On one of the reader-oriented email lists I’m on, the group moderator (who is brilliant at starting up good discussions) recently asked what everyone thought about condoms in romance novels. She wanted to know whether the failure to address some realistic approach to birth/disease control makes a book a wallbanger or whether the mere mention of such things destroys the fantasy for which many of us read romance. As an author, I followed the discussion with great interest; even though I’m writing historicals right now, I have written contemporary romances in the past (which showed condom use, btw) and surely will again. So what, I wondered, do readers want?
As you can imagine, there were strong opinions in both camps, with one or two people quite vehement that condoms interfered with enjoyment both in books and in real life.
But one woman came down on the other side, and did it with such clarity and passion and good humor that I asked if I could post part of her response here. She kindly gave permission, so here, from romsfuulynn:
It seems to me that condoms are part of the play, the overall experience, and part of life. Sex can involve accidental hair pulling, muscle cramps in legs, arms, etc, books that got cast aside poking someone with a sharp corner or pinching people in a bad place, falling off or almost falling of the bed (or desk or kitchen counter, or what have you), champagne, beer, coke, milk, ice water or what have you getting tipped over and flooding the field of play (it’s COLD and WET), scratchy surfaces, hard surfaces, beard burn, leg hair scratchiness, other shaved area scratchiness, chafing of almost anything, rug burn, insect bites, sand in unfortunate places, children knocking at the door, phones ringing, doors you didn’t lock, object supporting activity being insufficiently sturdy and breaking, creaking, squeaking. Not to mention being very pregnant or recently post partum.
At least I’ve never had a gun go off like one of Jenny Crusie’s heroines did.
Sex beats no sex. Hands down. (Although hands can be a lot of fun too.) Condoms are the least of it.
Yes, maybe no condom is better for a guy, but that’s life and over time, it all works out. For me, fictional sex should reflect the absurdity of life and the power sex has to overcome distractions. I don’t particularly like sex that is portrayed as dreamy or perfect – sex is better than being merely perfect, it is overwhelming.
Or maybe it’s just my husband. . .
Lucky woman. She’s been married 35 years.
What do you think? Can a love scene that uses a condom still be romantic? Share your thoughts on romance and real life. (Keep your language clean, please. Children may be present)