A desire to write is absolutely pushing itself upon me these days. In fact, writing is constantly in my thoughts like when a new romance is started. I can’t explain it. It is hard to contain and hard to balance. I am the mother of a toddler, a wife, and about to become a postulant in the Order of Preacher (Lay Dominican). I have a very full plate with the two vocations God has given me, does he really want me to pursue writing?
First, I am trying to make sure that my desire for writing comes from wanting to glorify and share Jesus Christ, and not my own pride. This is an internal struggle, to be sure. Second, I want my writing to improve the world, not drag it down even further. Third, I think there is a dearth of good books for women and teenage girls that demonstrate authentic love. Fourth, In any writing that I would do, I want my daughter to be able to read it some day without pause.
I am deeply concerned by the books that seem to be bestsellers. It has always been this way. Trash sells. Sex sells. We just happen to live in a culture that thinks that sex is love. I am increasingly more worried about how society’s changes in its understanding of love are affecting our daughters. Now my daughter is only two, but many women of my generation have teenagers and the majority of women in my generation are eating up these same books I am talking about.
Now I am not talking about Harry Potter or Twilight. I have read both series and found them immensely entertaining. I am not big on vampires so Twilight is a series I read once because my youngest sister was such a fan. What I do like about the series, is that the author demonstrated chastity. She also showed young women how much they long for a man who is devoted to them and is chaste. I think this is a great message for young men too, even though, the audience for these books was predominantly female.
I like Harry Potter because it demonstrates sacrificial love: the greatest kind of love. It is the love demonstrated on the Cross. I will not pretend that Harry Potter is Christian Fiction, it is not. However, it does not escape the Judeo-Christian underpinnings of Western culture. Our understanding of love has been formed by the God-Man who sacrificed for us. No matter how much we try to drown this out, it is still in our very bones.
The trend that disturbs me most is how an understanding of love and romance is shifting. Romance novels have largely been soft pornography for women. Yep, sorry ladies, graphic sex in print is still pornography. I have read a few of these books in my younger days. They are entertaining in a vapid sort of way and give women a chance to form men in their own image. However, they are usually shallow and continue to notion that all you need is romance and passion. They do not demonstrate sacrifice and total self-giving.
The new “romance” books, if you can even call them that, scare me. Yes, I am looking at you 50 Shades of Grey. I have not read it, because I knew immediately that it is pornography. It was all over the Catholic blogosphere, including some Catholic moms who were supporting it. Very concerning and if I was ever in a conversation with any of them, I would suggest a meeting with their priest, so they could clear up their misunderstanding of what is pornographic.
That aside. What concerns me, is the level of violence being leveled against women and their blind acceptance of it. Since when is S&M love? Since when is it not repugnant not just morally, but also to the very idea of romantic love? With the increase in Internet pornography violent crimes against women are soaring. Boyfriends are demanding pornographic sex and women willingly do it because they think they should do it out of love. Ladies, NO!
First, any man who loves you, will wait for you until your wedding night. Second, no man should be looking at pornography. Third, no man should demand illicit sex acts from you. A man who truly loves, respects, and has given himself to you, understands the sacred and holy aspect of the marital act. The very act that renews the marriage covenant each time the two are brought together. A man who loves you wants what is best for YOU.
So where are the books these days the describe authentic love? Not just romance novels, books about friendship, service, parenthood, and yes, romantic love? Why are we not concerned that S&M is a bestseller and about to become a movie? Our society is normalizing illicit sex and continues to objectify women, yet, we open our wallets (among other things) to pay for this objectification.
Mothers, check what your daughters are reading. Teenagers are reading books like 50 Shades. They will hide it from you. Do you want your teenage daughter to think that S&M is a normal type of sexual expression? Do you want her to learn sexual mores from our culture or from Christ and His Church? Talk about this with your daughters. Talk about pornography with your sons. If you don’t, our culture will do it for you.
So while I will not be reading any pornography, I have decided to start reading some of the popular novels of our day, especially those geared towards young women. I want to pinpoint what is lacking and by God’s grace, write something that truly demonstrates His love. Not sentimentality. No, authentic love. It may be allegory. It may be daily life. It might be romance. I don’t know where God is taking me on this journey. For now, I will get a hot drink, snuggle up under a blanket and tuck into a lot of fiction this year.
P.S. I just finished reading Richard Paul Evans’ A Winter Dream. I read it as a recommendation from a friend. I read it this morning in about 3 hours. I really enjoyed it.