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III. Goodreads Readers > Romace novels...smut?

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message 1: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments Why are romance novels considered smut? I feel that romantic stories are a testament to the primal force that kept humanity going. Romance novels, etc. are simply the artistic expressions of this Darwinian idea. if romance is considered smut by some, then would those same people consider Jane Austin or the Bronte sisters works, smut? While they are none like Wollstonecraft, I would still nor consider their works smut. How do you feel about romance novels? Are they smut?


message 2: by Feliks (last edited Aug 25, 2013 10:46AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) A girl I knew once (she was a longtime devotee of 'regency' romances) explained to me (when I scoffed) that these books are designed with a formulaic quality in mind, from the outset. Formula, which is not a virtue in almost any other kind of writing--is how merit in romance fiction is determined by women readers. The better a book cleaves to the traditions and obeys the format of this genre, the better they like it. Part of that formula seems to be a subtle, slow-buildup of psychological cues..situations and confrontations between characters whereby the female reader is curiously, 'aroused to a pitch'. It actually makes their heart race; their breath comes in pants...nuf' said.

But I would say that is still not 'smut'. Remember that not everyone speaking about literature (especially online) always knows what they're talking about in the first place. It sounds to me as if whoever you overheard was confused on the matter.

Even though much erotica --at its worst--can also be highly programmatic; that is not to say that every romantic novel is smutty. Hardly. In fact, many romances could be criticized for not being lascivious enough!


message 3: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments I will agree, the more the author follows the formula the more I enjoy it. after trying to write using the formula, I have found it challenging to have such rigid restrictions. however, The Outlander IMHO didn't always follow the formula and I loved it...but that is besides the point I suppose. I agree that romance is not smut...are least not all romance and it doesn't exactly own the term either.


message 4: by Arabella (new)

Arabella Thorne (arabella_thornejunocom) | 354 comments smut?
Ohh no..honey romances are not smut. That is a comment from someone who has a limited experience of the genre.
Do you really consider Romeo and Juliet smut?
Pride and Prejuidce?
No there are levels and levels. You can read a ton of what are called "sweet" romances with no sex or language and move up from there. There are even Christian romances with a closer relationship to God almost as important as the hero and heroine.
No. Always seek out what's being labeled and read it for yourself. Figure out why someone thinks its smut. what are they basing their opinion on? One bad example?


message 5: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments exactly. I just wanted to hear others opinions because I have gotten aloe of flack for reading romance novels. so I was curious :)


message 6: by Cate (new)

Cate (catesbooknuthut) | 75 comments Romance isn't a genre I like, but I wouldn't call it smut. I'm glad that readers have such diverse tastes, as this means good Authors will always have an outlet for what they publish. I'm wondering if they have confused romance novels with erotica.


message 7: by Heidi (new)

Heidi Peltier | 71 comments I'll weigh in here, though perhaps what I have to say is naïve and ignorant. I have always thought of smut when someone says 'romance' to describe a book. And I dislike that label because in my opinion, romance is about emotions and feelings people have for each other. Cate read one of my books which I think has some romance to it (romance in my definition), but has no excessive physical displays of affection. (I write YA and I personally don't think YA should have sex in it at all - but some call me a prude, so there you go) I think some books labeled "romance" that DO have sex in them may not be so much so that they could be categorized 'erotica,' but I wish there was a label somewhere in between. I can't tell you how many books I've downloaded labeled "romance" that have ended up having a ton of sex, etc in them. And that's just not what I was after. I just wanted the love story!


message 8: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments not naive or ignorant at all. thank you for your comment. :)


message 9: by Arabella (new)

Arabella Thorne (arabella_thornejunocom) | 354 comments Heidi...as I said above Harlequin has levels and levels of romances and you can probably go by what they say for each kind. If you want a sweet romance..look it up that way on Amazon...these would probably have no sex.If you like Regencies try Georgette Heyer..the grande dame of the genre..all of hers are romance with no sex..TheBlack Moth is charming...


message 10: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Jackson (paperbackdiva) | 108 comments I think that almost any genre (romance, sci fi, mystery, spy, urban) can have different levels of talent. I hate when people use the genre to generalize without even bothering to read the book. That's just prejudice and shows ignorance.


message 11: by Kelli (new)

Kelli C (kellimcassell) | 11 comments Hopefully I won't get lambasted for disagreeing, but isn't it all a matter of perspective? Reading is highly subjective and not everyone likes (or wants to read) the same things. For example, someone might call science fiction "geeky." It's a label that I don't agree with because Sci-fi is one of my favorite genres. But, who am I to say that a person is ignorant just because their life experience and perspective is different from mine and they view a great space opera as geeky? To them, it's geeky. So be it.

