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How can people compare porn to a romance novel?

Tagged as: Pornography<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (19 March 2012) 49 Answers - (Newest, 29 March 2012)
A female age 30-35, anonymous writes:

How can people compare porn to a romance novel? A romance novel is harmless words on a page, porn is a picture of a real person with no clothes on who exists who can easily be compared. Same with a vibrator it's a piece of plastic.

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A female reader, chigirl Norway + , writes (29 March 2012):

chigirl agony auntOh, come on Cerberus, we discussed feminism didn't we? And my conclusion is that you're every bit as much of a feminist as me, you just don't like the label because it has "femi-" in it. Female supremacy isn't a feminist thought.

I'm with person12345.

It's not about supremacy. It's about equality. Don't let the "femi-" in feminism scare you all.

But, since the debate here has veered out of topic anyway:

" romance movies then are emotional and mental exploitation of men. Feminizing them by removing all their masculine traits, that are these days viewed as morally corrupt, and turning these emotionally retarded loner hunks into mindless romance zombies, obsessed soppy weirdos that have no control other than given to them by women."

I think there is one important thing to say about romance movies and the emasculation of men. I wouldn't go as far as calling it emotional and mental exploitation, but what I have noticed is a ridiculing of men in these movies. While women can be ridiculed in movies as well (we can't be too soft skinned here), there are a few things that concern me. Especially I am thinking about an increase in "acceptable" violence towards men. Women who hit or slap men or are verbally or otherwise physically abusive towards men are being seen as "fun" and "entertaining" in many romance movies.

We need to keep a critical mind in both directions.

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A female reader, person12345 United States +, writes (23 March 2012):

person12345 agony aunt"While the majority of porn is men exercising sexual domination of women"

"feminists want power, not equality and they hide behind favourable statistics and completely ignore any that refute their ideology."

But even though almost all heterosexual porn is about men dominating women, even though men dominate politics, it's women dominating men. Even though the government is made up of 83% men and that means laws are all made by men, it's women dominating men? If feminists are after female supremacy then the civil rights movement was about black supremacy.

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A male reader, Cerberus Ireland +, writes (23 March 2012):

Cerberus agony aunt*and not as.

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A male reader, Cerberus Ireland +, writes (23 March 2012):

Cerberus agony auntIt's simple, Fatherly Advice, the idea of romantic novels and movies is to let women fantasize about complete mental and emotional domination of men. While the majority of porn is men exercising sexual domination of women, romance movies then are emotional and mental exploitation of men. Feminizing them by removing all their masculine traits, that are these days viewed as morally corrupt, and turning these emotionally retarded loner hunks into mindless romance zombies, obsessed soppy weirdos that have no control other than given to them by women.

person12345 anything written by a feminist is by definition narrow. In that definition men, children and trannies are demoted to a subsection, so everything else she writes is just going anti-men hypocrisy of the highest order. Even in how that is written shows bias, the women is written lots of times and men are grouped beside children and trannies. I don't think anyone need read anything other than that definition on its own to know women are her only concern and she views men as subservient, like pretty much all feminists. Unless a guy is willing to cede the very core of his being to women, cede control over his life and be a good boy who doesn't express sexual attraction for women in public, then he is not to be considered a man. So everything men like is attacked porn is just one of those things that is mainly a male dominated thing therefore it must be cast down and attacked. Yet you watch sex and the city where men are mindless walking penises,fodder for the female characters to use and abuse, then throw away once they're done is perfectly acceptable and is applauded as empowering.

It's simple, feminists are in the process of cultural castration, for now it's porn, next it will be men's magazines, in fact any depiction of any women in any kind of sexual or sensual pose that may excite us guys is attacked, yet no woman has any problem with men being objectified and manipulated in romance movies.

It all boils down to fact that feminists see the penis as the thing responsible for all the bad in the world and they want anything that may stimulate that organ to be removed, except for the things they want to stimulate it. David Bekham in a pair of underwear on a billboard? Oh that's fine, that's nice to look at. A skinny female model wearing underwear on a billboard? Oh that's exploitation, that's giving young girls eating disorders, that's making men go out and rape brutalize women through objectification.

It's always the same and it's something more and more guys are waking up to and reacting against. Want us to listen? Then try treating us as equals and oppressors or potential slaves.

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A male reader, Fatherly Advice United States + , writes (23 March 2012):

Fatherly Advice agony auntFor your information and not to claim that it is entirely accurate: I use the etymological definition of porn. Porn = Prostitute Graph = writing. Writing of prostitutes.

Come to think of it that isn't the definition I use. Material that is produced for the purpose of sexual stimulation, is the definition I use. That definition does have one nasty drawback though. It obviously includes the dress and appearance of many of the high school students I see.

I agree that the Dworkin Mackinnon definition is to limited. But, it does leave me to wonder if the men depicted romance would be considered exploited by the art form. I'm not seeing a direct case but the exploitation may be more subtle. Generally the victims go to their fates willingly so it is hard to tell.

