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“You may think I’m joking, but look around you—if you know someone who legitimately loves these books, who gets the funny squirmies while reading them, who won’t shut the fuck up about Charlie Hunnam, this person has never had good sex.”

This is actually been disproven by at least one scientific study According to a scientific study conducted by Harold Leitenberg of The Journal of Sex Research and Psychological Bulletin, women who read romance or erotic novels have 74% more sex with their partners than those who don’t.

This is because women fantasize more frequently, and have more intense and realistic fantasies, when they read suggestive content. The report states that women not only have more sex, but are having better sex by engaging in more playful, and a wider variety of erotic activities. In fact, according to The Fertility Advocate, the use of reading to boost sexual desire is called Bibliotherapy and is recommended by therapists to encourage women to get their groove on in the bedroom. 

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

17 Comments

  1. Brie
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 07:50:09

    The Pajiba article isn’t about Romance, Erotica, or even Fifty Shades. It’s about the women who read them, which is what enraged me (not that I’m not tired of hearing stuff like that about the genre). At first I thought it was a very distasteful satire, but then I read the comments the author of the piece made on the comments section (a place none of you should go!) and I realized it wasn’t.

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  2. Christine
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 08:00:52

    Ugh, why is it always women tearing down other women’s reading habits. (I’m assuming it’s a woman). Where are all the men claiming men who read Penthouse and Playboy are just the nerds who can’t get a girl? Because it’s not true and men would never say that. Men thinking about anything sexual= good and and natural. Women reading about anything to do with sex=sad and pathetic. I’m beyond tired of it. Why must any woman who picks up a romance novel immediately be stereotyped as the “sad cat lady”?

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  3. Meri
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 08:28:08

    The argument that 50 Shades fans, or romance readers, don’t have a sex life is so ridiculous I don’t even get upset about it anymore. Mostly it shows the ignorance and narrow-mindedness of the person making that argument.

    Does anyone have a reference for Leitenberg’s study that was mentioned here? It sounds interesting, but I’ve had no luck in finding it so far.

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  4. DB Cooper
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 08:36:21

    @Christine:

    Where are all the men claiming men who read Penthouse and Playboy are just the nerds who can’t get a girl? Because it’s not true and men would never say that. As a man, I can say this is not entirely true (it kind of worked both ways in my experience, both for “stud points” and as a point of derision).

    But other than that, I agree. There’s a little too much judgement and stereotyping here. Even if we were going to be that person in terms of being impolite, divisive and dismissive, I think, given the size of the market, just sheer common sense would point you some of those readers having a good sex life.

    Also, speaking as a jazz fan, the title really should read Ella Fitzgerald. Too late to change?

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  5. Miss_Malapert
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 08:45:59

    Lessons learned from the internet: never, ever read the comments unless you want to stroke out from rage. @Christine, I completely agree with you. It seems that women are the ones who are most critical of other women’s reading habits and I really don’t get it. Why can’t we all just get along? Also, this “sad cat lady” (LOL) romance reader somehow manages to have sex on a regular basis, so bite me, Pajiba!

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  6. Laura Vivanco
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 08:56:44

    @Meri: I think Jane may have been linking to a post by Ken Boehs, which in turn links to a page at PsycNET which gives the following citation details:

    Sexual fantasy.
    Leitenberg, Harold; Henning, Kris
    Psychological Bulletin, Vol 117(3), May 1995, 469-496.

    I haven’t checked that to see what it has to say about romance novels.

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  7. Sunita
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 09:01:44

    @Laura Vivanco: @Meri: I skimmed the article; it’s a review article, not a report of a particular study. There is a brief discussion of the role of visual and written materials that stimulate fantasies, in which the authors say that men are more likely to use visual pornographic materials while women are more likely to read romance novels to stimulate sexual fantasies. The research suggests that people who engage in sexual fantasies (and don’t feel guilty about it) are more likely to have more and more satisfactory sexual experiences. I’d have to read the article carefully to be sure, but it makes a less direct (although still positive) link between novels and increased sexual activity than Boehs asserts. And I didn’t see a 74% result, but maybe I missed it since I skimmed rather than read carefully.

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  8. Meri
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 09:29:04

    Thanks, Laura & Sunita! I only have access to articles from the office, so I’ll have to wait a few days before I can read it. Since Psychological Bulletin publishes review articles rather than original research, I’m not surprised it’s not the original study. I wonder where the 74% result came from?

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  9. Leah
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 09:54:58

    Mentally rewriting the Pajiba article title to avoid having a stroke.

