Romance is Bad for You! So is Pornography! And Sex!

Suitable for the Head Up Our Ass Department, we have a red alert sent to us from Bitchery Reader iffygenia who directs us to this jaw dropping piece of journalism: Is there Harm in Reading Romance Novels?

Sarah: Oh dear Lord. Not this bullshit again. The right-leaning is as dipshitted as the left-leaning, and my greatest regret is that I’m not on site to see Candy’s head explode when she reads this commentary and rebuttal, written by Shaunti Feldhahn and Diane Glass.

Did you read it? Seriously, do NOT have food in your mouth. You might choke. 

Feldhahn argues that romance readers can become “unbalanced” by the distortion inherent in romance, and gets right down to the age-old comparison of romance to pornography, albeit porn for chicks. Pointing her right-leaning finger at erotica, she argues that the pornography is bad enough, but then there’s all these women seeking an unattainable ideal based on reading too much romance with rugged, sensitive heroes. Seems us romance types are not spending enough time “find[ing] the hero in our husbands and not in the pages of a fiction book.”

Thank God she stopped short of mentioning the words “family values,” though the hint was there in broad stroke.

Setting aside the deep faults of the first commentary, the rebuttal has plenty of butt in it, too, starting with the condescending and utterly trite argument that romance, erotica, or not, “at least women are reading.”

Stop patting me on the head. You’ll mess up my hair.

While Feldhahn asserts that erotica novels – which, duh, aren’t the same thing as romance novels, not that these two would care to examine the difference – promote addiction, and create unattainable romantic ideals, Glass responds that erotica has been shown in a recent study titled Pornography: Research Advances and Policy Considerations to have “no adverse social implications.” Thank heaven. I’d hate to think reading about human sexual and emotional relationships might make me antisocial any more than I already am.

Neither writer can tell the difference between erotica and romance any more than they can tell the difference between a sound and completely idiotic argument. Moreover, both come across as women who doth not know whereof they speak, who likely have never read a romance novel nor an erotica novel.

My overwhelming reaction to this condescending bulltripe? Exhaustion. Not only can I not tell if they’re arguing about erotica or the sexuality of romance novels, but again the idea of reading romance and now erotica is called into question as some rubric against which to value the intelligence and relative mental stability of the reader, to say nothing of the old lumping together of romance AS porn for women.

On one hand, so what, if it is? It’s not but even if it were chick porn, so what? God forbid we have orgasms or even sexual knowledge. But more to the point, romance isn’t pornography any more than merely reading it will turn a reader into an imbalanced harpy who finds limitless anger in the fact that her husband isn’t “strong, rugged and breathtakingly handsome, yet sensitive, patient listeners and utterly unselfish.”

If anything, I want to know why “journalism” like this hasn’t caused a decrease in the number of people reading newspapers. Oh, wait….

Candy: First of all, this sentence by Feldhahn was had me rolling:

The male heroes are all strong, rugged and breathtakingly handsome, yet sensitive, patient listeners and utterly unselfish.

Has this woman read a romance novel? Romance novel heroes can be accused of any number of things, but being sensitive, patient and utterly unselfish listeners ain’t one of them. Unless she’s confusing the gay best friend in chick lit with a romance novel hero?

But really, I’m so goddamn sick of the whole “Romance creates unrealistic expectations in women!” argument. Most right-leaning douchebags eventually gave up on the whole “RPGs will make your children Satan-worshipping elf-wannabes who will STAB YOU IN YOUR SLEEP” scenario; why won’t they do the same with romances? Why the insistence on assuming we’re weak-minded fools who are unable to tell fiction from reality? Fiction can have transformative powers, it’s true, but when somebody decides to break up with a wonderful husband because of a romance novel, I think that person has more serious issues than a romance novel addiction to deal with. The DSM-IV would be a good place to start.

The funny thing is, the sorts of people who love to blame romance novels for the breakdown of the family are usually the ones who go on ad nauseam about the importance of personal responsibility, especially when it comes to social issues. Pregnant with an unwanted child? Gay? Brown and po’? SUCK IT UP, BECAUSE IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT TO BEGIN WITH, AND IF YOU TRIED HARD ENOUGH, YOU WOULDN’T BE ANY OF THESE THINGS. But once something like, say, violence in video games or the manly (but sensitive! Don’t forget they’re so sensitive!) heroes in romance novels rear their heads, they’re all for warning people off lest the poor, unsuspecting victims shatter their fragile psyches against the ramparts of oiled man-titty. As soon as blame can be attached to something that directly affects them, you won’t see a group of people so eager to pass on the buck. God forbid that the kids do awful things because they had shitty parents or because they’re being, y’know, kids, or that the woman left her husband because he’s a terrible spouse.