One thing that has most often bothered me is the idea that a couple can start out as bitter enemies at the beginning of the book. And end up happily married in the end. I've often wondered why this is an attractive fantasy. I know that it leads to seriously unrealistic expectations. But, why on earth would you want to fall in love with the guy who is foreclosing on daddy's ranch?

Another of the reasons that women are so mysterious to us.

FA

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A female reader, person12345 United States +, writes (23 March 2012):

person12345 agony auntI've never "used" a romance novel or erotica, but I used to use porn and I did enjoy it. That doesn't change a thing. Liking something does not mean it is no longer problematic. It's not based on a country by country thing, the feminist groups in the UK that are anti-porn are a lot louder than in the US, especially when it comes to lad's mags. The entire basis of your argument is that people like it, but I have to say so what? That is not an argument at all. People like cocaine too.

I think I was cut off while copying and pasting, the Dworkin MacKinnon definition also states:

"2. The use of men, children, or transsexuals in the place of women in (a)-(h) of this definition is also pornography for purposes of this law.

3. "Person" shall include child or transsexual."

But that list of traits is not "whittled down" or extremely narrow at all. I can't think of many porn that does not at the very least refer to women by derogatory names (slut, bitch, etc...) and it is known that 88.6% of popular porn several years ago contained physical violence of some kind almost exclusively against women. And this definition was written in 1983, well before internet pornography. So no, I do not believe that definition is narrow. That definition was put forward by arguably the most prominent and influential feminists in history.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (23 March 2012):

I agree with Miamine.

If the definition of porn gets whittled down until it only counts the most flagrantly objectionable stuff, then of course it starts to sound reasonable to bash it to pieces. That viewpoint is engineered to win a debate, not be intellectually honest about it.

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A female reader, Miamine United Kingdom +, writes (23 March 2012):

Miamine agony auntIt's difficult to really continue this conversation, when somebody claims that a 10.11 billion industry (2010 figures) is something "nobody does", and someone else throws away the dictionary and uses definitions that nobody knew about.

I use the Dworkin Mackinnon definition:

"The sexually explicit subordination of women, graphically depicted, whether in pictures or in words,"

Problematic because therefore men in porn don't exist because only "the sexually explicit subordination of WOMEN" count's as pornography.

This of course allows women and men to watch 2 gay guys getting raped and beaten, and none of this is pornographic, according to this definition.

Yes, romantic books and erotica have all what you say and more... especially when they use the historically settings when women had less rights. Romantic books also have very discrete sex scenes, just like some of the soft porn which only includes nudity and not penetration.

Doesn't really matter, all porn discussions seem to boil down a fight about gender. Porn discussion ignore or minimise the solo sexual activity of women. They ignore the countries where porn consumption is not seen as problematic. They ignore the large percentage of couples who use and watch porn together. There is also no mention of gay people who seem to use a lot of pornography, solo and together. They ignore the fact that there are millions of women who also use porn, and ignore that men also act in porn too and may also suffer exploitation in the industry.

The arguments is always presented as MEN USE PORN AND THEY SHOULD STOP... everything else is ignored, minimised or forgotten.... even now, because someone and her friends don't use romance books and her men friends use porn, that supposed to mean something.

Actually, none of my women friends use romance books, but most of them have used porn (apart from a few of the religious ones), with their partners or on their own. Many guys I know are now porn free because they have watched it and are now totally bored by it. More of my men friends are more likely to show interest in a romantic novel, whereas the women think they are crap.

How does that fit your pattern.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (22 March 2012):

Who the hell reads romance novels anyway. I'm sure someone's buying them but ad a woman I have absolutely no interest in them and neither do any of the females I know. Yet many o the guys I know use porn. To compare written words to the degrading business that is porn is ridiculous.

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A female reader, person12345 United States +, writes (22 March 2012):

person12345 agony auntI think part of the problem is I personally define pornography VERY differently from how it's being used here. I think pornography here is being used to mean psychological sexual stimulation, and if that was the case I could agree that romance novels are pornography. That is not the definition of pornography I use.

I use the Dworkin Mackinnon definition:

"The sexually explicit subordination of women, graphically depicted, whether in pictures or in words, that also includes one or more of the following:

Women are presented as sexual objects who enjoy pain or humiliation; or

Women are presented as sexual objects who experience sexual pleasure in being raped;

Women are presented as sexual objects tied up or cut up or mutilated or bruised or physically hurt, or as dismembered or truncated or fragmented or severed into body parts;

Women are presented being penetrated by objects or animals; or

Women are presented in scenarios of degradation, injury, abasement, torture, shown as filthy or inferior, bleeding, bruised, or hurt in a context that makes these conditions sexual;

Women are presented as sexual objects for domination, conquest, violation, exploitation, possession, or use, or through postures or positions of servility, or submission or display.”