    Self-hating female misogynist shames women for reading about sex, is back-slapped in the comments mostly by men.

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  10. SAO
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 09:55:17

    I have a hard time seeing the eReetah thing get off the ground. The people who pay hardcover prices for the latest bestseller don’t read more than a book a month. Not many people reading serious non-fiction do either. To get a bargain on books, you have to be reading at least two books/month. And they need to have a good selection.

    I’ve long wanted a subscription model like a paid library. I pay per month and can read so many books, but don’t own them. But, of course, I’d need a price point that makes sense.

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  11. theo
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 12:11:36

    Really? Sounds to me like Pajiba is the one who hasn’t had good sex, feels guilty about enjoying the books herself and is trying to pawn off her feelings by taking the antagonistic approach.

    As tired as I am of hearing/reading/seeing hate toward the romance genre overall, it’s the women dissing it that irritate me most of all. *sigh*

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  12. Mikaela
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 13:00:31

    I signed up for a beta invite for eReatah, just to poke around and see what kind of books they have. I doubt it will turn into more than that. On the other hand, two Trades or Hardcovers for 17 dollar is a good price.

    I *definitely* more interested in Oyster that also launched now. Unlimited number of books, 9.99 dollar per month? Right up my alley. Unfortunately, it is US only, and so far iPhone / iPad only. Which is three strikes against me, since I live in Sweden and don’t like reading on my phone and don’t have an iThing. sigh.

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  13. DS
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 13:07:37

    I keep want to read eReatah backwards. Guess I’ve seen too many kids with names that are words spelled backwards– Navaeh is the most common, but I’ve seen several others.

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  14. Maggie
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 13:38:03

    It’s too bad the author had to resort to misogynistic vitriol in the Pajiba piece, because her point is completely lost, and it’s not a bad point: It IS pretty ridiculous to start a change.org petition because you disagree with the casting of a movie. I’ll bet my life savings that the studio does not give a hot damn.

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  15. B. Sullivan
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 15:26:03

    “Amazon says that it hopes to release a software update for the original model”

    I said “YES” out loud and was suddenly really happy I hadn’t read this in public. My Paperwhite’s only a year old and it was be silly if I was already thinking of getting a new one – but the updates all sound interesting/useful/omg the footnote geek in me is SO excited.

    Also thanks to the link to that Groove Notes piece – there are a lot of other great articles there that I’m now going to have to read as well.

    The pajiba.com article: I eyerolled too. (I eyeroll over 50 Shades, but then that’s mostly due its origins than the genre, and I do it quietly to myself.) But then I wanted to know who were the authors on this site (I like to know where an author is coming from – perspective, background, etc.) and what it’s purpose was – it’s going for magazine-blog-style but with no about page – oh wait, I did find their staff page:
    http://www.pajiba.com/staff/
    All I can tell from that is “these are people that live various places” – nothing else about backgrounds, past writing, nada. (Not that anyone can’t blog opinions, it’s just that I often like to read writers who have some background in the material.) So yeah, even without reading the article we have nothing factual to elevate this from “a bunch of friends have a blog!” I say this as someone who avidly follows any writing from folks who’ve posted on Television Without Pity.

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  16. harthad
    Sep 05, 2013 @ 15:59:24

    @Meri: Got my academic librarian hat on. I have the original article in front of me. Sunita’s summary is basically correct.

    The single paragraph that discusses romance novels (p. 484) is headed “Do Commercial Erotic Preferences Reflect Gender Differences in Sexual Fantasy?” The authors conclude, “Thus, pornography appears to be commercially successful because it closely corresponds to men’s sexual fantasies, whereas romance fiction appears to be commercially successful because it corresponds more closely to women’s fantasies.” As you note, it’s a literature review, not original research, and the paragraph cites no research specifically related to romance novels, only to pornography.

    I did text searches of the article and cannot locate any occurrence of the figure 74%.

    I find Boehs’ use of the citation questionable. For one thing, he has the title of the source completely wrong. “Journal of Sex Research and Psychological Bulletin” is two journals, not one. For another, he’s using the supposed factoid basically as advertising for his own erotic novel: Buy my book so you’ll have more sex!

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  17. Meri
    Sep 06, 2013 @ 06:15:00

    @harthad: I noticed the issue with the journal names, too – obviously that’s not an institutional affiliation to begin with, so I figured he’d published in both journals. Thanks for the information on the article; I just hope it won’t be used to fuel the “romance is porn for women” argument.

    (that is always a good hat to have!)

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