(This post is about a year old-but thought it relevant to this new blog)

My thoughts on where to start are a bit scattered as the idea of posting on this subject has been percolating for months.  First some background, then some PR-analysis.

Part 1: Last summer I read an article, maybe on salon.com? about PR and why it was appealing (long story short: Heroines don’t lose power-they gain it-in relationships, her partner isn’t threatened by her growing strength, team building is important). I thought to myself, “yup! sounds right to me!” And then promptly started looking for PR to read to try out my theory (previous experience was limited to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Sookie Stackhouse novels).

Regular romance novels generally don’t work for me, I just get irritated with the characters and plots, mystery-romances also don’t really work for me, PR does! I like the stories, I like the characters, I like the relationships.

Part 2: I’ve been talking about life, books, etc with my longest-term internet friend over the past few months and she added some excellent choices to my list of books to read. A while ago she pointed me to a blog entry by Nicole Peeler about writing healthy sex for her character, Jane True, and also recommended I follow her twitter feed. A week or so later I was wandering through Barnes and Noble and saw Tempest sitting on a random shelf (someone had been looking at it and just set it down instead of putting it where it belonged-where I wouldn’t have seen it). I picked it up just to see if I liked it enough to buy, and 14 chapters later I realized I really should go home before the cat assumed I was dead in a ditch somewhere. Needless to say, it’s worth buying.

Part 3: When my mom gave me the sex talk she seemed really open about the whole thing, drew diagrams, answered questions, told me the mechanics, “when the man gets excited… ” etc. A while after the talk it occurred to me that she hadn’t really said anything about the woman’s experience, when I asked her if women felt any pleasure during sex she didn’t answer me. Now, she could have had many reasons for not answering, but at the time that stuck with me (hell, that I can remember it now means that it stuck with me a long time). Didn’t help that my first boyfriend experience was disaster or that I’ve been living in a rather conservative christian culture that insists girls are the “brakes” and must stop the boys (who are the “gas”) from “going too far.”

Part 4: In movies/tv often the sexual relationships of characters are portrayed as being about dominance and power or a calculated move. Often, the woman’s pleasure seems to be just more proof that the hero is awesome, not about the woman having agency.

Part 5: (In which I finally get to my point) PR/UF is appealing to me because it tends to give a healthier perspective on sex than many of the RL/TV examples I’ve encountered: generally it is told from the heroine’s perspective, she is competent, intelligent, powerful, and often sassy. Because the story is told from her perspective the authors generally make it clear that she IS enjoying sex, not only that, usually she makes a conscious decision to have sex, and then isn’t punished for enjoying it (well, with the exception of Buffy and Angel). I liked that in “the Sookie books” Sookie has relationships with different men, her character arc isn’t just about modifying herself to become the perfect woman for Bill (at first it was, and that annoyed me, fortunately she grew out of it). I love that Jane True (in Tempest Rising) has sex, and enjoys it, but that the entire book isn’t about her trying to catch the mysterious hero, or him pursuing her. In fact the tension has very little to do with their relationship (but their relationship makes total sense in the story, it’s not just thrown in there to add sauciness to the story).

These plots relate well to Jessica Valenti’s thesis in The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women. She argues that the American culture rarely treats young women as having agency in their sexual decisions, instead they are portrayed as victims, a man “took advantage” etc. Instead young women could/should be supported in making conscious sexual decisions and having healthy, enjoyable sexual experiences.

So there’s post #1 about likes/dislikes within the PR genre.

(Note: Oh how far I’ve come from this post. More here as I get to typing)

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