The first time I read a book that had a suggestive sexual scene in it, I was 10. The book was Waiting to Exhale. My face was like
In retrospect (now that I’ve been exposed to worse things), the contents of the book werent that bad in the grand scale of risque-ness, but my 10 year old self, innocent of the world, had no prior exposure to anything of that sort, so you can of course imagine my shock.
My parents really didn’t put much of a filter on anything when it came to music, television, or books; they probably didnt think they needed to. I was a star student, had perfect handwriting, got As in stuff like participation, and never talked back.
So at a young age, I watched shows with bad language, listened to music that was sexually suggestive, saw movies with people shooting each other up , and other things some parents (maybe even myself) probably wouldnt let their own children watch or listen to. The effects of the exposure to such vulgarities at such a young age may still yet be waiting to emerge.
There was a few times when my mom layed down the law. One time, I was watching Saved by the Bell and during a particular episode, Zach and Kelly kissed. From the background, I heard my mom yell You need to turn that off! What kind of stupid show are you watching? In my head I was like, Really mom? This isnt even bad. I listen to rap music and movies I probably shouldn’t see with suggestive sex scenes but you don’t want me to watch Saved by the Bell?
I looked at my mom and she gave me the Filipino mom look, the one that glared at you in silence, envoking the fear God and fear of her. I switched the tv channel. Even though my mom was a petite asian woman, she was not someone you messed with.
With books, you really don’t expect a 10 year old to read anything other than Harry Potter or Little House on the Prairie. Granted, I read those and a lot of other books, but at 10, I remember being in love with everything to do Whitney Houston. And so, upon seeing a book based on a movie that my idol was in available at the local library, I went ahead and borrowed it.
It took me a day to read it (I was a fast reader) and I remember not quite getting what it was about (these ladies were having midlife crises? my 10 year old self could not relate to midlife crises’) but at the same time, getting that it was probably something that I shouldn’t be reading. I read huddled in the corner of my bed, quickly trying to hide the cover of the book whenever my mom walked in, lest she might inquire what it was I was reading, take it from me, and then I would be in trouble. I was probably more paranoid than I needed to be as the cover was just of Whitney Houston and some other black ladies laughing.
Or not, my mom could very been like, Why does the book you’re reading have middle aged women on it?
But anyways that was my first mature adult book. I didn’t pick up another adult book til I was in college, but since college, romance novels, have become my guilty pleasure. Specifically those romances that are of the historical romance genre. You’ve probably seen them, the books with titles like Taming of the Duke or Pleasuring a Duchess . Typically the covers have damsels that have their dress about to fall to the ground, whilst having a countenance that says omg, what’s going on? I have all these feelings I don’t quite understand or how to act upon, but I want to. Meanwhile a buff ass Scottish Laird or English Lord stands in the background with his shirt off, about to ravish her, but he doesn’t and you can tell by his eyes that it’s taking all of his God-given willpower not touch her boobs in order to keep her innocence in tack.
I love these books, and yet, I’m so embarrassed that I love them. Most times, I’ll read them on my ipad (Thank God for E-readers), but lately I’ve been going to the library to pick books up since they’re free. I know, my mind is capable of being far more intellectual, so I’ve tried to make it a rule that for every 1 or 2 trashy romance novel I get, I pick up a smart book to stimulate my mind- like The Odyssey or Grapes of Wrath.
Maybe I am so self-consumed in thinking that random people who are sitting next to me on a bus or plane are paying attention me and care what I read. But to be honest, I pay attention to what people read. (I also like to pay attention to what people have in the shopping carts while I’m waiting at the checkout. I find it interesting what people buy, especially at Costco. I’m always like… wow, that’s a lot of asparagas. or thats a lot of ensure product) Whenever I see people reading 50 Shades of Grey on the bus with their faces 5 inches away from the book, I can’t help but think, This lady is on a bus, probably reading a sex scene and is probably having these feelings… on a bus.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what reading romance books tells about me and what it does to my psyche: does it set up expectations or want for me to be ravished or loved a certain way? Does it reveal that I have a longing for something or feel like something is missing in my life? I don’t think I want to be like locked in a castle or locked up at all, but do somehow feel I have this inner desire to be a modern day damsel in distress needing to be saved and taken care of because of what I tend to saturate my brain in romance books? Maybe. Something for me to ponder about, I guess.