The rebuttal didn’t get my dander up quite as much as it did Sarah, but the derailment into Pornolandia made me raise my brow. I tend to question studies that claim violent porn increases propensities towards sexual violence—my gut feeling is that people who voluntarily seek out violent porn (not kinky BDSM stuff—I’m talking snuff porn and rape porn) on a regular basis probably are inclined in that direction to begin with. Linking causality for this sort of thing is incredibly tricky.

And all this clucking and flapping over female porn always makes me wonder: are female orgasms so terrifying? Seriously, why are people so damn worked up over women getting turned on and rubbin’ one out? Every time a woman masturbates, are TWO kittens killed instead of just one? I want to know, because I’d like to know how many kittens I’ve killed last week.


News, Ranty McRant

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    rebyj says:

    How many kittens DID you kill last week?


    she said “all these women seeking an unattainable ideal based on reading too much romance with rugged, sensitive heroes. “

    blows my dreams to bits, here i thought there was some rich, horny, world traveling super sensitive vampire, super stud, crime fighter out there somewhere just waiting for me… and now i’m told he’s UNATTAINABLE? damn

  2. 2
    iffygenia says:

    As I said in email, it’s hard for me to get too pissed when it’s so very laughably (pitiably?) clear where Feldhahn is coming from.  That book she recommended?  The full title is

    Finding the Hero in Your Husband: Surrendering the Way God Intended

    and skimming the description on Amazon gave me shudders of association with the creepy-sad “surrendered wife” movement.

  3. 3
    Najida says:

    So what are us old bats supposed to aspire to?  Someone with his own teeth and only 3 daily meds?

  4. 4

    I am so sick of this BS!  What year is it? It sure sounds like it’s 1807 (“Novels are dangerous for impressionable young ladies!”) and not 2007 based on this ridiculous screed about dumb women too stupid to be able to separate reality from fiction. 

    This is possibly my favorite line:

    “In fact, some marriage therapists caution that women can become as dangerously unbalanced by these books’ entrancing but distorted messages”

    If Your Mother Says She Loves You, Check it Out! is my mantra, and I want to see proof of this statement, and one lameass marriage therapist with a couple out of control delusional clients does not make for proof.

    I hope the SBs address this issue in their book.  The operative word in this discussion is “smart”, and my money’s on you two.

  5. 5
    Rianne says:

    hey, my friend recommended this site to me and i was not let down!  are you ever gonna review carrie pilby?  or fashionista?  they’re my favorite harlequin-published but actually SMART books even with chick lit covers.  you should totally do it!

  6. 6
    Chrissy says:

    Speaking personally, when I am reading romance (traditional, erotic, whatever) I have WAY more sex with my husband. Just puts me in the mood.

    If a husband is being totally ignored in favour of romance novels, chances are there is some reason over and above the lady’s love of the genre.

  7. 7

    I hate surrender-harpies.  They should all be forced to read “The Handmaiden’s Tale” and see what happens to surrender-harpies when men really take over.  No, those women don’t believe in surrendering authority to their husbands anymore than I believe in Creationism.  Or they’d be home, pregnant and barefoot, scrubbing floors on their knees and too busy and TOO HUMBLE to write books and article telling others what to do.  Attention whores.

    On the other hand, there is a serious lack of good female porn these days for a girl who isn’t into threesomes and demands freaking good writing even if she’s killing two kittens a pop while at it.

  8. 8
    Jen C says:

    I love it.  The only way that women are going to develop unrealistic expectations is if they have no idea the difference between real life and fiction.  Bah.

  9. 9
    Erin says:

    Considering the slang term for femme genitalia, and the French term for orgasm, female orgasm can completely be seen as killign the kitten…

    As a high schoo English teacher, I’ve been given a raised eyebrow and asked if having romance novels in my classroom library is “appropriate” because of the sex. One: I vet my books, and don’t allow erotica or explicit manga. Two: Are you kidding? If I wouldn’t get in trouble, I’d brig in all sex, all the time if it got my students to read more! Whatever hooks kids into a book is great. I grew up on romance and AFAIK, I am neither unbalance or delusional.

