He was a doctor or a lawyer or a landscaper. Most of the time he’d be really tall and handsome with either brown eyes and dark hair or blond hair and the bluest eyes ever known to man. And he’d be single, kind of living a playboy lifestyle, a sort of bad boy involved with lots of women at the same time. That’s until he meets me, of course. Well, he actually meets the female lead in the romance novel but I always used to imagine she looked just like me – and then he’d fall in love, turn around his entire life, become a wonderful husband and doting father, all in a matter of 200 pages.
I was in my teens when I started reading this porn for the mind (that’s truly what it is, ladies). Boy is single, boy meets girl, boy and girl kiss passionately, boy messes up and makes girl angry, boy and girl make up and then finally make love as well. And they always make love, they don’t just go to bed. They make love in the most romantic way any woman can ever imagine. Porn for the mind.
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It is, of course, a completely hopeless scenario. We women are never going to meet a man who is a total playboy on Tuesday and a loving father and husband on Wednesday. It just doesn’t happen. Perhaps that’s why these novels sell so well – we need this guy to exist and we need to pretend that we meet him and change his wicked ways by our beauty and attractiveness. We need this escape from reality even if it means through a silly story.
And what about Cinderella whose life becomes so much better because she meets the prince who carries her away on the white horse? What about Barbie who seems really obsessed with looking pretty and skinny and meeting a sexy man? We’re sending a really weird message to little girls: Being pretty is important if you want to be happy. Where is the heroinne who isn’t hung up on looks and who studies to be a lawyer or a doctor or a landscaper? The independent chick who doesn’t need this prince to come and save her.
I’m older now and yet I carry with me certain ideas from when I was a little girl and a teenager. For example, my partner can tell me many times that he loves me no matter how I look and he loves me for the person I am. I still secretly think he wants a slim pretty woman (the woman from the romance novel). I still – partly – carry with me the thought that a woman is not really whole without a man (I got that from watching hours of Cinderella cartoons).
Seriously, we need to tell girls and young women: Study hard, be proud of yourself, rely on yourself, be a strong woman and then find a man if you want. Don’t wait for some dark-eyed prince to come riding into your life and give it all meaning. What do you think? I know men are sometimes frightened of really strong, independent women – men need to be needed for something, I truly believe that. So – if we become strong women who don’t need men for anything other than to be a pleasurable part of an already nice life – are we killing romance? Are we going against what nature intends? Are we turning men into puppies that we can walk and cuddle whenever we feel like it?