While most of the things in the middle are not common, the last two apply almost universally where women are presented as dirty, submissive, or called degrading names. I agree with Fatherly Advice that erotica and pornography share the trait of looking outside the relationship for sexual gratification, which is problematic. But my problem with pornography is WAY more than just that. I think it's also hard to see them as the same thing when one really is a fantasy, while one is actual real live human beings. Porn is not fantasy.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (22 March 2012):

Romance novels ARE pretty much the same thing... they go into EXTREMELY detailed sexual scenes... just because you can't physically see them, what makes you think it's any different than viewing it on a screen. People don't read romance novels for the amazingly well-written and profound story lines, just like people don't read playboy for the articles. It breaks down like this: men are visually stimulated, so they like to look at sex. Women are emotionally and mentally stimulated, so they like intricate stories of perfect romance surrounded by lots of hot sex. I know that's a stereotype, but it's true for the most part. If you read romance novels, don't fool yourself to think you're any better than someone who enjoys pornography.

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A male reader, Fatherly Advice United States + , writes (22 March 2012):

Fatherly Advice agony auntMiaMine,

Oh I do agree that my view is unpopular. I don't expect it to be accepted by any majority. But I feel it is my responsibility to push society in what I believe is a helpful direction. Thanks for reading my opinion.

FA

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A female reader, Miamine United Kingdom +, writes (22 March 2012):

Miamine agony aunt"Porn is Bad. Romance novels are porn"

If you think getting men to give up porn is hard, you'll have a hell of a fight and more if you ever try to take women's romance novels away..

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (22 March 2012):

There is NO comparison and every person with an ounce of intelligence knows that.

However porn dog and there lady friends will say otherwise as a way of defending their actions.

Honestly, you get to a point in life where you realise there is little poor debating with porn users . Their moral compasses are broken and their orgasm is more important to them than the abuse of women and girls. Trying to explain to them that their support of pornography contributes to the degradation of women ( including their mothers, sisters and wives) is useless because they simply couldn't care less

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A female reader, person12345 United States +, writes (22 March 2012):

person12345 agony auntMale anon, did you even read the article I linked to? That CBS thing is more of an editorial on the official report that says that yes, the gender gap does exist. Basically saying the same old tired things that have always been used as justification for paying women less. That even though women are herded into certain careers and discouraged from doing the more lucrative things, it's 100% her fault for not noticing these things that start in childhood. That even though having children is mostly a joint thing, it's 100% her fault and she should be punished. That even though women are responsible for on average 2-3x as much childcare as men, it's her fault for not forcing him to do more. And that the more subjective deciding on job performance, the bigger the gap.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (21 March 2012):

I meant child porn. A story of children aint as bad as a vid of them.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (21 March 2012):

Here is a link to an article on the gender gap.

There will never be a source that won't be called biased by somebody, not unless it can tell everyone what they want to hear at the same time. But this source is very mainstream and its not from the more conservative branches of the media.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505125_162-28246928/the-gender-pay-gap-is-a-complete-myth/

Research from NFWBO (National Federation of Woman Business Owners) shows that women are the primary decision makers for consumer goods in 85% of households, and women make 75% of decisions about buying new homes. They influence at least 80% of all household spending.

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A female reader, person12345 United States +, writes (21 March 2012):

person12345 agony auntI don't have a choice about things I NEED like clothing, food, and in this day and age a computer (I don't like coffee). I buy local when I can and I buy second hand/used when I can rather than new. I do the best I can with the options I have.

Porn is not a need like food and clothing. Most human slavery/trafficking that is not about sex is for agriculture. An estimated 80% of human slavery is for sex, for prostitution and pornography. You have NO way of knowing what context a porn film was made in, how the workers are treated, whether anyone was abused, etc... Most amateur porn is made by the same corporations that make the rest of what's out there. And unless that porn involves condoms, it's not "responsibly made" because there is no safety in being exposed to numerous bodily fluids of strangers. There's a documentary about this called The Price of Pleasure that is very good. Also:

http://rageagainstthemanchine.com/2012/03/15/porn-part-11-the-difference-between-huffing-dong-and-flipping-burgers/

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A male reader, Cerberus Ireland +, writes (21 March 2012):

Cerberus agony aunt"yes sex stories about children are bad and sick, but they don't involve real children do they? Like porn involves real people. So porn is worse."

So watching two consenting, paid adults having sex is worse than fantasizing about raping children? I don't think so.

"No one is physically degraded or hurt in romance novels, no one is trafficked to make them."

But people are physically degraded, hurt and trafficked to make the clothes you wear, to make the iphone you may have or the coffee you may drink. People are raped beaten and murdered to produce the coltan that is in all the electronic gadgets that you use. Are computers responsible for that? Are laptops responsible for that suffering? If you are so against rape, torture and abuse then why are you using a computer when you know what happens to the people who are forced to mine for one of its components?

Porn isn't responsible for the abuses that happen in the industry, there is good porn out there, where the actors are respected and happy to do do what they do.

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A female reader, person12345 United States +, writes (21 March 2012):

person12345 agony auntI don't think romance novels are totally harmless, nor are they something I use or have ever used. I take offense at you calling it my hobby since I have never defended them and especially never used them. But they are not something I will consider as big of a threat to a relationship or to women's rights because I've only heard of one instance of them affecting someone's relationship in my whole life, and it was barely an effect at all (she had an overblown need for sexual "purity").