    And “surrended wife” makes me want to poke my own eyeballs out with a sprok and eat them. Yarg. Where are the surrendered husband guides, huh?

  10. 10
    Najida says:

    I just wrote a response.

    Two stupid twits writing two stupid columns insulting all women by implying we’re all too delicate and impressionable to tell fact from fiction.


  11. 11
    Lauren Dane says:

    The number of fuckwitted douchebags with newspaper columns never ceases to amaze me.

    Romance books are the strawman of the left and the right. From the right – the mere lighting of your eyes upon this book will pry your knees open to every ham handed dullard who wants your goodies. Don’t be a slut and read NASCAR romance!

    From the left – well, it’s not real literature but at least those housewives are reading and as long as it’s not porn, they’ll be all right. We know those housewives are so stupid they can’t tell the difference between real life and a book, but well, it’s not that bad for them.

    Whatever. You know what, I’ll bet nether one of those women has read an entire romance novel. But why should they when they can be self righteous about people they don’t know and books they’ve never read?

    And I will laugh, because I apparently try to convert my sisters to lesbianism and eat kittens in puff pastry, that my code is usually69 and it made me laugh.

  12. 12
    Sarah Frantz says:

    The thing that gets to me is the complete lack of general public knowledge of the statistic that with increase in internet access, there has been a decrease in rapes.  Not a direct correspondence, of course, but a very compelling correlation.  See here (PDF, be warned) and here (Slate article).

    So porn is good for you!

    And I’m with Chrissy.  DH gets WAY more nooky and more experimental, interesting nooky when I’m reading romances.  Especially those erotica stories that are so bad for me.

    And as an 18thC scholar, these arguments have been around for 300 years (and probably more, but I only go back to 1700) when it comes to women and their reading habits.  It’s ridiculous that they haven’t gone away yet.

  13. 13
    Poison Ivy says:

    An awful lot of public discourse is based on faulty logic. “Compare and contrast” requires genuine parallels, for instance, not straw dogs and false conclusions. But that’s what we get all the time. 

    Yes, romance gets picked on. Not only is anything that women like an easy target (since woman are a despised second class in most cultures, not excluding our own), but—oh, this is so ironic—everything about women is SEXY and thus by definition interesting. So self-righteous critics (men or women, women can be haters, too) can get a double hit, the virtue of seeming upright, and the vice of appealing to prurient interest just to be heard. And it works, it works.

    Fighting back is important because otherwise, all people hear are the lies.

  14. 14
    Kaite says:

    From the Amazon blurb on that mentally retarded surrender book:

    Dr. Slattery advocates that the key to a successful Christian marriage is a wife’s ability to encourage her husband to develop his leadership role in the marriage and her ability to avoid boredom in the bedroom.

    So… if the marriage is in trouble, it’s the woman’s job to make it all better by telling her hubby to become a controlling asshole? Don’t men have any responsibility at all in human relationships?

    I mean, we all know if a woman is raped, it’s got to be her fault (after all, men don’t rape non-slutty women) so now a bad marriage is her fault for being insecure, too.

    Sweet Jesus on a cracker, isn’t there bad on earth that women aren’t directly responsible for?

    No wonder I’m single. As a female, it’s just too much damn work—I have to be demure enough he doesn’t rape me, slutty enough he doesn’t leave me, and I have to make the marriage work by encouraging him. I get more out of killing kittens.

  15. 15
    iffygenia says:

    OK, you two are doing exactly what I said the AJC wanted.  Slow news day?  Set off the romance-porn-politics bunch.

    I’d almost be sorry I disseminated this, except Jacquie D’Alessandro & other authors are making some great comments on the AJC site.

    Seriously guys, how is it condescending to say it’s a good thing that people read?  I have NO problem with that statement.

    “Neither writer can tell the difference between erotica and romance”… well, one can, clearly, and the other is trying to make a rather provocative point, if you’ll give it a reasonable read.  One thinks romance is bad and erotica is Teh Evil; the other doesn’t really care except to say erotica isn’t Teh Evil, and even if it’s chick porn that’s OK.  This disagrees with your point, how, exactly?

    Sheesh.  My bitch-meter is pegged today.  I’m going to lie on the fainting couch with a cold compress and a romance novel….

