Thursday, May 31, 2012

Guest Post: Jess Scott, Author of Literary Heroin

Commercial Romance and Self-Esteem
by Jess C Scott

My name is Jess and I’m a 25-year-old independent author/artist/non-conformist.

I write in many different genres, one of them being relationship fiction. I like to combat gender stereotypes with the stories I write. While most stereotypes are somehow based on fact, stereotypes become a negative thing when they limit self-development (i.e. when “identifying with a stereotype” becomes more important than being one’s true self).

The girls/females/women in my books tend to not be afraid to think, and/or have an opinion (which does not necessarily mean they’re self-righteous bitches—thinking clearly has nothing to do with how malicious one is, as a person). Having “a man” in their life is not their one and only aim in life. I’m not against marriage per se, though I’ve never defined my self-worth according to my boyfriend/other half/the relationships I’m in.

I have a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey, which was originally written as Twilight fan fiction. I’ve gotten a headache from the amount of times Holy shit! has appeared in the text of FSoG, but that’s another story for another day…

One of the passages caught my eye the other day, where Ana, the female protagonist, is talking with her mom over the phone:

(Page 279):

“Ana, please, you’re worrying me.”

I take a big breath. “I’ve kind of fallen for this guy, and he’s so different from me, and I don’t know if we should be together.”

“Just take it easy with him and keep him at arm’s length until you decide whether he’s worthy of you.”

Wow…it’s unnerving when my mother is so insightful, but she’s just too late on this. Is he worthy of me? That’s an interesting concept. I always wonder whether I am worthy of him.

I’ve noticed that Fifty Shades of Grey seems to follow the same pattern of Twilight (virgin female protagonist with “sexual desires,” who defines her entire sense of self-worth, self-identity and self-esteem according to “her man” who comes in the form of the “rich, handsome” piece that’s part of the whole fairy tale syndrome).

Wishing for all men to be like the “rich handsome men” in commercial romance novels is akin to males wishing women to look like the models with plumped-up lips and fake boobs in porn films.

It’s funny how being addicted to romance novels isn’t seen as a serious addiction. In fact, it is just like all other forms of addiction which hide the real and unpleasant issues that lie under the surface.

I hope hardcore romance fans (who do not enjoy a story that stands on its own “without the romance”) will someday be inspired to check out good books (such as the novels of Anais Nin and D.H. Lawrence) that go beyond appearances and “commercial romance” (which is mostly, nowadays, about satisfying emotional lust). After all, according to this article in the British newspaper, The Guardian, we tend to become like the characters in the novels we read.

If you’re a hardcore romance fan, I hope you’ll someday consider the freedom of developing your own personality and a genuine sense of self-worth, instead of allowing your self-esteem and sense of self to be defined by “your man,” the “relationships” you’re in, or whether you identify as a “good girl virgin” or “badass whore” (depending on what’s the flavor of the week/month/year)—or whatever else society and the mainstream mass media says you ought to be.


Jess is an author/artist/non-conformist who’s dedicated to writing original stories that are both meaningful and entertaining. She writes in a variety of genres including erotic fiction, urban fantasy, young adult fiction, cyberpunk, and poetry. 

Jess is also the founder of jessINK, an innovative publishing company that focuses on substance over short-term success with current fads and marketing hype. 


Teen Guide to Sex and Relationships (co-authored by Matt Posner and Jess C Scott):

                                                             Jess on Facebook and Twitter

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