No one is physically degraded or hurt in romance novels, no one is trafficked to make them, they don't contribute to 50% of divorces, they don't cause 15% of users to develop a compulsion that interferes with their lives, and so I refuse to give them as much weight as pornography. When numerous relationships are wrecked by them like with porn and when 88.6% of them contain violence against an oppressed group and when the studies come out showing harm from every angle, then I will reconsider.

And yes women are oppressed and the wage gap does exist.

http://www.amptoons.com/blog/2003/10/07/the-wage-gap-series-so-far/

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A reader, anonymous, writes (21 March 2012):

yes sex stories about children are bad and sick, but they don't involve real children do they? Like porn involves real people. So porn is worse.

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A male reader, Fatherly Advice United States + , writes (21 March 2012):

Fatherly Advice agony auntI'm pretty sure the topic was not which gender is more privileged. I've also noticed that the original anonymous poster has not returned any comment. I've pretty much concluded that every one is going to defend their favorite sexual hobby by claiming it is "harmless".

As for me. Porn is Bad. Romance novels are porn. The argument that women get paid less for the same job is a stinking red herring and I refuse to be distracted by it.

FA

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A reader, anonymous, writes (21 March 2012):

All I know is some of those books and "erotica" can be really raunchy and explicit. They often have dark themes like adultery and betrayal. At the same time, a lot of "porn" is really soft, with no sex at all.

If a novel is just "harmless words on a page", how come those who write sex stories about children can be prosecuted for it?

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A female reader, Miamine United Kingdom +, writes (21 March 2012):

Miamine agony aunt"It is an enormous red herring because none of the anti-porn people I've met actually defend romance novels. I certainly don't "defend" them, but to compare them to porn is a ridiculous comparison."

Again, I'm not talking about the industry.. many people who hate porn are not talking about the economic situation, but how they feel when they see their partners using porn. "I can't compete with porn, does my partner love me if he uses porn, porn makes me feel sick, porn makes me feel insecure"... those are most of the questions that appear on Dear Cupid.

I have used porn and erotica and romance, and the orgasm you have is exactly the same. You can call this ridiculous, but unless you have experience how can you say the experience is different.

"And on the topic of how can people compare romance novels to porn? It's because a lot of women read romance novels and insecure women want to feel better about their men looking at porn, and men want to somehow justify it. So basically why people do is because they're insecure."

Again, nope, unless you have experienced all three, your not in the position to call anyone insecure. Women can read romance novels and still like porn, so what happens to your argument then? Did they start watching porn to become just like men.

Again... nobody deals with the lesbians who watch and enjoy porn whilst in loving relationships. Also nobody mentions the millions of couples who enjoy porn together... where do they fit into your categories... lesbian porn and lesbian erotica often deals with S&M and extremely upsetting sexual fantasies.

The question was... "How can people compare porn to romance novels"... my answer is the orgasm you get is exactly the same. If you want to talk about exploitation and money.... you get paid more if you work in porn, but your working conditions are not as nice as the people who write books. Men in porn get paid less and are treated a lot more badly than the women. Porn and Books are two different things if your talking about how they are produced, just like you can't compare music and movies, or books and television programmes, but they all come under the heading of art or entertainment. Music, books, movies/tv, can all give you an emotional feeling that you might hold on to for the rest of your life, even if your memory is gone. The fact that they are financed and produced in different ways doesn't stop this comparison.

Like porn, books can and have been banned or censored because of their sexual content. They both go through the same censorship process, so governments seem to see them similar things. The line between porn and other things is smaller than you think. You can have pornographic mainstream hollywood movies, you can have pornographic books, you can have pornographic art house movies... look up the definition of pornographic.

"Pornographic - Containing an explicit depiction of sexual activity." Well that covers the majority of romantic novels out there in the market.

But I do understand Anti-porn people think that porn is a unique thing and there is nothing like it on earth. They don't believe it can be compared to sex, to movies, to books, to vibrators, to prostitution.. nope, porn is a special target for hate.

Like most porn arguments, it doesn't really matter. If it's legal in your country to buy and produce and your partner decided to look at it, and wont give it up, then there is not much you can do.

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A female reader, person12345 United States +, writes (21 March 2012):

person12345 agony auntIf that fraction is 4/5 than yes, women earn 1/5 less money than men, about 20%. That data is incredibly easy to find. It's not a small amount. I'm not sure where your 2/3 number comes from, since every search I've done on the topic shows that men outspend women by a significant margin, but that women spend more time shopping. I'm not sure what money you're even referring to. The largest amounts of money are controlled largely by men in government.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (21 March 2012):

Women make fractionally less money than men. It's a few percent difference, if that.

Women also spend about 2/3rds of all the money in the culture according to the advertising industry.

So how does THAT fit with everyone's ideas about genders, wealth, and power? Women make roughly half the money but they spend 2/3rds of it. Let's not kid around and downplay the implications of this. No matter how anyone tries to spin it, having control of money is the most direct measure of power in a society.

If women were the ones earning half the money but only spending 1/3rd of it, can you just IMAGINE the furious outcry it would cause?