  16. 16
    Lauren Dane says:

    What’s condescending is “well at least women are reading” which is not “wow, it’s great people are reading” The difference between the two is pretty glaring and yes, condescending.

    If women want to read romance, why do we have to pat them on the head and tell them it’s okay? If women want to read sex why do we have to rush to tell them it’s okay as long as it’s not porn?

  17. 17
    SB Sarah says:

    The statement wasn’t “it’s a good thing people read.” That on its own is indeed a good thing.

    The statement I take umbrage with is “at least women are reading…” the unspoken end to that statement based on the rest of the rebuttal being, “even if they are reading the intellectual equivalent of toilet paper.” That dismissal of women reading romance as cerebral lightweights is insulting and such a tired, old argument, I’m amazed it still carries water.

    I would also argue that while either writer may know the difference between romance and erotica, neither cared to notice or pay attention to the fact that they are decidedly different. The question posed asked about romance novels; the commentary and rebuttal addressed erotica as the root of all evil for women. Either they don’t care to pay attention to the details – which calls into question the credibility of their argument, or they don’t know, which, again, assaults their credibility.

  18. 18
    iffygenia says:

    What’s condescending is “well at least women are reading”

    Considering that women were being attacked for reading, I thought it was an appropriate response.

    If women want to read sex why do we have to rush to tell them it’s okay as long as it’s not porn?

    I didn’t see anything like that in the article.  One wasn’t OK with any of it.  The other said her concern was over violent, dehumanizing porn.  And the reason she brought it up, again, was that the first commentary made no distinctions of the sort.

  19. 19
    iffygenia says:

    while either writer may know the difference between romance and erotica, neither cared to notice or pay attention to the fact that they are decidedly different.

    Why should they?  (For that matter, why should they know it?  Why should anyone?)  Those definitions are a blurry mess of historic usage and industry jargon.  I think the public thinks about erotica as a subset of “romance novels”, “romance novels” being an enormous variety of character-driven, relationship-oriented fiction.  And I think that’s a valid perspective.

    Just because people aren’t specialists in the field, doesn’t mean everything they say is without merit.

  20. 20
    SB Sarah says:

    They certainly don’t have to be specialists, but at least they should know what they’re talking about when they point the finger of societal doom at erotica before they condemn me for reading it.

  21. 21
    iffygenia says:

    they point the finger of societal doom at erotica before they condemn me for reading it

    Fine, so you and I read the article very differently.  It directly attacked you; it gave me some interesting new reading.

  22. 22
    Najida says:

    I was annoyed when it was clear they were using dated imagery (Fabio!?!  PLEASE) that they hadn’t even walked past a romance book much less read one.

    That to me is a dead give away that they were both ignorant and prejudiced before they wrote the columns.

    If they’d used current authors or publishing houses, or the whole ‘netrotica phenomenon, I would have believed them.

    But they both came off as ignorant of their subject.  Just being lazy and writing something they thought was a Monday am slam dunk.

    Right-  PR0n is bad.
    Left- Romance is stOOpid.


  23. 23
    RevMelinda says:

    OK, this probably isn’t in the “Bitches” comfort zone (LOL!) but I thought you might like to read a “pro-romance novel” sermon I preached a couple Sundays ago (yup, in an actual church, and I held up some actual mantitty covers too!)  Thought it might be a nice counterpoint for the snarky ignorant AJS article. . . here’s the link. . .

  24. 24
    kate says:

    And another thing… romance give women ‘unrealistic’ expectations?  You know, the kind were men are attractive, attentive, and motivated to maintain the heroine’s attention?  Sheesh… lord knows we wouldn’t want women to expect that from men. 

    Let me tell who has unrealistic expectations – I’ve met men who expect their future wife (it’s almost always unmarried men who harbor the following delusion) to keep house like Martha Stewart, screw like a porn star, raise children like Mary Poppins, and cook like Julia Child.  Where are the authors decrying men’s unrealistic expectations?  They are all too busy writing articles in women’s magazines about how to ‘turn your man on’ by DOING ALL THE DAMN WORK IN THE HOUSE AND IN BED!  On top of keeping your mouth shut about making more money than he does so his ego won’t get bruised. 

    Superficially, articles like this are about some failing in women, but at the core, they are about how men are weak, and cannot be expected to live up to our dreams/desires/expectations of how reasonable ADULTS should behave.

