush into the fray whenever this charge is raised, because, they insist, romance is not pornography. Romance novels do not exist for the sole purpose of exciting sexual arousal, even when they include explicit sex scenes, and there are plenty of romances that aren’t explicit at all. Romance isn’t about sex, per se, but about romantic love, with sex as one of the many lenses through which that emotion can be explored.

The thing is, this is something you don’t have to tell people who read or write the genre. We know it already. I’m just not sure that arguing against it helps improve anything. Because as I said earlier, people who don’t like romance aren’t going to change their opinions no matter what we say. Moreover, I know plenty of romance writers out there who joke that they write “smut” or, yes, “porn.” I’ve been known to say it myself on occasion.

What it boils down to for me is this: I don’t care if people who don’t read romance consider it “porn.” I’m not ashamed to say that I write books that I hope will engender a whole range of emotions in my readers, up to and including sexual arousal. The sex isn’t the ONLY thing in the book, of course, but it’s a huge component of a romantic relationship, and if I can convey that part of my characters’ relationship well, I generally feel the rest will come along for the ride.

In other words, I’m all about word appropriation. You want to call my book “porn?” Fine, I’ll embrace that label the way some in the LGBTQI community have embraced the word “queer.” My books ARE intended to arouse my readers, and if they don’t, I’m not doing it right. And I’d rather spend my time doing it right than convincing the anti-romance crowd to use a different word. Because whether they do or not won’t change what I write and how I write it. Or, for that matter, what I love to read.

Now, go ahead…tell me why I’m all wet!

What Do Your iPod Listening Habits Say About You?

So, I’m sitting here this morning listening to my iPod and just really getting a kick out of my music. (Partly, this is because the darn thing wasn’t working for months. I thought I was going to have to take it to the Apple store to get it fixed, but my 12yo son figured out how to reset it manually, bless his heart. I must say his efforts on my behalf validate my decision to continue to feed, clothe, and house him.)

Because I have the iPod set on shuffle–and I have almost 600 songs loaded on it–I have no idea what’s coming next (except that it can’t be anything I’ve already heard). To start this morning, I got Thriller by Michael Jackson, then True Love Travels on a Gravel Road by Nick Lowe followed by A Day in the Life by the Beatles, Fame by David Bowie, and now, Shoebox by Barenaked Ladies. I’d never have CHOSEN to listen to those five songs in particular if I’d been scrolling through my music, but they’re all awesome songs.

My husband, though, hates it and complains vigorously when he has to listen to my iPod in shuffle. Some of that is that we don’t completely share musical tastes, but mainly, he hates NOT knowing what’s coming next and that it might be thematically/musically out of sync with whatever he just heard. When he plays his iPod, he always chooses either artists or albums and plays them straight through. He talks a good game about creating playlists, but I’ve never actually known him to do it except for specific circumstances (i.e., a Cub Scout meeting/event).

Anyway, it occurred to me that this difference in our iPod listening habits pretty well describes the primary difference between our personalities. I’m incredibly unstructured in my approach to life–one of the hardest things about having kids for me was the whole notion of having a schedule…or even a routine. I like spontaneity and unpredictability–to the point that some might consider me flighty or flaky (or both!).

My husband, by contrast, likes everything just so. If anything comes along and pushes him off his well-thought-out path, he gets cranky. Predictability and routine is the name of the game for him, which probably explains why we’ve managed to stay married for almost 20 years. A guy who likes variety and spontaneity a whole lot is probably not the best bet for husband material, after all :).

All in all, I think it’s a good thing that I married someone who is my polar opposite in this regard. He keeps me from flying off in fifty directions at once (keeping me to a solid 20 or so at a time, lol). And I keep him from being way too rigid and plodding. It’s a good match!

Anyway, this got me wondering about you all. What kind of iPod listener are you? And what, if anything, do you think your iPod listening habits say about you?

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