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A female reader, person12345 United States +, writes (20 March 2012):

person12345 agony auntI literally cannot think of a more privileged group of people in history than white men. Men who think the world is pitted against them are like white people who complain that black people are racist against them.

http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2012/spring/myths-of-the-manosphere-lying-about-women

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (20 March 2012):

They are both escapes. Both escapes are fantasy and lead to an unrealistic picture and comparisons of the opposite sex.

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A male reader, Cerberus Ireland +, writes (20 March 2012):

Cerberus agony auntOf course person12345 is correct in her statistical analysis but there is also the other side of the coin. Women get more time off for childcare than men do. Women take more sick days on average than a man does, the most common reason for taking sick days among female workers is the menstrual cycle.

Women get lesser sentences than men for the exact same crime. Often the reason quoted is that they're more emotionally fragile than men and their mental state is always deemed to be a mitigating factor. You will never find a feminist who has ever actively fought to change that. They don't like that perception of women but do see advantages to keeping quiet when it comes to lesser sentences.

Women have far more rights and are far more likely to gain custody of children regardless of their ability to be good parents. Again feminists will not fight for equality there either.

Teenage girls in many countries are immune to prosecution under Romeo and Juliet laws that state only the boy is committing a crime if both parties are under-age and have had sex. In Ireland the reason for this law is legally stated as being "because girls run the risk of getting pregnant". In Ireland a 16 year old can have sexual intercourse with a boy 11 years old and he's the only one committing a crime. Again, no feminist backlash.

Women are the most numerous teachers these days roughly 70% of teachers are women so we are a society being raised and educated by women. You open a newspaper or browse a news website and chances are you'll find feminists complaining about something they deem sexist, but when the exact same joke, comment is aimed at men you don't hear so much as a whisper.

I could go on and list 1000's more advantages that women have over men in society but suffice to say feminists want power, not equality and they hide behind favourable statistics and completely ignore any that refute their ideology.

The fact remains when the world we live in and the fact that in the west feminists are slowly gaining ideological control over the media and the cultural institutions of society, through bullying and intimidation of anything that is deemed "masculine" porn is just going to be another thing they like to attack because it's something we guys like. Proof of this is the fact that they never once mention male porn actors as being victims of anything, people in the same situation of "exploitation" as these women and their plight is completely ignored.

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A female reader, person12345 United States +, writes (20 March 2012):

person12345 agony auntThe only place women are outperforming men is that there are more women in college by a small margin for the very first time in history. Interesting how for centuries when education was a very male dominated thing it was just the natural order and that women weren't being competitive enough, but when there are more women it's suddenly sexism against men.

The FACT is that men are still in charge of just about everything. In most fields women still don't ever make up more than 17% of representation. This is true in Congress and this is true in Hollywood where women make up far fewer heroes and leads than men. We still have not had a female president in the US. Only 12 fortune 500 companies have female CEOs. Women in my country are literally still having to fight for control over their own healthcare and one politician recently claimed women should be treated like "cows and pigs" in regards to a new law about maternal care. 1 in 3 women is sexually assaulted but fewer than 2% of those assaults will end in a conviction and fewer than 10% of those convictions will end in jail time. The vast majority of women have jobs but still do 3 times as much unpaid labor as men. Women make 22% less than men and especially in male dominated fields are frequently harassed. As I said before, if women were considered full human beings as legitimate as men, they would not be bought and sold like livestock. Women and children make up 80% of the world's slaves, mostly as sex slaves, but also for farm labor. Not to mention in just perception of competency, women are automatically viewed as more incompetent than men at all jobs (that's not my opinion, that's the result of many studies about this).

Paternity fraud is terrible, but the fact that it occurs INCREDIBLY rarely and does not result in criminal charges in all cases does not mean that men are being discriminated against and certainly not discriminated against by women.

It's not a matter of politically correct, it's a matter of actually correct that enormous amounts of sexism and violence against women exists.

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A female reader, person12345 United States +, writes (20 March 2012):

person12345 agony auntThe truth is the only people who ever bring up romance novels are pro-porn people who simply wish to derail the conversation. I've never heard anyone actually dealing with a porn problem bring up romance novels. It is an enormous red herring because none of the anti-porn people I've met actually defend romance novels. I certainly don't "defend" them, but to compare them to porn is a ridiculous comparison.

Romance novel authors are usually working alone/with one editor whereas porn is a massive industry that harms real people in the real world through slavery, disease, rape, etc… and it has an addictive quality that is recognized in DSM under "voyeuristic sex addiction." Romance novels do not do physical harm and are not truly addictive. Some people can become caught up in the fantasy world, but it's not more than some people do with TV or movies or any other form of media. The idea that romance novels can be addictive is thoroughly unsubstantiated.

Even then, the fact still remains that no one on here would believe that anyone who is hurting their relationship or their sex life through excessive use of romance novels should continue their use of those novels simply because they are not porn. It is a ridiculous claim and a ridiculous effort to derail the conversation. Stop assuming that simply because some people are anti pornography that they must support romance novels because it's just not true.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (20 March 2012):

"Fact: The majority of American women currently do better than men in most of the ways you can measure quality-of-life. Education, careers, satisfaction, health, legal/prison, dangerous jobs, control of spending money, etc. Women still have it hard in lots of ways but they don't seem to notice that men have it even harder today. What I am saying is not politically correct, it's just the truth."

