Are Erotic Romance Readers More Liberal?

With the social climate here in the US getting more and more conservative, while the number of erotic romance books being sold is growing by leaps and bounds, I can’t help but wonder how these two conflicting phenomenon correlate. Is one a reaction to the other? Or are what we read and what we believe two entirely different things?

I scoured the internet for some data on readers or erotic romance, or even just erotica (the main difference being that erotic romance has a ‘happily ever after’ or a happily for now’ ending). There is no data on the readers at all. The only available information is on the number of books sold. Not surprisingly, the number of ebooks sold versus print books sold is proportionately higher than in other genres of romance or fiction. Obviously the key piece here is that people buy much more erotic literature when they can do so discreetly.

I couldn’t write a story showing my heroine benefiting from her sexual experiences if I thought they were morally wrong, so certainly I am more liberally-minded. But is this true of the readers? This is fantasy after all. Do some readers like to read kinky stuff that they feel is morally wrong, just for the release? Many people like to read about killers and their horrific murders, but that doesn’t mean they are condoning that behavior.

Without passing judgement on anyone, please tell me. Does what you read match your beliefs?

17 thoughts on “Are Erotic Romance Readers More Liberal?

  1. I’m a Constitutional Conservative (you may read that as Tea Party if you wish), so I guess I should be upset if I read that two unmarried people hold hands in the park? Not hardly, if you dare to read my paranormal-romance book, “Immortal Relations,” you’d think I was a flaming MARXIST, by the premise of the question and some of the comments. I just believe that sex is natural and can and should be a whole lot of fun for both partners. The erotic aspect of my book is because my vampires don’t follow human mores (that’s spelled “hang-ups”). Oh, and before someone thinks I’m talking strictly m/f, I’m not, in fact there is multiple partners (granted it is in a “learning” enviornment) practicing sharing the enjoyable feelings in the minds of each partner and multiples thereof and a bit of m & f on f, which I tried my best to make a loving exchange.

  2. Pingback: Erotic 30 | 2morts

  3. I would say I am quite conservative, actually probably very conservative. I find myself quite at odds with many of the moral norms of the day. This said, I have read some erotic romance and as a writer I’ve ‘researched’ straight erotica. In the range of sexual norms I find myself fairly tolerant of quite a range of adult relationship styles.(excluding pedophelia and Bestiality is a given here) It is the issue of fidelity that I find most difficult to accept in current norms. I don’t like and refuse to read if warned, stories of adultery or similar betrayals of intimate relationships.

    • Hi Fiona, I appreciate your input. I couldn’t imagine it was only liberals reading erotic romance. Just as you have said, my more conservative friends are quite comfortable with other ‘adult relationship styles.’ But those few don’t read erotic romance, so I didn’t have a comparison. I understand about the fidelity concerns, and although there are differing opinions on what constitutes cheating, especially in a story like a menage, I don’t think anyone really likes to read about betrayals.
      Thanks for your thoughts!

  4. I’m with Christine and Eloise – my reading and my stories match my liberalism. Lately I’ve become especially fond of the term “sex positive” as a way of describing what this means to me.

    • Me too, Adriana, I love that term! I’ve noticed that quite a few groups, even some that are open-minded in other areas, are still so uptight about sex. My mother always complained that tv and movies were allowed to show violence and killing to children, but heaven forbid they let a child see two people who love each other necking and touching.

      So ‘sex positive’ seems a very clear term. 🙂

  5. Things that make you go hmmm. For the last five years, I’ve worked the RWA National Literacy Signing and let me tell you that the people buying Amish Inspirational Romances are the very same ones who buy the erotic romance/erotica. Frequently, they apologize to me for the erotic romance/erotica, “these are for a friend,” and I tell them that I am from California and really it’s the Amish love stories that freak me out. There’s a squick factor to Amish romances for me. On the other hand, it fits kind of with the theme of “the forbidden” that probably does it for these readers.

    I remember driving through part of the Bible belt back in the early 90’s with my father. We stopped for a gas and bathroom break and it was like the third time that I noticed the women’s restrooms had no toilet seat covers, WT?, but they did have a vending machine with several types of condoms! OMG! Buy your condoms from behind the counter like any normal person and give me some freakin’ toilet seat covers for the good lord’s sake! I expressed my disgust to my father loudly and in public at which point he laughed and the register attendant asked me to keep my voice down.

    I can almost assure you that the more conservative a place is the freakier their sexual practices are. There’s something about the taboo that just does it for most humans. For example, did you know that as more and more porn uses only clean shaven actors, pubic hair has becoming more and more eroticized? Yep, whatever is naughty just does it for some people and the acts have to be naughty to do anything for them.

    Thus, I think erotic romance/erotica readers as a whole tend to be conservative but not repressed. The writers of said stories are a different breed which can really freak a person out when she realizes her favorite author is older than grandma who died forty years ago.

  6. Interesting question. I have read reluctance/non-consent stories in the past. I don’t find READING a fantasy to be morally wrong. Now, ACTING out some fantasies could definitely be considered morally wrong. At the same time I do find pedophilia and bestiality morally wrong. But then I would never read stories about those things.

    • Good point Eloise, I wasn’t suggesting that reading anything is morally wrong, but certainly there are people who think so. However, the fact that pretty much all publishers, both main stream and small press, will not accept any pedophilia or bestiality, tells us that things that generally accepted by everyone as wrong are not welcome in our fantasies. The non-consent thing is always controversial, yet rape is definitely a no-no. I think that it’s a matter of slippery slope–we often like to read stories that test our boundaries, to help us to define where those boundaries lie. So if someone enjoys giving up control, the ‘borderline’ or non-consent scenes test that boundary.

  7. Absolutely, my reading follows my beliefs – that sex is normal, healthy, and good for us. I have read erotica for years – Anais Nin, for starters, and no one can say that Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer” (and other writings) isn’t both literary and highly sexual.

    Anne Rice (writing as A.N. Roquelaure) wrote the Beauty trilogy (The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty, Beauty’s Punishment, and Beauty’s Release) in the mid-1980s. Another excellent example of the genre. (And I bought those over-the-counter at a bookstore, to boot!)

    I am an equal-opportunity reader, however – I read widely, in almost all genres, and from all ages – from the Greeks and Romans, on to our times.

    • So Christine, you find that your reading matches you views in life. Which is why I suspect you read such a wide variety–you’re a well-rounded person!
      And Sharon, your reading matches too. Then again, you both are authors, and artists are typically more liberal. 🙂

  8. What a great question. I wonder if this is a chicken or egg question? Or, if the ease of using an e-reader allows all people, regardless of politics, to enjoy an escape.

    Me, yes, I confess, I’m a liberal. 🙂

    Sharon

  9. good question. Have you ever read porno girls blogs? or porno stars blogs? They are very conservative when they (they?) write about issues not related with sex

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *