This Valentine’s Day, Try Outlander

It’s that awkward time of year again–Valentine’s Day–when the forces of consumerism conspire to propel men into mate-retention mode: to avoid being dumped, you must proffer your mate a material token of the value you place on your relationship. That’s the capitalist way to do it, but there’s a much better option. The recent self-help book, Mate, advises men that the secret to mating success is to make decisions with science. To this end, it condenses volumes of biological, psychological, and anthropological research into the staccato prose of a sportscaster. The bottom line: women highly value commitment and protection in a mate, and men need to demonstrate their ability and willingness to provide them. This is sound advice, and the book is well worth reading. But for those who are pressed for time, there’s an alternate route to the same information: female porn.

Before you get excited (if male) or offended (if female), allow me to clarify: I’m talking about the romance novel, which is widely recognized as female erotica. The romance audience is overwhelmingly female: 90.5% of romance readers are women. Moreover, the story action is driven by female mating concerns, and the romantic hero is recognized as the embodiment of what women find sexually attractive and arousing in a prospective long-term partner. The popularity of the genre, which generated $1.37 billion in 2008, is testimony that it pushes women’s pleasure buttons.

Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander is a case in point, and the recent Starz adaptation saves men the embarrassment of buying a romance novel. Set in the 18th century, the story revolves around the attraction and marriage of Claire Beauchamp Randall to the Scottish highlander, James Fraser. The series colonizes new romance territory by focusing —> Read More