Okay, I just wanted to stop in and say, are you KIDDING ME? Clearly you haven't heard of the wage gap, which yes still exists. I guess you haven't noticed the latest war on birth control and abortion. If women get raped, they get blamed for it. I don't exactly seeing that happen to men. Men get payed more. I'm pretty sure men don't have to have a probe stuck in them if they don't want a kid, and i'm pretty sure birth control doesn't run them broke.

And on the topic of how can people compare romance novels to porn? It's because a lot of women read romance novels and insecure women want to feel better about their men looking at porn, and men want to somehow justify it. So basically why people do is because they're insecure.

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A female reader, Ciar Canada + , writes (20 March 2012):

Ciar agony aunt'Fact: The majority of American women currently do better than men in most of the ways you can measure quality-of-life. Education, careers, satisfaction, health, legal/prison, dangerous jobs, control of spending money, etc. Women still have it hard in lots of ways but they don't seem to notice that men have it even harder today. What I am saying is not politically correct, it's just the truth.' I agree with that.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (20 March 2012):

My boyfriend looking at cgi porn wouldnt be as bad because they are not real same with cartoons.

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A female reader, Miamine United Kingdom +, writes (20 March 2012):

Miamine agony aunt"Porn seems to elicit an addictive response in some people (not all) that books do not."

People can be addicted to books. I suggest you google "romance books" and see how many hours and how much money some women spend on their "hobby"... It's probably a lot more than any more user does, and like porn it has it's consequences, when women overindulge and live in fantasy all day and neglect their homes and their families. Some readers by ever single romance book they can and can easily read 5 or 6 a night, every single night of the year... what happens to their marriage then.

People do have book addictions, but because society says that reading is a good thing, very few people notice. A porn users video library is "sick", a romance reader's library is "worthy" or can easily be hidden by sale and return or selling on ebay.

One of my friends ended up with so many romantic books she finally opened a stall in the market and made tons of money. People can get addicted to anything, porn is not a special case.

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A female reader, Miamine United Kingdom +, writes (20 March 2012):

Miamine agony aunt"How can people compare porn to a romance novel?"

Do you watch porn?

Do you read romance novels?

Do you use vibrators?

I can compare because I have done all three. Don't like vibrators myself, and of the three, I find them the hardest ways to achieve release. But an orgasm is an orgasm, whether it's given by Jane Austen or the naked man in his birthday suit.

I'm assuming you get aroused by romance novels and vibrators and think that's all right. But because you don't like porn, somehow you think it's different. That has not been my experience. What goes in my mind when watching porn is exactly the same thing that goes through my mind when reading romance and erotica.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (20 March 2012):

I agree that porn does directly harm more people than romance novels and celebrity gossip stories. Porn seems to elicit an addictive response in some people (not all) that books do not. And porn is a nasty industry, nobody denies that.

But we're talking about degrees here. This is like saying alcohol is acceptable but marijuana is not. Thats fine to say they are different or that one is worse than the other. But just don't get on a high horse about it. Don't tell me that an alcoholic has the right to get indignant with other people for smoking pot while they defend their own drinking problem just because it's legal.

When is feminism a success? When women no longer have anything to complain about, not even things that many other women continue to do of their own free will? Sorry but that's never going to happen. Get realistic. Life is not perfect and some things women want are not always even fair to men. (Like, why isn't paternity fraud a crime and DNA testing of babies mandatory?)

Fact: The majority of American women currently do better than men in most of the ways you can measure quality-of-life. Education, careers, satisfaction, health, legal/prison, dangerous jobs, control of spending money, etc. Women still have it hard in lots of ways but they don't seem to notice that men have it even harder today. What I am saying is not politically correct, it's just the truth.

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A female reader, person12345 United States +, writes (20 March 2012):

person12345 agony auntIf we lived in a post feminist world then gendered and sexist terms like "cunt" would not hold any power, there wouldn't be an epidemic of violence against women, women's bodies wouldn't be bought and sold like livestock, and pornography in its current form (of which 88.6% shows violence against women as something to be enjoyed by men) would not exist and especially wouldn't make up the vast majority of what is available. Feminism is still a desperate need, pretty much everywhere.

No one here has made the claim that romance novels are necessarily acceptable. Just that comparing it to pornography is not correct. Do they have potential harm to relationships? Of course, but the fact is they do not cause harm to nearly the same extent because they are not used in the same way, with the same attitude, or to the same extent as pornography and do not have the same potential for dependence. You just need to look around this site. There is not a romance novel section, but there is a section about porn use with over 2200 questions. Should a person here have a problem with romance novel use, I'm sure no one on here would tell someone that they should pick romance novels over their partner, or tell them in the reverse scenario that they are insecure, prude, controlling, or overreacting like they do with pornography.

But the real issue is the fact that I have never once, not even once, on this website or anywhere else, seen a woman angry with her partner's porn use while she clung to romance novels as "different" or "better." You are attacking people for something they do not even stand by or defend or quite frankly even mention. The only people who ever bring up romance novels are the ones who, as I said below, wish to derail the discussion.