  25. 25
    Teddy Pig says:

    Well shit, if these women are so into being dominated by their manly men then I highly recommend Screw the Roses, Send Me the Thorns which is far more into Domination/submission than some dried up old Sunday school teacher spouting out bromides for the terminally braindead.

    I mean if you are going to promote sadomasochism to get your church going honey hot then do it right damn it!
    Buncha wannabee submissive amateurs!

  26. 26
    Meredith says:

    I just had two reactions when I read the AJC articles:
    1. I learned more about sex from romance novels than from my health class or my mom—even how to put on a condom. Since most American women are painfully ignorant about sex—at least this is what my friends who work in public health tell me—I’m glad I was able to get knowledge from somewhere.(Mom’s sum total of sex advice: “Don’t get VD.)I wonder about these “surrendered wives”—where are they supposed to get these ideas to keep boredom out of the bedroom? Hmm?

    2. I’m one of those romance readers who loves alpha males, and I would never want to be with one in real life—they’d drive me batshit, and possibly require a restraining order. It’s a lot safer to read about “bad boys” than to actually date “bad boys.”

    My word is later37, seems like a sign.

  27. 27

    Ack!  Well, I glad I’m not a “marriage” counselor, but just a lowly psychotherapist or I would have realized long ago that I’m secretly deranged by all the romances I’ve read.

  28. 28
    sazzat says:

    I started reading romances at age twelve, in the mid-eighties – and a lot of the books I read were older than that, because I usually swapped them with a friend at school whose mom had a stash.  So they were very old school books where all the sex was either forced seduction or the most dreamy, over-the-top, flowery thing EVER.  I read so much, and so many things, that my parents didn’t censor my reading, but my mom was a little uncomfortable with the level of sex.  One day, she started an awkward conversation: “Honey, I just think you should know that sex isn’t really how it is in those books.” And she tried to explain how sex could be good or awkward or funny without getting too explicit.  I rolled my eyes at her and was like, Mom, I KNOW, because you’d have to be stupid not to know, even if (like me at the time) you’d never had sex in your life.  I also do not expect to be kidnapped by an attractive pirate who manages to bathe, shave, and work out on a regular basis.  Such are the disappointments of life.

    Seriously, as if women’s brains aren’t well- developed enough to discriminate between   fact and fiction, and between degrees of fiction?  We can’t judge reasonable expectations?  I’m disgusted by the idea that a segment of society feels threatened by women who might read about caring, devoted husbands and aspire to such a thing.  Maybe these people would be comforted by women reading the kind of romances I read in my teens, where the heroes bullied the heroines and threw them around and tore their clothes off every thirty pages.  Then again, I was raised on those books and am not hanging around waiting for my dominator to show up, so I guess “indoctrination by romance novel” is a failure.

  29. 29
    Nora Roberts says:

    Hey, what’s with their cut off for comments at 5:00 p.m. I had something else to say! Does their interweb go home for a hot supper cooked by the delicate little woman, or what?

  30. 30
    RB says:

    I’m sorry I can’t read those two women, they make me nauseous.

  31. 31
    Myriantha Fatalis says:

    Quoth our right-leaning columnist:
    “There is a neurochemical element with men and porn, but an emotional element with women and these novels.”  (emphasis mine)

    Wow, that really makes me feel sorry for all the guys, having to fight these hardwired, biological drives toward TEH BADNESS.

    I guess I better put down my latest volume of girly-porn—with which I have been trying to emotionally prop myself up to face my pointless, soul-less life as a bitter feminist—and ask my husband for the checkbook long enough to go to the grocery store.  But wait, if he’s supposed to be in charge of all purchases, does that mean grocery shopping too?  Oh well, it will be a test of my submission to not mention to him that he got some of the wrong items … even if it means I have to use one-ply toilet paper for the rest of my life.  *sob*

  32. 32
    AJArend says:

    Instead of warning women that reading romance novels will give them “unrealistic expectations” of what a relationship should be like, why not encourage more MEN to read romance novels so they’ll actually be clued in to what women might want in a relationship?

    Obviously, not all romance novels are good models for men to follow, but many are excellent examples of what I would consider to be good “manuals” for men.

  33. 33

    Nora—They heard you were coming and ran in fear:


    “She’d rip you a new one.”

  34. 34
    azteclady says:

    iffygenia, to address the “they don’t have to be experts to have something valid to say”

    I agree—but wouldn’t you say that having at least a passing acquaintance with the subject would lend some credibility to their assertions?

