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Book Discussion & Recommendation > Common misleading tropes in romance/erotics novel

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Garethblindfishideas | 5 comments Hello everyone,

Sadly I am not the most regular visitor to the forums but I am hoping some of you might be able to help.

I work for a charity providing relationship and sex education to teenagers in UK high schools. One of the lessons we offer explores how some common themes in TV, Film and especially pornography can mislead young people about relationships and sex. For example how porn often reinforces stereotypes about big penises and how sit coms often downplay how easy it is to stay friends with someone if you break up with them.

We want to update/expand our materials to also cover how written materials (with a special focus on romance and erotic novels) might commonly contain misleading themes and tropes. So I wanted to ask you as experts for your suggestions of any misleading tropes or themes you think are common in romantic and erotic novels. These could be about either relationships or sex. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

(Our materials are not moral crusades saying either TV, Films or novels are bad. The aim is to give young people the skills to understand the impact media could have if we are unaware of its misleading aspects.Then they can enjoy them without concern.)


message 2: by Alicia (new)

Alicia What a great project! High quality sex and relationships education is so important.


message 3: by Malaraa (last edited Aug 05, 2015 05:05AM) (new)

Malaraa | 335 comments Easiest place to start is at the site http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php.... Most of this list applies as well. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php...

Not all of them are bad things, especially for more experienced people, but you'll find quite a lot in there that you're looking for.


message 4: by Garethblindfishideas (last edited Aug 05, 2015 05:10AM) (new)

Garethblindfishideas | 5 comments Alicia wrote: "What a great project! High quality sex and relationships education is so important."

Thank you, its a big passion of mine

Sanasai wrote: "Easiest place to start is at the site http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php....

Not all of them are bad things, especially for more experienced people, but you'll find qu..."


Thanks for the link that is very helpful. Which ones do people think have the most potential to be misleading for teenage audiences who may have little or no personal experience and few independent reference points?

Personally I think the
"Does Not Like Women: The special romance-novel version of He-Man Woman Hater, in which the male hero only hates women because of the actions of a bad woman, and will be cured in the end by the good heroine."
is an example of a story trope that could be very misleading for a young person and feed into dangerous patterns of thinking someone can "fix" an unhealthy relationship if they love the person enough.


message 5: by Malaraa (new)

Malaraa | 335 comments That's definately one to watch for, as is Broken Bird, where the character thinks the love interest can fix them instead of vice versa. See also Stalking is Love, Love Martyr meets Domestic Abuser, basically anything under the Bastard Boyfriend/Bastard Girlfriend category.

For the less emotionally troubling, but physically misleading, there's the interconnected Glittery Hoo-Ha, Golden Gun, Good People have Good Sex, A Man is Not a Virgin, and Nature Adores a Virgin.


message 6: by Taryn (new)

Taryn (taryngilliland) | 50 comments A disturbing amount of YA novels have a trend where the female protagonist can only have her happy ending if she marries the first boyfriend she had sex with and has his babies. Not only is it insulting to insinuate that all women can only be happy with marriage and babies, but it also makes it hard for teenage girls to tell the difference between lust and love. I know teenagers usually think it's love (being teenagers and all) but having countless novels reinforce the fact and imply that their teenage sweetheart is obviously THE ONE and they must marry them as soon as they're out of high school could lead to all kinds of bad decisions they may regret later in life.

Another bad one is the sweet, virgin girl who 'tames' the promiscuous boy, implying that only 'good girls' can make these so-called bad boys change their manwhoring ways. It's that annoying standard of 'only good girls are virgins, girl who like sex are sluts' and 'men should be experienced for their virgin girlfriend'. How many teen girls could be misled by this and think they can 'fix' the promiscuous hot guy, only to be cast aside (either immediately or after a relationship and breakup)?


Garethblindfishideas | 5 comments thank you for the comments. I am very interested to highlight YA themes where possible. knowing that if a young person is a keen reader they have probably already read through twilight, hunger games, divergent, city of bones just as starters. the good girl tames bad (often older) boy seems very common.

from my reading I think age differences are sometimes roughly highlighted but by the end of the book love conquers all and the age difference doesn't matter. I worry that could be misleading to someone getting attention from an older and possibly more experienced guy?

any other ideas? what about tropes about sex that could be misleading


message 8: by Alicia (new)

Alicia Garethblindfishideas wrote: "what about tropes about sex that could be misleading ..."

We see quite a lot of instant orgasm, and orgasm first time & every time which might be a bit misleading.

The only one of the YA books/series that you mention that I've read all of is the Mortal Instruments, which was very much good girl taming bad older (but not much older) boy. The thing that made me giggle pretty much all the way through is the number of times the main character is making out with her boyfriend and it says she can feel every inch of his hips against her. Honey, he's 17. That isn't his hipbone.


message 9: by Ariel (new)

Ariel Stirling | 90 comments YA trope? How about the kissing, making out, sex being perfect in every way? It's been a while but I seem to recall a lot of fumbling around and awkwardness... Which could be written well to give a more interesting set of characters than a perfect meeting of teen bodies.

Most often the character tropes are either good girl/bad boy or dorky guy/good girl. It would be fun to see a bad girl now and then, and maybe a good but non-dorky guy (tho I kind of have a thing for dorky guys).


Garethblindfishideas | 5 comments Alicia wrote:

"We see quite a lot of instant orgasm, and orgasm first time & every time which might be a bit misleading.
"


Definitely going to include this in my lesson. To be honest loads of young people I work with don't really know what an orgasm is. They know the word but loads of confusion around it. So something about orgasms would be a great discussion starter. Some cross over with visual porn here as well.


Ariel wrote: "YA trope? How about the kissing, making out, sex being perfect in every way? It's been a while but I seem to recall a lot of fumbling around and awkwardness...."

Yep, this is really important in a culture which seems to prize being an instant expert and also pressure for females to be pure. Massive conflict.

I don't want to solely focus on the misleading aspects. I want to also include some positive themes of tropes from literature that might help young people make sense of relationships and sex. Personally one of the helpful things I think (young) people can draw from lots of literature is that the female perspective is much more common then in most visual media. So being an optimist do you think I could say many (not all) romance/erotic literature helps empower females to embrace having a sex drive as a positive thing?

Finally how would you say most literature deals with issue of sexuality and gender identity?


message 11: by T.S. (new)

T.S. Adrian (shadyia) | 163 comments Gare,

You absolutely must see John Oliver's piece on Sex Education in the USA. Do a search on YouTube. Pure gold!


Garethblindfishideas | 5 comments Shadyia wrote: "Gare,

You absolutely must see John Oliver's piece on Sex Education in the USA. Do a search on YouTube. Pure gold!"


Its a great video, I'm based in the UK and like the USA sometimes the quality of what is offered varies between schools/district. We have a big debate going through parliament to make relationship and sex education compulsory to all schools.

My favourite line is "Sex is like boxing, if both people do not fully consent one of them is committing a crime"


message 13: by Peter (new)

Peter | 55 comments Ariel wrote: "YA trope?... It would be fun to see a bad girl now and then..."
Have you read any of the Caster's Chronicles series by Kami Garcia? I enjoyed Beautiful Creatures, which introduced the side character of Ridley, something of a "bad girl". Not sure if that's what you're looking for, but I believe she plays a bigger role in the later books.


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