Porn does harm people. Bullying does harm people. Comparing badly written non-violent fiction to things that directly support human slavery and to words INTENDED to cause serious harm is a ridiculous and highly offensive comparison. You are trivializing the extreme harm those things have caused.

And by the way, there are and always have been many written depictions of child rape and male-centric erotica. Not only have they been around longer than versions for women, but some have been listed as classics of literature. I assume you are familiar with Lolita?

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A male reader, Cerberus Ireland +, writes (20 March 2012):

Cerberus agony auntFuck you, you stupid fucking cunt!

They're just words on a computer screen aren't they? But they're really offensive aren't they? I wasn't calling you those things and I don't mean to offend you by saying that either. But hey, they're just words and by your logic they're no big deal, so I can call you that can't I, they're just words? But they are a big deal OP, it would be completely unacceptable for me to say those things to you and I would be removed from the site if I said the above in any other way than the point I'm trying to make now. Words can hurt, words can make you aroused just as much. Dirk Hunkinstein in your romantic novel is as real as Pussy Fartface in a porn movie. They both can illicit arousal.

Is the bible just words on a page to Christian? Do kids not get bullied online using words on a computer screen? Why do those kids care? They're just words on a computer screen, it's not like they're being called a "stupid little prick, who should kill themselves" in person is it? Yet kids have committed suicide for it.

Your argument is flawed OP, words hurt, they arouse, they make us cry, they do all sorts of things to us because they all have meaning.

If erotic novels are harmless in your opinion then I suppose it's okay to have erotic novels involving children having sex? No children are being harmed by your logic, it's only words, is that okay too?

It's simple OP, women like erotic novels therefore it's not wrong, men like porn therefore it's wrong. We live in a post feminist world, that's how the world works now. It's okay to make a nude calendar if the women are old and ugly, they're brave, but if they are pretty models it's sexual exploitation and degradation.

You're a woman, you don't like something we do, therefore it doesn't compare to anything you do like. But if I were to compare porn to rape, two things you don't like you'd more readily accept that. Simple psychology really.

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A male reader, The Realist Canada +, writes (20 March 2012):

The Realist agony auntI would say that they are the same, just that they appeal to different senses therefore different people will turn to one or the other but yet in the end there is a sense of sexual pleasure from the act. Romance can be the best porn for some so there is no way you could actually compare the two but you should keep in mind that depending on the persons intentions they can both be used in the same way. Porn is just more outright as to what it's intentions are.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (19 March 2012):

There is CGI porn with no live actors these days. It has fans.

Many womens form of "romance novels" are real stories about real live people who are idolized sex symbols. If looking at porn is being compared to physical cheating, then isn't that also "emotional cheating" on the part of some women?

Mens and womens brains work differently on these matters. Its not an automatic excuse for anything but it needs to be taken into account.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (19 March 2012):

vibrator versus penis no comparision the penis wins everytime

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A female reader, Ciar Canada + , writes (19 March 2012):

Ciar agony auntIn a nutshell the reason porn is compared to romance novels is because they both allow the viewer/reader to become aroused by someone else. And the only time men even think to mention it is to justify their use of porn.

As person1234 eloquently points out there are some glaring differences (you forgot to mention drug abuse).

Men generally don't think twice about their wife enjoying the odd romance novel, not because they're fair or open minded about sex (they aren't), but because their wants and needs aren't being neglected because of them. The women who read them do so only when they have free time, which isn't often. Laundry, dust and dishes aren't piling up, families aren't left to starve and husband's aren't left in the cold because Mom is cooped up in her room with a book and a vibrator.

I must admit that despite not watching porn myself, nor having it be an issue in a relationship, I was one of those people who drew that comparison. That was before I realised how many men immerse themselves in it to the exclusion and neglect of everything and everyone around them.

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A male reader, Fatherly Advice United States + , writes (19 March 2012):

Fatherly Advice agony auntPerson thank you for the red herring point. I must agree that the argument against romance novels is most often used this way. I also firmly believe that the excessive use of romance novels is harmful to the user and the relationship. I've been there.

FA

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A female reader, person12345 United States +, writes (19 March 2012):

person12345 agony auntIt's a complicated issue. Basically this argument arises when the pro-porn person believes the only reason an anti-porn person is that way is because they don't understand. The problem is there is nothing like porn. There is really nothing to compare it to, and there's no need to. Basically this argument is a red herring, meaning they don't wish to defend their stance anymore and so pick something else to argue about.

The problem with the comparison with romance novels is that a romance novel does not take any actual human beings and physically inflict the story on them. It's just the author and the editor, reading. In porn those events really happened to real people. That wasn't CGI of a woman being penetrated, that really happened. She really was exposed to potentially dangerous bodily fluids, if she gags or vomits, she really did gag or vomit. And romance novels certainly don't have any connection whatsoever to trafficking, while the porn industry does support the trafficking of women and children and sexual slavery.

