Thursday, May 15, 2008

Are romance novels assur?

I hope I dont sound like some stuffy Hashkafah teacher for bringing this subject up...
But haven't you ever wondered whether those Danielle Steele/Judith McNaught/whoever-it-was-that-wrote-the-Devil-Wears-Prada novels could be assur?
Ok, you're probably protesting right now that you don't read those types of books.
I call your bluff. I know you snuck those books home from your friend's house when you were 13 trying to figure out what exactly was going on with those two main characters. How else do you learn about the birds and the bees? And don't tell me you didn't feel the tiniest tinge of guilt as you were flipping through those pages... Maybe you still feel it, but you've learned to squash it...
Couldn't you technically say that reading these novels that would be rated R if such ratings existed, is just as bad as watching pornography?
Wish I knew some halacha to back it up right now.
Maybe we're scared that if we stay away from reading "garbage", that we'll have to stop watching and listening to "garbage" too. And garbage these days is everywhere. (junior high kids doing "it" on Gossip Girl, most of the Top 40 on the radio, even the Cartoon Network!) Would that mean that we'd have to limit ourselves from EVERYTHING? Maybe we should. Maybe all that nonsense is really bad for our neshamas. Maybe those crazy Chassids have a point....
But.... there's no way I'm giving up Gossip Girl!


Anonymous said...

Please-us religi girls are already supressed, romance novels are the only action we get.

and i would NEVER give up GG, i look forward to it all week.

Maidel said...

someone sent me an e-mail about this post and had a good point.

romance novels should definitely become mandatory reading for GUYS!

wouldn't it be great if they could finally understand what gets us?

Alex30 said...

very interesting subject! IMHO it depends on your upbringing and how frum your family is. take for example a 13 year old ultra orthodox chusid and give him and goyshe literature to read and i can gaurantee you he wouldnt be the same ever again (unless he is too thick to understand anything he is reading... ) and probably end up growing up to be a modern orthodox or he is going to "repent" and be even more frum. so it all depends on how open minded your upringing was. being frum is extremly dificult especially if you are in a mixed or goyshe neighbourhood. but you are right about teaching guys a thing or 2 before they get married, i am not sure what they teach them before they get married (i am not married yet) but some times it is appalling the way some frumers treat their "rebetzins" .

The Babysitter said...

A few things.
1- if a guy were to read a romance novel it wouldn't help them understand girls, they'd read the first sentence and throw up or laugh at it and make a joke.
2- for me I used to see romance novels as a bad thing and still sorta do. But I think its better to read a romance novel where you know its non Jews who are doing it. Than to read a Jewish novel where they have the Jews doing bad things. Here at least you can seperate yourself from the book, you can see its just in the book your reading and its not what Jewish life is like.
3- like anonymous said, reading romance novels could be a substitute for getting "action". So if it stops people from doing anything bad in real life then I would see it as ok.
4- But then everything you read does affect you and you starting thinking in different ways. Like any other media it can convince you to believe a certain way.
5- For a guy its assar if it causes them to think thoughts...but for a girl I dunno if there's such an Issur.
6- you can rationalize it and say that you would read about something like that in the news or you can see such a story unfolding in regular life, so then what's the difference if its in a book and its made up.