Wednesday, June 08, 2005

For the love of Books

For the love of Books: "My first reading indiscretion took place when I was eleven years old. My friend got a free copy of a..."

Whether it's Janet Jackson's clothing malfunction, Will & Grace, or the internet porn utopia, much has been said about how the media is plucking the virginal flowers of our youths. Concerned parents and activist politicians push for new regulations every state and federal legislative term. Their kids are being exposed to things their young minds are not capable of understanding and/or putting into context with the "real world."

But what about the book industry? Since the first mass-produced books hit the markets, efforts to ban specific titles have plagued local schools and community libraries becuase of raunchy and inappropriate material. In rebuttal, most school districts see the impact of such literature and make it part of the required reading curriculum. The intent of literature is not to simply entertain, it also serves to educate and enlighten. To this day, one of my favorite essays is A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift. I remember reading it aloud in class, watching other students squirm at some of the propositions, and enjoying it all like a fatal car crash on the side of the road. When I read it again years later, I could define satire in my own terms; not in the language I once memorized from an English textbook.

In a society where fornication can be described in three manners (sex, f-ing, and making love) our culture is not longer overly sensitive to erotic writings. Why then, do we concern ourselves with what our children see and seek out on the internet? The title of this post is a link to a excellent essay on romance books. I've never seen romance titles to have a purpose in any respectable library. I see the people that walk out of bookstores with these books piled 10- and 12-high under their arms and can only feel for them. Not only do I think about what their husbands must feel like, but then I correct my thoughts...if these womens' husbands cared at all, their wives would not be buying sexual thrills at 6.99 a pop.

After reading the essay, I, again, have to correct myself. Like my respect for the Kama Sutra, some women feel the same way about their Harlequin monthlies. Sure, a 35-year-old mother with three kids, a husband, and two dogs probably doesn't need to be educated on sex, but what about making love? Have these women ever been exposed to a night of passion mixed with pleasure as described in these novels?

Maybe this post isn't so much about the book media as it is about the primal difference between status quo expectations for men and women. Generalization: men don't make love, they have sex - they act to procreate, and hope to fail; women prefer to make love - an honest act of love, admiration, and respect...honest because it's nonverbal.

Or, maybe this post is exactly about how the book media is failing to bring together the sexes. If the Kama Sutra focused on emotions and scene-setting instead of procedure would men be more romantic? If romance novels weren't so much flowers and lace, could love-making be more than a fantasy?

The reason some books find themselves on the banned books list is because they take ballsy, revolutionary steps outside the realm of what society expects and what it's comfortable with. That literature is new and innovative in such a way that it holds an honest, clean mirror in front of our faces rather than clouding and covering our blemished desires, urges, and truths. The only romance novel I've ever purchased and read is Jane Eyre. That novel is romance at its real level. The heroin is not big-busted and perfect. The hero is not suave and gentile. The characters are every day people finding how to love and discovering their lives were just a combination of fear, pride, and emptiness. Maybe men and women aren't looking for the perfect romance; maybe we're looking for the lives we're missing out on without even blemished romance.


Blogger swingingpuss said...

Thanks for the call-out. Insightful thoughts - I would agree that romance novels are not based on reality really, and yet they reflect the desires of women - what they want in men - sensitivity, humor, and stability.

Nice blog - do check out my other posts.


9:05 PM  

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