Another problem is that romance novels do not have a well-earned reputation for wreaking havoc on relationships, porn does. The only time it seems to "bother" men is when they are trying to defend their own porn use. And if it did bother a man, I've yet to hear of a woman hiding her romance novels or lying about them or choosing them over sex, all things that can and do happen regularly with porn use. Not to mention porn is addictive (an estimated 15% of users are addicted) whereas I've never heard of anyone becoming so dependent on romance novels they can't function sexually without, or become so wrapped up in them that they get fired from their jobs, or lose their families.

Basically they can (and do) make this kind of red herring argument over every form of media out there, regardless of whether or not it actually shares any of the characteristics of porn use. All of the above arguments also apply to comparisons to the Twilight movies, chick flicks, magazines, etc...

The vibrator one is a bit more complicated because vibrators do have the potential to hurt male partners in a very real way. The thing is, there is already a direct comparison for them in the form of male sex toys in the form of fleshlight type devices. And as for the vibrations, the experience is likely much closer to a man using lube than to anyone using porn. I've used porn, I've used vibrators, I've used the two together, they are NOTHING alike.

The other thing is, vibrators are not addictive (though they can be desensitizing) and unless the woman is not able to orgasm with her partner, they very rarely form a replacement. The biggest difference however, is that while 70% of porn users lie and hide their use, I've rarely heard of a woman lying and hiding her vibrator. There is still potential for her to hurt her partner, and that does happen, so there's no reason to trivialize that. It's just that even though more than half of women use vibrators, the number of divorces it causes are insignificantly small, whereas while 70% of men use porn, more than half of divorces cite it as a major reason.

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A male reader, Fatherly Advice United States + , writes (19 March 2012):

Fatherly Advice agony auntWell I believe that the comparison has to do with the difference in the way men and women become aroused. This is not true in every case but is a fair approximation. Men are stimulated visually. Women are stimulated emotionally. Just looking at a picture will do much more for the average man than the average woman. The average woman needs the emotional background before the image would be stimulating. In fact many women only need the emotional background. By that line of thinking a romance novel is pornography (the writings of harlots). And, it's use is often similar to pornographic images, to excite the reader / viewer sexually.

But you bring up another point. The pornographic images are images of real people, who frequently are harmed in one way or another by the process and use of pornography. Society today has a lot of trouble admitting that the user of porn is also harmed by it. I disagree.

You also bring up the comparison issue. As a man who has frequently been compared to a made up fantasy man, I am as offended by the hero of the week as you are by the air brushed, starved, spoiled etc. model of the week. Many men don't see it that way.

The real question you are asking is where is the harm? So, think on this a bit. If you are dissatisfied in your relationship, and instead of communicating and solving the difficulty, you turn to a substitute form of sexual gratification, Is that going to help the relationship, or harm it? That is how you determine Harm. Is it strengthening your relationship or weakening it. I will submit that if your partner is upset and complaining about your activity, it is probably harming the relationship.

That is not the only test. Many people foolishly get into activities that harm themselves. They may think that every thing is going o.k. but inside they are being harmed, they are just so fixated on the excitement that they don't see the signs.

Lastly don't assume that because you feel one way another person will feel the same.

FA

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A female reader, chigirl Norway + , writes (19 March 2012):

chigirl agony auntI guess that all depends on what you put into it. In a romance/erotic novel you can easily picture the people involved. You might experience a physical response to what you read as well. You get turned on by it. You fantasize about it.

How can porn be compared to a real life person is the better question. It might be a picture of a real person, but not a reflection of a real person. It's a fantasy. Most porn girls moan and enjoy things normal people don't find comfortable at all. How's that "real"? It's not. They also might wear things that people in real life don't walk around in (show me a real life nurse in one of those outfits) and they are also in scenarios that aren't real either (oops, don't have money to pay for that pizza... what on earth can I do??).

How is porn real?

I draw the line at real life people and real life contact, such as dirty texts, phone sex, private home-made videos. Or, if you happen to actually KNOW a real life porn star, I'd might draw the line at watching stuff with her in it.

But really, for most part, porn isn't about the actual people IN the porn. It's about what they do, the action. Not the people. And in that respect, erotic novels is also just a depiction of actions, and not real life people.

Different mediums, same purpose. But each to their own, we all have our own idea of where the line is drawn. And I respect that some people will always dislike porn. But you got to also respect that not all will have the same outlook on porn as you.

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A male reader, Sageoldguy1465 United States +, writes (19 March 2012):

Sageoldguy1465 agony auntAs far as I'm concerned, they're EXACTLY the same thing....

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A female reader, janniepeg Canada + , writes (19 March 2012):

janniepeg agony auntI don't think porn and romance novel is a good comparison but I do see that agony aunt's point of view. He is saying that a romance novel is fantasy and the woman who reads it would expect her husband to be also macho, full of energy and romantic and always ready to please her at the end of the day, when in reality the husband just wants to numb out in front of the TV and sleep so he can work the next day. I think using a vibrator is more than watching porn. If I but I molded Peter North's penis it is like having sex to him, but if I just touch myself watching porn it is like self stimulation in response to watching two actors enjoying themselves.

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