Visual porn is broadly recognized. Its appeal to and effect on males has been known and exploited for millennia. But what about emotional porn? What about porn that appeals to females? This KSL article notes that romance novels can become more than a casual escape for women. They can be as addictive for women as visual porn is for men.
Romance novels include “entrancing but distorted messages” about human relationships. The article says that “there are similarities between what happens to a man when he views pornography and what happens to a woman when she reads a romance novel.” The article says:
“Men are very visual, and viewing pornography produces a euphoric drug in the body. This drug is the reason pornography becomes addictive. When the natural high wears off, a man will crash and feel depressed (as happens with any drug) and crave another hit.It has long been known that visual porn causes men to become dissatisfied with their real relationships because no actual relationship can live up to the false fantasy world in which they immerse themselves. No real partner lives and breathes to satisfy one’s lusts without demanding much. Rarely does a real partner look as visually enticing as do surgically and graphically enhanced porn models.
“Women are more stimulated by romance than sex, so when they read romantic stories (and they don’t have to be explicit to work) they can experience the same addicting chemical release as men do.”
Emotional porn works in a similar fashion for women. The article says, “Women may find their standard for intimacy begins to change over time because [they] may not be able to get as satisfied with their partners as they can reading a book.” Taking another euphoric hit from a book beats the humdrum reality of everyday relationship building.
This issue raises a question in my head. Every couple of months we get a catalog from Deseret Book in the mail. Deseret Book is owned by Deseret Management Corp., which in turn is fully owned by the LDS Church. Each issue of the catalog is filled with numerous romance novel offerings. Perhaps it’s my own perception, but it seems to me that these offerings have proliferated like crazy over the past couple of decades.
The romance novels sold at Deseret Book usually feature some kind of LDS or religious perspective that is absent in mainstream romance novels. But the fact of the matter is that these religious-ized novels follow the same basic tried and true romance fiction recipe that can’t help but distort human relationships. It’s what this genre of literature is designed to do—it’s prime directive, as it were. People wouldn't read it if it merely portrayed reality.
As the KSL article states, a romance novel doesn’t have to be explicit or erotic to be harmful. So I have to ask why Deseret Book carries so many of these books—emotional porn with a religious theme. DB would never sell visual porn even religious messages mixed in. So why does DB sell emotional porn?
I assumed that religiously themed romance novels must make up a huge percentage of DB’s profit, given the amount of catalog space continually devoted to such books. But when I last visited DB’s home page, no romance novels were among the chain’s top ten best sellers. In fact, no fiction works were among that group. The fiction page had five romance novels among its top ten list with four of them being the top four, but there is no accounting for how much these books generate in sales or profit.
I have to admit that I am somewhat romance story impaired. Maybe that’s natural for guys. Back in the days before the LDS historical novel genre exploded, I mentioned to a neighbor that I had enjoyed reading one of the few such works available at that time. She enthusiastically insisted that I read a LDS historical novel she owned of which I had never heard.
It didn’t take me long to realize that the book was only loosely historical. It was the bizarre story of a fictional pioneer girl that married a temporarily reformed jerk to spite her true love pure Mormon boy after he left her to march off with the Mormon Battalion upon assignment from church leaders. The jerk later dumps the girl and she ends up marrying her true love when he returns from his service. Frankly, I wanted to vomit.
Perhaps this book is a poor sampling of the romance genre, since it was written by a guy. However, my neighbor, who was quite a romance aficionado vouched for the book’s quality. So I can only assume that it is somewhat representative of the LDS romance ‘literature’ that is out there.
I am certain that many readily defend the reading of romance novels. It’s just a brief escape. Only a few abusers are addicts. It’s not harming anyone. I can quit anytime I want. And as far as LDS romance novels, they always have a good moral basis. That makes them worth reading, doesn’t it? Sure, and mood altering drugs are always healthy as long as you have a doctor’s prescription. (sarcasm)
The reality is that pornography takes a toll on its users, regardless of whether the content is erotic visual material, blood and gore movies and video games, or emotionally engaging but distorted fiction. What seems like a harmless diversion can quickly snare us in a cycle of addiction and can ruin our ability to function properly in life's most important real relationships.
It is wise to avoid all addictive substances and behaviors. It might be good for church owned retailers to refrain from selling addictive substances, including emotionally addictive fiction. After all, we as a society don’t have much regard for pushers, even if demand for their wares is high.
Help is available for those that are already addicted. But a key ingredient to healing is a firm personal desire to overcome the addiction. This presupposes recognizing that one has a problem that needs to be corrected. Many that enjoy their addictions aren’t at this stage yet.
For those not addicted to any of these things, why start in the first place?