    I just read the whole thing again, and can’t get over the fact that—apparently—only Harlequins are romances. Huh?

    Doesn’t seem to me that either of the two have READ an actual romance in decades—if they ever did, that is.

    And yes, the whole “at least women are reading” seems awfully condescending to me. It’s not Maya Angelou, but there are some VERY well written romances out there, explicit sex or not, so lets drop the lit snobbery, shall we?

  35. 35
    Arin Rhys says:

    Hmmm, given that I read a bunch of heterosexual romances and I’m still a lesbian… I don’t think that romances are having much of an effect besides entertainment purposes.

    I agree with Kate. These sort of articles are demeaning to both men and women, but I can’t help thinking that they are worse for men because people just accept that men need to be wrapped in cotton by these surrender wives because they can’t handle an adult relationship. Its sort of sad. I read this book on gypsies about how the women do all the the house work and bartering and the like in a way that made it seem like that didn’t think that men could handle the responsibility. I think that might be a wide spread thing because I can’t see anything mature in a man who can’t hear a disagreeing voice or anyone be better than him (especially someone that he sees as inferior).

  36. 36
    anadaslu says:

    LOL Nora. And holy SHIT. Reading the title for that ‘surrendering’ book actually got me so scared for a sec my hand went off the mouse. *shudder*

  37. 37
    Candy says:

    Fine, so you and I read the article very differently.  It directly attacked you; it gave me some interesting new reading.

    Iffygenia, I agree with you in that the second article didn’t strike me as especially condescending, but c’mon: you squawked about this article on your webpage, too:

    Here’s a laugh-out-loud… no, a re-read-incredulously item in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Increasing the WTF factor, the two viewpoints are described as “right-leaning” and “left-leaning”.

    You obviously found the right-wing leaning person’s views pretty ridiculous as well.

    As for the rebuttal: Glass’s response is actually an interesting lesson in the value of framing, because instead of just going “Romance = porn? Are you smoking crack, woman?” she accepted the premise and attempted to defend her points based on the Feldhahn’s terms. And while I’m willing to criticize romance on any number of fronts—the vast majority of the novels aren’t even remotely close to being well-written, its preoccupation with sexual purity is sometimes downright regressive, the books are often shoddily copyedited—it’s not porn. I own several porn novels. I’ve even tried to finish reading some of them, god help me (Spunky Lad in particular actively made me wish for death). Romance novels ain’t porn.

    Glass’s efforts to distinguish between different types of porn and to de-stigmatize porn was ultimately futile, in my opinion, because it doesn’t address the chicken-and-egg issue: does violent hardcore porn create sexually violent people, or do sexually violent people disproportionately seek and consume violent porn?

  38. 38
    Teddy Pig says:

    Well I hate to admit it guys. As a gay man who reads romance…

    After seeing him on so many covers I want to see Fabio violently raped by Barbara Cartland in a strap on.

    It that so wrong?

  39. 39
    kis says:

    Hah, forget the kittens. Every time a woman masturbates, an angel’s wings fall off.

    I’ll be honest and say I find this whole erotic romance vs. porn thing kind of silly. When you read guidelines for authors, you often see things like: If the story would be fine without a sex scene, the sex scene shouldn’t be there. Well, why the hell not? Don’t women like sex? I don’t think women are buying books from places like Samhain or Ellora’s Cave so they can read books without sex scenes in them. So what if it’s gratuitous? Does that mean it’s too dirty for us innocent ladies?

    Porn. There, I said it. Porn, porn, porn. And you know what? I don’t even feel like I need a shower now. Fact is, some of what I write could very easily be classified as porn. And the fact that my own mother can read some of it without even blushing, well, that makes me proud as hell, of both of us.

    And hey, at least we’re reading, right?

  40. 40
    Bella says:

    I had a “concerned” relative try to counsel me a couple of times on my “excessive escapes into fantasy” (read: RED PAPERBACK NOVEL THAT IS OBVIOUSLY PORN SUCKING HER DOWN INTO THE FIERY PITS). I was told that I needed to separate fantasy from reality. My response was along the lines of “I like the hero in this book better than the boys with the fart jokes in high school. And anyway, that’s why it’s in the FICTION section. I KNOW it’s not real!” She left me alone for a goodly number of years after that….

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