Posts Tagged ‘Academia’

An Academic Paradox

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

Here’s some facts

  • women read more books than men.
  • women read across genres

And yet, whenever academics get going about how women, when they read romance, are unable to separate the subject of their reading from the reality of their lives, they conveniently forget the incredibly high likelihood that these same women are reading other genres. As soon as as woman reads a romance, she is reconstructing her real life with the fantasy of the romance. Her husband isn’t a stinker after all because romance allows her to reconstitute him with the fantasy of the hero. I guess when I read a Fantasy, I am reconstituting my (nonexistent) husband as a magic elf. Or a mage who will solve all my problems with housework that doesn’t get done by itself. And when I read a political thriller, I reconstitute the hero as an assassin who takes care of all those pesky people I don’t like In Real Life. Jesus, I wish that worked.

But guys, they get to read a Thriller and enjoy the story. If they read a mystery, they’re not psychologically infantile enough to transfer the story elements to their lives and relationships, right? Huh.

For crying out loud.

A bit of intellectual rigor suggests the blazingly obvious conclusion that first you must establish the role of story in our lives. Is it really the case that fiction readers reconstitute the fiction they read and thereby transform elements of their real lives? If that’s the case, would not that transformation be highly individual? Is there a link between one’s choice of fiction and one’s psychological make up? But wait! Oh my God. Women read across genre! We are so fucked up that we can’t even figure out what’s wrong with us and read the right books to get us all fixed up. Do women really read romance after romance because their husbands are jerks and they require the fantasy of the romance hero to tolerate the horror of their daily emotional lives? But wait! Oh my God! Not all women are married or in a relationship. Ack! [Hand waving. DO NOT LOOK THAT DIRECTION!]

People are social creatures. We form relationships all the time. People who grow up without the ability to form relationships end up damaged and disfunctional. Fiction is about our relationships, some of which are intimate and sexual. Exactly why are stories about sexually intimate relationships not about the excitement and satisfaction of such a relationship but about a woman’s inability to separate fact from fantasy?