Saturday, June 27, 2009

Romance Novels Pornography for Women

My sister is a therapist for 2 different BYU clinics. She's pretty amazing and the people she works with are pretty cool too. She wrote an intense blog. I think everyone should read it. This is the link And I'll just post what it says too.
I have a story. This is therapy-related so don't read on if you can't handle some reality.

A female BYU student wanders into the library to browse for a new book to read. She walks in to the Sampler section- you know, that main section with all the new releases and books that are currently really popular- and happens to stumble upon a book that looks interesting. BYU has them on the shelf, in the Sampler section no less, it must be a good book. There are at least 20 others similar to it.

She goes home and starts to read. She's loving her book. She's really falling into it. She finishes it and decides that she needs a book similar to this story. Something romantic, something alluring, something with great descriptions. This book has made her feel great. She goes back and gets another book similar to it and brings it back to her apartment to read. She needs to read alone.

Suddenly, her boyfriend and her friends don't really seem that great. She wants to escape to fantasy. A few months later, this same girl, the one that just wanted a good book to read, is now masturbating. It's so addicting. It feels good. It's a relief from stress. She's starting to feel down on herself. She's not supposed to do these things. She's a good BYU student. She's an active member of the LDS Church. She got the novel from the BYU library. She's confused and lost and doesn't know what to do. She sinks deeper and deeper into depression. How could she ever talk to anybody about what's going on? Nobody will understand. She's distanced from her friends and roommates. She feels lonely. She feels guilty when she goes to church. She doesn't know who to turn to. She's angry. How could this happen to her? How did she get to this place?

Finally, she comes in to talk to a counselor and explains everything that has happened from that day of wandering into the Sampler section looking for a book to read to the deep depression that now gnaws at her soul.

Any reactions? thoughts? feelings?

*This isn't a current/past client or anything and I purposefully made it pretty generic*

A few people have come to therapy at various locations across BYU campus (Counseling and Career Center, Women's Services, Comprehensive Clinic) and LDS Family Services with the scenario mentioned in the last blog.

I didn't even realize that the BYU Library had romance novels in the Sampler section! Some of these girls were brave enough to go and talk to library administration and tell them about their situations and asked for the books to be removed. Counselors have gone to the BYU Library to ask for these books to even just be moved to a place that's not so accessibly. Nobody wants to move them, let alone remove them. They say it's censorship. Ummm, we do go to BYU-right? One of the people asked "So what about having a Playboy magazine section? Most libraries have that. Maybe we should have that too. Or else we're engaging in censorship." Didn't go over very well. The administrators took the requests to their library review board and all on the board (men and women) said the books should be left their in the sampler section. People have gone to the library repeatedly asking for the books to be moved or removed. One administrator finally said he'd slowly remove the books last year. Not a single book has been moved.

There's some kind of standard I guess for the types of materials libraries should have for them to be highly ranked so apparently keeping these books helps the library get good ratings.

Also, the guy that is in charge of ordering these books said they can't be that bad because when he orders them he makes sure their not marked as having "explicit content" (or something like that). Some people have gone through the books and written down excerpts and then turned them into administration. They were totally ridiculous. Lots of heaving and throwing things. The stories are usually about some rough and tough masculine guy that is tamed by a woman through sex. The sex scenes are pretty graphic and violent from what I've heard. Not reality. And pretty sick.

People have written to the vice presidents about the situation (at least 2 of which are female). Quotes from general authorities, research findings etc have all been submitted. One of the female administrators was handed a list of quotes from the book and refused to read on and told people to just go and talk to the library administration. Can't they at least be moved somewhere not so easily accessible?

The other side of this that really bothers me....
I have some friends in my program that are doing their theses on topics such as sexual abuse, assault, rape, sex therapy etc. When they want to do research, they have to walk to the library, go to a specific section and get a librarian to unlock a cupboard that holds all these books and published journal articles. Seriously. They can't even get to the journal articles online. BYU blocks them or tells them to go to the library to get access. These books and articles have things like "1 in 3 girls and 1 in 4 boys will be sexually abused during their lifetime." But, these articles and books are kept under lock and key. Only accessible by permission from a librarian. The research has to be done in the library. The factual research about sex must be hidden from students, but let's leave the romance novels in the front section of the library for all to have easy access to. Are you freaking kidding me?!

We have girls coming into therapy after stumbling upon these romance novels, but the therapists and researchers that want to learn more and study need to go ask for permission to look at published research.

It's a really frustrating situation for me. I think people have done a lot to try and figure out if these books can at least get moved to a different section. What now?

"Often when we hear about the evils of pornography, we think of pornographic magazines, movies, and Web sites. Because men are more visually oriented, such material seems to appeal primarily to them. Yet the sexually explicit literature targeted at women, who are more verbally oriented, can be damaging as well. Like visual pornography, such literature presents a warped view of sexuality and is arousing and addictive. It dulls our spiritual senses, which distances us from God, and it can impair our ability to have healthy, lasting relationships."- Addicted to Romance Novels, Ensign, July 2003

A look at Popular Romance Fiction
, Ensign, February 1987
Let Virtue Garnish Thy Thoughts, LDS Church, 2006

“You can be obedient. You can defeat Satan and overcome temptation. God ‘will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it’ [1 Corinthians 10:13]. The Lord does not expect anything of you that you cannot do.”- Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, May 1994

1 comment:

SafeLibraries said...

What an excellent blog post. It (and the other one) motivated me to write my own:

"Moving Porn at BYU is Censorship?"

Key sentence I want you and your readers to note:

"I hereby offer to assist anyone regarding this matter."