I view someone calling an Erotica novel "smutty" the same way. From their perspective, it might be. For someone else, it's not. That is what is so great about this world; there are a wide range of perspectives and opinions and life is never dull. I have family members who won't read anything with the slightest hint of sex in it. I'm not about to tell them not to judge it before they read it. They don't want to read it, and that's okay. For them, it might be considered smutty.

As far as the whole Romance genre being labeled smutty, I still think it is a matter of individual perspective. People have different tolerance levels on a whole host of things: sex, violence, racism, religion.

I have no problem with some sex in a book, although I don't enjoy books where the plot is merely a tool to get to the next sex scene. Not my cup of tea (but I don't look down on others who do enjoy it). I don't need to read every book like that to judge (for myself) that subgenre as something I'm not interested in, or that it might be a little too racy for my tolerance level on the subject matter.

Now, if someone tries to shame or stop other people from reading a genre just because they don't like it, I have a problem with that. But the label itself, it's just a word. Book burning...bad, having an opinion that is different than mine and assigning a label to that opinion...okay with me.

That's my two cents, anyway. Feel free to disagree. :)


message 12: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments I don't disagree. on the contrary! I read romance that is all I have ever read! I am often made fun of for reading them ans taken for being less intelligent than others foe doing so. therefore I wrote this post to see if anyone else has had this judgement and why.


message 13: by Feliks (last edited Aug 27, 2013 10:18PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Human civilization wouldn't be able to function if we couldn't make some generalizations. None of us could get through a single day without making inferences.


message 14: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments I have a generalization running through my mind right now.


message 15: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) "Men's work ends with the setting sun; women's work is never done"?


message 16: by Kelli (new)

Kelli C (kellimcassell) | 11 comments Oops! Sorry Vanessa! My reply wasn't directed at you at all, but at some of the responses saying that people are ignorant or prejudiced if they think that romance is smut.

Sorry that people treat you differently for reading Romance. That's not good! I say, read away! :)

Again, sorry that you thought my reply was directed at you.


message 17: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments nice. really nice.


message 18: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments no problem Kelli. I just wanted to be sure tht everyone understood I like romance. I had a few posts where I think some thought I didn't like romance is all. :)


message 19: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments I think asshole was the generalization I was thinking.


message 20: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Well, I know that can't be directed at me because in my very first post I defended romantic novels. More so than anyone else who followed in my wake.


message 21: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments I want to clarify... I feel that judgment based on what someone is reading is low. I am glad to see someone read anything because that is the gateway to becomming informed and well rounded. anyone who places judgment for someone reading anything other than the classics is an asshole. that's my opinion.


message 22: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments no I wasn't posting to you. I was posting in relation to my clarification that I had been judged by many and I feel they are assholes. I much appreciated your earlier post and it was well said
:)


message 23: by Feliks (last edited Aug 27, 2013 10:49PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Oh. Okay, thanks for that clarification.

But I think its specious. We all do make generalizations, many are perfectly legitimate--and 'estimating people by their reading habits' (although ever vulnerable to flaw as all such estimates are) seems to possess no special validity to be exempt from the practice.

In a sense, you're really just quibbling that the generalization happens to degrade your reading choice. In two seconds you might turn around and apply the same discrimination to someone who reads soupcan labels or cereal box ads; and feel justified in reckoning up their intellect, right?

If someone only read bubble-gum wrappers all their life; we'd definitely pass a judgment on them as soon as we heard tell of it. We know there's no secret code of wisdom contained in bubblegum wrappers. Not all reading material can be ranked equally.

Sometimes there's simply 'less than meets the eye'; sometimes people don't choose to progress or challenge themselves; and if it offends them to have it pointed out...err sorry, but the world is not about to give up its admiration for readers who go to great lengths to develop their intellect via literature.

This seems yet another conversation where I'm forced into the position of having to defend the human urge for achievement and the maintaining of standards with which to rank those achievements. Oh well. Anyway--be that as it may--I think you should be utterly comfortable in your preference for romances; its not as if it has harmed you in any way. You're clearly in possession of a mature mind. And we've debunked the idea that romances are merely smut. I think you're on safe-ground with your predilection.


message 24: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments my thing is..why say anything just move on and leave it alone. who cares? unless your my momma or my husband I don't want to hear anyone's opinion but that does not mean that it doesn't hurt when someone states it. unless I ask them how they feel about what I am reading, I don't want to hear it. does that make sense? I just wondered if anyone else had this happen
I read romance as an escape because I work in hospice and that can be stressful and depressing. and to be judged for my choice of an escape choice
..really? atleast I am not a drunk. ya know what I mean?


message 25: by Kelli (new)

Kelli C (kellimcassell) | 11 comments I kind of like the Twilight books...you better believe that I've been judged for that. Hahaha!


message 26: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments I have never read any of them but my cousin did and she is in nursing school and they gave her hell lol.


message 27: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Oxford (sarahloxford) | 11 comments This is a really interesting thread to me because I too barely read anything but romances and have also had the judgement (mostly from my husband!) that all I read is smut!

