Romance novels and female sexuality: Vicarious participation?

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Huei-Hsia Wu


This study explores the association between time spent rcading romance novels and female sexuality. The respondents were 4:;6 white female college students, age 18-47. Several variables of interest are used 10 indicate sexuality: I) age when thoughts of sex first occurred, 2) age at first intercourse. 3) strength of sex drive. 4) sex addiction, 5) number of orgasms. 6) number of sex partners, and 7) femininity. Our results show that readers of romance novels self-reported greater sex addiction. greater sex drive. and greater number of orgasms required for sexual satisfaction than non-readers. However. readers had fewer sex partners, and were older when they had their first thoughts about sex and had their first sexual inten:ourse. This pallern fits the Harlequin romance stereotype of nourishing a satisfying sex life in the context of romantic monogamous fidelity while at the same time vicariously fulfilling desires through fictitious characters.

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