I agree with Kelli's point though that it's all a matter of perspective and personal preference. I have occasionally read a book which I considered too religious but others hadn't even picked up on what I considered preaching.

That said, I feel no-one has the right (although of course we all do it anyway) to judge other people for what they read. It is a better way to judge people than other means though like gender or race or where you were born etc.

I think the recent surge of New Adult contemporary romances haven't helped the repuation of the Romance genre as much of the marketing has been attempting to benefit off the back of the 50 shades hype. Certainly that's why my husband thinks I read nothing but smut.

My retort is always to mention one of my favourite books, and arguably one of the best novels of all time; Pride and Prejudice. I defy anyone to declare that smut!

Love makes the world go around and living worthwhile and meaningful, what more important thing to spend time reading about?


message 28: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments thank you Sarah, well said


message 29: by Sue (new)

Sue Theisen (sue-theisen) | 3 comments Aren't books a way for authors to release their imagination creating a place for readers to escape their inhibitions? We all need an outlet and for some the fantasy of being on the receiving end of some gorgeous man that loves them more than life itself, just may foot the bill.


message 30: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments Sue I completely agree. thank you and well said.


message 31: by Feliks (last edited Aug 28, 2013 09:48PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) I think if they really were filled with lewd, lascivious, wanton, earthy, unbridled, brazen, immodest, lechery and ribaldry--not only myself, but a whole generation of my male peers would have dove into them way back in the day. How 'smutty' can they possible be? Really, its the first I've even heard of this accusation. It doesn't even make any sense.

What man is going to nag or chastise his woman for reading porn? Who? Its inconceivable. Show me this individual. Have him brought before me for examination.

I wager this jeer (e.g., that women are getting prurient pleasures under the guise of leisure reading) must be a barb hurled at them only from other members of their own sex.


message 32: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments I honestly think the lady who gave me crap for reading romance novels has obviously never read any. she would have found that in historical romance, especially, has many great facts from there respective times. there is much to gain from reading such books aside from the sexuality and love.


message 33: by Philip (new)

Philip (phenweb) | 158 comments Vanessa wrote: "I honestly think the lady who gave me crap for reading romance novels has obviously never read any. she would have found that in historical romance, especially, has many great facts from there res..."

The BBC recently serialised The White Queen books of Phillipa Gregory. It also showed the history in a documentary that followed the programme. I was not surprised that the facts were generally accurate as I had read one of her books before. These are clearly historical romances they were not smutty, but when you show a bedroom scene it is likely to include nudity. This is not Doris Day and Rock Hudson in bed in PJs and single beds.

If the romance genre is being more explicit then I may try some more books in that genre, it's their lack of grittiness that has put me off, I don't want to swoon and stare into someone's eyes whilst grown adults spend 300 pages avoiding having sex!


message 34: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Oxford (sarahloxford) | 11 comments Feliks you have clearly not read 50 shades of grey!

And as for the men not liking it, in my husbands case, and I suspect he is not alone, I think it's a case of jealousy. What would I need the fantasy for if the reality is right there? It's like I'd be saying that I need the outlet to escape my inhibitions, and that may well be taken as a slight against his ability to fulfill my needs.

I get his point, although I don't agree!
After reading one or two of these so called 'mummy porn' books I am unimpressed and generally speaking prefer the 'pure' romances and agree with Vanessa. There is much more to be gained from proper romances. Most of the ones I read have a strong story of personal growth, of family, of community, of mental health issues etc. etc.

I suspect Vanessa that this lady has assumed romances means 50 shades. I would tell her to read Jane Austen and Outlander.


message 35: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments read anything by Virginia Henley


message 36: by Vanessa Eden (new)

Vanessa  Eden Patton (vanessaeden) | 509 comments outlander was amazing!


message 37: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Oxford (sarahloxford) | 11 comments Philip wrote: "Vanessa wrote: "I honestly think the lady who gave me crap for reading romance novels has obviously never read any. she would have found that in historical romance, especially, has many great fact..."

Well said Philip! It's definitely more ridiculous grown adults not having sex when in a relationship!


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